Never before online. A lively interview colleagues and I conducted in 1976 with Jorge Luis Borges. We talked about the philosophers who have influenced him and his work. You can view the transcript and hear the audio here. Now the biggest Italian newspaper, La Stampa, has featured the Borges interview as the lead story in its Sunday Cultura section. Read it here. The Los Angeles Times literary blogger, Carolyn Kellogg, asks if the interview doesnt show that Borges would have been a fan of Wikipedia.
Forbes magazine asked me to write about five of my favorite composers. Some people wont like what I say about Bach, a composer whose music I adore rather more than his religion. Read it here.
John Careys What Good Are the Arts? is a semi-competent attempt to treat the general field of art theory. Ive done a short review of it here.
Ive another Spanish version of an essay now available here. It is Crítica y Método. Like Estética y Psicología Evolucionista, it is translated by Eva Zimmerman. Ana Cristina Vélez of the Universidad de Antioquia in Colombia arranged this one too.
Jean Baudrillard has died. We ought not to speak ill of the dead, but I did write this rather a long time back.
The late Richard Rortys tone was always modest and thoughtful, even when his ideas were extreme: a review of Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity.
My Washington Post review of Bjørn Lomborgs The Skeptical Environmentalist had all sorts of people upset.
This examination of the concept of tribal or so-called primitive art appeared a few years ago in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Aesthetics.
Back in the early 1990s my local newspaper asked me to review a new book on the South Pacific by the irascible Paul Theroux. Oh good, I thought. Id met him the previous year when I was doing research in New Guinea. Pleasant enough chap. Little did I know.....
Aesthetics and Evolutionary Psychology, written for The Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics, is now available here.
As for writing badly, well, yes, that can be learned too. Heres a first lesson.
Richard A. Etlins In Defense of Humanism is a spirited attack on poststructuralism from the standpoint of a historian of architecture. Here is a short review.
Charles Rosens Piano Notes is more than a wide-ranging account of piano artistry: it is also a meditation of the fate of modernism in music. Heres my review.
Joseph Carroll is a literary critic who can use Darwin to produce some of the most penetrating insights youll find in scholarship. Read about his Literary Darwinism here.
Arnold Krupats treatise, Ethnocriticism, on the other hand, is just about the worst book I have ever read as a systematic account of how indigenous arts and literatures should be regarded. Awful.
Miriam Cosic, Arts section editor of The Australian, asked for a piece developing some of the ideas in John Brockmans Edge answer. What I came up with can be read here.
Richard Rorty views progress in science as a matter of scientists changing their vocabularies. He provides a neat summary of his ideas in Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity.
My review of The Mating Mind, by Geoffrey Miller, is at last available on this site. You can read it here.
The article on Authenticity in Art in Jerry Levinsons Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics is available here. It discusses authenticity in music and in indigenous art, and places autheticity in the context of audience response.
Forgery and Plagiarism, an entry for The Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, has finally made it to this site. You can read it here.
A shot at a definitive analysis of intentionalism in art and criticism was published in 1987. Why Intentionalism Wont Go Away uses an example first tried out in To Understand It On Its Own Terms.
Knowledge Replacement Therapy discusses differing views of indigenous arts in a wildly uneven anthology.
The occasion of my trip was to deliver this address to the Russian Institute of Aesthetics.
The Book Reviews page now contains this critical account of Christopher Steiners African Art in Transit. Steiner is awfully interested in art commerce. I wish he would pay some attention to aesthetic values.
Susan Vogels book on Baule art is the inverse of Steiners in its refined and sensitive attitude toward a great African art area.
Debunking Deconstruction is an analysis of John M. Elliss book on that subject. It was written back in 1989, but I dont think Id alter any of its ideas.
And Theodor Adorno. He lived in Los Angeles when I was a kid. I never would have laid eyes on him, of course, but at least we used to read the same astrologer.
Madame Bovarys Ovaries, by David and Nanelle Barash, is described in a jacket blurb as a provocatively sideways look at our cherished literary heritage. Ive reviewed it here.
Is all fiction built on seven basic plots? Thats the thesis of a book by Christopher Booker. My own evaluation of his project is mixed, as I explain here in a review for the Washington Post.
The Department of Cognitive Studies at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris has organized on online seminar entitled, Fake: Why Does It Matter? The people conducting this, Gloria Orrigi and Noga Arikha, have chosen to kick off proceedings with a discussion of my article on Art and Authenticity, written for Jerrold Levinsons Oxford Handbook of Aesthetics. You can tune into the action, and maybe add a comment or two, by going to the site here.
The importance of equality before the law is the topic of this column in the Press and the New Zealand Herald.
The Washington Post also ran this review of Jennifer Michael Hechts Doubt: A History.
John Brockmans Edge question this year is, What is your most dangerous idea? He has been able to publish answers from 117 thinkers. The whole shebang can be read here. My contribution, A Grand Narrative, can be found here.
For a small number of readers who might appreciate it, here is the image I now use as a screen saver. Of course, I never had a screen of mine saved by a screen saver, but that was never the point.
I attended the White House Press Correspondents Association Annual
Dinner in 2006 at the Hinckley Hilton. My account, angled toward a New
Zealand audience, can be read here.
In 2003, John Brockmans annual Edge Question asked for a memo to the President on the premise that he had just appointed you as his Science Advisor. I recently came across my contribution; I had lost track of it. You can read it here. I stand by it still.
Many thanks to the editors of the New York Times for naming my Joyce Hatto essay, Shoot the Piano Player, as one of the papers Notable Op-Eds of the Year. It was only op-ed given that honor for January or February, and so heads the Timess chronological list.
Thanks to Robert Fulford for this appreciative piece on Arts & Letters Daily in Canadas National Post.
Mark Singer has written a very fine article on the Joyce Hatto scandal for The New Yorker. I have an advance PDF version of it here.
You may have seen this photograph. It used to appear in blow-up form in the Margaret Mead Hall at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. It was also reproduced in an abysmal book called Gone Primitive: Savage Intellects, Modern Lives, by Marianna Torgovnick (panned by me here). Thanks to help from friends at the Museum of Natural History and across Central Park at the Metropolitan Museum, I am able to present the original color version of the photo. For an updated account of the controversy surrounding this image, click here.
The Argentian pianist Martha Argerich is known for her explosive musical temperament and staggering technique. She has over her career produced many recordings, made in studios and live concerts. Recently, a surreptitiously made MP3 of a Carnegie Hall recital by Argerich came into my eager hands. It was appaently recorded by a member of the audience, likely sitting close to the stage, on the evening of March 25, 2000.
Once you have adjusted your ears to echo and an inevitable blurring of the sound, you can enjoy some memorable artistry. The order of the works is the Bach Partita No. 2 in C minor, Chopins Barcarolle and the Scherzo No. 3 in C# minor, and the Prokofiev Seventh Sonata. After intermission, she is joined by the Julliard String Quartet for the great Schumann Piano Quintet, op. 44 (not included here). She then plays with her compatriot, Nelson Freire, for La Valse by Ravel (spectacular!), the Waltz from the Second Suite for Two Pianos by Rachmaninoff (two Steinways on stage, I assume), and finally La Laiderontte from Ravels Mother Goose Suite. Click on the titles to hear the individual works.
Some of most captivating musical recordings have been made when performers did not realize their work was being set down for posterity. I regard this as one such occasion. The complete lack of any inhibitions, the sheer carelessness of Argerichs performance, helps make the event an astounding musical experience. As a pianist, she knows she can do anything: she is in complete command. Words fail me, for once.
In Memoriam – Denis Dutton 1944-2010
Welcome to this personal website. Students interested in graduate or undergrad study-abroad work here in New Zealand should look at the relevant links starting here. Our Philosophy Department offerings are described starting here. Check out my first-semester beginners course, Philosophy 110, Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus. Our new course on evolution, Philosophy 220, Darwins Dangerous Idea, is now underway. For futher information see the right-hand column below or click here.
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