Monday, January 26, 2009

following up on the art instinct

I reviewed The Art Instinct months ago (though I don't remember if I did so on this blog or on the joculum LiveJournal) but now the newspaper reviews are coming out, and of course Arts and Letters Daily is linking to them immediately (I wonder why?!), so here is an extract from the review in the Philadelphia Inquirer, more uncritically celebratory than mine was, though I was impressed ("the best-equipped thinker in the world to explain"? one of the better ones, I would say...but Inquirer book critic Carlin Romano presents a nuanced enough review for a general audience):

"Paleolithic cave painter, Renaissance madrigalist, New Guinea carver, urban hip-hopper - each confirms us, Denis Dutton writes, as 'a species obsessed with creating artistic experiences with which to amuse, shock, titillate and enrapture ourselves, from children's games to the quartets of Beethoven, from firelit caves to the continuous worldwide glow of television screens.'

"Why do we create art and beauty? Dutton may be the best-equipped thinker in the world to explain.

"An American who serves as professor of the philosophy of art at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and founder and editor of the journal Philosophy and Literature, Dutton used to run a contest to identify wretched academic prose. He then launched and still curates, an international digest of sophisticated cultural pieces that the Guardian named the 'best Web site in the world.'"

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