Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Denis Dutton loved Ren and Stimpy

You gotta hear this, Denis Dutton, one of the world's finest theorists of aesthetics reveals that his favorite cartoon was 'Ren and Stimpy'. Fills my heart with Joy.

Denis Dutton was at the forefront of the emerging 'Evolutionary Aesthetics' / 'Literary Darwinism' research field. His book 'The Art Instinct' is one of my favorite books of all time, an immense inspiration.
Dutton's thesis is that art has universal characteristics (which he lists and explains in detail) and can be understood through the lens of Darwinian thinking: we are biologically predisposed to make and appreciate art which crosses cultures, gender, races, and the test of time. This flies in the face of the Marxist Postmodernism which has taken over the art world. Denis has been taken from us at the age of 66, it shocked me to lose such a gentle and brilliant man, I hope you got the patch of heaven you so much deserved, rest in peace.


Steven M. said...

Now that is surprizing.

Amir Avni said...

It might be surprising to hear it from an elite theorist, but he's an exception to the rule! The way he rationalizes art fits perfectly with the rationale behind Spumco cartoons. I just wish more people understood that.

EZ Goodnight said...

That's cool. I got in a heated discussion once with a bunch of people trashing Dutton. I think the ideas in the Art Instinct seems really interesting and plausible.

It's fun to know he has pretty good taste in cartoons!

GW said...

He has some good points. His Olympics comments are right on point. The robot playing the piano I think misses the point, however. Sure we're not impressed by a robot that plays the piano, but I think that it's inherently interesting to see a robot play sound in the best way suited for it. It can be just as interesting in its own way as a person playing. My take is that it's like comparing our perception of fish or reptiles to our perception of mammals. You might look at a skink or a gecko and be very interested in it, but relate more to how an aardvark feels.

It may be true that art displayed at what he calls special occasions is universal, but there's usually some work of art somewhere else, a sculpture that cheers you up on the way to work or a painting you liked seeing while working in a friend's shed.

For his idea of the artist behind the work, that doesn't fully hold up for me. There's works of art I like which show no artist's selection of any kind. Aesthetics, I believe, can be judged beyond the artist though not in the same way. The basics of shapes, colors, and forms are the same regardless of whether there's a person involved.

I think his thoughts in general are interesting but I don't take everything he's saying at face value.

Amir Avni said...

EZ- Thanks for sharing your story! were those people followers of Postmodernism?

GW- Some interesting points there! Personally I see a robot playing a piano as a great accomplishment of engineering.