In Memoriam: Denis Dutton

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on December 28, 2010

It was only a little over a month ago (November 26th, to be precise) that I e-mailed Professor Denis Dutton, to ask, in the aftermath of the establishment of this latest iteration of my blog, that he might update the permalink to my blog that has existed on Arts & Letters Daily–the website he spawned and edited–ever since I was on Blogspot. On the very same day that I sent my e-mail, he responded with a hearty “okay!”, and did so. I was deeply grateful, not just because I thought that a permalink would bring a legion of visitors to my blog, but also because having a permalink on Arts & Letters Daily helped assure me that when it came to blogging, I was doing something right. Professor Dutton’s role in establishing Arts & Letters Daily is, by now, well-chronicled, and ever since I found it in 2002, I have been checking it every day for intelligent commentary. I have never come away disappointed. To be associated and permalinked by such a smart, high-caliber site is a great honor, one that I have always sought to be properly thankful for.

The respect and admiration I have, and have had for both Arts & Letters Daily, and Professor Dutton make it a profound shock for me to read that Professor Dutton has passed away. He lived for many years, and could have had many years more. I had no idea that he was sick when I e-mailed him; that he responded so quickly was an act of astonishing graciousness, when he doubtless had more important things to think about than the vanity of a single blogger, and his new site.

I do not know what Arts & Letters Daily will be like in the aftermath of Professor Dutton’s death. I am sure, however, that those who continue to work on the site feel a particular sense of devotion towards keeping up the site’s high intellectual standards, if only to do right by Professor Dutton’s memory. I hope and expect that they will succeed in doing so, and I hope and expect that Professor Dutton would be proud of the effort, as all of us who are fans of Arts & Letters Daily have been, and are in awe of the work Professor Dutton did to make the site an island of sanity in a less-than-sane world.

The Los Angeles Times has a remembrance, as do the New Yorker, Reason, Edge, D.G. Myers, and Adam Keiper. All of these links are, of course, via Arts & Letters Daily.

Requiescat in pace.

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