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Denis Dutton: mining the web for haikus.

By ROGER KIMBALL [Roger’s Rules] – It was only a few weeks ago that I got the news that my friend Denis Dutton, founder and editor of the renowned Arts & Letters Daily website, was gravely ill. I didn’t quite register how gravely until two or three emails to him went unanswered. Denis was always the most prompt of correspondents, often answering within minutes of one’s having pressed the “send” button.   Then on December 28 I got the news: he had died, age 66.
I forget exactly when Denis and I became acquainted. It wasn’t long after he started ALD (his preferred acronym for the site) in 1998. We knew each other at first but virtually, via the quotidian miracle of email, which made the dispatch between Christchurch, New Zealand, where Denis taught philosophy, and Connecticut nearly instantaneous. I was delighted with his web site, which was a model of elegant simplicity. Nearly every day he and a small team of colleagues scoured the internet for items that delighted, amused, instructed, or (I use the “or” in its inclusive disjunctive sense) infuriated. Under the rubrics “Articles of Note,” “New Books,” and “Essays and Opinion” he provided a brief but provocative teaser and a link to the essay or review in question.

That was all.  But in his hands, at least, it was a winning formula. For one thing, Denis had a great talent for producing those teasers. It’s much harder than you might think: years ago he asked me to write a few: “25 words or fewer,” he instructed, “and make it pointed.” He rewrote my clumsy efforts and made them shine.

Continued at Roger’s Rules [PajamasMedia] | More Chronicle & Notices.

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