Universalised Ugliness

In the April edition of New English Review, our critical doctor reviews a book on an 18th-century English architect, while considering the uglification of much of modern global culture.

Lack of elegance to the point of ugliness has its own virtues: that is to say, its political virtues, which these days are the only virtues that count. Ugliness is democratic, or at least demotic, because it is so easy to achieve and is within the reach of everyone. Indeed, in a universe in which the second law of thermodynamics reigns, the slide to ugliness is the natural tendency of things, while beauty demands constant maintenance and a perpetual struggle against dissolution. Moreover, ugliness is cheap, but beauty tends to be expensive, or at least time-consuming.

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