Theodore Dalrymple in City Journal:
Simon draws attention to “the extreme ambivalence we now feel towards beauty both within and outside art,” and continues: “We distrust it; we fear its power; we associate it with compulsion and uncontrollable desire of a sexual fetish. Embarrassed by our yearning for beauty, we demean it as something tawdry, self-indulgent, or sentimental.”
All that is necessary for ugliness to prosper is for artists to reject beauty.
Lenin abjured music, to which he was sensitive, because it made him feel well-disposed to the people around him, and he thought it would be necessary to kill so many of them. Theodor Adorno said that there could be no more poetry after Auschwitz. Our view of the world has become so politicized that we think that the unembarrassed celebration of beauty is a sign of insensibility to suffering and that exclusively to focus on the world’s deformations, its horrors, is in itself a sign of compassion. Reynolds was not tortured by such considerations.