Category Archives: ugliness

The past — get me out of here!

Behind every great man-made work of beauty lies some ugliness

The ages in which the greatest works of Man were created were characterised, writes Dalrymple, by

  • dirt
  • misery
  • smells
  • disease
  • vermin

Anybody transported back to those ages would at once seek asylum

in our hygienic and deodorised world without artistic grandeur. For modern man, comfort is the highest good, and perhaps it always would have been had it been a possibility.

The English: ugliest people in the world

Something that strikes Dalrymple every time he returns from France, where he lives much of the time, to the country of his birth is

the extreme vulgarity of the English by comparison with the French.

It is as if the English had

adopted vulgarity as a totalitarian ideology, a communism of culture rather than of the economy.

The vulgarity is

insolent, militant and triumphant. It will brook no competition and tolerate no dissent. It exercises a subliminal terror to discourage any protest. It is the ruling characteristic of England, of the prosperous as of the poor.

At the airport,

you can always tell a flight bound for England by the number of grossly fat and hideously apparelled passengers waiting to board. No man can be blamed for being ill-favoured by nature; but every man can be blamed for making the worst of himself, as the English do as a matter of principle.

Britishers are

the ugliest people in the world — but this has nothing to do with biology. Their facial expressions, their gait, their speech, their laughter, their gestures are crude. The mothers of no other nation known to me address their children in tones so lacking in tenderness and so expressive of shrewish irritability and exasperation, with voices shrill, penetrating and impossible to ignore (except, of course, for their children, who will very soon sound like them).

Postcards from Walsall

The art gallery was built at vast expense

The art gallery was built at vast expense

Ceaușescu’s Romania with fast food outlets

Walsall in the Black Country is, Dalrymple points out,

the ugliest town in the world.

To the hideousness of 19th-century industrialisation is added

the desolation of 20th-century obsolescence.

Secret police headquarters

Secret police headquarters

The town’s art gallery, built at enormous expense, strikes Dalrymple as

a hybrid of grain silo and secret police headquarters.

Of all Western European countries, England is

the most richly endowed with unutterably dismal towns and cities, in part the heritage of the Industrial Revolution and in part that of modern architects and town planners.

Grain silo

Grain silo

Yet France is not to be outdone. Dalrymple writes:

I was under the impression that nothing quite so awful was to be found in France. Imagine my patriotic joy (for though not a xenophobe, I am a patriot) when I stopped for the night in a French town at least as bad as any in England. I could scarcely believe my eyes; I felt such a relief. The incapacity of others to do better than we is a great, if not the greatest possible, consolation.

Bus station

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Hopeless, stagnant Britain

screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-23-14-04On the train to the airport in England, and at the airport itself, Dalrymple sees a population that strikes him as

more militantly ugly and unintelligent than any other known to me, one that consumes without discrimination and enjoys without taste.

With regard to ugliness, he writes,

it added to whatever ugliness nature had bestowed upon it by refusing to wear any clothes that might lend it any dignity, choosing apparel that accentuated its natural unattractiveness. Grossly fat slobs insisted on wearing figure-hugging T-shirts that did not quite meet the tops of the shorts that exposed their fat white tattooed calves, exposing their repellent midriffs to the appalled gaze of the minimally sensitive.

Of the women, he says,

it would be kinder not to speak; suffice it to say that they made the men look like Beau Nash or Beau Brummel.

The taste of the British in everything from food to music and clothes

is base, vulgar, stupid, and crude.

Dalrymple notes that it is not that they know no better—innocent vulgarity can be amusing and even refreshing—but that

they know better and reject and hate it.

They refuse to aspire to what is better,

and try to intimidate others into abandoning it, with some success.

The productivity of such a nation, Dalrymple points out,

is unlikely to rise very fast or far. It will be lucky if in the modern world, with so much competition, it achieves stagnation.

The white peril

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 11.49.13England football fans

It is association football time yet again, says Dalrymple, and

apparently it is to last several weeks — though probably not for England, who are not usually very good and can be relied upon to put in a poor performance and exit at the early stages of any competition.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 11.55.54

Rei (wisdom of God). Ki (life force). Available on the NHS for repatriate England supporters who are experiencing post-riot trauma, reiki promotes healing of wounds sustained at the hands of Russian or other fans. It is administered by laying latex-gloved-hands on the beer belly, and is based on the idea that an unseen life force flows through the England fan and is what causes him to be alive. If the football supporter’s life force is low, he is more likely to feel stress, with violent consequences

Tattooed, beer-bellied, ugly, sunburnt and drunken England fans have, he reports, been rioting in Marseilles,

a city not much given to sentimentality when it comes to the treatment of the ill-behaved.

The French police, Dalrymple notes,

had helmets, an open invitation to violence.

He says the trauma for the England fans is such that they may require reiki therapy.

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 12.26.15Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 12.27.24ff

Ugly, soulless Peking

Screen Shot 2016-06-09 at 08.42.55

Ai Weiwei, Beijing (2003), Beijing: The Third Ring (2005), Bejing: The Second Ring (2005). Ai had the idea, writes Dalrymple, ‘of filming a car journey round Peking’s ring roads through the windshield, without moving the camera. The longer you watch, the stronger grows your awareness of the grind, soullessness, and ugliness of life in a city that has grown enormously without regard to anything except growth. The traffic continues in Sisyphean fashion, and Man seems to have exiled himself from his works’

All that is necessary for ugliness to prosper is for artists to reject beauty

Our view of the world, writes Dalrymple,

has become so politicised 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.

Lenin, Dalrymple reminds us, 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.

Lenin, Dalrymple reminds us, 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

The dictatorship of libertinism

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 17.34.55The life’s work of Ian ‘Lemmy’ Kilmister, who has died aged 70, was, writes Dalrymple,

a phænomenon of sociological and social-psychological significance, at least in the Western world.

Lemmy was to the end a rebellious adolescent, emerging as

a senile rebel who could never bear to leave his adolescence behind, proud of his degeneracy unto death. In this, he was an authentic representative of modern psychological development: a short period of precocity followed by a long one of arrested development.

Lemmy is quoted as saying:

I founded the filthiest rock group in the world.

There is in these words, says Dalrymple,

an undoubted tone of self-congratulation. He had done something not just filthy, but superlatively filthy, and therefore, according to his own inverted scale of values, outstandingly meritorious.

Lemmy once said:

If one day we come to live near you, that will be the end of your lawn.

In other words,

ugliness will be my beauty, and furthermore I will impose it on you.

Interviewed once in a place where smoking was prohibited, Lemmy is quoted as saying:

I’ll need another reason not to smoke than that it’s forbidden.

Thus

he was the sole authority as to when, where, and whether to smoke. Others counted for nothing.

When, writes Dalrymple,

one acts a part for long enough, it ceases to be a mere act and one becomes what one pretends to be. The result of careers such as Mr Kilmister’s is to encourage a culture or subculture, almost unique in my experience, lacking all beauty, value, virtue, charm, or refinement. Its apotheosis would be the dictatorship of libertinism in which personal whim would play the part of the supposed word of God.

Fuck off, humanity!

Tours Nuages, Nanterre. Emile Aillaud, 1977

Tours Nuages, Nanterre. Emile Aillaud, 1977

This is the message, writes Dalrymple, of modern French architects. Their work, he points out, is

some of the worst in the world.

Perhaps, he says,

the rejection of beauty as a goal by French architects accounts in part for the adoption as a style by so many of the young French of deliberate ugliness and self-mutilation. In a world of brutal ugliness over which you have no control, you might as well admit defeat and join in.

He notes that while the worst of modern culture originates in England, it has in the rest of Europe

spread rapidly.

Until all can live in beauty, none shall

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 08.57.13Finding himself in

one of those ugly cities, formerly industrial, in which England abounds to an extent unknown in any other Western country,

Dalrymple discovers that one of the town’s gracious quarters, full of early-19th-century houses built for the nascent industrial bourgeoisie, has been ruined by the construction of ‘social housing’ in the midst of it. The purpose of the construction is plainly

to destroy the beauty in which so small a proportion of the population lived, since there were many other places in which the social housing, a battery farm for social pathology, could have been built.

Justice,

by which is meant equality of outcome, demands the universal spread of grunginess, the destruction of all outward forms of distinction.