Great stuff. If you have any interest in art, go read it.
Because I am lazy, I will simply reproduce here what I left in the combox at TAE;
It is a meaty article, but I'll throw out two passages that stood out to me.
"This process has been so normalized as to become a critical orthodoxy, prompting the philosopher Arthur Danto to argue recently that beauty is both deceptive as a goal and in some way antipathetic to the mission of modern art. Art has acquired another status and another social role."
The truth is that desecration, deconstructionism and sensationalism are the orthodoxy of the Academy, now, and are every bit as entrenched, exclusive and inbred as the conventions of the 19th century academy in Europe (which had its own issues). The student is encouraged - or prodded - by professors to attack the status quo, but it is a mythical status quo. The real status quo belongs now exclusively to the Modernist movement. If one has any *real* desire to rebel, he can do no better than to question the orthodoxy he is being fed in art school.
But the whole idea of art as rebellion misses the point."Rebellion" isn't a value. Its value depends completely on what one is in rebellion against.
Scruton also says of the experience of beauty;
"The haste and disorder of modern life, the alienating forms of modern architecture, the noise and spoliation of modern industry—these things have made the pure encounter with beauty a rarer, more fragile, and more unpredictable thing for us."
This seems beyond doubt, to me. As I've said, we hold nature at arms length in the modern world, and this has brought us a number of benefits, but it has come at a high metaphysical price.
There is no reason to just accept that it must be this way though. We need to pause and take stock of where the blind rush of industrialism has taken us, and then intentionally and systematically begin making our environment more harmonious and more seamlessly integrated with nature. It can be done, but over the last hundred years it has not been a priority. Good grief, we have the technology to accomplish it. What is wrong with us?
One final thought: desecration is an entirely negative act. It has no power except the power that comes from the thing being desecrated. You can not desecrate a pile of dog poop. I suppose you could try, but the act would carry no weight, as it would be meaningless and could offend or upset no one (that I know of).
You can, however, desecrate a cathedral, or the image of the human body, or the Cross, or the Statue of Liberty, because these things carry a great depth of meaning in themselves. It reminds me of what C.S. Lewis said about the banality of evil, that evil is by its nature only ever a parasite on the good, that it cannot even succeed in being evil in the same way that goodness succeeds in being good.
"Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness".
The spoilers, the deconstructionists, the desecrators, have no power of their own, so they have to borrow it from somewhere else.