National Review / Digital
The Age of the Ugly
Beauty’s decline is bad for the soul
(Roman Genn)


C. S. Lewis used to distinguish sharply between what he called “Old Western” civilization and the civilization of the modern West that succeeded it. He attributed the division to the machine culture of the New Western man; I have sometimes thought that as distinct a fault line could be traced by contrasting the Old Western man’s passion for artistic beauty with the relative indifference of his New Western descendant.

Compare a modern shopping center to, say, the marketplace of Arles in Provence — it is now called the Place de la République — and the falling-off is incontestable. Where the Old Western man created beautiful forms instinctively, as a matter of course, we New Westerners as reflexively create ungainly ones. The Old Western man, the historian Johan Huizinga observed, insisted on having artistic beauty “in the midst of life”; the New Western man has “set art apart from life.”

February 24, 2014    |     Volume LXVI, No. 3

  • The Republican party is newly awash with ideas.
  • The EU discovers that it needs affordable energy.
  • Preschool advocates’ claims of success are based on faulty methodology.
  • Our financial regulations tend toward lesser clarity and greater expense.
  • An immigrant’s travails at the DMV.
Books, Arts & Manners
  • Lee Edwards reviews Living on Fire: The Life of L. Brent Bozell, by Daniel Kelly.
  • Bing West reviews Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, by Robert M. Gates.
  • Robert VerBruggen reviews The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success, by Megan McArdle.
  • Ross Douthat reviews the two most striking Oscar snubs—Inside Llewyn Davis and All Is Lost.
  • Richard Brookhiser discusses horse racing.
The Long View  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Athwart  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Poetry  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  
Happy Warrior  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .