The All-Pervading Ugliness of Modernity

Last post, as part of NRx’s aesthetics week, I looked at from where beauty came. I ended by comparing churches, where I noted the ugliness of modern churches. This ugliness is not just confined to modern churches, ugliness pervades modern life, from architecture to the arts to women, ugliness is inescapable. The astounding thing is that this ugliness is all self-inflicted; we are more shielded from the ugly aspects of the natural world than we have ever been, yet we choose to fill our lives with ugliness.

Why do we inflict this on ourselves?

As I said, beauty comes from where form and function meet and point to a higher truth. Yet we as a society reject truth, so mere attractiveness, form and function without transcendent value, is the most we can hope to aspire to. If the reality of the age is truth is subjective, there can be no truth and no beauty.

Yet we can we can not even chase attractiveness, for we reject that there is an objective reality against which objects can be measured. If there is no objective essence to the objects we arrange our society around, there can be no objective form nor function by which to judge the attractiveness of an object.

Beyond this, our collective desire for equality destroys beauty. Beauty is better than ugliness, I’ve heard none who dispute this, but this means the beautiful is better than the ugly, which would be inequality. So, to create equality our society glorifies the ugly and denigrates the beautiful. By calling the ugly beautiful (or vice versa) we can have equality while not being able to deny the undeniable.

By refusing to judge, or even being able to judge, the ugly for being ugly and being unable to praise the beautiful for being beautiful, we allow the ugly to conquer the public sphere.

I should note that, as I’ve mentioned before, the rejection of truth and objectiveness is not something most people actually believe on a gut level, most people love the truth, love beauty, and believe in an objective reality in their day-to-day lives and when a discussion is not specifically concerning these topics. These are not even things they will explicitly reject. They just unthinkingly issue forth the approved social truths when they should. The problem comes with the fact that these social truths make it impossible for them to fight the everyday ugliness and deceit in our society.

These modern concepts of equality and relativism made themselves felt in design. In modernist design, form follows function became the maxim. Rather than this being descriptive, where form naturally flows from function, it became prescriptive, where form was reduced to functionality alone. Natural and traditional processes for having form and function meet were destroyed in the name of efficiency.

The human became inhuman.

These inhumanly functional forms, culminating in the aptly named brutalism, are unnatural and oppressive. These enforced sameness, but not by elevation, for how could piles of concrete that would look better as rubble elevate anyone? Rather they enforce sameness by bringing the public square down to the lowest level possible. Is it any wonder the inhuman totalitarian communists, government agencies, and utopian socialists glommed to these modernist styles?

As I’ve said before, it is all related. The ugly inhuman aesthetics of the public square are part an parcel of the leftist march through culture. The modern ugliness of our cities is due to egalitarian ideology. The purpose for which an object is created or used, flows from the ideological principles of the one creating or using the object.

Form flows from function, but function flows from ideology.

When inhuman egalitarian, liberal, and socialist ideology reign, so to does ugliness. Ugliness flows from the soul, and the soul of our society is a black pit of poison. The reason for the all-pervading ugliness of society is you. Your desire to be equal, your rage against the truth, and your denial of God and objective reality. If you ever look around your city and wonder why its so inhumanly ugly, its because this is what you chose. If you’ve ever went to a modern art gallery and wondered how anybody could praise a toilet, its because this is what you chose.


  1. @Exfernal – ignoring the graffiti, it doesn’t look so bad. In fact, Poland looks surprisingly Mediterranean. I like the terracotta tiled walls that surround the church.

  2. The one I found in the street view is just up the road. Has a big banner outside reading ‘Makulatura Na Misje, Zbiorka 18-v-20’. Within the walls, you can also see three flags flanking the entrances, and above the door a stunning image of Christ.

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