Oscar Wilde was once asked when he was a very young man in America, ‘Mr. Wilde, why do you think America is such a violent country?’ And he said, ‘Oh I know very well why it’s so violent…Because your wallpaper is so hideous.’ And it seemed like a camp remark from a young eastie, but he’s actually quite serious.
If you look out of the window, as a human being, at nature, all of nature is unconditionally and absolutely beautiful, whatever it is— whether it’s a jungle, whether it’s a desert. The only ugly thing you will ever see when you look out of a window is made by man.
And if, from your earliest age, looking at the world, you see yourself as a member of a species that can only uglify and despoil the world, it gives you what psychiatrists would call a deep sense of guilt. Guilt, as anyone knows, is the major cause of aggression. That’s why you get violent, because you’re guilty, you feel worthless. And you feel worthless if you don’t believe you’re part of a species that is actually capable of creating beautiful things…which we are. In terms of architecture, in terms of painting, in terms of music, all kinds of things— beauty is possible and is good. This, I’m afraid [referencing ‘artistic’ collectible plates], is the worst thing because it thinks it’s beautiful, it doesn’t understand where beauty really lies.