Is there any aspect of our cultural life that will remain unsullied by the filth of the so-called avant-garde? We say “so-called” because it has been clear for some time that what masquerades as the artistic avant-garde today is mostly an insidious form of moral insurrection that poaches on the prestige of art in order to carry out with impunity its raids on custom, decency, and standards of taste.

The large-scale results of this assault are too obvious and too numerous to require comment. We have all of us to some extent become inured to a culture where viciousness and depravity are simply taken for granted, like some hideous wallpaper that we have lived with for years. It still happens, however, that some particularly rebarbative incident or phenomenon will break in upon our moral anesthesia and, at least momentarily, shatter our insensitivity. Curiously, it is often something offhand and, in itself, quite insign ...