"If the beautiful were the good, we would never be tempted, never pulled in two directions at once; the conservative assertion that it is the good asserts that we are rational, undivided creatures. But resisting evil often means resisting beauty, and many evils are tempting because of their aesthetics, from the fascinating fascism of large-scale coordinated athletic and military maneuvers to magnificent military technologies - superbly engineered warplanes, the surging power of tanks, missiles and attacking troops, and the billowing clouds of atomic explosions, which look less like mushrooms than like roses unfurling in a time-lapse film. (…) To represent beauty may be to represent this tension between ethics and aesthetics, rather than to endorse that in which it appears; the condemnation of beautiful pictures of evil falls back on the old assumption that the beautiful should show up only as the good, that there shouldn’t be any temptation we need to resist. Perhaps there shouldn’t be, but there are many.”
— From Scapeland by Rebecca Solnit, in Richard Misrach Crimes and Splendors: The Desert Cantos of Richard Misrach. All photographs © Richard Misrach, c/o Fraenkel Gallery, SF.