As there are in medicine the art of diagnosis and the art of cure, so in the arts, so in the particular arts of poetry and of literature, there is the art of diagnosis and there is the art of cure. They call one the cult of ugliness and the other the cult of beauty.
The cult of beauty is the hygiene, it is sun, air and the sea and the rain and the lake bathing. The cult of ugliness, Villon, Baudelaire, Corbiere, Beardsley are diagnosis. Flaubert is diagnosis. Satire, if we are to ride this metaphor to staggers, satire is surgery, insertions and amputations.
Beauty in art reminds one what is worth while. I am not now speaking of shams. I mean beauty, not slither, not sentimentalizing about beauty, not telling people that beauty is the proper and respectable thing. I mean beauty. You don’t argue about an April wind, you feel bucked up when you meet it. You feel bucked up when you come on a swift moving thought in Plato or on a fine line in a statue.
.....Satire reminds one that certain things are not worth while. It draws one to consider time wasted.
The cult of beauty and the delineation of ugliness are not in mutual opposition.
--Ezra Pound; from The Serious Artist
Certain things do matter:
....Love, and comfort of friendship.
After we are burnt clear,
....or even deadened with knowledge;
After we have gone the whole gamut,
....exhausted our human emotions,
Still is there something greater,
....some power, some recognition,
Some bond beyond ordinary bonds
....of passion and sentiment
And the analyzed method of novels,
....some saner and truer course
That pays us for foregoing blindness.
--EP; from Redondillas, or Something of That Sort