Absence of heart—as in public buildings—
Absence of mind—as in public speeches—
Absence of worth—as in goods intended for the public,
Are telltale signs that a chimera has just dined
On someone else; of him, poor foolish fellow,
Not a scrap is left, not even his name.
—W. H. Auden, in “The Chimeras”
Of the late, lamented Tate Gallery in London, it can be said that only a name is left, but now clipped of its definite article and divided into dubious duplicate, Tate Modern and Tate Britain—a reminder, if we need one, that two negatives cannot be expected to produce a positive result. Yet this ill-conceived project clearly represents the spirit of the age, which in art and in life is besotted with an appetite for destroying what is good by enlarging it to a scale of extinction. It puts us on...