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Damien Hirst at the Groucho Club in London, 2004. Photo by Mary Barone
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by Charlie Finch

George Orwell’s long 1944 essay on Salvador Dalí, "Benefit of Clergy," available in As I Please, 1943-45 (Godine Press), offers this corner an opportunity to look at Damien Hirst, for example, through the lens of history. By "benefit of clergy," Orwell tries to name the amoral license seized upon by Dalí (and Hirst) as the equivalent of a priestly function: arbiter and dominator of the moral world, made feeble as a result.