The "message" of Damien Hirst's shark, according to Matthew Collings ("The new establishment", Sunday Review, 31 August), is "politics is over, ethics...too". Whatever - maybe Damien would disown it. But what his work and the Young British Artists can't escape is the charge both of embracing a callow, formulaic literalness, that would make the dimmest of Pre-Raphaelites proud, and of indulging in the artist's equivalent of a monkey let loose with a typewriter. In other words, of knowing nothing of the visual science, the means for constructing the visual tropes necessary to probe and elucidate society's complex issues.
Instead, the naive empiricism of the YBAs - their shallow sensationalism, marketing mania, sybaritic lifestyles, and stultifying Cartesian ways of seeing - has produced a bottled yet hyperactive chimera that's a true child of Thatcherism and precisely what the status quo wants.
Kensington & Chelsea College London SW10