"… the ones who pulled stunts devoid of what I still thought of as craft: submerging counterfeit holy relics in urine; ripping tossed-off paintings of pinup girls out of magazines and enshrining them in gilded frames; exhibiting lumps of flyblown human dung in sealed glass boxes. Sometime during the twentieth century the elite’s idea of beauty became tied to discomfort. Everything worth looking at for more than half a second had to turn your stomach, and if you found the simple things of the world beautiful, like sunrises and grins and starlight, well, then, there was something clearly wrong with you — you were common at best, moronic at worst."
Which is, once again, commentary on our world from Palmer’s alternate one. Unfortunately, it’s also a digression in the middle of a long soliloquy at the climax of the book — one of three long long speeches during a chase to the top of a skyscraper — that saps any and all forward momentum from the tale.