Welcome to “Why Ruskin”

The goal of this site is to introduce readers to the remarkable thought of the great 19th Century British Art and Social Critic, John Ruskin. Even though his is hardly a household name these days, it is my deep and enduring belief that Ruskin’s brilliant thought and carefully worked out ideas (always encased in glorious prose) still retain great relevancy for our modern days, offering new ways of thinking about and, quite possibly, if put into practice, alleviating or lessening many of the troubles which still beset us. But there is second level to Ruskin’s genius, his unparalleled ability to make the beauty of this world and life come alive in his paragraphs. I am hopeful that, after reading some of the posts you might be inclined to agree with these assessments.

If you are a First Time Visitor, I recommend that you begin by reading the First Post: “An Introduction to this Site” (to do this, just click on the underlined passage). Using a number of Ruskin’s best quotes, this initial offering outlines the site’s history and goals. If, after reading it, you’d like to read other Posts, three are two options. You can go to the top of this screen and, under the banner, chose the Page, “Previous Posts in Sequence”; this will take you to a list of all of the site’s posts; chick any one and you will be taken to it. Alternatively, you can slide your cursor to the right side of this screen and click on the Drop Down “Previous Posts by Topic,” choose a “Category,” click on that, and a list will appear which names all the Posts which pertain to the topic. As a third option, if you’d like to read an overview explaining how I came to admire Ruskin as much as I do, complete with examples demonstrating why that judgment is sound, you can have a look at my essay,  “Why Ruskin?”

More information about Ruskin and myself will be found in the Pages which are listed on the navigation bar beneath the banner photographs. The most recently published Post can always be read below this “Welcome” note (just scroll down). If you’d like to be notified of  subsequent Posts as they publish, as I hope you will, just click on the “FOLLOW” button at the top of the right hand column and type in your email address.  Questions, suggestions, or comments are always welcome.  The lovely drawing–there are many more!–of a peacock’s and a falcon’s feather, is Ruskin’s.

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157: Very Little Things

Friends,

Generally, I’m not much in favor of aphorisms, even if they are Ruskin’s, because, however wonderful they are, they are invariably decontextualized and, in that guise, obscure or overlook entirely a more important message. But this morning’s reading brought me one that was intended to stand alone because it was written as a one-sentence foootnote. Taken by it, I thought it would might be useful to share.

In Fors letter 34 (see previous post), Ruskin is telling the story of Hensli, a simple, but masterful, broom-maker who lives between the wonderful Swiss lakes and mountains. He has little money (brooms, even good ones, never bringing much), but what he has he has earned by his own dedicated labor. Over time, he has found that that amount is sufficient, and so he creates his life using that limitation as his lot. Then comes Ruskin’s footnote:

Utmost wisdom is not in self-denial, but in learning to find extreme pleasure in very little things.

Until next time, be well out there!

🙂

Jim

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