Sorting today, I came across a folder of Ruskin’s quotes which, at one point or another, I shared with my students. Below’s one of these; one that, all but surely, I read at a week’s beginning, hoping to get my charges to think, just a little, about the buried treasure awaiting them in the seven days ahead.
Ruskin’s sentence appears at the end of the fifth chapter of the first volume of The Stones of Venice (1851). He has just spent some hundreds of pages showing his readers how great architecture is created or, better said, how the greatest of the world’s buildings all exhibit the same life-enhancing qualities (“lamps” he called them in The Seven Lamps of Architecture four years earlier), vital qualities which have been chosen, and then carefully carved into being by their chooser/creators. Reading the passage for the first time some years ago, it occurred to me that our author could have just as easily been talking about building the week before us–building, of course, not with stones, but with that spectrum of encounters we are about to experience with all those marvelous (and sometimes not so marvelous) folks who, at this very moment, are waiting, some surely with barely bated breath, to see us tomorrow morning, while still others save their encounters until later in the week–as, hopefully, the pictures which follow the quote (all taken during our recent trip to Venice) suggest.
I [now] leave my reader free to build, and with what a freedom! All the lovely forms of the universe set before him [from which ] to choose, and all the lovely lines that bound their substance or guide their motion, and of all these lines–and there are myriads of myriads in every bank of grass and every tuft of forest, and groups of them divinely harmonized; in the bell of every flower, and in every several member of every bird and beast–what must be the infinity of treasure of them all! There is enough in a single flower for the adornment of a score of cathedrals…
Have a wonderful week.