44. Political Theory

Here’s something a bit different, Folks. It flew across an ocean and continent this morning, forwarded to me by Tim Rawson, a dear friend, and someone, like myself and many who follow this site, who cares much about Ruskin and what he was trying to tell, teach, us. It’s a kind of intellectual overview of Ruskin’s life and, on the whole, not too bad. It gets some things wrong–Ruskin did not travel to Venice every summer with his parents (some summers and falls is more accurate), Venice, though very important, was hardly the only place that inspired his social conscience, and certainly Ruskin would not have chosen a picture of a 1920s flapper in diaphanous dress as an illustration of “Beauty”–Mont Blanc in the French Alps or a Turner landscape would have been far more likely. Also, at least for my taste, it’s a bit too fast paced–you can’t savor anything (such speeding being one of the most fatal aspects of the new technology, destroying our attention as it grabs it). Finally, if we think of the title given the film, “Political Theory,” as meaning, as for Ruskin it did, “the theory of the polis,” “city,” “community,” or “society,” it works better than if we use our narrower sense (these days) that “politics” points to the local or national variety of give-and-take manipulations designed to gain or use power.

But these are quibbles. Generally, the film traces the arch of Ruskin’s society-criticizing life well. Let me know what you think. (By the way, when you click on “play” on the YouTube site an ad will start. If you wait a few seconds, in the lower right, a little box will open which allows you to click on “Skip Ad”; after doing so, you’ll go straight to the film. You’ll also note that, on the same site, there are options to click on entries celebrating other famous thinkers–Freud, William Morris, etc. I’ve not checked these. If you do, let me know about them.) Here it is:


Thanks, Tim!


Until next time.

Be well out there. Think political theory!


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3 Responses to 44. Political Theory

  1. zbullock says:

    This is very quick, but, as you mentioned, “The School of Life” still gets it right. I think the images and collages are very pithy and provide a good visualization of the large arcs of Ruskin thought on both art and society. (Ruskin is worth the pop culture attention he is given here.) The video also emphasizes the practical action underlying Ruskin’s ideas, which often gets overlooked, I think. For my own uses with students, this video provides a nice introduction to who Ruskin was, but cannot be relied on to synthesize his political economy. That’s when you give them Ad Valorem!

  2. cw291 says:

    Is this Alain de Botton, Jim? I think it must be. I agree that it’s of some value, despite some minor errors.


  3. Mark Frost says:

    I think this is excellent, serving as a brief but very helpful introduction for students encountering Ruskin for the first time, and for anyone who has a vague inkling that Ruskin might just be worth finding out more about but who don’t have much time and don’t know where to start. I’ve attached it to the Ruskin sections of my Ecocritical Perspectives unit moodle site, where it serves as a gateway to that wonderful Philip Hoare Guardian article from last year. I’ve also posted it on facebook. Thanks Jim.

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