April 19th, today, is Van Akin Burd’s birthday. That auspicious entrance occurred 102 years ago. As regular readers know, Van’s time among us ended nearly a half year ago, on November 7, 2015. He was much missed then. He is much missed now. He will be much missed as long as those of us who knew him remain here to lament his absence. Perhaps most importantly, he will be missed by everyone who, whether now or in the future, reads his great Ruskin works, works which have almost no equals and which, now, will have no sequels.
Van dedicated his life to elucidating Ruskin’s life story, convinced that, if he published the truth pertaining to that oft-mangled tale, it would regenerate appreciation of the magnanimity of Ruskin’s life and, eventually, lead readers to the epochal works that life produced. (I use “magnanimity” here in Ruskin’s sense: that it designates one who is “mighty of heart, mighty of mind.”)
That Van was a living example of the sort of life Ruskin recommended and admired is easily recalled by anyone who knew and loved him. He was, every day of his life, kind, generous, impeccably honest. As evidence–and in his honor–I offer below one of the master’s maxims which Van thought so highly of, he kept it always near him, pinned to the cork board above a desk in his home, the desk where he answered his mail and, importantly, given the contents of the axiom, wrote his checks. The insight comes from one of Ruskin’s works on political economy (haven’t quite figure out which one yet; if any of you knows, let me know).
It is a ,maxim for us all methinks!
Until next time. I do hope you are well out there!!
P.S.: If you would like to read my tribute to Van and his life, written shortly after his departure, it can be found here: 52: A Book (for Van Akin Burd.)