Thursday, November 14, 2013

Modern Entanglement

John Ruskin (8 February 1819 – 20 January 1900) was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, also an art patron, draughtsman, watercolourist, a prominent social thinker and philanthropist. In the following few quotes from his book titled Precious Thoughts, he takes a hard look at life in the 1800s. Not much has changed and if he were to see how far we have come down the road he reproaches, he would doubtless roll over in his grave.

  "The vain and haughty projects of youth for future life; the giddy reveries of insatiable self-exaltation; the discontented dreams of what might have been or should be, instead of the thankful understanding of what is; the casting about for sources of interest in senseless fiction, instead of the real human histories of the people round us; the prolongation from age to age of romantic historical deceptions instead of sifted truth; the pleasures taken in fanciful portraits of rural or romantic life in poetry and on the stage, without the smallest effort to rescue the living rural population of the world from its ignorance or misery; the excitement of the feelings by labored imagination of spirits, fairies, monsters, and demons, issuing in total blindness of heart and sight to the true presences of beneficent or destructive spiritual powers around us; in short, the constant abandonment of all the straightforward paths of sense and duty, for fear of losing some of the enticement of ghostly joys, all these various forms of false idealism have so entangled the modern mind, often called, I suppose ironically, practical, that truly I believe there never yet was idolatry of stock or staff so utterly unholy as this our idolatry of shadows; nor can I think that, of those who burnt incense under oaks, and poplars, and elms, because “the shadow thereof was good,” it could in any wise be more justly or sternly declared than of us –“The wind hath bound them up in her wing, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.” John Ruskin.   

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