Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Because no-one demanded it, more Ruskin

Make if BIGGER

“For there is a crust about the impressible part of men’s minds, which must be pierced through before they can be touched to the quick ; and though we may prick at it and scratch at it in a thousand separate places, we might as well have let it alone if we do not come through somewhere with a thrust : and if we can give such a thrust anywhere, there is no need of another ; it need not be even so “wide as a church door,” so that it be enough.

And mere weight will do this ;  it is a clumsy way of doing it, but an effectual one, too ; and the apathy which cannot be pierced by a small steeple, nor shone through by a small window, can be broken through in a moment by the mere weight of a great wall.”

Fuck ribbons, frankly

“”is there anything like ribands in nature? It might be thought that grass and seaweed afforded apologetic types. They do not. There is a wide difference between their structure and that of the riband. They have a skeleton, an anatomy, a central rib, or fibre, or framework of some kind or another, which has a beginning and an end, a root and head, and whose make and strength affect every direction of their motion and every line of their form.

The loosest weed that drifts and waves under the heaving of the sea, or hangs heavily on the brown and slippery shore, has a marked strength, structure, elasticity, gradation of substance ; its extremities are more finely fibred than its centre, its centre than its root : every fork of its ramification is measured and proportioned ; every wave of its languid lines is lovely. It has its allotted size, and place, and function ; it is a specific creature.

What is there like this in a riband? It has no structure : it is a succession of cut threads all alike ; it has no skeleton, no make, no form, no size, no will of its own. You cut it and crush it into what you will. It has no strength, no languor. It cannot fall into a single graceful form. It cannot wave, in the true sense, but only turn and be wrinkled. It is a vile thing ; it spoils all that is near its wretched film of an existence. Never use it. Let the flowers come loose if they cannot keep together without being tied ; leave the sentence unwritten if you cannot write it on a tablet or book, or plain roll of paper.”

Also, railways.

“Another of the strange and evil tendencies of the present day is to the decoration of the railroad station. Now if there be any place in the world in which people are deprived of that portion of temper and discretion which are necessary to the contemplation of beauty, it is there. It is the very temple of discomfort, and the only charity that the builder can extend to us is to show us, plainly as may be, how soonest to escape from it.

The whole system of railroad travelling is addressed to people, who, being in a hurry, are therefore, for the time being, miserable. No one would travel in that manner who could help it – who had time to go leisurely over hills and between hedges, instead of through tunnels and between banks : at least those who would have no sense of beauty so acute as that we need consult it at the station.

The railroad is in all its relations a matter of earnest business, to be got through as soon as possible. It transmutes a man from a traveller into a living parcel. For the time he has parted with the nobler characteristics of his humanity for the sake of a planetary power of locomotion. Do not ask him to admire anything. You might as well ask the wind. Carry him safely, dismiss him soon : he will thank you for nothing else. All attempts to please him in any other way are mere mockery, and insults to the things by which you endeavour to do so.


Railroad architecture has, or would have, a dignity of its own if it were only let to its work. You would not put rings on the fingers of a smith at his anvil.”


  1. Great Serpents of Smoke, I had missed this completely. Yet another reason to dig into your archives.

    The following may be related: http://worldbuildingandwoolgathering.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/john-ruskin-rolls-up-character.html

    1. Thanks Solomon, that was fun. I need to read more Ruskin.

    2. On the subject of art and architecture, I can't help feeling something could be done with this:[http://www.zikg.eu/veranstaltungen/images/joseph-gandy-comparative-characteristics-of-thirteen-selected-styles-of-architecture-1836-120-x-83-4-cm-london-sir-john-soane2018s-museum/image_view_fullscreen]

      Joseph Michael Gandy's 'Composite Characteristics of 13 Selected Styles of Architecture 1836'