Thursday, February 16, 2006

Rorschach test

The haunting dimension of John Ruskin's writing continues to be how timely the observances are, no matter the age. The struggle with the following quote was deciding to which current architectural situation it best applies. Only after reflection does it become evident that Ruskin knew the answer. The work carries such purchase because it is careful to be broadly inclusive. This guarantees that the reader will find the best application; he cleverly compliments the intellect of the reader. As one reads this passage from the The Lamp of Sacrifice [The Seven Lamps of Architecture] below, it is interesting to watch the subjects one’s mind wanders toward. Therein lie the readers’ values, that Ruskin cleverly has the authorship of evoking and agreeing with, 160 years later...
"We are no one of us so good architects as to be able to work habitually beneath our strength; and yet there is not a building that I know of, lately raised, wherein it is not sufficiently evident that neither architect nor builder has done his best... Ours as has consistently the look of money's worth, of a stopping short wherever and whenever we can, of a lazy compliance with low conditions; never of a fair putting forth of our strength. Let us have done with this kind of work at once: cast off every temptation to do it: do not let us degrade ourselves voluntarily, and then mutter and mourn over our shortcomings; let us confess our poverty or our parsimony, but not belie our human intellect. It is not a question of how much we are to do, but of how it is to be done; it is not a question of doing more, but doing better."


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