Tag Archives: John Ruskin

Intrinsic Value

The quiet home, with his imaginative father and deeply religious mother, the ancient university at which he passed his most formative years, kept him apart from those freer and less exalted minds who advanced more rationally and patiently to their conclusions. But yet, the spirit of his time awakened within him, as a seed germinates in the warmth ‘of spring. He […]

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My own start

Ruskin’s Fors Clavigera had made me think  meanly, if not meanly enough, of the school teaching that had been my work since 1878; and under the same influence of Ruskin’s book I felt that man’s only decent occupation was in handicraft. I shudder yet smile to think now what raw ideas swayed me then; yet […]

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Researching Ruskin

I’ve been researching the foundations of Arts and Crafts as a social movement off and on for over a decade now; a decade ago I didn’t even have that label to place on it. At the center, for most people, is John Ruskin. The problem is that I find Ruskin to be deadly dull. This […]

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Reading Josiah Wedgwood

One of the most easily predictable things about late nineteenth/early twentieth century writing is the consistent call to dead white men for authority. In Herbert Read’s case, the two major figures he summons are Josiah Wedgwood and William Morris. Morris, I have some familiarity with; Wedgwood was more of a mystery to me so I did […]

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Locating David Pye

As I’ve deepened my readings/re-readings of David Pye over the years, some interesting things have started to pop out at me. He’s got an Aristotelian knack for taxonomies and frameworks, but there are some real prejudices in there that are troubling. First, he clearly privileges the visual over the tactile; second, he’s strongly biased against […]

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Public and Private Beauty

There is a distinct abuse of bulleted lists in Segal’s book. Nonetheless, many of the concepts buried in these bullets deserve close attention and comparison with other variations on the general ideas.  The “graceful” aspect of Segal’s formulation of graceful simplicity is steeped in aesthetic values which converge and diverge with earlier deployments of the […]

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Tumbling drunk into the fire

“Even such things as this,” he wrote of one quarrel, “the army setting off to conquer all the world turning back to burn Jack’s pigstye, and tumbling drunk into the fire—even this don’t shake me: means one must use the best one can get: but one thing I won’t do, wait for perfect means are […]

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Tradition

But, in the 1870s, Morris was coming to regard his writing as (in the words of Henry James), a sub-trade—a form of pleasurable recreation and relaxation from other work—rather than his central place of encounter with his age. He was coming to adopt an attitude towards his writing (drawn in part from his own version […]

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Talking Shop

You won’t find Talking Shop on many woodworker’s “must read” lists. I started it a while ago and put it aside, once I got the gist of it’s thesis. I was enjoying it, but it just didn’t seem relevant to the other craft reading I was doing until now. I thought of it soon after […]

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