Ruskin on the virtue of imperfection

Professor Anthony O’Hear writes of John Ruskin:

“He believed that the first lesson which the arts had to teach us was that nothing can be truly noble which is not imperfect, which takes us back to his distinction between the Gothic and the classical. The great artists always work beyond their powers of execution.  Much of what they do is, like nature itself, unfinished and irregular.  These irregularities are signs of life – and hence, paradoxically, of beauty too.  The search for perfection is, in fact, a readiness to accept the perfection of the dead, of the mediocre.  It also usually means, as in today’s “quality assurance”, that sub-workers in a task have to suppress their own personalities in order to work towards some pattern ordained by another.  “But accurately speaking, no good work whatever can be perfect, and the demand for perfection is always a sign of a misunderstanding of the ends of art.”  It is, of course, part of the virtue of the Gothic that it allows imperfection and irregularity to flourish within its overarching and transcendent vision.”  

Anthony O’Hear.  The Philosopher’s Stone – John Ruskin on Education.  Quarterly Review 1(3), Autumn 2007, p27-34.  (Emphasis not in original.)

The overarching and transcendent vision of the cartel is nothing more than the control of humans by unaccountable experts, bureaucrats and inspectors.  This theft of freedom is fitting only for those that cannot govern themselves.

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