Sunday, May 12, 2013

No true wealth but life...

John Ruskin 1850s
The Hillside Club in Berkeley, CA will host a one-day symposium on John Ruskin, No Wealth But Life, on July 13. I am constantly amazed by those who have so little sense of cultural integration that they see only the dollar as their measure of success.

Neurophysiologist Matti Bergstöm named a sociological and cultural syndrome, "finger blindness" referring to those who have not learned their sense of self from a true connection with reality...  like that acquired through the making of beautiful and useful things. He refers to those folks as being "values damaged," in that their values are restricted and narrowed to a single measure of reality. Bergstöm said, "Just as the blind man cannot see the the shape of a physical object, the finger blind cannot perceive its intrinsic worth." Rather than understanding the diverse cooperative values associated with craftsmanship, the only measure for the finger blind is that of competitive financial success. And some of the richest folks in our society suffer from it.

We see the effects of this all the time, from the SWEPCo plans to put a huge superhighway of electric power through my back yard, destroying 48 miles of Arkansas forests in the process, to schools in which the administrators overlook the interests of each child in order to foist schemes of greater profit and short term cost-effectiveness, on our kids.
"Ruskin attacked the insufficiency of nineteenth century notions of 'value' and 'wealth,' insisting instead that 'There Is No Wealth But Life.' For Ruskin, as for us today, the great challenge was to teach people and nations "to desire and labour for the things that lead to life." As an antidote to the gospel of greed, Ruskin taught "the first law of the universe" the law of help which governs all healthy biological and social systems."
Ruskin's law of help is as follows: "Government and cooperation are in all things and eternally the laws of life. Anarchy and competition, eternally, and in all things, the laws of death.[98]"

Today in the wood shop, I'm cleaning and getting ready for the week. This is my next to the last week of classes for the year at Clear Spring School. I'm also getting ready for the White St. Art Walk here in Eureka Springs next Friday night, and I am preparing for my trip to Marc Adams School of Woodworking in two weeks. Class there will begin on May 28, and there are still openings for students to sign up. Go to for details.

Make, fix and create...

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