Saturday, October 8, 2011

Unto This Post

The namesake of this post, Unto This Last, is a book written by a fellow named John Ruskin.  Guess whose house we visited the next day.

Ruskin was a contemporary of Adam Smith, I any case, Unto This Last was a response to the Invisible Hand idea.  His thought was this:  Adam Smith and others of that ilk said that they should eliminate inconstants and determine the formula of market theory--you know the Invisible Hand principle, so you get the idea.  But, said Ruskin, that's like coming to understand pure nitrogen and deciding it's stable, but having to deal in practice with chloride.  "And this, the moment we touch it on our established principles, sends us and our apparatus through the ceiling."  His chloride, here, is the human soul.  Basically, Ruskin argued for the soul and for the worth of man.  Which was, of course, dismissed as "twaddle" at the time but eventually took hold.

Ruskin was a renaissance man.  He drew, painted, was an accomplished scientist and naturalist, wrote, became a renowned art critic, read, and more. There was a xylophone modeled on one he'd made that was made of different stones, using their natural stones.  It was really rather impressive.  They'd made a smaller one hooked to a digitalizer for the entertainment of all, called the iRock.  I may have spent a good while entertaining myself with that.

Ruskin had larger gardens, even, than Wordsworth, but I was fascinated by the house (and it was raining and my shoes were my less durable pair) so I stayed indoors.  They also had a piano open for guests and some of our extremely talented members played some music.  Beautiful music.  I could have stayed and listened for hours, many more than we spent.  Probably longer than they would have wanted to play, really...

Another note about the Lake District (where we still were, just a slightly different part)--there are blackberry bushes all over.  So if you read Peter Rabbit about Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail going to pick blackberries, it's hardly a surprise.

Overall, I'd say you should look up Ruskin.  He was a neat guy.

We arrived back at the centre that evening and I realized that I've forgotten to tell you about another thing in Ambleside.  At about the most inconvenient time possible--I was about to fall asleep--the fire alarm went off. Some of us trudged reluctantly outside.  Yeah, there's a possibility that the building is burning down and we go stand right next to it, moving slowly and worrying about our stuff.  Yup.  Safe, eh?  Well, turns out it was a malfunction.  As was the next time it went off.  And the next.  And the last that I didn't hear, and our poor hostel manager didn't get to sleep until 3 trying to fix it.  And the day we got home, or rather 2 in the morning the next day, the alarm went off in the London Centre.  So we milled about and fewer of us left than before, and that went off again at 7.  Yay, fire alarms.  I think there was a poltergeist.  But that's me.


  1. So does the majority of your trip consist of visiting houses where awesome people used to live? Met any awesome people who are still alive?

  2. Well, we are visiting landmarks in the development of art and literature. Have I met awesome people? Yep! Famous ones? ...not so much.
    Well, one girl went to the opening of the Three Musketeers and Orlando Bloom took a picture of them--she asked for a picture with him, he took her camera to get it for her. Puts him a notch up in my estimation.
    And come Oct. 29, I'm heading to the bookstore where Brandon Sanderson's going to be hanging out with _The Alloy of Law_.