Sympathy of Things Ruskin and the Ecology of Design
written by Lars Spuybroek
Nai Publishers | ISBN 9789056628277
Paperback – 400 pages
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"We have to find our way back to beauty," writes Lars Spuybroek in the introduction to The Sympathy of Things. In this book Spuybroek argues that we must "undo" the twentieth century - the age in which the sublime turned from an art category into a technical reality. This leads him to the aesthetical insights of the nineteenth-century English art critic John Ruskin, from which he distils pointers for our time. In The Sympathy of Things, the old romantic notion of sympathy, a core concept in Ruskin's aesthetics, is re-evaluated as the driving force of the aesthetic experience. For Ruskin, beauty always comprises variation, imperfection and fragility, three concepts that wholly disappeared from our mindsets during the twentieth century. Spuybroek addresses the five central dual themes of Ruskin in turn: the Gothic and work, ornament and matter, sympathy and abstraction, the picturesque and time, ecology and design. He wrests each of these themes from the Victorian era and compares them with the related ideas of later aestheticians and philosophers like William James and Bruno Latour. Lars Spuybroek is Professor of Architectural Design at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.