In this remarkable study, Spuybroek treats us to an astonishingly fresh upgrade of John Ruskin, who ends up no longer inhabiting an antique past but talks to us directly. Spuybroeck shows how Ruskin's aesthetic actually works, cutting through clouds of vagueness to get at a wonderfully algorithmic, procedural tactics with limpid clarity. But there's much more: something like a distinctive ontology emerges when we study Ruskin this way. This ontology radically decenters the human from its meaning-making position in the cosmos, allowing all kinds of other entities to show up without the usual visas and interrogations. What results is truly an ecology of things, making Ruskin sharply relevant for our age. Professor Timothy Morton, Rita Shea Chair in English, Rice University, USA The Sympathy of Things is a stirring call to action; an amazing reconstruction of the ideas of the Victorian sage John Ruskin; and, above all, a visionary look at the inner life of things. Lars Spuybroek makes the case that aesthetics is first philosophy, and proposes a radical new aesthetics for the digital age. -- Steven Shaviro, DeRoy Professor of English at Wayne State University, USA If Spuybroek, like Ruskin, does not shake your design and aesthetic concepts, you haven't understood him. -- Charles Jencks ... the term 'brilliant' is often misused in reviews, but the opening chapter on 'the digital nature of gothic' is truly scintillating ... -- Stephen Kite Architectural Research Quarterly This is a dazzling, provocative, baffling, and sometimes vexing manifesto. The Sympathy of Things is an unforgettable book. Carlyle Studies Annual ... hundreds of threads that make an astonishingly rich tapestry ... Ruskin has at last found an interpreter with the breadth of learning and a poetic imagination to make his perceptions relevant to our own day. Architectural Review ... exhilarating to watch elements of Ruskin's thought being taken on ... The Sympathy of Things is energetic, well written and full of examples. -- Matthew Reynolds Times Literary Supplement The Sympathy of Things is an astonishing and visionary work. I have never before come across a book so brimming with insight, written with such feeling, and so keenly in touch with life. Ostensibly a meditation on the oeuvre of John Ruskin, what Lars Spuybroek offers us is an intoxicating meditation on art, architecture and design that soars above the ponderous deadweight of thing-theory to luxuriate in the unruly and exuberant proliferation of the things themselves. Professor Tim Ingold, Chair of Social Anthropology, University of AberdeenVom Verlag:
'If there is one thing we can learn from John Ruskin, it is that each age must find its own way to beauty' writes Lars Spuybroek in The Sympathy of Things, his ground-breaking work which proposes a radical new aesthetics for the digital era. Spuybroek argues that we must 'undo' the twentieth century and learn to understand the aesthetic insights of the nineteenth-century art critic John Ruskin, from which he distils pointers for the contemporary age. Linking philosophy, design, and the digital, with art history, architecture, and craft, Spuybroek explores the romantic notion of 'sympathy', a core concept in Ruskin's aesthetics, re-evaluating it as the driving force of the twenty-first century aesthetic experience. For Ruskin, beauty always comprises variation, imperfection and fragility, three concepts that wholly disappeared from our mindsets during the twentieth century, but which Spuybroek argues to be central to contemporary aesthetics and design. Revised throughout, and a new foreword by philosopher Brian Massumi, this is a new edition of a seminal work which has drawn praise from fields as diverse as digital architecture and speculative realism, and will continue to be influential as it wrests Ruskin's ideas out of the Victorian era and reconstructs them for the modern age.
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