Sunday, November 14, 2010

What, according to Ruskin, are the three kinds of ‘noble war’?

Ruskin calls was as the foundation of all arts. He means to say that it is the foundation of all the high virtues and faculties of men. It is a practical fact that peace and vices of civil life flourish together. All nations realized the truth that war nourishes and invigorates them whereas peace wastes and debilitates them. But Ruskin does not refer to the wars of barbarians or the Scotch border feuds or the Napoleonic war, because such wars build nothing except tombs.
He refers to creative or ‘noble war’ which disciplines love and ambition and kills evil. In such wars the natural instincts of self-defence are sanctified by the nobleness of the institutions and purity of the households which they are called upon to defend.
Ruskin divides this ‘noble war’ into three kinds :
(1) War for Exercise or Play
Ruskin condemns war for the sake of war. He justifies that war which is undertaken more as a play or exercise of the personal power of human creatures than a tool of vengeance upon innocent people. In the past war used to be more an exercise than any thing else among the classes who caused and proclaimed it. To the governor and the soldier, it had always been a grand pastime. No king whose mind was fully occupied with the development of the inner resources of his kingdom, ever entered into war except under compulsion. No youth who was sincerely busy with any peaceful subject of study ever became a soldier.
Fighting is implanted in human nature and hence for all healthy men, fair fight is the best play and that a tournament was a better game than a steeple-chase. Only that game of war is justifiable in which the full personal power of the human creature is brought out in management of its weapons. There are three reasons for this. First, the great justification of this game is that when well played, it determines, who is the best man, who is the most fearless, the swiftest of eye and hand. The issue of the battle must not depend on the longest gun or the best gun-power but on the firmness of frame and fairness of hand. The other two reasons for this mode of decision are the lessening of material destructiveness or cost and the physical distress of war.
(ii) War of Dominion
This is the commonest type of war. The real motive for such wars is not unholy because human nature is essentially noble. But when this nobility is forgotten, man begins to commit follies and sins. Ruskin says that the kings and princes are free to extend their domin­ion, but they should be gentlest and the most generous of all nobles. If the rulers had any idea of welfare for their subjects, the wars for the increase of power would not have taken place. .If the ruler neglects his subjects and revels only in extending his territory, he is failing in his duty. To hear the complaints of numerous people, to make laws for them and lead them to purer life is a big work for the king and he should concentrate on this.
In this connection, Ruskin defines true power. He says that it does not depend either on multitude of men or on extent of territory. It is wrong to suppose that nations become strong according to their numbers. They become strong only if these numbers are one mind. But mere number is not sufficient. A little group of wise hearts is better than a wilderness full of fools. Only that nation gains true territory which gains itself.
(iii) War for Defence
The third kind of war that Ruskin calls a ‘noble deed’ is the war for defence. It is the war waged simply for the defence of the country in which we were born and for the maintenance and execution of her laws by whomsoever threatened or defied. Most men joining the army consider themselves bound to duty. These persons should act as sentimental beings, because it is on the whole, the love of adventure, love of fine dress, love of the pride of fame which chiefly make a boy like going into the Guards better than into a counting house. Therefore, for their honour and that of their familities, they should choose brave death in a red coat in preference to brave life in a black coat.
The soldiers who dedicate their lives to the cause of their country, feel that the wars fought by them are always for the cause of the good. But Ruskin feels that the soldiers, who have to fight at the orders of others, have to labour under a form of slavery. The ruler, and administrators, the persons who govern, are not always the best men, and it is they who decide where the soldiers have to fight. Therefore, the guides and leaders of the soldiers need to be noble and righteous people. Passive obedience is not the ideal of soldiership. A separation between civil and military duties— brave men fighting and cowards thinking and directing—is not a happy state of things. To ennoble their country, the soldiers should be industrious they should think and feel as well as fight for their country.
Q. 8. What, according to Ruskin, are the three distinct schools of architecture and religions in Europe ?
Ans. In his lecture on Traffic, Ruskin speaks of the archi­tecture and religion of Europe. According to him, Europe had three distinct schools of architecture and three great religions. The schools of architecture were the direct offshoot of religions. Religion had a deep impact on the kind of architecture that came into being from, time to time. Ruskin mentions these three schools : (i) the Greek, which worshipped the God of wisdom and power, (ii) the Medieval, which worshipped the God of judgment and consolation, and (iii) the Renaissance, which worshipped the God of Pride and Beauty.
(i) The Greek School
The first Greek idea of Deity was expressed in the words ‘Diurnal’ and ‘Divine’, meaning the god of Day, Jupiter the revealer. From his daughter, Athena, who is Intellect, rose strength and peace. The Greek sought this bright, serene, resistless wisdom, with a resolute energy of will, knowing that for failure there was no conso­lation, and for sin there was no remission. Greek architecture rose unerring, bright, clearly defined and self-contained.
(ii) The Christian School
Next came the Christian faith, which was essentially the religion of comfort and consolation. Its doctrine is the remission of sins; for which cause it happens, too often, in certain phases of Christianity, that sin and sickness themselves are partly glorified, as if, the more it had to be healed of, the more divine was the healting. The practical result of this doctrine, in art, is a continual contemplation of sin and disease, and of imaginary states of purification from them. Conse­quently, such a state resulted into an architecture conceived in a mingled sentiment of melancholy and aspiration, partly severe, partly luxuriant, which will bend itself to everyone of our needs and everyone of our fancies, and be strong or weak with us, as we are strong or weak. Of all architecture, it is the noblest when built by the noble, and the basest, when built by the base.
(iii) The Renaissance School
The Christian faith was followed by the religion of pleasure in Europe. All Europe gave herself to luxury, ending in death—first the Maskball and then the guillotine.
According to Ruskin, these three worships issued in vast temple building. The Greek built the Parthenon, the medieval built chapels to the Virgin—our Lady of Salvation. The Renaissance built the’ Vetican and Versailles.

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