How does this example of one of Ruskin's famous created symbolical grotesques (or grotesque satiric emblems) attack orthodox opinions, here commonly accepted ideas about economics and social welfare?
Observe, I neither impugn nor doubt the conclusion of the science if its terms are accepted. I am simply uninterested in them, as I should be in a science of gymnastics which assumed that men had no skeletons. It might be shown, on that supposition, that it would be advantageous to roll the students up into pellets, flatten them into cakes, or stretch them into cables; and that when these results were effected, the re-insertion of the skeleton would be attended with various inconveniences to their constitution. The reasoning might be admirable, the conclusions true, and the science deficient only in applicability. Modern political economy stands on a presisely similar basis. Assuming, not that the human being has no skeleton, but that it is all skeleton, it founds a ossificient theory of progress on this negotiation of soul; and having shown the utmost that may be made of bones, and having constructed a number of interesting geometrical figures with death's hand and humeri, successfully proves the inconvenience of the reappearance of the soul among these corpuscular structures. I do not deny the truth of this theory: I simply deny its applicability to the present phase of the world.
How does the use of such techniques relate to his stance as an outsider, one who stands opposed to social and warns, in the manner of an old testament prophet, that it heads towards destruction?
- Satiric definition in Unto This Last: What is the meaning of "having"? — or the nature of Possession
- An example of a Ruskinian satirical emblem (Symbolical Grotesque) from "The Roots of Honour"
Last modified 1994