Ruskin has a fidelity to the nonhuman world, either material and dumb, or religious and not materially existent, or the unity of the two. There was the time he was lying by the Fountain of Brevant and saw a thunderstorm. "Suddenly, there came in the direction of Dorm du Goûter a crash -- of prolonged thunder; and when I looked up, I saw the cloud cloven, as it were by the avalanche itself, whose white stream came bounding down the eastern slope of the mountain, like slow lightning." The power of the thunderstorm crushes him; it is not "mingled [with] the associations of humanity." "It was then only beneath those glorious hills that I learned how thought itself may become ignoble and energy itself become base -- when compared with the absorption of soul and spirit -- the prostration of all power -- and the cessation of all will -- before, and in the Presence of, the manifested Deity." It is sublime; he is sublimated. "It was then only that I understood that to become nothing might be to become more than Man." That was in the footnotes to Modern Painters, Volume II, but he doesn't take his own advice; he spends years mingled with the associations of humanity, and decades later in the Fors Clavigera letters he will write:
Looking back upon my efforts for the last twenty years, I believe that their failure has been in very great part owing to my compromise with the infidelity of this outer world, and my endeavour to base my pleading upon motives of ordinary prudence and kindness, instead of on the primary duty of loving God.
The iron is in the hills, the iron is in your blood -- permanently and indelibly -- not anything happening from my point of view: it is just there, Ruskin says, I am the one who is seeing, I am the one who will see, I am not imagining anything; the thing is in two places and connected by physical sympathy. This sorting-out of the world's parts into its own society which the human being can observe and learn is a fundamentally magical arrangement.