Wednesday, December 15, 2004

John Berger

Over at Charlotte Street there is a long reflection by Mark Kaplan on John Berger, one of the most gifted and humane of essayists and thinkers of the last forty years. I can still remember the impact his Ways Of Seeing had on me: "It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it". That was it - Berger's way of getting us to understand how words and our experiences of the world interact.

Mark has also excerpted this from one of John Berger's essays (and there's a brooding photo of him as well):
I can't tell you what art does and how it does it, but I know that art has often judged the judges, pleaded revenge to the innocent and shown to the future what the past has suffered, so that it has never been forgotten. I know too that the powerful fear art, whatever its form, when it does this, and that amongst the people such art sometimes runs like a rumour and a legend because it makes sense of what life's brutalities cannot, a sense that unites us, for it is inseparable from a justice at last. Art, when it functions like this, becomes a meeting-place of the invisible, the irreducible, the enduring, guts and honour.


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