Celebrating John Berger
I have posted quite a bit about John Berger. He is a wonderful writer. I have only met and spoken to him once - it was at a Transnational Institute event at De Balie in Amsterdam in 1999 where, together with his daughter, he gave an electric reading from his novel King: A Street Story. He came across as a warm, committed and engaging man with a deep love of language spoken in a sonorous voice.
Next month London will host a unique celebration and exploration of John Berger's work called "Here Is Where We Meet". Details are here. I really hope to be there. It promises readings, performances, discussions, new site-specific work and the first retrospective of Berger's body of work in film and television. Above all it is an exploration of what writing is for:
... what it can and cannot do, and whether it has a future as a tool of shared purpose, as an agent of the common good in societies increasingly fragmented and wary of collective causes and claims.And here are John Berger's own words in answering why he does what he does:
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.