Thursday, May 17, 2018

John Berger’s Way of Being

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John Peter Berger [born in 1926 in London, England – died in 2017 in Paris, France) was, Wikipedia notes, “an English art critic, novelist, painter and poet. His novel G. won the 1972 Booker Prize, and his essay on art criticism, Ways of Seeing, written as an accompaniment to a BBC series, is often used as a university text. He lived in France for more than half a century.” To be precise, he lived in Quincy, the tiny village in the Alps where he had lived since 1973. Berger, who was born into a prosperous middle-class family, was no capitalist, far from it; he critiqued it as an aggrieving force for humanity. Jacob Brogan for The New Yorker writes: “Berger was a committed Marxist—‘Capitalism survives by forcing the majority, whom it exploits, to define their own interests as narrowly as possible,’ he wrote in ‘Ways of Seeing,’ a representative statement that still seems remarkable in a book produced to accompany a popular television series—and his attention to materiality had a political aspect. His writing often focussed on problems of labor; artists, Berger reminded his readers, are actors in the world, each creation a worldly performance. As Robert Minto puts it, ‘Berger takes art out of the sanitizing temples where we store it and drops it firmly back onto the easel, in a messy studio, where a sweaty artist bites her lip and stores her way of looking in an object.’ ”  Like many, Berger saw the brutal side of capitalism, how it dispossess the weak, and how it can make the world ugly, when, for example, to build another unsightly high-rise condo or office tower, it dislocates Man from Beauty. For more, go [here] and [here] and [here] and [here] and [here].
Courtesy: The New Yorker

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