Selected Essays Articles Look Things Berger

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He pursued the subject of immigration in a series of books ('' A Seventh Man,'' '' Into Their Labours,'' '' To the Wedding'').

He found friendship with the Swiss filmmaker Alain Tanner (one of the least self-promoting film directors in the world) and did screenplays for him.

Some thought that speech self-serving (it is included in '' Selected Essays''), and there has always been a little of the self-dramatist in Berger.

But that way of handling Booker was a guide to Berger's future.

And then in one year -- 1972, a time of astonishing ferment for Berger -- he published a novel called '' G'' that won the Booker Prize, and he took on television itself.

Not just as a subject, but as a kind of guide or preacher, on camera, for a series called '' Ways of Seeing'' that some of us rate as vital to our education, a series that began with Berger, a spellbinder on the screen, with a slight lisp that could seem like whispered intimacy: '' 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 what he had been on about all the time. RESIST this if you can: '' He usually drew with a chalk -- either red or black.They cut into every drawing, like slits in silk, to reveal the anatomy beneath the sheen.'' You can call that ''art criticism,'' if you choose, and there was a time of his life, in London, when John Berger was an art critic, doing his column for The New Statesman or New Society.The choice is Geoff Dyer's, and he supplies a fond and very useful introduction. In 1972, Berger was at a dizzy height in London (and beyond).He only added to his fame by responding to the Booker Prize (it was £5,000 then) with a proviso: that Booker fortune came from exploitation of the Caribbean, so half the money would go to the Black Panthers, and the other half to underwrite research on immigrant labor in Europe. His studies of animals are full of the fluency of animal movement. His boats ride on the swell of the sea and the light glances along their hulls with the same undulating rhythm.John Berger is known for his trenchant criticism of what he saw as Moore’s overblown reputation in the 1950s and 1960s, but, as this essay explores, Berger respected Moore as a person and in the 1980s admired his later work.In 1988, two years after Henry Moore’s death, the art critic Peter Fuller ended his affiliation with and allegiance to his mentor John Berger with an essay for New Society titled ‘The Value of Art’.Yes, John Berger loved art -- he had studied to be a painter once -- but in the end, or by 1972, he knew that its importance was in helping us face our surrounds -- put another way, are we surrounded (as in enclosed), or are we flowing into that larger world?Well, that was nearly 30 years ago, and John Berger now is 75 -- a proper age for this salute in the form of '' The Shape of a Pocket,'' a collection of short, radiant essays on things seen, and the much larger '' Selected Essays,'' written over nearly 50 years.


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