He wrote to me out of the blue when I was a film critic. To be human for him meant always seeing, listening, exchanging. Instead, he might call to ask how best to describe dreadlocks dreads or locks?
Nor is he reducible to a methodology of decoding. I am thinking simply of those great baby blues.
He always seemed to know, implicitly, that protest and anger derive from hope. I am for ever grateful for it. Produced by the Derek Jarman Lab, an audio-visual hub for graduate filmmaking based at Birkbeck, University of London, in collaboration with the composer Simon Fisher Turner, the film focuses on four different aspects of Berger, with its concentration on Quincy, his home and Alpine village.
It is what he did, that old-fashioned thing: His very being radiated it.
The everyday was not trivial to him. He was undeniably a romantic. His work embodies the hope involved Through the eyes of john berger our everyday human exchanges, whatever the circumstances.
He knew that not from theory but because he rode a motorbike. This amuses me now, this chatting about the details, but he always wanted the details. He talks of how women always survey themselves, even in moments of grief. One does not have to like all his work or agree with his various political stances many could not stomach his stance on Rushdie to see his significance is huge.
Episode two of Ways of Seeing remains seared on my mind. Ways of Listening centres on a conversation between Berger and Tilda Swinton in his snow-bound kitchen in the village of Quincy. Like many, I was interested in criticism as a result of his work, because of the idea that criticism could be radical, that it was a conversation not an evaluation.
Men act and women appear. This is quite beautiful to me still, this wondering. His TV series and book, Ways of Seeing, remain revelatory. But in Berger had shown what could be achieved. He was never not looking. I think I gave my camera away.
Feminists took this much further and still use these insights. That may be why I simply do not recognise him in some of the snippy obits in which he has been reduced to the stereotype of the dour Marxist.
Colin McCabe in A Song for Politics, brings several left-wing thinkers to the Alps to stage a political discussion of the now. This portrait of Berger actually looks at him within Quincy and within the rhythm of the four seasons. Then, halfway through the programme, he says that he has shown images of women but not heard their voices so hands over the discussion to a group of women, while he listens and smokes.
This is to miss all his stories, poems and thinking that were so grounded in the material. Finally, Harvest is a twenty-five minute short where Tilda Swinton revisits Berger with her children, on a journey from one mountain range to another as they travel from the Scottish highlands to Quincy.
It was the most brilliant letter of warmth and encouragement that had me floating with joy. I guess the challenge he presented still stands. A letter from Berger was an invitation to be somehow involved in one of his myriad projects — a film, a novel, an idea — so I did meet him, but more often we talked on the phone.
Roth offers a personal meditation on both humans and animals and their understanding of death and departure in this nineteen minute short. Yes, that remains idealistic as we live in a world where criticism is debased to stars, to a TripAdvisor mentality that requires no thought or knowledge whatsoever, the precursor to the sneering at experts mentality.“He does more than treat [his patients] when they are ill,” Berger wrote of John Sassall, a man whose proximity to suffering and poverty deeply affected him (he later committed suicide).
The rural doctor assumes a democratic function, in Berger’s eyes, one he describes in consciously literary terms. Through the Eyes of John Berger Essay Liberty Leading the People “Every image embodies a way of seeing, our perception or appreciation of an image depends also upon our own way of seeing” (Berger ).
Split into four parts aptly, The Seasons in Quincy is the result of a five-year project by Tilda Swinton, Colin MacCabe and Christopher Roth to produce a visual portrait of the intellectual and storyteller John Berger. JOHN BERGER Seeing comes before words. The child looks nizes before it can speak.
But there is also another sense in which seeing before words. It is seeing which establishes our place rrotmding world ; we explain that world with words,;an never undo the fact that we are surrounded by relation between what we see and what we know is.
John Berger had the most amazing eyes. I do not mean that in the abstract, though it is true; his way of seeing the world has become part of. Watch video · John Berger uses a Caravaggio painting to show the difference in how children and adults interpret what they see, demonstrating a child's tendency to understand images in relation to their own experience.Download