John Berger's enduring sense of hope
this is an embarrassment of riches. i might have to cancel my vacation. as always, it's both galvanizing and humbling to read the work of those who have been this way before—and also a bit terrifying, considering how skilled and resilient past generations had to be in order to do this work. thank you so much for sharing this.
(and now i really want a scythe.)
Dougald, thanks for adding more to the already long list of books to read (the last couple have been your recommendations). Hope you have a great holiday with the family. Been meaning to get in touch as I’ve planted some lovely trees for you guys, and they’re growing well, out of nibbling reach of the cow, and getting some good soaking rains
Thank you so much for this profound and heartfelt essay on Berger - an ancestor of the Dark Mountain Project and inspiration to so many. Berger has acted as a guiding light for me and my writing since I discovered his work in my 20s, a mentor and role model of what a writer-human could be. And I've been carrying around a photocopy of that piece "On the Economy of the Dead" (as it appeared in Harpers Magazine) for ages. It always has seemed really important - alongside "A Story for Aesop" - though until now, I've not seen anyone consider Berger's writing about the Dead and why and how it matters. I've come over years to agree with Berger: without a relationship to the Dead, the living are stuck in narcissistic linearity, no sense of past or future. And also, bereft of the deep support that relationship brings, which is enormous - though unquantifiable, because not material. "[From the perspective of modern science] Mystery can exist only as a territory to be colonized and brought into the light. That this is possible is not a fact which science established, but a belief system with which is has been entangled." Brilliantly said. Thank you for this!
Thanks for this - enjoyed it first time around and again now. Andy Merrifield wrote a good book on JB. I wonder if you know it reflecting on the man and his work from a variety of perspectives. Have a good holiday.
an extraordinary essay on an extraordinary human being
i have loved his work for years and will now go back to all of his books that i have in my librarymany thanks
This wonderful essay brought to mind one of my favorite films: Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000, which was co-written by Berger and Alain Tanner.
“Those who visit report a household characterised by its broad hospitality: Geoff Dyer recalls sitting at dinner between the local plumber and Henri Cartier Bresson.”
Welp, I just fell in love with a man this morning. Thank you for the reintroduction. 🙏
Dougald, thank you so much for this view of Berger. I admire the left wing approach, and also how Berger's work connects with your own.