on 22 June 2013
I was unaware of John Berger before reading this book, I can safely say I am well aware of him now. Some very interesting thoughts and ideas on our relationship between 'man' and the world of animals and 'nature'. The main concept that affected me is John Bergers view on the gradual marginalization of animals to a point were the majority of people have lost a feeling of 'shared' existence and connectivity with the world.This left a solemn weight on my conscious, I feel as distant to the primates in the zoo as I am as distant to them. By reading this book I have been able to explore within myself these ideas; maybe I can look across the divide in future and not feel so far away. An interesting read indeed.
on 4 October 2012
I have been aware of John Berger for half my life. Returning to his work is to regain entry into mysteries. I am a painter. Berger's persistent retelling of the poetic and artistic reveal something at the source of humanity. Can we understand what this is? There is something apparent to artists who commit themselves to the life of the world. His example is wonderful. When we report back from the life of animals we encounter a beautiful and terrible truth. Our culture is bound against life. Our societies are abstracted rather than real. We prefer cash to feeling. We are prepared to dehumanise people. For political power and the demands of commerce we will wage war against nature. We erect phoney identities for the 'other'. We build phoney identities for us. Yet, when we spend time just looking - other things happen. Looking exposes us and demands our engagement. When we make art from our looking we are exposed to what we see and who we are. Art can feel and at its best means to become responsible again. I engaged with Berger as a person. He chooses the political because that is the only genuine humanistic spirituality available to him. There are other choices available to us now. This is what emerged from the courage of a man like Berger. He is our pioneer. We have been fortunate to know him.
on 11 November 2010
I bought this book on a whim. I liked the sound of it and the look of its cover. Possibly not the best reasons, but I like to try new things and this appealed. I'm glad I did. It is a tiny book - but the short essays are easy to read and sometimes profound. The book contains 8 short essays and a poem. In parts it is perfect - well written and thought provoking. I particularly liked "why look at animals" and "field". There is also a rather wonderful end piece called "A philosopher and death" - the only criticism of which I have is that it does not really fit with the other pieces in this book, save it is written by the same author. A also felt the new piece " a mouse story" was rather weak, and unfortunately lets down the rest of the book. However, do not be put off by this first piece - there are some true gems here.
on 13 May 2013
This book took my eye as I am interested in animal ethics and how we interact with the animal kingdom. What I found was a collection of great writing in virtually all literary forms- story, memoir, essay, poem.. John Berger is an insightful and intelligent writer, and I would recommend anyone to read and reread this book.