And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief As Photos

ISBN: 0747576912
ISBN 13: 9780747576914
By: John Berger

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About this book

Those who read or listen to our stories see everything as though through a lens. This lens is the secret of narration, and it is ground anew in every story, ground between the temporal and the our brief mortal lives, we are grinders of these lenses.; From the pen of the award-winning writer, critic and social historian John Berger comes a collage of poetry, thoughts and art criticism, capturing moments in time that hover above his brooding landscapes. These meditations on space, mortality, art, love, solidity and absence are as moving and passionate as we have come to expect of Berger. From his lyrical description of the works of Caravaggio and profound explorations of death and immigration to the fading sight of lilac trees at dusk in the mountains, this is a beautiful and unclassifiable response to the world around him.

Reader's Thoughts


ImmaginiQuesto libro, dono di una carissima amica, mi segue... anzi mi sta accanto, da diversi mesi ormai. E' lì appoggiato per terra vicino al letto ed ogni tanto la sera, tra un romanzo e l'altro o comunque quando ne sento la voglia, lo riprendo in mano e leggo o rileggo qualcosa. Ci sono brani o meglio, "immagini" che ho letto e riletto più volte e che rileggerò ancora, perché mi affascinano e mi commuovono e non saprei neanche dire perchè: un gattino completamente bianco, la foto di cinque operai turchi, un dipinto di Rembrandt... due corpi che fondendosi in un abbraccio definitivo si decompongono.

Jane French

Left me breathlessly wanting more poetry to read. Wanting to look around and see everything anew.


What I can say will not do this justice, especially as it's been a couple months, but I loved every brilliant fragment. I'm especially fond of the poem on page 50 or so.


Perhaps lilac is the most abundantly feminine of flowers. It came from Eastern Europe and was imported into the West in the sixteenth century. A Slav flower.Among the mountains here, the lilac trees flower at the time when the first cuckoos sing. Cuckoos and lilac come as a pair. The cuckoo is pure impudence. Later when he falls silent after mating, he eats grubs and caterpillars-even those which are poisonous for other birds-with impunity.The scent of the lilac, you once said, is not far from the smell of cows in the stable. Both are smells of peace and procrastination.The days are becoming long, and in the evening I sit in the kitchen reading without a light. On the windowsill is a jug with a flowering branch of lilac, which I cut in a friend’s garden. It is pale purple, the color of a much-washed ultramarine blue shirt….….The walls of the house are thick, for the winters are cold. On the window embrasure, close to the windowpanes, hangs a shaving mirror. As I look up now, I see reflected in the mirror a sprig of the lilac branch: each petal of each tiny flower is vivid, distinct, near, so near that the petals look like the pores on skin. At first I do not understand why what I see in the mirror is so much more intense than the rest of the branch which, in fact, is nearer to me. Then I realize that what I am looking at in the mirror is the far side of the lilac, the side fully lit by the last light of the sun.Every evening my love for you is placed like that mirror."


You are home. Language is home. Where is home? Who are you? which language? No wonder the displacement. No wonder feeling lost. Loved some passages. loved the pain of reading them. loved the pain of leaving them...


A gorgeous little book that manages to seamlessly blend the emotional and the intellectual, shifting from poetry to narrative to essay. I can't help but think Berger was writing in the style of a blog long before the form existed.


There is someone who recommended this book to me, who I sometimes feel stands from me across an unbridgeable gulf of love and loss. Reading this book, I imagined us reading it facing each other from opposite sides of the world. This book was pretty beautiful and certainly thought-stirring, and it also made me feel very alone.

Milton Brasher-Cunningham

John Berger writes in a way that fills my lungs, my heart, my head. I feel as though he has placed every word on every page in the same way a mosaic artist sets each piece of tile in place. He writes with both mind and heart. I love this book.


l'amore, si sa, spesso è irrazionale. e io di questo libro mi sono follemente innamorata solo guardando la copertina (quello che c'è dentro- non è da meno)


He lies with his head between her legs. How many millions of men have lain like this? How many women, placing a hand on their heads, and smiling reflectively, have thought of birth? Everything here is re-enactment, everything here is return. Home is the return to where distance did not yet count.


You should read writers that the writers you love love. Gerald Vizenor always seems to work a mention of John Berger into his texts. This was brilliant and expressed quite a few ideas about time far better than I ever could have expressed them myself. A collection of philosophical sketches, poems, and essays about nature of love, time, space and separation, it still leaves a little something to desired. Though prose are meticulously constructed, I require something a little more creative. Also, it would have worked better if individual sections were not so obviously divided by format. Unlike Vizenor, the poetry, fiction, and nonfiction are not seamlessly blended together into an unnameable whole.


Weaving between prose and poetry, John Berger manages to get to the heart of love, distance, and loss. An amazing read. At least monthly, I pick it up to reread my favorite parts.

David Schaafsma

A first read of a great book that I think on subsequent readings will get even more important for me. A letter to a lover, a meditation in the way of Spinoza or other non-Rationalist philosophers, on art, love, language, poetry, photography, politics, art.... with sections on favorite artists like Carvaggio, and interspersed through it are poems, pretty wonderful poems. I'll keep this one by my bedside and add to this review as I read and reread and reflect. Much of what i appreciate about the book is its multi-genre approach, to weave philosophical reflections with stories with poetry. Why not?


this was my first book of Berger's and still the one i love the most. his passions illuminate my own, or open me up to new ones. it is a combination of poetry and prose that mirrors those elements in everyday experience, everyday willingness to experience as fully as my own day to day i wander in and out of the past, the lines of reference and connection sometimes so demanding and yet so ephemeral i wonder if everyone lives this way and how do we bear it?berger articulates the music of time, space, objects, people and the chords we are part of.i could not be more grateful

Mark Sperry

Lovely, insightful, comforting.

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