The Sense of Sight

ISBN: 0679737227
ISBN 13: 9780679737223
By: John Berger Lloyd Spencer

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Reader's Thoughts

Tyler Smith

One can only read Marxist interpretations of art for so many pages. About 150, I think. Berger is a mammoth, but I wish he'd stop letting Karl Marx tell me why Modigliani is important and just do it himself.

Salomé Jashi

The way he writes is extremely visual. it's like watching a film based on small details that make you happy out of nothing. Here's one chapter from this bookhttp://desperate-ingeorgia.blogspot.c...


I didn't particularly enjoy the entire book. As a collection of short essays it was a little overbearing. However, two of my favorite short pieces are in the collection. Manhattan & The Theatre of Indifference, which run smoothly together in style, composition and concept. If you have not read these, they are a must, especially in the postmodern society of the 21st century.


I'm sure I'll say this again somewhere in my reviews, but read any John Berger you can. He's fantastic. (Seminal work: Ways Of Seeing)


I reread these essays all the time. The final essay "The Production of Reality" (Berger's description of his visit to the van Gogh museum)saved my life. Berger is a historian,art-critic, marxist, and spriritual/moral guide. I am pretty sure that John Berger has seen and thought about every single piece of art that has ever existed.


"All the languages of art have been developed as an attempt to transform the instantaneous into the permanent." (9)"Art is an organized response to what nature allows us to glimpse occasionally." (9)"In any case experience folds upon itself, refers backwards and forwards to itself through the referents of hope and fear; and, by the use of metaphor which is at the origin of language, it is continually comparing like with unlike, what is small with what is large, what is near with what is distant." (15)"All weddings are similar but every marriage is different." (17)"The hell of politics - which is why politics compulsively seeks utopias - is that it has to straddle both times: millennia and a few days." (55)"Manhattan is a concept. It also exists. In its streets a visitor is at first astounded by both the power and weakness of his previous imagination. From this astonishment comes a paradox. They are, at one and the same time, streets in a dream and the most real streets (offering nothing behind what is) that he has ever seen." (61)"What one might expect to happen on the inside, happens here on the outside. There is no interiority. There may be introspection, guilt, happiness, personal loss; but all of it surfaces and comes out in words, actions, habits, tics, which become events taking place on every floor in every block. It isn't that everything becomes public, for this would suggest that there is no solitariness. Rather, each soul is turned inside out and remains alone." (64)"Artists cannot change or make history. The most they can do is strip it of pretences." (115)"Appearances, at any given moment, are a construction emerging from the debris of everything which has previously appeared." (146)"Art is concerned with memory: experiment is concerned with predictions." (181)"However intensely and empirically observed at the moment, an impression later becomes, like a memory, impossible to verify." (191)"The long or short process of painting a picture is the process of constructing the future moments when it will be looked at." (206)"...poetry being that form of language which addresses itself to that which is beyond speaking." (262)

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