October 13, 2019

Learning How to Listen

“Can a book change the way we think? I don’t mean that in the sense of a reader’s opinion or ideology shifting—of course the right literary work can do that. But can a book rewire the brain itself, literally changing the way one particular mind perceives and interprets the world around it?. The most convincing argument that this is possible might be the way that William Shakespeare’s work helped change the boundaries of both psychology and the English language to a previously unimaginable extent. The second best argument might be John Berger.

Berger’s book Ways of Seeing has been altering its readers’ perceptions of media since its 1972 release—as both a television series and a book. Media literacy remains an ongoing concern around the globe; some governments have even launched programs to give their residents more tools with which to interpret and evaluate all that they encounter online, in publications, and on television.

Ways of Seeing (the book) opens with an introductory passage, letting the reader know what’s coming: seven essays, three of which consist entirely of images. “Our principled aim has been to start a process of questioning,” write Berger and his collaborators. (Before the title page, a note describes Ways of Seeing as “A book made by John Berger, Sven Blomberg, Chris Fox, Michael Dibb, Richard Hollis.” Berger’s name alone is on the spine and cover, and it was he who wrote the television version.) In a look back on Ways of Seeing published earlier this year, Vikki Bell and Yasmin Gunaratnam cited Berger’s “style of blending Marxist sensibility and art theory with attention to small gestures, scenes and personal stories.” Earlier this year, writer and theorist James Bridle wrote that “his landmark series showed how art revealed the social and political systems in which it was made.””

Read more

JJ Editor's Picks

"Kurds have been staunch allies in America's struggle against ISIS. Without them, America would have paid a far steeper price in blood and treasure to defeat the brutal outfit. That's why President Trump's move to pull U.S. troops out of..."

"For the first time since President Richard Nixon refused to turn over the White House tapes, the United States is facing a genuine constitutional crisis. To be sure, Donald Trump had already created a crisis in the presidency by abusing the..."

"Every October for the past five years, Fat Bear Week has showcased some of the healthiest, hungriest, and chonkiest bears in Katmai National Park and Preserve, a four-million-acre expanse of wilderness in southern Alaska..."

"I sat on my childhood bed, surrounded by 52-year-old stuffed animals, with a smartphone lodged between my ear and shoulder. My father had died unexpectedly the day before, and I was jotting down notes as my rabbi back in Ohio described various..."

"In August, it was SoulCycle and Equinox. The month prior, Home Depot. Back in 2017, L.L.Bean. These are only a few of the companies to ignite the collective ire of progressive consumers over corporate ties to Trump. In the case of the boutique..."

"Movies like Gemini Man are usually ideal airplane viewing. Take a formulaic plot about spies and cloning, then add dialogue so predictable that getting interrupted by pilots’ announcements and turbulence and your seatmate’s need to get up and..."

"It’s still unclear whether Israel’s next election will be in four years or four months. But either way, if the center-right wants a better outcome, it needs to learn the lessons of September’s election. So here are two: First, while center-right..."

"Smart homes, bountiful oceans and casual sexism: the future as envisaged from 1967 ‘Yes, life will be richer, easier, healthier as space-age dreams come true.’ In 1967, the Ford Motor Company (then known as Philco-Ford) released the short film..."