John Berger Quotes

john berger quotes



Without ethics, man has no future. This is to say, mankind without them cannot be itself. Ethics determine choices and actions and suggest difficult priorities.


A cigarette is a breathing space. It makes a parenthesis. The time of a cigarette is a parenthesis, and if it is shared, you are both in that parenthesis. It's like a proscenium arch for a dialogue.


The point about hope is that it is something that occurs in very dark moments. It is like a flame in the darkness; it isn't like a confidence and a promise.


Globalisation means many things. At one level, it talks of trade, which since the 16th century has exchanged goods and now, increasingly, ideas and information across the globe. But globalisation is also a view of the world - it is an opinion about man and why men are on the world.


Being a unique superpower undermines the military intelligence of strategy. To think strategically, one has to imagine oneself in the enemy's place. If one cannot do this, it is impossible to foresee, to take by surprise, to outflank. Misinterpreting an enemy can lead to defeat. This is how empires fall.


I wanted to write about looking at the world, so it's more about helping people, or persuading people, to see what is around us; both the marvellous and the terrible.


The industrial society... recognises nothing except the power to acquire... No other kind of hope or satisfaction or pleasure can any longer be envisaged within the culture of capitalism.


A boycott is directed against a policy and the institutions which support that policy either actively or tacitly. Its aim is not to reject, but to bring about change.


That we find a crystal or a poppy beautiful means that we are less alone, that we are more deeply inserted into existence than the course of a single life would lead us to believe.


Art is the provocation for talking about enigma and the search for sense in human life. One can do that by telling a story or writing about a fresco by Giotto or studying how a snail climbs up a wall.


A drawing is an autobiographical record of one's discovery of an event - either seen, remembered or imagined. A 'finished' work is an attempt to construct an event in itself.


The human imagination... has great difficulty in living strictly within the confines of a materialist practice or philosophy. It dreams, like a dog in its basket, of hares in the open.


Traditional Chinese art looked at the Earth from a Confucian mountain top; Japanese art looked closely around screens; Italian Renaissance art surveyed conquered nature through the window or door-frame of a palace. For the Cro-Magnons, space is a metaphysical arena of continually intermittent appearances and disappearances.


Degas was obsessed by the art of classical ballet, because to him it said something about the human condition. He was not a balletomane looking for an alternative world to escape into. Dance offered him a display in which he could find, after much searching, certain human secrets.


A drawing is essentially a private work, related only to the artist's own needs; a 'finished' statue or canvas is essentially a public, presented work - related far more directly to the demands of communication.


Ours is the century of enforced travel of disappearances. The century of people helplessly seeing others, who were close to them, disappear over the horizon.


A line, an area of tone, is not really important because it records what you have seen, but because of what it will lead you on to see. Following up its logic in order to check its accuracy, you find confirmation or denial in the object itself or in your memory of it.


The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich.


Words are so often used in the opposite sense, as a screen of diversion. It's the struggle towards truthfulness which is the same whether one is writing a poem, a novel or an argument.


Propaganda requires a permanent network of communication so that it can systematically stifle reflection with emotive or utopian slogans. Its pace is usually fast.




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