David Garcia on Tue, 3 Jan 2017 12:23:09 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> John_Berger (5 November 1926 - 2 January 2017)

Perhaps John Berger’s closest equivalent in the US is Susan Sontag. They were friends perhaps linked by 
being uncompromising public intellectuals operating in cultures generaly unsympathetic to intellectuals (though
Berger made his home in rural France). Both were also ambitious novelists who are in the end better remembered 
for essays and extended essays. 

Sontag’s On Photography and Berger’s Ways of Seeing could be productively read back to back for the way they overlap
and differ. 
The novelistic ambition is a key to the appeal of their writing along with an ability to transcribe and build on the ideas of 
central European intellectuals from Benjamin to Barthes without ever seeiming like mere popularisers. They offered an important 
set of keys with which to enter new worlds and explore for ourselves.
Berger routinely reffered to himself as a "story teller” and many of Sontag’s greatest essays exhibit the same quality 
and is part of the secret of their continued popular appeal. Below is a link to a conversation between the two friends 
discussing the role and importance of story telling and perhaps even touching on the dangers of the narrative fallacy, as 
the desire to turn everything into a story is as likely to distort as to clarify.

I miss them both but continue to hear their voices in the work they leave behind (present tense intentional)     


David Garcia

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