Wednesday, September 8, 2010

John Berger deserves an entry all his own

Love the man, love love him. Watch him in this 1995 interview. See how he answers every question, including "Are you a Marxist?", with dignity, grace and generosity.

How on earth did he and his leftist friends know that American Abstract painting was being secretly supported by the CIA to counter communism? The rest of the world found out only in the 90s.

I haven't been interested in his fiction, but I guess I ought to read G., the novel that won him the Booker Prize which, to the judges' horror, enabled him to donate generously to the Black Panther Party.
I fought very hard for John Berger to win for G, and then he threw it in my face by giving half the prize money to the Black Panthers. - George Steiner, Booker judge in 1972
The Booker, you see, had a dirty little (open) secret. Its sponsors, Booker McGonnall, had garnered much of their wealth, as Berger related in his acceptance speech, from 130 years of trading in the Caribbean. "The modern poverty of the Caribbean is the direct result of this and similar exploitation," he said. He also later told everyone that he was going to give half his prize money to the Black Panthers - who were, as he explained, "the black movement with the socialist and revolutionary perspective that I find myself most in agreement with in this country". - The Guardian
I need to read more of his books. I do not know any other writer who combines poetry with politics the way he does. Just the crystal clarity of his writing is inspiring enough.
Not all desires lead to freedom, but freedom is the experience of a desire being acknowledged, chosen and pursued. Desire never concerns the mere possession of something, but the changing of something. Desire is a wanting. A wanting now. Freedom does not constitute the fulfilment of that wanting, but the acknowledgement of its supremacy.
Today the infinite is beside the poor.
- From Berger's Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance (in my top ten books of all time)
Read him! :)

No comments: