John Berger

(1926 / London Borough of Hackney)

John Berger Quotes

  • ''When we read a story, we inhabit it. The covers of the book are like a roof and four walls. What is to happen next will take place within the four walls of the story. And this is possible because the story's voice makes everything its own.''
    John Berger (b. 1926), British author, critic. repr. In Keeping a Rendezvous (1992). "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye," Expressen (Stockholm, Nov. 3, 1990).
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  • ''Compassion has no place in the natural order of the world which operates on the basis of necessity. Compassion opposes this order and is therefore best thought of as being in some way supernatural.''
    John Berger (b. 1926), British author, critic. Guardian (London, Dec. 19, 1991).
  • ''All photographs are there to remind us of what we forget. In this—as in other ways—they are the opposite of paintings. Paintings record what the painter remembers. Because each one of us forgets different things, a photo more than a painting may change its meaning according to who is looking at it.''
    John Berger (b. 1926), British novelist, critic. "How Fast Does It Go?" Keeping a Rendezvous (1992).
  • ''Post-modernism has cut off the present from all futures. The daily media add to this by cutting off the past. Which means that critical opinion is often orphaned in the present.''
    John Berger (b. 1926), British author, critic. repr. In Keeping a Rendezvous (1992). "Infamy," Guardian (London, Sept. 21, 1990).
  • ''Today the discredit of words is very great. Most of the time the media transmit lies. In the face of an intolerable world, words appear to change very little. State power has become congenitally deaf, which is why—but the editorialists forget it—terrorists are reduced to bombs and hijacking.''
    John Berger (b. 1926), British author, critic. repr. In Keeping a Rendezvous (1992). "Lost Off Cape Wrath," Threepenny Review (Winter 1988).
  • ''Autobiography begins with a sense of being alone. It is an orphan form.''
    John Berger (b. 1926), British author, critic. repr. In Keeping a Rendezvous (1992). "Mother," Three Penny Review (Summer 1986).
  • ''Nothing in the nature around us is evil. This needs to be repeated since one of the human ways of talking oneself into inhuman acts is to cite the supposed cruelty of nature.''
    John Berger (b. 1926), British author, critic. repr. As "A Load of Shit," in Keeping a Rendezvous (1992). "Muck and Its Entanglements," Harper's (New York, May 1989).
  • ''What makes shit such a universal joke is that it's an unmistakeable reminder of our duality, of our soiled nature and of our will to glory. It is the ultimate lèse-majesté.''
    John Berger (b. 1926), British author, critic. repr. In Keeping a Rendezvous as "A Load of Shit" (1992). "Muck and Its Entanglements," Harper's (New York, May 1989).
  • ''Modern thought has transferred the spectral character of Death to the notion of time itself. Time has become Death triumphant over all.''
    John Berger (b. 1926), British author, critic. repr. In Keeping a Rendezvous (1992). "That Which Is Held," Village Voice (New York, Apr. 13, 1982).
  • ''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.''
    John Berger (b. 1926), British author, critic. repr. In Keeping a Rendezvous (1992). "The Soul and the Operator," Expressen (Stockholm, March 19, 1990).

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