mordicai caeli (mordicai) wrote,
mordicai caeli
mordicai

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Medusa's Gaze. (76)

Ways of Seeing by John Berger.

Isis & Horus
are the Madonna & Child.
Don't forget the Whore!

Being the guy wearing all black on the train & reading Ways of Seeing is a hilarious experience. Like being the embodiment of a ridiculous Gotham stereotype. Next thing you know I'll be at a restaurant ordering an expensive dinner that is just a giant plate with a tiny little piece of food on it. Anyhow, I am a snobby intellectual, so if the shoe fits... Regardless-- I never read this in college, which is sort of the appropriate time for it. Eventually Jenny insisted I actually read it as a primary text, since we talk about things like the Male Gaze all the time. Well, I did, & yeah-- it would have worked better on someone who didn't already agree with it. First off-- eff you, pictorial essays. Sorry, I just find them a bit much. Or rather, not enough. As for the other essays, it is mostly hilarious how, at any point of contention, John Berger just throws up his hands & goes "hey, I'm just suggesting it as a field of study, all I'm doing it outlining!" For all that, however, it is pretty good. The piece on women-- nude versus naked, the subject as possession of the viewer-- is right on. External power, internal value, all that. Stuff that I, as I said, take for granted in a discussion. There is a bit of Marxist critique that I find sort of...charmingly sophomoric? Which only breaks through to say something meaningful in the final essay about publicity as a direct descendant from oil painting. The switch from "what I possess" to "what I may possess." So in the end verdict? A short little book that makes a good entry into critical visual thinking & discussion.
Tags: berger, books, haiku
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