Academic journal article Social Alternatives

Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance

Academic journal article Social Alternatives

Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance

Article excerpt

Berger, J. 2007. Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance. London: Verso. ISBN 9781844671380 $48.

This little book shows us the mind and heart of John Berger. He wrote much of it whilst living with Palestinians on the West Bank, and he writes passionately about the injustices they suffer. He is not afraid to write (and speak) plainly about what he believes, and I'm sure some will disagree vehemently with his stance. But he tells the reader what he sees, what people have to endure, as the Wall being built squeezes them tighter and tighter. Informed argument is not anathema to the author.

He writes about hope, fear, migrants and place, terrorism, desire, equality and injustice, reclaiming words. He does this through considerations of Hurricane Katrina, 11 September 2001, 7 July 2005, Iraq War, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Francis Bacon, walls, and two quite different women photographers.

A most beautiful essay is 'Another Side of Desire', written in 2002. It sits perfectly amongst the essays on terrorism and injustice and war, because it speaks of desire shielding 'the desired body from the tragic it embodies', and suggesting disappearance, a vanishing, a shift 'into plenitude'. It is also another form of resistance: The sirens wail down the street. As long as you are in my arms, no harm will come to you.1

John Berger is now eighty years old, and still writing and thinking and drawing and storytelling. His subjects are art, politics, what makes us human, what enables us to live.

Perhaps he is most well known for his book and BBC series, Ways of seeing, which took various images (both 'art' and such things as advertising) and looked at them with new eyes; it was a response to Kenneth Clark's series Civilisation. …

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