Selected Essays by John Berger

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The Independent Culture

Geoff Dyer's section of over 100 essays reveals that the undoubted keenness of the critic's eye was not always matched by profundity of thought. A 1958 essay notes how Jackson Pollock's drip paintings are "perfectly unified without the use of any obvious repeating motif", but concludes by mistakenly categorising the artist as decadent. Fourteen years later, a provocative and potentially fruitful comparison of Francis Bacon with Disney is dissipated when Berger mysteriously suggests that in Disney "the ultimate catastrophe is always in the offing". It seems that Berger himself came to reject such rhetorical opacity, for his fine 1989 essay on peasant life could scarcely be more down to earth. It is entitled 'A Load of Shit'.