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And Our Faces, My Heart, Brief as Photos [Paperback]

John Berger
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 8 1992 Vintage International
In an extraordinary distillation of his gifts as a novelist, poet, art critic, and social historian, John Berger reveals the ties between love and absence, the ways poetry endows language with the assurance of prayer, and the tensions between the forward movement of sexuality.

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Review

"There is a great stillness in Berger's prose. But after a few pages, his statements start to sing and go on singing." -- New Republic

"[Berger] handles thoughts the way an artist handles paint. His mind is spattered with colour ... his writing has a physical reality." -- Times --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

John Berger is one of the most important essayists on art and politics of the last 50 years. Innovative in form and far-reaching in historical and political insight, his books include the Booker Prize-winning novel G and studies of art and photography such as Another Way of Telling and Ways of Seeing. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intimacy as a means of negotiating reality. May 5 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I need a qualification, I have only read p.69-p.86 of this book and am ordering it now to read more. In it he speaks first of pleasure and pain, how "The existence of pleasure is the first mystery." and moves on to talk about Van Gogh and Caravaggio. The piece on Van Gogh is simply brilliant. He talks about a majority artists as what I call Nietzschian perspectivists how they bring down the screen of cliche for personal profit from their art, and how Van Gogh is the farthest from this that there is. How for him the creation of art mirrored Creation, and how he could only approach Reality through work, I apologise that I cannot do this justice in 1000 words. He then talks of intimacy and Caravaggio. I will not get into that, you should read it for yourself, but if you are in love or have ever been in love, not that flowery crap but the dirt and the grime and the sweat that is ACTUAL love and all the pleasure and pain it brings, his discourse on Caravaggio's work brings home how closely linked intimacy and reality are. In this he also shreds all of the stupid power games and subtle manipulations our society ingrains into us without us even realizing it. From the perspective of actual intimacy we can understand so much about our world and we become freed from it. This will enlighten anyone with a compassionate heart. This will also most likely make you weep tears of joy for all that you do have, and dissipate your displeasure at what you do not, because what you do not have is not very important if you have intimacy. I cannot do it justice, so just read it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ear of Memory June 17 2007
By Hope
Format:Paperback
John Berger's words once read, will return again at some time in the future when they have been long forgotten. Something inside me, returns to pick up these forgotten word images. The title of this book returns, at odd moments, and reminds me of the beauty housed in words. Dimly remembered passages demand to be reread. John Berger takes the reader closer to silence and closer to other people, closer to what is terrible. Beauty and ugliness can be one and the same, a subtle confusion of values is made clear and we are humbled. To read John Berger is to begin to know the human condition and to begin to know something of yourself as well. Only a gentle spirit could quietly and carefully bring such an immensity of emotion to hold before us for us to look upon.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Berger's Faces Oct. 5 2004
By R. J MOSS - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'm a committed Berger devotee, owning or having read probably every book he's written. 'Our Faces,' is the book I've returned to most often over the years. I feel enlivened by Berger's language, his passions, his insights into art, the crispness of his poetry, his feeling for form; and this book is so elegantly paced & presented. He communicates his finest perceptions about greatly loved paintings and makes earnest & eloquent efforts in establishing their meaning for him. The process invites the reader into his own heart, deepening the world, making it more palpable. The piece on Caravaggio is astonishing, a set piece of concise art writing, free of jargon(as is all of Berger)and superior, to my thinking, to any of the spate of Caravaggio books that hit the shops at the turn of the century. For more on art visit>rodmoss.com
17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intimacy as a means of negotiating reality. May 5 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I need a qualification, I have only read p.69-p.86 of this book and am ordering it now to read more. In it he speaks first of pleasure and pain, how "The existence of pleasure is the first mystery." and moves on to talk about Van Gogh and Caravaggio. The piece on Van Gogh is simply brilliant. He talks about a majority artists as what I call Nietzschian perspectivists how they bring down the screen of cliche for personal profit from their art, and how Van Gogh is the farthest from this that there is. How for him the creation of art mirrored Creation, and how he could only approach Reality through work, I apologise that I cannot do this justice in 1000 words. He then talks of intimacy and Caravaggio. I will not get into that, you should read it for yourself, but if you are in love or have ever been in love, not that flowery crap but the dirt and the grime and the sweat that is ACTUAL love and all the pleasure and pain it brings, his discourse on Caravaggio's work brings home how closely linked intimacy and reality are. In this he also shreds all of the stupid power games and subtle manipulations our society ingrains into us without us even realizing it. From the perspective of actual intimacy we can understand so much about our world and we become freed from it. This will enlighten anyone with a compassionate heart. This will also most likely make you weep tears of joy for all that you do have, and dissipate your displeasure at what you do not, because what you do not have is not very important if you have intimacy. I cannot do it justice, so just read it.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Both brillant and presumptive July 18 2007
By M. J. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As I read through this book my attitude towards the book was constantly changing. The book itself is divided into two parts - time and space. In the first of these, Time, I was disappointed with the quality of Berger's poetry. However, much of the prose was thought provoking and pleasurable reading. In for example, the first "Once Upon a Time" the attention to detail made the prose sing: "It was a lean hare with tufts on the tips of its ears of brown smoke. And although it was running slowly, it ran for its life. Sometimes that can happen." As I read through the short pieces, I connected more strongly with some than with others but in a manner that implies the different experiences of the reader rather than different quality in the writing.

In the second part space, I found the poetry more to my liking but the prose studded with assertions I was uncomfortable granting. For example: "All origins are unattainable -- just as, on a personal scale, it is impossible to imagine a self before conception." Yet I have heard a native Alaskan speak of the memories of herself and her sister before selecting a body into which they would be born. Or consider the practices involved in identifying the reborn Dalai Lama which depend on a small child recognizing favorite objects from their previous life. Yet at times, Berger's writing touches on deep insights - that love and hate are not opposites (both are strong emotions regarding another) or the sense of labor/construction in the paintings of Van Gogh.

In my judgment, this volume is uneven, the thoughts of the author very much reflecting his place and time (his two topics), and the writing well worth the time for those points where it sings/is translucent/...
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