Berger’s ground breaking Ways of Seeing was a cultural tour de force. It remains highly relevant today. But I have never been able to agree with most of what he said.
Growing up in an outer Melbourne suburb, I was blissfully unaware of Berger whose book was published when I was about 11. What I was aware of was the painful ugliness of miles of new suburban housing and the almost visceral reaction I had to the destruction of bush, re-routing of creeks and bulldozing of apple orchards in our neighbourhood. This left me with a life-long appreciation of beauty, and a consequent resistance to any philosophy that told me I couldn’t have it, or it didn’t exist. I had seen it, and I had seen it destroyed.
So Berger and I were never going to get along, as for him, concepts like beauty are merely conditioned responses, built into us through culture by the powerful for the purpose of control. [Read more…]