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 :: 1926-, British Actor, Critic

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Sometimes, because of its immediacy, television produces a kind of electronic parable. Berlin, for instance, on the day the Wall was opened. Rostropovich was playing his cello by the Wall that no longer cast a shadow, and a million East Berliners were thronging to the West to shop with an allowance given them by West German banks! At that moment the whole world saw how materialism had lost its awesome historic power and become a shopping list.
~ John Berger - [Television]

 

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Modern thought has transferred the spectral character of Death to the notion of time itself. Time has become Death triumphant over all.
~ John Berger - [Time and Time Management]

 

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The past grows gradually around one, like a placenta for dying.
~ John Berger - [Past]

 

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All photographs are there to remind us of what we forget. In this -- as in other ways -- they are the opposite of paintings. Paintings record what the painter remembers. Because each one of us forgets different things, a photo more than a painting may change its meaning according to who is looking at it.
~ John Berger - [Photography]

 

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The camera relieves us of the burden of memory. It surveys us like God, and it surveys for us. Yet no other god has been so cynical, for the camera records in order to forget.
~ John Berger - [Photography]

 

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Unlike any other visual image, a photograph is not a rendering, an imitation or an interpretation of its subject, but actually a trace of it. No painting or drawing, however naturalist, belongs to its subject in the way that a photograph does.
~ John Berger - [Photography]

 

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The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing.
~ John Berger - [Poverty and The Poor]

 

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Publicity is the life of this culture. Without publicity capitalism could not survive and at the same time publicity is its dream.
~ John Berger - [Publicity]

 

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One can say of language that it is potentially the only human home, the only dwelling place that cannot be hostile to man.
~ John Berger - [Language]

 

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The media network has its idols, but its principal idol is its own style which generates an aura of winning and leaves the rest in darkness. It recognizes neither pity nor pitilessness.
~ John Berger - [Media]

 

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Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.
~ John Berger - [Men and Women]

 

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All nationalisms are at heart deeply concerned with names: with the most immaterial and original human invention. Those who dismiss names as a detail have never been displaced; but the peoples on the peripheries are always being displaced. That is why they insist upon their continuity -- their links with their dead and the unborn.
~ John Berger - [Nationalities and Nationalism]

 

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Nakedness reveals itself. Nudity is placed on display. The nude is condemned to never being naked. Nudity is a form of dress.
~ John Berger - [Nudity]

 

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Ours is the century of enforced travel of disappearances. The century of people helplessly seeing others, who were close to them, disappear over the horizon.
~ John Berger - [Oppression]

 

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Glamour cannot exist without personal social envy being a common and widespread emotion.
~ John Berger - [Glamour]

 

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When we suffer anguish we return to early childhood because that is the period in which we first learnt to suffer the experience of total loss. It was more than that. It was the period in which we suffered more total losses than in all the rest of our life put together.
~ John Berger - [Grief]

 

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The human imagination... has great difficulty in living strictly within the confines of a materialist practice or philosophy. It dreams, like a dog in its basket, of hares in the open.
~ John Berger - [Imagination]

 

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Post-modernism has cut off the present from all futures. The daily media add to this by cutting off the past. Which means that critical opinion is often orphaned in the present.
~ John Berger - [Critics and Criticism]

 

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A man's death makes everything certain about him. Of course, secrets may die with him. And of course, a hundred years later somebody looking through some papers may discover a fact which throws a totally different light on his life and of which all the people who attended his funeral were ignorant. Death changes the facts qualitatively but not quantitatively. One does not know more facts about a man because he is dead. But what one already knows hardens and becomes definite. We cannot hope for ambiguities to be clarified, we cannot hope for further change, we cannot hope for more. We are now the protagonists and we have to make up our minds.
~ John Berger - [Death and Dying]

 

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One of the fundamental reasons why so many doctors become cynical and disillusioned is precisely because, when the abstract idealism has worn thin, they are uncertain about the value of the actual lives of the patients they are treating. This is not because they are callous or personally inhuman: it is because they live in and accept a society which is incapable of knowing what a human life is worth.
~ John Berger - [Doctors]

 

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