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Field (1971, reprinted in About Looking, 1980, and Selected Essays ed. Geoff Dyer, 2001)

1971

by John Berger (1926 - 0)

An essay resisting paraphrase as it attempts to define an experience ‘seldom referred to only because it is nameless’.

It begins with poetic description of how a momentary awareness of freedom came to Berger upon hearing a hen cackling while he walked/lay in a grass field, then moves to another image of a field viewed only from his car for a few minutes each day. Lastly, Berger gives a semi-serious diagrammatic explanation of the ‘ideal field’ for such ‘immediately recognisable’ visual experiences, both removed from the developing narrative of one’s life and yet, paradoxically, acquiring the proportions of one’s life.

Related recommendation: Chesterton’s ‘A Piece of Chalk’ (1908)

Origin: Britain

Themes: Familiar Examined Afresh, Nature or Architecture/ Material Environment

Genres: Lyrical or Poetic, Spiritual or Philosophical Meditation

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