Berger and Sontag – Two of the Greats

Following on from John Aitken’s blog post below, and in keeping with a conversation both John and I had only last night about the passing of John Berger, I was prompted to share this fantastic video.

John and I had a conversation ‘about conversations’; conversations, narratives and of course, about John Berger’s passing. In doing so, I mentioned this great video where Berger talks with another great, and sadly missed critical thinker, Susan Sontag. Thus, while it is timely to think and reflect on Berger’s passing, it is equally apt to share this specific video because, it is also a conversation about conversations, narratives, mediations and of course, the visual.

With all the charming idiosyncrasies you’d expect to find in academia, Berger and Sontag discuss editing and film, montage, the issues of what is said and not said in the every day, gestures, oral and visual editing, the tradition of story telling and the addition of art, artfulness and the modification of storytelling when you ‘read with the eyes rather than listen with the ears’.

Both Berger and Sontag underpin much of my thinking and teaching, but they are more than just key thinkers within the field of visual studies. More than reliable ‘go-to’ names on a shelf that I turn to when I want someone to help me think through an idea or problem.

They were adversaries and colleagues, testing each other’s knowledge with a compelling enthusiasm, something we should all aspire to have; a sparing partner upon which to test the depth and validity of our ideas and arguments.


Gary Bratchford

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