John Berger ways of seeing is a book, which translated the television program by BBC2, which is also called ways of seeing. The book was first published 1972 by John Berger after four part television series had been broadcasted. The book contains seven chapters where four chapters of the book are both written and illustrated but the other three chapters are only illustrated. The writer has left the three chapters deliberately for the viewer to decide entirely on himself. The book has given a lot of truth of how we think when we see something. When you read the book, you will change the perception of how you think when you see a picture or an image.

The viewer/writer’s expectations of the art in this book are that pictures do not give anything to show how the image feels. For example in chapter three, he talks about nude pictures of women. He has also indicated that he feels uncomfortable talking about these pictures of nude women without even asking the women how they feel about them (Berger 42). He has shown how a woman was viewed in the olden days. Moreover, he has shown how women were objectified unlike today, which is not the case. In the picture, we can an only see a naked woman but there is no evidence to show how men are admiring the woman. Therefore, he thinks that it is not possible for a picture to interprete how an image is feeling but literature can interprete the feelings of the image being talked about or being viewed.

The writer has worked against the silence of the piece of art by showing how different thoughts and views of different viewers about a certain image are kept quiet. The writer has shown that there are assumptions propping up in various social inequalities and he is trying to put some sense in the minds of the viewers to change their perception of their thoughts before they act. Additionally, he is also disappointed with the way things are happening especially in the traditional art. He expresses the truth about how silent they have become and that they do not hold any true meaning. He has said that the painters have ignored the part where feelings of the viewer are not expressed. In the painting of a man standing, there is no evidence that he is drunk. He can also be hungry or tired but due to its silence, the viewer cannot know what is happening (Berger 57).

The writer has used written and illustrations to have conversation with the viewer/reader. He has shown different images in his books and he has tried to give some of the opinions, which the reader might have. This has made the reader to re-think of what he usually used to think and think again, about what he actually sees in the pictures. The use of images by the writer has made a conversation with the viewer because he is trying to think what message the image is trying to portray. He has used two paintings by Frans Hals to show how the views of the viewers are affected by there experiences. In return, this has led to conversation between the writer and the reader/viewer.

Mystification is a confusion by people brought about due to failure to understand something (Joby 67). Mystification can also be said to be a description of ways of how people perceive what they see. When people are looking at paintings, they usually come up with different perceptions and interpretations. As John Berger said, “we are always looking at the relation between things and ourselves” (Berger 156). Berger meant that people always think what they want to think without the consideration of the others therefore not at any one point will people come up with the same interpretation of a painting.

In the case of mystification, the viewer also expects to be mystified by the way the art is displayed because he always wants to relate his experiences and what he has seen in the picture. The viewers always expect to relate their picture with their own personal life teachings and happenings to what they see in a picture. At the end of the essay, the writer confirms that the theories of mystification by Berger are true. He has gone further to indicate that in the society, mystification has brought negative in the society by distinguishing between the lower class and the high class. Additionally, it has stated that the high-class will always continue to be ranked high and the low class will always continue to be ranked lowly in the society.

The writer has called upon Berger when he has used his work to show mystification. Berger has said that people will continue to mystify not unless they start thinking about other people’s experiences. The writer has also invoked Berger directly by concurring with Berger’s statement that to end mystification, a painting has to be followed by literature to explain to the viewer what the painter was trying to communicate to the viewer (Berger 157). This means that a picture will never be able to explain fully of what the painter is trying to express when he is painting. On the hand, the question has not been clearly addressed since in the essay, the writer and Berger is the same person. Therefore, he will tend to keep on referring to his work.

In conclusion, we can clearly see that what we always see is not what always what others see because people always have a tendency to see what they want to see and think of what they want to think. In addition to this, we can always say that seeing comes before anything else and it can never explain the feelings of an image therefore bringing about the issue of mystification. However, when it is followed with an explanation it will be able to explain well and reduce the chances of mystification.


Works Cited

Berger, John. Ways of seeing. London, UK: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1972. Print.

Joby, Christopher. Calvinism and the arts: a re-assessment. Wilsele, Belgium: Peeters Publishers, 2007. Print.

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