I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve referred to Berger’s classic during my studies. I revisit it again to consider what I can learn from it in the context of cultural geography – my previous post notes how Berger’s ‘ways of seeing’ was used as a model by Hillary Angelo to examine the shaping of meaning.
The pivotal phrase is ‘The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled’ (p7). Berger uses this as a motif to build his argument throughout the first chapter of the book, crediting Walter Benjamin and his The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1935) as a source for his ideas. It next seems necessary to revisit the source of Hillary Angelo’s source!
The phrase is central to the understanding of the condition of ‘meaning’. It infers that nothing is quite how it seems and that seeing and understanding is a learned cultural experience. However, I question whether this peculiar to visual representation – it seems to pervade all texts and even original perception.
Is it possible to perceive things as they truly are? Or does the perception always say more about the viewer? Does the question even make sense?