Robert Isenberg's Reviews > Hold Everything Dear: Dispatches on Survival and Resistance

Hold Everything Dear by John Berger
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's review
Jan 03, 2008

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What an odd little volume -- essays, prose-poems, modest reportage, you name it, all signifying the end of freedom and justice. For years, I have treasured my edition of "Ways of Seeing," which was such an essential introduction to art and its social context. Berger reminds me of Chatwin, the way he combines an appreciation for art with anthropological curiosity and gutsy travel to dangerous lands. But "Hold Everything Dear" is particularly scattered; he leapfrogs from topic to topic, place to place; first he's talking about the walls (metaphorical and real) that confine the Palestinians; suddenly he's sitting in his rural French home, pondering the beauty of a quartet of nearby ponies. The book ends with "Two Women Photographers," a chapter of art criticism that is only tangentially related to the earlier chapters. Spanning only 150 pages, "Hold" spits and garbles like a cantankerous grandfather; there's no doubt that grandpa's an intellectual, but he's getting a little too bitter, even a little too foggy, to express his great ideas. And between the great ideas, there's a lot of bellyaching, and that doesn't do anybody any good.
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