John Berger: Bento's Sketchbook

Volgende maand verschijnt bij Verso van John Berger: Bento's Sketchbook. A meditation, in words and images, on the practice of drawing.
Zie hier op wikipedia meer over John Berger die veel over kunst schreef. Een klassieker is zijn Ways of Seeing (1972).

De uitgever:
"The seventeenth-century philosopher Baruch Spinoza—also known as Benedict or Bento de Spinoza—spent the most intense years of his short life writing. A sporadic draughtsman, he also carried with him a sketchbook. After his sudden death, his friends rescued letters, manuscripts, notes—but no drawings.

For years, John Berger has imagined finding Bento's sketchbook without knowing what its pages might hold, but wanting to see the drawings alongside his surviving words. When one day a friend gave Berger a beautiful, virgin sketchbook, John said “This is Bento's!” and he began to draw, taking his inspiration from the philosopher's vision.

The result is Bento's Sketchbook—an exploration of the practice of drawing and a meditation on how art guides our gaze to the world: to flowers, to the human body, to the pitilessness of the new world order and the forms of resistance to it."

Dat vind ik wel grappig. Zo vaak heb ook ik al de dagdroom gehad dat ik op een rommelmarkt een oud schetsboekje vind, en dat ik aan de  vierde tekening aan een zekere gelijkenis met Masaniello kan zien dat het van Spinoza afkomstig moet zijn (de aanwijzing van Colerus). Hier dus een verwante ziel - een die kan tekenen, waaraan ik na m'n kindertijd, waarin je nog alles kan, beter niet meer kan beginnen.

Bekijk de afbeelding op ware grootteJohn Berger die in de Franse Alpen woont,  doneerde onlangs zijn archief aan de British Library.

Enige grepen uit een interview van Nicholas Wroe met de schrijver over het boek dat vandaag in de Guardian verscheen (en op grond waarvan ik dit blog kon maken):

Bento's Sketchbook is a characteristically sui generis work, combining an engagement with the thought of the 17th-century lens grinder, draughtsman and philosopher Baruch Spinoza with a study of drawing and a series of semi-autobiographical sketches, through which Berger attempts to explore the world around him and his place within it.

Spinoza has been in my head for a very long time," he explains. "Reading Marx as an 18-year-old, I remember him responding to a game in which he was asked to name his favourite philosopher. He said 'Spinoza'. It is in some ways a strange book – it is not directly a study of Spinoza or directly a book about drawing. I wanted to write about looking at the world, so it's more about helping people, or persuading people, to see what is around us; both the marvellous and the terrible. It's no coincidence that Spinoza worked in the then new science of optics."

    Spinoza, geschetst door John Berger
                       Spinoza, geschetst door John Berger

The book's design elegantly incorporates text, drawings and extracts from Spinoza and is "as complicated as Ways of Seeing was 40 years ago," Berger says. "We had long conversations about the layout, about not using illustrations as they are traditionally used but rather letting them speak for themselves. In a way it was about jiggling with the conventions of what makes a book, all of which were things we talked about, albeit in a different spirit, with Ways of Seeing. So in a funny way I see it as possessing a family likeness. Its character is different, but it is definitely related."

[..] In a sense Bento's Sketchbook is a collaboration with Spinoza, and Berger says he hopes the reader will regard the Spinoza that emerges "as a companion, in some ways a contemporary, to us. We're not facing the same world as him, but in many ways it is similar, and his precise rejection of the Cartesian distinction between the physical and the spiritual seems to me more and more relevant to the crisis the world is now going through. Without wishing to idealise or simplify too much, we see some signs of its manifestation at the moment in north Africa, where the uprisings are, of course, concerned with the material conditions of the people. But there is also a more elevated spiritual vision. The two combined in Egypt and Tunisia to give the people their extraordinary sense of calm." [Hier]

aanvulling 10 mei 2011

Zie eerste review vandaag door Jonathan Beckman

Video op Youtube gebracht op 29 mei 2011


Schets van Spinoza door John Berger in dit boek, alsmede BBC-video aan het blog toegevoegd