John Berger’s ‘White Bird’
John Berger’s ‘White Bird’
John Berger’s ‘The White Bird’ involves a discussion of a peasant construct in East Europe that people use to live through long winters. In particular, Berger describes the construct in the form of a hand made wooden figure that simulates a flying bird. When completed, the construct is hung by thread in chapels and home kitchens where they glide through air currents. Berger also itemizes a number of qualities that make the white bird evoke aesthetic values. Regardless, he does not seem satisfied with this intellectual direction. He states that this construct leads one to question the relation between nature and art and the world and art.
Berger changes directions and includes a nature discussion that applies the aspect of severe criticism. As he states, nature has done good as much as it does evil. The energy is indifferent thus constructing shelter from it becoming necessary for life. Berger continues in this negative view by saying that beauty can only be countered within this natural bleak. Berger at this point diverges to dismiss the function of nature as being “too redunctionist” to create any aesthetic emotion. Responding to Berger’s view on nature makes one feel like he lays down certain laws. However, these laws are pronouncements that lack support. For example, his argument does not answer the question whether nature shows any connection in the various ways animals and plants are equipped instinctively. Berger did not convince me that all nature is bleak and lacks promise.
As Berger’s essay reached its climax, I was able to see his main concern. As he says, he judges work depending on whether it has been able to benefit people in claiming their social rights or not. In simpler terms, Berger in this case meant that the human condition and political reality are means of measuring the validity of art. Additionally, Berger also contends that art is a means of transforming single potential recognition into a more concise one. For the worse part, Berger does not harbor significant positive views about nature. For instance, I am in agreement with his statement that some birds head north to avoid winter. However, for those that remain, his stand cannot contemplate the possibility that they are protected from the cold by an unknown means.
From another point of view, I feel that Berger’s essay is centered mostly on the construction details of the bird. This is because these details had little to add to his main argument about humanity, art and nature. Additionally, Berger admittedly states that the white bird does not possess the artistic caliber of Van Gogh or Rembrant. Furthermore, he fails to score through his lack of communicating the deeper meanings he discusses. If John Berger’s essay represents a rational for interpreting humanity and art from a Marxist viewpoint, then it is no wonder Marxism disappears.
In this essay, Berger speaks about life principles. He also talks about how the evolution of a single tradition leads to many other traditions going through evolution. This implies that of the ‘White Bird’ traditions is the foundation that supports many other traditions that illustrate various meanings of the white bird. One aspect Berger describes in his essay is that of aesthetics. It stands for the philosophy branch that deals with notions such as the sublime, comic, ugly, beautiful, just to mention a few, as applied in fine arts with the intent of creating critical judgments.
Berger’s work represents a study of emotions, the mind, and their relation to beauty. His entire essay delves into this beauty relationship. He also shows how the hand creation of the white bird shows aesthetic value when hanged in the house. The white dove or bird is intended to bring peace, unity, protection, and divinity. As Berger describes, when one looks at this bird, it brings out of the person a particular emotion, an emotion one cannot control but is a beautiful one. In this case, the white bird is a tangible object we can see. However, we should understand that each person has his or her own interpretation of the white bird.
Therefore, when one sees a white dove hanging in a room, one may notice it and associate it with peace. Other than this, the white dove is just another decoration. What most people will not understand is that the white bird is hand made. Having this information creates a different perception of the bird compared to the previous that saw the white bird as a mass produced object. This object should be considered beautiful because someone took his or her time to construct it. Ultimately, combining the meaning of peace with the thought of hand making the bird makes the white bird more important.
Berger’s idea of viewing nature as the arena, garden, and framed window was intended to focus on one point of view, implying that this is how we should see nature. Berger speaks about how people consider nature an arena, view-framed window, and garden of freedom. Seeing nature as a garden implies that we view the way treat it. Normally, a garden is a patch of land in a person’s homestead where he or she decides the kind of plants they intend to grow and determine how they will be arranged.
Nature, on the other hand, is completely different from a garden. In this case, nature grows what it wishes, when it wants, and does not necessarily have to do it in a certain order. In simple terms, nature just happens. Berger’s view on nature states that it is as “struggle and energy that comes into being without promise”. This means that nature is powerful and can lead to something good or bad. You may never know what will happen. Looking at life from a view-framed window is similar to consuming a delicious looking meal that does not live up to its appearance once consumed.
When one looks out the window during the winter, you see snow falling from the sky and believe that it is beautiful. However, what you do not see is the devastating cold that comes with the cold. Nature seems beautiful through the window but is a devil in disguise in reality. An arena means an area set aside for holding large population of people for a form of entertainment. Berger states that nature is a freedom arena. If you think of nature as an arena, then it seemingly appears more contained and less free. However, from Berger’s point of view, an arena is defined but what is inside it. Therefore, nature is everywhere and is everything.
By stating that “I cannot be able to go out and attempt to act this away”, Berger implies one should not search for beauty in nature. However, beauty comes naturally. Seeking for this beauty can lead to madness. Additionally, we should not always believe what we see. Because our sight leads to a number of perceptions, we should not then learn not to judge a book by its outward appearance. Similar to books, nature cannot be considered an arena of freedom, a view-framed window, or a garden because it is not possible to search for beauty in nature. Most beauty reveals itself to us when we least expect such as when we do have a camera. When we carry a camera, we take pictures of what we consider beautiful, but we do not come across the true beauty of nature. Therefore, following one’s instincts and observing what life and nature have to offer is the true way of finding beauty.
In conclusion, a Formalist and Marxist form of analysis on John Berger’s ‘The White Bird’ reveals a relationship between nature and art and the world and art. Primarily, the essay is centered on a white bird totem and Berger uses this figure to explain his view on nature and its relationship with art. My response on this essay maintains that Berger’s view on nature makes one feel like he lays down certain laws. However, the pronouncements these laws lack support. According to Berger, the white bird represents a form art with aesthetic value. The beauty of this article was acquired from nature. This means that nature is powerful and can lead to something to bad or good depending on how we take it. The white bird is symbol of nature’s peace, unity, protection, and divinity.