10 April 2009

John Berger's Mistake

"The attendants always have two or three rooms to survey and so they wander from one room to another. The chair beside the Crucifixion is for the moment empty. After taking out my sketchbook, a pen and a handkerchief, I carefully place my small shoulder bag on the chair.

I start drawing. Correcting error after error. Some trivial. Some not. The crucial question is the scale of the cross on the page. If this is not right, the surrounding space will exert no pressure, and there’ll be no resistance. I’m drawing with ink and wetting my index finger with spit. Bad beginning. I turn the page and restart.

I won’t make the same mistake again. I’ll make others, of course. I draw, correct, draw."
In The New Statesman this week Berger relates this harrowing experience last Easter at the National Gallery in London. Hint: This is what happens when you place a uniform on a small minded person. Such interactions would be wholly comical except that the laws had not been changed in various places to invest all sorts of personnel (think flight attendants on airplanes) with quasi-police powers and to make simple unexceptional actions illegal.

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Blogger Pete Brook said...

Last week a very kind King County Council, Seattle employee took two hours out of his day to give my brother and I a guided tour of some stunning derelict grain silos.

We tried to explain the bureaucracy and distrust that has crept into British society and that this is a sinister extension to a prevailing British jobsworth mentality.

The employee stopped me there, and asked for clarification on the term "Jobsworth", as it is a term unfamiliar to Americans.

I will forward him a link to John Berger's article as the perfect example of immovable, myopic and impersonal execution of employment task!

Thanks Jim.

10 April, 2009 15:08  

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