There will be plenty of other people far more qualified to tell you why John Berger mattered — and will continue to do so. I just wanted to note that everything of his I’ve ever read (which isn’t much) shone through with a luminous humanity. It is hard won and because of that matters more, as he reminded you of the things that really mattered: kindness, humility, openness, curiosity and paying attention, looking harder.
That he was able to do so within the context of a theoretical framework and make that framework unsterile was perhaps the most miraculous of his achievements. And from that, open up and reveal to us that beauty, while rooted within economic systems could of course transcend them; and so of course, by paying attention, we could begin to do something similar ourselves. And of course his biggest lesson was that thinking, writing, being open were not adjuncts to living, but the very stuff of life itself.
His words will live on, and it’s no grand claim to say that he will be read in 400, 500 years time the way Montaigne is. Because he showed us who we were, and he showed us who we could be.
PS: Ways of Seeing is the only book someone has tapped me about and asked me what I was reading on the Tube. It — and he — had an uncanny knack of drawing people towards it and him.