John Berger's Another Way of Telling Essay

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In John Berger’s essay “Another Way of Telling,” Berger argues that photographs contain a “third meaning.” Berger claims that the third meaning is personal and relies almost completely on the individual viewer. As a result, no photograph can convey the same message to any two people and no two photographs can convey the same message to any one person. Here, the validity of Berger’s assumption crumbles. All photographs communicate one absolute truth.      Berger states, “All subjectivity is treated as private” (100). Yet, claiming that anything subjective within a photograph, its past and future, is personal only supports an absolute truth. The truth, however, is beyond the viewer’s conscious interpretation and…show more content…
Berger claims that the light and the weather are taken from their setting and the photograph becomes ambiguous. Nothing is ambiguous about the actual instant photographed. The light and weather captured by the camera were the same light and weather as the instant of the photograph. Berger does not even attempt to apply a meaning to a landscape in his essay. Berger excludes landscapes because they are not ambiguous. There is nothing to dispute about the lighting or weather of a landscape, but the photograph must still carry a meaning. The reason Berger fails to apply meaning to landscapes is that he is unable to draw upon his own life experiences and psychology to create a mythical truth, or a personal truth. The truth is not personal; it is universal and singular, thus escaping Berger’s imagination.      If the photograph were to be replaced back into its surrounding time, fixing the continuity, would the meaning differ? Would Berger now be able to “invent” an ambiguous meaning for the photograph? Nothing from Berger’s personal past could influence the landscape captured within the photograph; thus Berger is unable to assign meaning. When Berger is unable to assign meaning, the photograph must be clear and lucid, not ambiguous. The singular truth behind the photograph has not allowed Berger any room for a personal reading.           Another example of

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