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“The cruelty towards others like ourselves… is difficult to imagine here as you turn to swim your twentieth length”: Swimming and Dreaming of Elsewhere with John Berger

Croft, J “The cruelty towards others like ourselves… is difficult to imagine here as you turn to swim your twentieth length”: Swimming and Dreaming of Elsewhere with John Berger. Cultural Politics. ISSN 1743-2197 (Accepted)

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Abstract

This article explores Berger’s representation of swimming and water-borne movements. The author considers the significance of the swimming pool as a refrain in Berger’s work, tracing continuities and tensions between a range of essayistic meditations on pools as sites of encounter written between 2004 and 2016. For Berger, the pool seems to be associated not only with moments of psychic and social connection, but also, more obliquely, with the potential limits to our capacity for empathic identification. Berger’s concept of ‘opaque thought’ is axiomatic here, as is his privileging of the ‘ungoggled’ gaze – a field of ‘blurred’ perception which allows for more fluid, open forms of consciousness. Berger’s writing about swimming often illuminates possible associations between water and forms of liminal consciousness, where there is a more porous delineation between dreaming and waking. Yet even as he moves away from traditional ideas about thinking in depth, Berger never simply equates such subjective drift with a lack of political focus. The pool, with all its possibilities for meditative escape, remains a place for ‘vigilance’. In order to foreground the significance of discourses of connection and participation in Berger’s work, the author also includes segments of her own autobiographical writing, following drifts of thought between different bodies of water, different configurations of ‘being elsewhere’.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1606 Political Science, 2002 Cultural Studies, 2001 Communication and Media Studies
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Humanities and Social Science
Publisher: Duke University Press
Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2019 10:25
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2019 20:58
Editors: Turney, R and Van Noord, G
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/10412

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