I just finished…

…”Ways of Seeing,” by John Berger, and “Human Smoke,” by Nicholson Baker. (Robert the K recommended the first and I chose the second in my efforts to form a world policy for myself.)

“Seeing,” a Marxist approach to art, was written over 40 years ago, so some of its points may have already entered the culture and lost their power by becoming familiar. (Also Berger does not value clarity in his prose style, and, being a Brit, his language choice does not always connote to an American as it might to his domestic audience.) Finally, Marxism is a narrow way to look at art, though the concentration may add potency to his remarks. I liked best his final remarks about “publicity,” which I took to mean “advertising.” There I found much with which to agree.

“Smoke” is an apple cart-turner. It is pro-pacifism. All wars, it implies, are part of one war; and no war achieves naught but evil. So far, so good; but the war which Baker selects to make his point, through an assemblage of selected events leading up to it, is “The Good War,” World War II. Most historians (but not everyone) trashed it, but the book will not leave my head alone.