Quotation by John Berger

The function of the hero in art is to inspire the reader or spectator to continue in the same spirit from where he, the hero, leaves off. He must release the spectator's potentiality, for potentiality is the historic force behind nobility. And to do this the hero must be typical of the characters and class who at that time only need to be made aware of their heroic potentiality in order to be able to make their society juster and nobler. Bourgeois culture is no longer capable of producing heroes. On the highbrow level it only produces characters who are embodied consolations for defeat, and on the lowbrow level it produces idols—stars, TV "personalities," pin-ups. The function of the idol is the exact opposite to that of the hero. The idol is self-sufficient; the hero never is. The idol is so superficially desirable, spectacular, witty, happy that he or she merely supplies a context for fantasy and therefore, instead of inspiring, lulls. The idol is based on the appearance of perfection; but never on the striving towards it.
John Berger (b. 1926), British author, painter. "A Few Useful Definitions," Permanent Red, Writers and Readers Publ. (1960).
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