A Mountain - John Berger

A Mountain - John Berger

A Mountain

Blue fist lightly clenched. Fist of right hand, for the thumb, where
the pass picks its way across the mountain, is on its left. A back of
a hand laid on a mule's neck; its too hot on this road for horses. On
the thumb a smear of blood, a thistle scratch, no more. Several of the
same thistles grow here as in North Africa and the Middle East. A
mule's sense of tomorrow is probably similar to a mountain's;
tomorrow is waiting for them, never the other way round.

Turn the painting upside down and see the carcass of the mule,
sprawled on an asphalt road eventually leading to Cordoba. In the
foreground sky, now above the carcass, a vivid sunset; tomorrow will
be as hot as today.

The energy of the fist, mountain, mule, thistle, is the one and same
energy and it is the energy found by the artist when making this
painting. It didn't come from the mere act of observation, any more
than it came from any manual act of gesturing. It came from quitting
the self, and feeling, with all six senses, his wary way into the
jurisprudence of the elemental, which holds together the known (and
unknown) laws of geology, climate, anatomy and the longings of the

John Berger