Berger And Tompkins

John Berger\'s writing "Ways of Seeing" is a look into the world of
art. Throughout his composition, he gives his opinions on various topics about
art. Jane Tompkins essay "Indians: Textualism, Morality, and the Problem of

History" is a look into the world of history. Within her essay, Tompkins
discusses her views on the quest of finding truth in history. She uses terms
such as "relativism" ,the understanding that man or woman can never
find the absolute truth in facts, and "epistemological quandary" , a
predicament where in her case she could not find the correct knowledge and facts
to interpret and learn the factual information she desired to possess. These
terms help to develop her way of finding the historical truth when there are
many different accounts of history. Reproductions occur in many different
aspects of life. Two of these such aspects are art and history, the areas of
expertise of Berger and Tompkins respectively. Berger believes that non-exact
reproductions of art are of great Widro 2 value while Tompkins believes that
there is little value if there is a non-exact reproduction or recount of
history. John Berger ,an art critic as well as an author, is a proponent of
reproducing art in different forms other that the original. When Berger talks
about this positive view of reproduction ,he says that, In the age of
reproduction the meaning of the paintings is no longer attached to them; their
meaning becomes transmittable that is to say it because information of a sort
,and, like all information, is either put to use or ignored; information carries
no special authority within itself.(65) This quote explains Berger\'s feelings on
the reproduction of art in our time. He illustrates to the reader that
reproductions give the art viewer a more specific angle on a art piece. By doing
this the art pursuer can understand the piece on a greater level making the
original piece more comprehensible. Because of this, Berger makes the assertion
that reproduction enhances the understanding of the original piece thus making
reproduction justified and a worthy thing to accomplish. Widro 3 This belief
that reproduction further explains a piece of art carries into Berger\'s thinking
on modern film and the modern camera. Not only can art or paintings be
reproduces with another painting but it can be reproduced with the camera. A
film-maker can use art to illustrate a theme or point that he or she is trying
to make. "When a painting is reproduced by a film camera it inevitably
becomes for the material film-maker\'s argument"(66). Because of this
"a film which reproduces images of a paintings leads the spectator through
the painting, to the film-maker\'s own conclusions"(66). Film is another
venue for people to broaden their understanding of paintings. Thus, Berger is
for this form of reproduction. This is another point that Berger uses to further
display the benefit of art reproduction. An alternate view of reproductions is
held by Jane Tompkins. She analyzes history with the application of
"relativism", the understanding that man or woman can never find the
absolute truth in facts, to the dilemmas of history. In the end, she describes
her conclusions regarding historical interpretation. First she begins to realize
her dilemmas with establishing non-biased historical fact when preparing to
teach a course in colonial American literature. Tompkins wanted to learn what
she could about the Puritan\'s Widro 4 relationship with the Americans Indians,
but she soon found extremely conflicting reports. She explains, Some of the
conflicting accounts were not simply contradictory, they were completely
incommensurable, in that their assumptions about what counted as a valid
approach to the subject, and what the subject itself was, diverged in
fundamental ways(619). In other words, when a person researches a fact they will
always find conflicting reports which is shown here by Tompkins. Tompkins felt a
loss because she was frustrated with this "array of mutually irreconcilable
points of view"(619) and decided to turn to what she viewed as
"primary sources"(620) for further clarification. Yet here Tompkins
finds further evidence of bias, and further frustration. She describes her
situation as a complete "epistemological quandary"(620). This is a
quandary where in her case she could not find the correct knowledge and facts to
interpret and learn the factual information she desired to possess. This proves
to the reader that Tompkins believes that reproductions of history have limited
value and must be interpreted. The history that happened is the absolute truth

Widro 5 but the resulting interpretation that occur are diluted and are not the
complete truth. Because of this, the historical account that historians write
have be read with