Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ways of Seeing #1: The Land of Cockayne

Pieter Bruegel the Elder.  The Land of Cockayne.  1567.  Oil and tempera on panel, 20 1/2 x 30 3/4".  Pinakothek, Munich.

"Seeing comes before words.  The Child looks and recognizes before it can speak.... But there is also another sense in which seeing comes before words.  It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but words can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it.  The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled."  (John Berger, Ways of Seeing,  7)



  1. I think I woke up in that painting this very morning

  2. Here's what first comes to mind. Imagine that a medieval peasant gets transported to any middle class, middle American town. He would think that he had been plopped down in the middle of that painting. He was finally in the Land of Cockayne. If he stuck around a while and listened to people and the news and could actually read, he would find out that living in a land of plenty doesn't necessarily guarantee happiness. Sad isn't it?

    So what does the "back to the land" movement mean and where does it fit in all this?

  3. However I'm getting a disconnect between the painting and the quote. What do you have in mind by posting them both?

  4. The quotation is the inspiration for the series, Cordelia.

    Grades: Cordelia A

    Everyone else: F

  5. Oops--Kendra gets a B.