John Berger's death today hit me far harder than that of - I was going to say other celebrities, but maybe I mean other notables, who've died in this last year. His writing back in the 70s taught me that I was a naive reader of paintings (to say the least); his principled commitment to the ordinary and quotidien - well, anyone who reads this blog will know my adherence to careful, appreciative looking. I want to think through the kind of impact he had on a form of localist ecocriticism (his influence on me, here, meshed with the later writings of Raymond Williams). But I wasn't going to fall into what's now a photographic cliché of the gnarled hand, and there weren't any peasants or apple orchards or pieces of French hillsides around, so it seemed far more appropriate to observe, and create, and appreciate the fleeting - in this case, a very bare bough outside my study window. I'm so grateful for the intellectual impact that Berger had on my thinking, my sense of aesthetics, and indeed, in some hard-to-define way, on my emotional make-up.