"Why is it distracting, relaxing, entertaining to sink oneself into someone else's life and problems, to identify oneself with a painting or a piece of music or with the characters in a novel, play or film? Why do we respond to such 'unreality' as though it were reality intensified?""[We] long to absorb the surrounding world and make it [our] own; to extend [our] inquisitive, world-hungry 'I'...""Why is our own existence not enough?"I could go on and on - my copy is heavily underlined. (Always a good sign.) This book asks all the interesting questions about art: where does the impulse come from? What makes for dishonest art? What effect does putting a price on it have? How have mechanization and consumerism affected it? What is the relationship between form and content? Again, I could keep going.You may agree with one of his ideas and disagree with the next, but regardless, he will make you rethink the subject and your opinions on it.One more note: I'm not a big fan of introductions -- so often they're no more than shoddy retellings of the plot or some irrelevant blather -- but John Berger's introduction to this book is beautiful and fitting and possibly one of the best I've ever read.