Regarding the Pain of Others (Picador Modern Classics) Hardcover – 7 November 2017
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“Wise and somber. . .Sontag's closing words acknowledge that there are realities which no picture can convey.” ―Los Angeles Times Book Review
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“The history of sensibility in a culture shaped by the mechanical reproduction of imagery....has always been one of the guiding preoccupations of her best work, from Against Interpretation to The Volcano Lover....Regarding the Pain of Others invites, and rewards, more than one reading.” ―Newsday
“For 30 years, Susan Sontag has been challenging an entire generation to think about the things that frighten us most: war, disease, death. Her books illuminate without simplifying, complicate without obfuscating, and insist above all that to ignore what threatens us is both irresponsible and dangerous.” ―O, The Oprah Magazine
“A timely meditation on politics and ethics. . .extraordinary . . .Sontag's insight and erudition are profound.” ―The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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- Item Weight : 113 g
- Hardcover : 192 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1250160685
- ISBN-13 : 978-1250160683
- Dimensions : 9.6 x 1.45 x 14.61 cm
- Publisher : Picador Modern Classics (7 November 2017)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #448,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sontag starts her essay by talking about Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas, and Woolf's rejection of the assumption that all feel the same way about war.
The book talks about the history of war photography, which is intimately bound with the history of public tolerance of violent photos, During the course of reading, I had to look up several examples cited by the author, the horrors of Vietnam War, World War, the 1857 Sepoy rebellion in India etc. which turned out to be difficult but necessary and eye opening.
While Sontag does not provide any revolutionary ideas, the essay is a succinct and thorough examination of the issues surrounding photography.
A photograph cannot immediately transmit understanding. A photograph cannot help us understand what it is to fight and kill in war or to have to dig up bombs or lose loved ones. A photograph, though a means of objectifying and transmitting memories, lacks context for a more complete individual understanding of events. It is equally about what does not make it to the frame than what does! What are we not seeing? Is the left out version not equally important? Or even more important?
Even though Sontag does not offer us a grand thesis to keep in mind or a solution to the issues that plague photo journalism, she gives us thought-provoking observations. She notes, for example, that displaying photos of dead bodies is less taboo the more foreign and exotic those bodies are, how staged photos in today's time are used to generate distrust and enmity between communities and countries