Regarding the Pain of Others

Sontag’s book takes an intimate look at the way we chronicle war and
death in our society.Her essays on photography have become legendary, and
this book is no exception.Sontag believes that seeing graphic displays of
the horrors of war have left us jaded and unemotional about what we are
viewing.As she notes late in the book, “To speak of reality becoming a
spectacle is a breathtaking provincialism.It universalizes the viewing
habits of a small, educated population living in the rich part of the
world, where news has been converted into entertainment” (Sontag 110).
Sontag discusses photography from as far back as America’s Civil War, and
uses the thoughts and writings of others to help make her case, that modern
photojournalism has numbed us to the horrors of war, and as such, actually
It is quite clear Sontag is a fan of photography and what it can
capture, and that she is not a far of war or terror.She notes, “Ever
since cameras were invented in 1839, photography has kept company with
death” (Sontag 24).This is an interesting and compelling look at
photography.People tend to think of photography as a means to capture
occasions to remember – birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, and such.
However, Sontag’s view of photography is much darker, but certainly more
based in reality.Photography freezes a moment in time, and good
photography can move a viewer to a wide range of emotions.All one has to
do is view of photo of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World
Trade Center towers, and violent and vivid emotions almost always come into
play.This is the foundation of Sontag’s thesis, that photography can
elicit violent emotions, but that society has become so used to seeing
violent photography, that we are immune to the horrors, and out of touch
with the violence and terror of war.The vivid photos of destruction and


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