Twenty-six years after the publication of her influential collection of essays On Photography (1977), Sontag (In America) reconsiders ideas that are "now fast approaching the status of platitudes," especially the view that our capacity to respond to images of war and atrocity is being dulled by "the relentless diffusion of vulgar and appalling images" in our rapaciously media-driven culture. Sontag opens by describing Virginia Woolf's essay on the roots of war, "Three Guineas," in which Woolf described a set of gruesome photographs of mutilated bodies and buildings destroyed during the Spanish Civil War. Woolf wondered if there truly can be a "we" between man and woman in matters of war. Sontag sets out to reopen and enlarge the question. "No `we' should be taken for granted when the subject is looking at other people's pain," she writes. The "we" that Sontag has come to be much more aware of in the decades since On Photography is the world of the rich. She has come to doubt her youthful contention that repeated exposure to images of suffering necessarily shrivels sympathy, and she doubts even more the radical yet influential spin that others put on this critique-that reality itself has become a spectacle. "To speak of reality becoming a spectacle... universalizes the viewing habits of a small, educated population living in the rich part of the world...." Sontag reminds us that sincerity can turn a mere spectator into a witness, and that it is the heart rather than fancy rhetoric that can lead the mind to understanding.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
The impact of violent images: Sontag's first full-length work on imagery since her acclaimed On Photography 25 years ago.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
I found this a difficult book to read.The author uses long meandering sentences frequently enough to distract attention;and her thesis is unclear. Read morePublished on May 28 2004 by nigel allison
I don't know why this book isn't at the top of Amazon's Susan Sontag's list of publications. It was very hard to put it down until I got to the end. Read morePublished on May 20 2004 by "finch334"
And that's about it. She's a racist with a brilliant mind, and therefore most adept at propoganda. This book, as well as the rest of her work, to some extent and another... Read morePublished on March 22 2004 by Joanne Ravel
In this insightful essay, Sontag springboards from an analysis of "Three Guineas" by Virginia Woolf into a discussion about the effects of photography and televised... Read morePublished on May 21 2003 by "blissengine"
I couldnï¿½t help but wonder what Susan Sontag would have to say about a friend of mine, and the manner in which he gets his daily news. Read morePublished on April 27 2003 by Arthur J. Boughan