Sontag. S (2003) Regarding the Pain of Others

Sontag S. (2003) Regarding the Pain of Others. New York: Picador [Available at:]

  • ” To the militant, identity is everything. And all photographs wait to be explained or falsified by their captions” pg 11
  • “Photographs of an atrocity may give rise to opposing responses. A call for peace. A cry for revenge. Or simply the bemused awareness, continually restocked by photographic information, that terrible things happen” pg 13 -photographs/documents of atrocities don’t have a singular purpose and their message is corruptible.
  • “And the pity and disgust that pictures like Hicks’s inspire should not distract you from asking what pictures, whose cruelties, whose deaths are not being shown.” pg 13
  • being a spectator of war is part of the modern experience “Wars are now also living room sights and sounds.”pg 17 “If it bleeds, it leads”
  • “…a photograph has only one language and is destined potentially for all. “pg 18
  • “For the photography of atrocity, people want the weight of witnessing without the taint of artistry, which is equated with insincerity or mere contrivance. Pictures of hellish events seem more authentic when they don’t have the look that comes from being “properly” lighted and composed, because the photographer either is an amateur or—just as serviceable— has adopted one of several familiar anti-art styles. By flying low, artistically speaking, such pictures are thought to be less manipulative—all widely distributed images of suffering now stand under that suspicion—and less likely to arouse facile compassion or identification. ” pg 23

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