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Regarding the Pain of Others (2003)
by Susan Sontag
No current Talk conversations about this book.
Meh. Less wise than well-read. Less brave than praised.
Cursory and effective, I read this in an afternoon. I have never allowed myself access to her fiction but her essays always maintained a welcome gravity.
An analysis of the human response to images of the suffering of others. Mainly relating to pictures of people afflicted by war from Goya's 18th century Disasters of War, to late 20th century conflicts depicted in photographs and film. The book discusses the impact these images have on the viewer and any utility they may have in making a less violent world. The bits I enjoyed most were the things I hadn't considered before. For example, many of the older war photographs were staged or at least had various props (cannon balls etc) moved around for effect. Only with Vietnam and televised war did photographers up their game and probity. Throughout the book she drops in bits and pieces that you feel you should know more about e.g. the RAF bombing Iraq in the 1920s, extermination of the Herero in Namibia, the rape of Nanking. All in all an interesting read and worthy of a re-read.
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Wikipedia in English (2)
Watching the evening news offers constant evidence of atrocity--a daily commonplace in our "society of spectacle." But are viewers inured--or incited--to violence by the daily depiction of cruelty and horror? Is the viewer's perception of reality eroded by the universal availability of imagery intended to shock? In this investigation of the role of imagery in our culture, Susan Sontag cuts through circular arguments about how pictures can inspire dissent or foster violence as she takes a fresh look at the representation of atrocity--from Goya's The Disasters of War to photographs of the American Civil War, lynchings of blacks in the South, and Dachau and Auschwitz to contemporary horrific images of Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and New York City on September 11, 2001. Sontag's new book, a startling reappraisal of the intersection of "information", "news," "art," and politics in the contemporary depiction of war and disaster, will forever alter our thinking about the uses and meanings of images in our world.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)303.6 — Social sciences Social Sciences Social Processes Conflict and conflict resolution ; Violence
An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.
Very relevant today. ( )