Monday, September 29, 2008

A Reflection of: Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag

I happened to find this book to be very interesting, not through its dense amount of examples but for the underlying point that I gathered from it. Is a photograph ever truly an accurate depiction of what occurred in the past? Or like many of the pictures that depict war something else. Not quite hoax, yet not grounded in reality either. I always think the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” to be funny, because I always like to think what someone is really trying to convey is that a picture may very well be worth that many words, yet in such a large number there can be room for just about anything. A picture can in fact capture our past, yet to what accuracy? It cannot convey emotions as well as people think, what if the terror stricken woman was told to pose that way by the photographer? Would a person be angry at the photographer for capturing a lie, or with themselves for the emotion the picture elicited in them? I would be angry at myself, for allowing myself to be subjected to yet another form of media, which coming from my background is almost always rooted in lies. As for the book itself, I really did not personally care for it, perhaps instead of naming countless examples of such photographs; maybe a wiser idea would have been to actually show the examples. Unless you are indeed majoring in photography or mayhap an avid hobbyist, who I am neither, I believe it is safe to suffice that at least for myself I found the book to be a bit hard to follow. Purely through it’s over usage of examples. In a way I believe the sheer amount of them diluted and shrouded the main points that Sontag was trying to convey. Outside of that, I really don’t have much else to say regarding this text because I drew very little from it. I do however agree that photographs are a powerful tool of depiction that can often elicit strange and unexplainable feelings when viewed by an audience. It is true, and intriguing that we as a race find some sort of sadistic pleasure in the pain of others. I personally can’t stand when traffic comes to a turtles pace whenever there happens to be an accident or even a ticketing. We are in some odd way fueled by others misery and pain. I sadly must agree, even I at times stop to stare at the gruesomeness of life.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Spotless Mind

In the film Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, the question of what would happen if you could erase all the pain in your life arises. For anyone who has seen this movie, most would agree that it is rooted in a fallacy, something that simply is not plausible. However, if it were, just how scary a world would we be living in? It is my belief that in this context pain represents experience. One cannot mature and grow without the addition of pain. As Aristotle stated, "We cannot learn without pain." This was thought centuries ago, why now presume to think any differently. If a loved one passed away, who in their right mind would want to forget them entirely? It is essentially what this movie represents; a way to hide oneself from the psychological effects on pain, which in reality only would hinder the cognitive development of that person. All traces of previous endeavors, hardships, joys, and the like would be simply eradicated from our minds with the blink of an eye. Who would we be? Could we essentially tell a doctor the common phrase “I don’t know who I am anymore” and tell him I don’t want to know. Could we forget ourselves?
In the movie Joel wants to forget Clementine because he loved her so much and the pain she caused him because he opened up to her. Did he want to forget the bad things? Or forget love all together? Love to me is like seeing a shooting star, seldom seen and experienced, but when that rare occurrence happens, you always want to remember it, wishing you could capture it. Love is fleeting unless you capture it, so why would you deny yourself the pleasure that love brings.
“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love. Mother Teresa
I think perhaps Joel should have heard this quote, because it rings so true. He was a coward for ever walking into that office along with any of the patients who ever walked in. this is of course my opinion, and everyone would have a different belief. Joel realized about half way through his procedure that he didn’t want to forget the bad, because he would forget the good as well. I believe a person who would want to forget any experience no matter how terrible is weak. As the Marines say “pain is weakness leaving the body.”

"Given the choice between the experience of pain and nothing, I would choose pain"
William Faulkner

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Reflection of Pain: The Science of Suffering by Patrick Wall

Although a short book, the density of the subject matter is formidable. What is pain? How do we separate the physiological and the psychological aspects of it? What are they? What role does our medical industry play in the ongoing effort to suppress pain? And finally my real question, can it ever truly be extinguished? These are just a few of the questions that began to formulate during my time spent reading this paperback. Patrick Wall is gifted in that the topic of pain is one of hindrance, for within every society including our own it is a topic shrouded in mysticism, mystery, and taboo. Wall attempts to slice the meat from the bone if you will, exposing the raw and often grotesque truths of pain itself. It is a topic that can truly never be measured, because just as each mind is unique to an individual, so is their conception and preconception of their own pain as well as the suffering of others. While reading this book it made me think about exactly what pain is at least in my own world of thought. Yet not long after, I realized I was thinking upon the wrong notion. I don’t necessarily want to understand my pain, but the pain of others. However ridiculous that may sound, it doesn’t benefit me to analyze my pain because it can never truly be expressed. It then made me think of just how many people I know or have seen suffer merely muse upon themselves. Whereas, perhaps a better use of time would be to communicate with another in pain similar to what they are experiencing. Through that, they might actually understand each other better. It in my mind is a better gain to understand another, than to focus solely upon oneself. Pain should not be given any more of an isolating quality than it already inherently possesses.