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.

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