Archive for June, 2004

Jun 21 2004

Regarding the Pain of Others

Published by Brian under philosophy, war, human_rights, politics, reviews

review by Brian Charles Clark

Regarding the Pain of Others
by Susan Sontag
Publisher: Picador, 2004

Regarding the Pain of OthersSusan Sontag’s new book, Regarding the Pain of Others, updates, expands, and in certain respects repudiates her 1977 book On Photography. Where On Photography was quite theoretical and full of jargon, following, as it did, the work of the French critic Roland Barthes, Regarding the Pain of Others is a series of simple ideas written in plain language. The new book is nonetheless, or perhaps more so because of its simplicity, a work of profound and needed philosophy. The core questions of this short book are, Do photographs of the destruction and pain caused by war in any way inhibit such acts? Or do such photos, because of their prevalence, inure us to the pain of others? Where once, as during the Vietnam war, “photography became… a criticism of war” through a public display of the carnage, “[t]his was bound to have consequences,” a “blowback” reaction since the “mainstream media are not in the business of making people feel queasy about the struggles for which they are being mobilized.” Contemporary news media are, rather, in the entertainment business. Thus, in the current war, the media have been willing and eager flag-waving dupes of the military. Continue Reading »

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