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Cokesbury

Regarding the Pain of Others

  • By Susan Sontag
$11.79
($16.00)
Twenty-five years after her classic "On Photography," Susan Sontag returns to the subject of visual representations of war and violence in our culture today.
How does the spectacle of the sufferings of others (via television or newsprint) affect us? Are viewers inured--or incited--to violence by the depiction of cruelty? "In Regarding the Pain of Others," Susan Sontag 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 the Nazi death camps, to contemporary horrific images of Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Israel and Palestine, and New York City on September 11, 2001.
In "Regarding the Pain of Others" Susan Sontag once again changes the way we think about the uses and meanings of images in our world, and offers an important reflection about how war itself is waged (and understood) in our time.
Susan Sontag became a cultural figure upon the publication of her pathbreaking collection of essays "Against Interpretation" in 1966. She went on to write four novels, including "In America," which won the National Book Award for Fiction, as well as a collection of stories, several plays, and seven subsequent works of nonfiction, among them "On Photography," "Illness as Metaphor," and "Regarding the Pain of Others." Her many international honors included the Jerusalem Prize in 2001 and the Friedenspreis (Peace Prize) of the German Book Trade in 2003. She died in New York City on December 28, 2004. National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee
A "New York Times" Notable Book
A "Los Angeles Times" Best Book
A "San Francisco Chronicle" Best Book
One of the distinguishing features of modern life is that it supplies countless opportunities for regarding (at a distance, through the medium of photography) horrors taking place throughout the world. Images of atrocities have become, via the little screens of the television and the computer, something of a commonplace. But are viewers inured--or incited--to violence by the depiction of cruelty? Is the viewer's perception of reality eroded by the daily barrage of such images? What does it mean to care about the sufferings of people in faraway zones of conflict?
Susan Sontag's now classic book "On Photography" defined the terms of this debate twenty-five years ago. Her new book is a profound rethinking of the intersection of "news," art, and understanding in the contemporary depiction of war and disaster. She makes a fresh appraisal of the arguments about how pictures can inspire dissent, foster violence, or create apathy, evoking a long history of the representation of the pain of others--from Goya's "The Disasters of War" to photographic documents of the American Civil War, lynchings of blacks in the South, the First World War, the Spanish Civil War, the Nazi death camps, and contemporary images from Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Israel, and Palestine, and New York City on September 11, 2001.
This is also a book about how war itself is waged (and understood) in our time, replete with vivid historical examples and a variety of arguments advanced from some unexpected literary sources. Plato, Leonardo da Vinci, Edmund Burke, Wordsworth, Baudelaire, and Virginia Woolf all figure in this passionate reflection in the modern understanding of violence and atrocity. It includes as well a stinging attack on the provincialism of media pundits who denigrate the reality of war, and a political understanding of conflict, with glib talk about a new, worldwide "society of spectacle." Just as "On Photography" challenged how we understand the very condition of being modern, "Regarding the Pain of Others" will alter our thinking not only about the uses and meaning of images, but about the nature of war, the limits of sympathy, and the obligations of conscience.
"Sontag reappraises many of the opinions she laid out in her well known 1977 book "On Photography." That earlier volume gave us a searing indictment of photography, arguing that it limits 'experience to a search for the photogenic, by converting experience into an image, a souvenir' . . . "Regarding the Pain of Others"] focuses on how we look at photographs of calamities and the moral implications of such observation . . . A nuanced and] revisionist coda of sorts to "On Photography" . . . Sontag is to be commended for acknowledging how her thinking has changed over the years."--Michiko Kakutani, "The New York Times"
"Sontag reappraises many of the opinions she laid out in her well known 1977 book "On Photography." That earlier volume gave us a searing indictment of photography, arguing that it limits 'experience to a search for the photogenic, by converting experience into an image, a souvenir' . . . "Regarding the Pain of Others"] focuses on how we look at photographs of calamities and the moral implications of such observation . . . A nuanced and] revisionist coda of sorts to "On Photography" . . . Sontag is to be commended for acknowledging how her thinking has changed over the years."--Michiko Kakutani, "The New York Times"
"Sontag's "On Photography" was published in 1977. It became, almost instantly, a bible . . . Its readers are not just the university young but also] the men and women at the sharp end--those you find edging up bullet-scarred streets with Nikons dangling around their flak jackets have read Sontag too. They ask themselves constantly why they are doing the work they do, and to whom they are doing it, and whether anyone cares whether they do it or not. If any one person provided the words for that self-questioning, it was Susan Sontag. She wrote that book when the images of Vietnam were still fresh. Now, as the photographers line up for accreditation to yet another war, she has returned to the subject . . . We cannot yet know which images are going to freeze-frame the Iraq] conflict in popular memory, but this wise and somber book warns that

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  • Additional Details
  • Additional Details
    Product Specs
    • SKU: 9780312422196
    • Manufacturer: Picador
    • Language of Text: English
    • Author: Susan Sontag
    • ISBN 13: 9780312422196
    • ISBN 10: 0312422199
    • Publication Date: 02/01/2004
    • Page Count: 144
    • Format: Paperback
    • Width: 5.50 inches
    • Height: 0.38 inches
    • Length: 8.28 inches
    • Weight: 0.31 pounds
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