Chapter 1: How do photographs portray war to those who have little to no interaction with violence? Sontag writes that photographs can be used to simplify violent events. However, the way these photographs are interpreted can be based on one’s personal experience with those events, changing the context in which they were created. In other words, photographs often validate people’s beliefs because they less relay the truth about an event rather than serve as confirmation bias. When seeing a photograph, viewers often apply their own knowledge of the event and make assumptions involving the work, dismissing any value or purpose the photograph might have been trying to present. It is also important to note that what is included in the photograph is just as important as what’s left out from it, which can reveal implications of the photographer’s bias. Sontag hinted that war is inevitable, and that although works such as War Against War have been created to emphasize the atrocities of violence, such works will not and cannot be embraced by all groups when thinking about the implications it may have towards the question of patriotism.
Photographs can be seen as an introduction to war, yet they carry less value when their purpose is diminished by viewer’s assumptions from their own prior knowledge.
Chapter 6: The desire to view the gruesome: Plato concluded that people can often become angry with nature which may fuel their appetite to see violence. Yet, their appetite only extends to the unknown, as they do not have any emotional ties to the event. It goes against human nature to want to explore pain in a familiar setting, in one’s country or to one’s loved ones, but when the image is of the unfamiliar it makes it tolerable as its deemed something in the far-off distance. Recently, with the increasing violence that is present in the media, people have become desensitized to graphic images as the quantity of them are so abundant. Mayhem has shock value and can be used to entertain rather than provide a lesson. With this abundance of violent images, people are inclined to not think about the implications of the violence and instead just blindly accept them in a mundane fashion.
Human nature allows people to view unfamiliar acts of violence, and the abundance of these images create desensitization, thus diminishing the purpose of works of war.
Chapter 8: Photographs serve as reminders of human capability. Remembering events from the past serve as a connection with the dead and create sympathy for those affected by the violence. However, there is a fine line with remembering too much and reminiscing too little. If one always remembers events from the past, it makes them bitter, but if they don’t give them any attention then they can make past mistakes and allow history to repeat itself.
Photographs repair ignorance as it allows people reflect on the event rather than take action and repeat past mistakes.