Unit 3 Assignment 2 – Jordan Satch

Susan Sontag – Regarding the Pain of Others

Chapter 1 summary:

Sontag discusses the question Woolf received and the direction she took regarding ‘we’. She explains that photographs from war can be interpreted in different ways depending on the reader’s position, specifically gender and their privilege in society. Furthermore, how pictures can be used during warfare. They could be a ‘call for peace’ or a ‘cry for revenge’.

War photography can be used and interpreted in many ways, especially dependent on the viewer’s position in society.

Chapter 6 summary:

Here Sontag raises the question of why we choose to look at horrifying images, and why we choose not to (changing the channel for example). She describes the human allure to the repulsive, and references Philosophers such as Plato and Bataille that have written on this subject. A good example she gave that illustrated the concept was traffic slowing down past a horrendous car crash out of ‘curiosity’.

Human’s are attracted to horrifying images out of a ‘love of mischief’.

Chapter 8 summary:

Sontag mostly talks about the power of memory in chapter 8. Furthermore the effects of reading the news and seeing the horrific images on the viewers from far away. She claims that somebody who continues to feel disillusioned at the atrocities that humans commit to one another has not reached moral or psychological adulthood. A moral defectiveness. This chapter really is evaluating the morality of turning away from the atrocities we read on the news because we’re too far away for it to affect us.

Questioning the morality of turning away from horrifying images.

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