Chapter 1: In addressing the roots of war, there must be acknowledgement of the differences in perspectives of genders as well as the power of photography as an effective form of communication.
Susan Sontag opens with a conversation between a London lawyer and Virginia Woolf in which the lawyer poses the question: “How in your opinion are we to prevent war?” Virginia analyzes the definition of “we”, and she mentions how it’s hard to define “we” due to the differences in gender perspective on the issue. She also talks about the power that photography’s role has in portraying the image of war to the general public. Sontag especially talks about the oddly fascinating nature of disturbing images.
Chapter 6: This chapter talks about the importance in recognizing why and how images can evoke a wide range of simultaneous emotions such as attraction, disgust, arousal, and awe.
The main idea in this chapter is various emotions an image can evoke. An important recognition is the fascination humans have to gruesome images. Suffering images can ultimately remind us of our powerlessness in today’s society regarding violence. Also, with the tremendous access to information available to the general public, we have become desensitized to disturbing images. In this day and age, some might even see mayhem closer to entertainment rather than shocking.
Chapter 8: As convenient as it is to turn away from something upsetting, it’s important to have a memory of important events, especially gruesome ones.
There has been too much wrongdoing in the world for humans to be constantly surprised by the horrible acts committed by fellow humans. According to Sontag, memory is a sign of “psychological adulthood.” Yet, forgetfulness has it’s values as well. In order to make peace, there must be some degree of ignorance.