“Regarding the Pain of Others” – Kade McCulloch

Chapter 1:

Paragraph: In Chapter 1, Sontag explores Virginia Woolf’s 1938 work Three Guineas to examine the complex concept of the renunciation of war. Virginia Woolf published this novel in response to a letter from a British lawyer who posed the question, “How in your opinion are we to prevent war?” Sontag accentuated Woolf’s analysis of this question through the lens of photography. She contends that there is a general consensus regarding the horrifying nature of gruesome photographs depicting the outcomes of war. However, while people share horror and disgust in response to these atrocious photographs, they often arrive at different conclusions about what the photograph is depicting. For example, some may view such a photograph as a “call for peace” while others may view it as a “call for revenge.” Furthermore, photographs displaying the outcomes of war are often used as propaganda against an enemy, even if the photo depicts an act that was perpetrated by their side. This reveals the duality between shared horror of the outcomes of violence and differing interpretations of violence depending on personal backgrounds and opinions. Sontag explores Woolf’s work due to the fact that it highlights the fact that photography may not supply proper evidence for the renunciation of war due to differing interpretations depending on personal context.

Sentence: Sontag studies Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas to illustrate that although there is a general consensus that photographs displaying the outcome of war are disgusting and horrifying, such photographs interpretations differ depending on context and individual’s preexisting beliefs.

Chapter 6:

Paragraph: In this chapter, Sontag explores how people react to depictions of violence in photographs and the media and how these reactions have a tendency of defying logical reasoning and conscience. She exemplifies how people feel an obligation to look at pictures of violence. This obligation is largely inexplicable and profound. Violent images produce a complicated range of emotions that may seem inappropriate and even morbid under a scope of reasoning. Human beings appear to have an implicit “attraction to violent sights,” and may use these as a “perennial source of torment.” In a sense, “love of cruelty is as natural to human beings as sympathy.” Sontag’s chapter concludes with the idea that apathy and allure may be more natural reactions to violent images due to the fact that compassion is an “unstable emotion.” Violent images resonate stir with our emotions and cause an inner conflict between desire and disgust.

Sentence: People look at violent images to appeal to their imagination and desire of curiosity, and as a result, such images produce a complex range of emotional responses.

Chapter 8:

Paragraph: It is ignorant, immature, and a sign of moral defectiveness to refuse to acknowledge the horrors that humans have the ability of inflicting on one another. Sontag argues that humanity possesses a responsibility to understand what humans are capable of doing, and willingly, enthusiastically, and self righteously do to other human beings. Those who refute violent images often present the argument that it is unjust to view suffering from a distance. However, the deliberate avoidance of such images does not allow the mind to grapple with the role of violence in human nature.

Sentence: It is important to acknowledge the fact that humans have repeatedly inflicted pernicious acts of violence upon on another in order to derive a deeper understanding of the existence of violence.

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