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Sontag, Susan Regarding the Pain of Others

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Regarding the Pain of Others

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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.

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About the Author:

Susan Sontag is the author of four novels, The Benefactor, Death Kit, The Volcano Lover, and In America, which won the 2000 National Book Award for fiction; a collection of stories, I, etcetera; several plays, including Alice in Bed; and five works of nonfiction, among them Against Interpretation and On Photography, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. Her books are translated into thirty-two languages. In 2001, she was awarded the Jerusalem Prize for the body of her work, and she received the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature in 2003.

From Publishers Weekly:
Twenty-six years after the publication of her influential collection of essays On Photography (1977), Sontag (In America) reconsiders ideas that are "now fast approaching the status of platitudes," especially the view that our capacity to respond to images of war and atrocity is being dulled by "the relentless diffusion of vulgar and appalling images" in our rapaciously media-driven culture. Sontag opens by describing Virginia Woolf's essay on the roots of war, "Three Guineas," in which Woolf described a set of gruesome photographs of mutilated bodies and buildings destroyed during the Spanish Civil War. Woolf wondered if there truly can be a "we" between man and woman in matters of war. Sontag sets out to reopen and enlarge the question. "No `we' should be taken for granted when the subject is looking at other people's pain," she writes. The "we" that Sontag has come to be much more aware of in the decades since On Photography is the world of the rich. She has come to doubt her youthful contention that repeated exposure to images of suffering necessarily shrivels sympathy, and she doubts even more the radical yet influential spin that others put on this critique-that reality itself has become a spectacle. "To speak of reality becoming a spectacle... universalizes the viewing habits of a small, educated population living in the rich part of the world...." Sontag reminds us that sincerity can turn a mere spectator into a witness, and that it is the heart rather than fancy rhetoric that can lead the mind to understanding.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. A brilliant, clear-eyed consideration of the visual representation of violence in our culture--its ubiquity, meanings, and effects. Considered one of the greatest critics of her generation, Susan Sontag followed up her monumental On Photography with an extended study of human violence, reflecting on a question first posed by Virginia Woolf in Three Guineas: How in your opinion are we to prevent war? For a long time some people believed that if the horror could be made vivid enough, most people would finally take in the outrageousness, the insanity of war. 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. 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 others far away? First published more than twenty years after her now classic book On Photography, which changed how we understand the very condition of being modern, Regarding the Pain of Others challenges our thinking not only about the uses and means of images, but about how war itself is waged (and understood) in our time, the limits of sympathy, and the obligations of conscience. Seller Inventory # ABZ9780312422196

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