A brilliant, clear-eyed new consideration of the visual representation of violence in our culture--its ubiquity, meanings, and effects
Watching the evening news offers constant evidence of atrocity--a daily commonplace in our "society of spectacle." But are viewers inured -or incited--to violence by the daily depiction of cruelty and horror? Is the viewer's perception of reality eroded by the universal availability of imagery intended to shock?
In her first full-scale investigation of the role of imagery in our culture since her now-classic book On Photography defined the terms of the debate twenty-five years ago, Susan Sontag cuts through circular arguments about how pictures can inspire dissent or foster violence as she 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 Dachau and Auschwitz to contemporary horrific images of Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and New York City on September 11, 2001.
As John Berger wrote when On Photography was first published, "All future discussions or analysis of the role of photography in the affluent mass-media societies is now bound to begin with her book." Sontag's new book, a startling reappraisal of the intersection of "information", "news," "art," and politics in the contemporary depiction of war and disaster, will be equally essential. It will forever alter our thinking about the uses and meanings of images in our world.
National Book Critics Circle Award - Nominee, National Book Critics Circle Awards - Nominee
Praise for Regarding the Pain of Others
“Wise and somber. . .Sontag's closing words acknowledge that there are realities which no picture can convey.” —Los Angeles Times Book Review
“The history of sensibility in a culture shaped by the mechanical reproduction of imagery....has always been one of the guiding preoccupations of her best work, from Against Interpretation to The Volcano Lover....Regarding the Pain of Others invites, and rewards, more than one reading.” —Newsday
“For 30 years, Susan Sontag has been challenging an entire generation to think about the things that frighten us most: war, disease, death. Her books illuminate without simplifying, complicate without obfuscating, and insist above all that to ignore what threatens us is both irresponsible and dangerous.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
“A timely meditation on politics and ethics. . .extraordinary . . .Sontag's insight and erudition are profound.” —The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Regarding the Pain of Others bristles with a sense of commitment--to seeing the world as it is, to worrying about the ways it is represented, even to making some gesture in the direction of changing it. . .the performance is thrilling to witness.” —The New York Times Magazine
“A fiercely challenging book. . .immensely thought-provoking.” —The Christian Science Monitor-