Unit 3 – Power of Photos

In chapter one of Regarding the Pain of Others, by Susan Sontag, she talks about the way that we have many different interpretations of the photos that convey many mixed emotions but in the end, lead to actions. Sontag argues against the study of images of suffering to prevent similar outcomes. She disagrees because she sees the possibility of different outlooks of the photos such the example of how an Israeli Jew sees a photograph of a child torn apart in the attack on the Sbarro pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem and a Palestinian sees a photo of a child torn apart by a tank round in Gaza (Palestinian child killed by Israeli ordnance) (Sontag 10). She even goes on to say that war is nonspecific and that even photos such as “The Face of War” and “Les Gueules Cassees” can not prevent war (Sontag 15-16). ]

Sentence: Photos themselves have power in which people give them, similar, or even different. 

In chapter six, Sontag talks about our urges and curiosity that we have for gruesome images and what it means. Sontag expresses that after people see a picture of suffering, we become distant from it. She also talks about how there is this somewhat sexual nature behind a dismembered body. She expresses our desire to gaze and how, in actuality, it is a form of pleasure. This pleasure is called the love of cruelty and that we enjoy seeing pain being put on others. 

Sentence: Humans have an innate desire to look at photos as an urge or curiosity which can be seen as sexual. 

In chapter eight, Sontag expresses that there is a positive side of gaining knowledge of disparity, but it is how we react that is important if we do the act of remembering or just a memory. She explains that remembering something is active and continuously at movement that it takes effort. While memory is something that is still, and that it is our job to not forget about the memories, memory is what needs to be remembered. She also talks about how we must analyze these photos for the gaining of knowledge and not frustration. The reaction of anger causes us to have a very immature point of view from the picture, yet to gain understanding, you have to put your emotions aside and critically analyze the pureness of the photo. 

Sentence: The atrocities of humans must be remembered if and only if it is commemorated with critical analysis.

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