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Sontag's View
Susan Sontag American Literature Analysis

To appeal to strangers in the void of the internet. We have lost our ability to appreciate the attentions of individuals because we have become so fixated on appealing to the swarming masses.

We do not seek love, but orgiastic attention. Desire has no history - at least it is experienced in each instance as all foreground, immediacy. It is aroused by archetypes and is, in that sense, abstract. But moral feelings are embedded in history, whose personae are concrete, whose situations are always specific. Thus, almost oppostite rules hold true fro the use of the photograph to awaken desire and to awaken conscience.

The photos we take, and more importantly that we curate of ourselves, subvert the content and context of the photograph. We denature the image, we wash it clean of it's history and re-contextualize it to suit ourselves best. We strip each photograph of all meaning so that we can window dress it in such and such a way that flatters our ego and the mannequin that we present to the discriminating masses.

There are no morals to photographs - in fact they are tools of deceit, they are an immoral form of art, in that they masquerade as a form of representation and truth. Verisimilitude wearing the mask of veracity. Each photo I present of myself is only another piece of the fake-face I have constructed overtime. As online presence continues to take more and more precedence in our lives, the battle between who are are and who we present ourselves to be will come to a head.

We cannot always be our best selfie. Our best photographs of ourselves eventually become photographs of someone who is dead, who is past - a previous version of ourselves that no longer exists and can never be reincarnated. This is a classic book of essays about how photography reveals so much about society, politics, history, and our attitudes towards preserving the image and the potential "truth" inherent in a photograph.

I don't read much nonfiction, and this was originally for a class, but there isn't a single person I wouldn't recommend this to. While fascinating, 'every sentence contains a thought' is not as fun as it sounds.

Jan 02, Robert Isenberg rated it liked it. Why is this book called "On Photography"? Given that not one word of this book says sustains a single positive sentiment about cameras and their usage, why wouldn't it be called "Against Photography," or maybe "Photography is the Downfall of Human Kind.

Given its most quoted statement, "To collect photographs is to collect the world," I expected a somewhat romantic vision of the photographic craft. Little did I know that Sontag credits photography Q: Little did I know that Sontag credits photography with dehumanization, desensitization to violence and graphic imagery, and our alleged inability to experience reality in three dimensions.

With every passing page, my jaw dropped further; how could a woman who was romantically involved with Annie Liebovitz abhor photography so much? Jan 02, Sketchbook rated it it was ok. Like many people before me, I felt a certain dread the next time I tried to pick up my camera after reading this book. Susan Sontag's incredible, penetrating critique of photography doesn't just cast into doubt the value of the activity of taking a photograph, but it posits some of the irrevocable changes that the advent of this technology has had on our world and how we experience it.

Anyone who reads this having previously nurtured an interest in photography at any level should experience a de Like many people before me, I felt a certain dread the next time I tried to pick up my camera after reading this book. Anyone who reads this having previously nurtured an interest in photography at any level should experience a degree of nausea while reading. But at the same time, Sontag is genius enough to avoid condemning photography.

She reveals the fissures, but doesn't try to fill them with some moral ballast. More than anything, she does what good critics do, she makes observations that open into still greater questions. I only wish she were still around to answer some of them now as we are fulling in the digital age of photography, where the concept of reproducibility has given way to something even more radical.

Jun 17, Jamie rated it really liked it Shelves: The first essays of the book are just astonishing. I've been perusing Sontag's journals for the past year or so, and her intellectual range leads you perilously near to pure jealousy, but then you concede her anomalous mind and simply admire it instead. This seemingly limitless curiosity and brute capacity for knowledge is best exhibited in those first essays particularly the first two, which is why I keep saying "" , and also remains less cloyingly didactic there.

For example, her c The first essays of the book are just astonishing. For example, her consideration of Diane Arbus at length maintains a level of contemplation and engagement - a recognition of both the potentially nihilistic and exploitative registers of Arbus's "freak" work and its power of imagination and sidewise cultural commentary - that falls by the wayside in the latter half of the book, where I felt lectured to in a more dogmatic mode.

The later essays tend to sound polemical, in the negative sense of that word, rather than exploratory. This, for me, is the key difference between someone like Sontag and someone like Didion, to whom comparisons - at least I've noticed this lately - are often drawn. Sontag centers her self in the essays; Didion seeks always to efface herself, though this effacement can be even more telling than Sontag's calling her own bluff.

Point being, Sontag can sometimes irk me because her sexy essayistic writing begins to feel claustrophobic; I feel as if I've been seduced into agreeing necessarily with points that aren't as fully developed as they could be.

I want to feel that a claim is arguable, and that the writer has enabled dialogue. In the later essays of this book, Sontag writes her readers into a corner.

Either way, certainly the most exciting writing on photography I've read. Dec 23, Ally Armistead rated it it was amazing.

Questioning the nature of photography--its purpose, meaning, future--Sontag forces us to consider revolutionary ideas about the simple act of "snapping" up the world. Of her string of brilliant observations, my favorites include the notion that taking someone's picture is akin to participating in their mortality, the idea that as soon as a photograph is taken, we've witnessed a second of their life ex "On Photography" is the most brilliant book on photography I have ever read, or ever will read.

Of her string of brilliant observations, my favorites include the notion that taking someone's picture is akin to participating in their mortality, the idea that as soon as a photograph is taken, we've witnessed a second of their life expiring. Also equally powerful is the idea that photography--in the realm of war--is essentially encouraging whatever is happening "to keep happening," which is odd and cruel, Sontag claims, when your subject matter is suffering.

Sontag, too, explores the role of photography in the realm of the domestic American family, how those who take the most photographs were "robbed of their childhoods" and seek to create a world they can control and press into eternity. Similarly, photography becomes a creator of revised memory in families that, under the surface, experience great dysfunction, pain, and disconnectedness.

There are thousands of other gems in this genius book, and I can not recommend Sontag's meditation enough for photographers or anyone else disturbed by the prevalence of image in our society, what it means when we really look at it , and the future of our psychology. Jun 13, Walter Underwood rated it did not like it. This is the worst book I've read about photography. It isn't even about photography, it is about Susan Sontag consistently misunderstanding photographs.

It isn't intellectual, either. It is her emotional responses to the shallowest possible reading of photographs. The defining moment is in the appendix of quotations, the only good part of the book. The first quote is from the notebooks of William Henry Fox Talbot, one of the earliest photographers. He wrote, "Make picture of kaleidoscope. Don't waste your time. Essays on Artists and Writers. There is probably no subject that cannot be beautified; moreover, there is no way to suppress the tendency inherent in all photographs to accord value to their subjects.

But the meaning of value itself can be altered " " Through photographs we follow in the most intimate, troubling way the reality of how people age. To look at an old photograph of oneself, of anyone one has known, or of a much photographed public person is to feel, first of all: Photography is the inventory of mortality. A touch of the finger now suffices to invest a moment with posthumous irony. Photographs show people being so irrefutably there and at a specific age in their lives; group together people and things which a moment later have already disbanded, changed, continued along the course of their independent destinies.

Oct 23, B-MO rated it liked it Recommends it for: I picked this book up at a library booksale about 6 months ago, the first thing that popped out to me when I opened it up was a couple of Kodak Photo's from What interesting history the book must have I can tell by the quotes that were already underlined the previous owner would have been interesting underlined any reference to Kerouac etc I wish there was a name on the I picked this book up at a library booksale about 6 months ago, the first thing that popped out to me when I opened it up was a couple of Kodak Photo's from I wish there was a name on the photo's One question I have is, were these self photo's, or more likely photo's which a boyfriend kept of his beautiful girl on his bus-trip across the country I don't know why I care, but it feels weird to own a book with so much history in it, other then the authors So I haven't even started my review yet, but I feel like I've said so much about it already The examination of what photography is as an art and how it relates to previous and future arts is a major focus of the book.

Photography's realistic or surrealistic tendencies are examined here extensivly. Additionally the book examines the abilities and limits of photography to interpert or create reality, to modify reality, to create change.

Also interesting is a section on what photography means to art. Perhaps as the end of the limited edition?? It was a good book, dealing not at all with the technical aspects of photography but attempting instead to examine photography through the eye of philosophy. Dec 20, Sunny rated it really liked it Shelves: An interesting book about the art of photography. The book was very philosophical in places and made me look at photography in a completely different way.

The book also referenced some of the most iconic photographs of all time. It covered chapters such as: Best bits in the book were: Photographers suggest that the world is hard to understand let alone change so they just take pictures of it instead: It needs to furnish vast amounts of entertainment in order to stimulate buying and anesthetise the injuries of class, race, and sex.

And it needs to gather unlimited amounts of information, the better to exploit natural resources, increase productivity, keep order, make war, and give jobs to bureaucrats. The camera's twin capacities, to subjectivism reality and to objectify it, ideally serve these needs as strengthen them.

The narrowing of free political choice to free economic consumption requires the unlimited production and consumption of images. Jan 17, Jana rated it it was amazing Shelves: I first read the article from which this book was born when I was doing my MFA , picked up the book at a used book store several months ago and have been reading chapters in the midst of other reads, projects, etc.

Sontag's ideas are so culturally important and have been so assimilated into what we "already know" that it may be difficult at first glance to see how remarkable her contributions were back in the day ?

Her "obviousness" is a testament to how influential she has been regarding the visual medium and its molding of both personal and cultural memories. A fotografia, mais recentemente, transformou-se num divert http: Quando sentimos medo disparamos. Her writing is filled to the brim with critical thought, keen observations, and passion. Despite not agreeing with it all, I have to love her for that. Sontag scrutinizes the role photographs have in our society. Photographs from the past, she argues, not only provide a record but invent one, and those who take them select our understanding of those events in the present.

Sontag also speaks about the motivations of the photographers and what the viewer hopes to gain by looking at photographs. She believes photographers are intrusive, even claiming that photography can be predatory and that to photograph someone is to violate them.

While I think she harshly overstates the role a photographer plays, I thought one of the most intriguing points made was about the moral passivity of photographers and a disregard for the pain and misfortune happening around them in order to get a good shot. Not leaving out the viewer, she also brings up our need to constantly be shocked by images in order for them to register with us at all, and how photography can desensitize and dim the emotional reaction to horror.

Many questions are brought into play: What kind of harm does having a passive interest in something create? Does something become more real and imaginable or less so after being viewed continuously in the form of an image?

Is photography a help or a hindrance to our perspective of the world? Though repetitive at times, I was overwhelmed by how much there was to contemplate and question about the subject, and Sontag provided a conceptual, often controversial angle. After reading reviews and talking to some who have read On Photography , it appears that many of its readers, whether they loved or loathed the book, had a lot to consider during and after reading. Jewish American literary critic, theorist, novelist, and filmmaker.

Reading a Sontag essay is like taking a course in the history of the arts. Readers without a strong background in literature, art history, and philosophy confront a writer who concedes very little to their lack of knowledge. Even more daunting, she rarely focuses on one work of art or artist.

Rather, she refers to many sources to illustrate her point, for example, about the surrealism of photography. In order to grasp her argument, some familiarity with the poet Walt Whitman, the critic Walter Benjamin, and photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz and Diane Arbus is necessary. Moreover, her books on photography contain no photographs—evidently because it is the style of the argument that is important rather than the explanation of any particular photograph.

She is taking issue, in other words, with the way people have been educated. Moreover, she is trying to shape and, in her early essays, to change public opinion. Out of photography, one can make passport pictures, weather photographs, pornographic pictures, X-rays, wedding pictures, and Atget's Paris. Photography is not an art like, say, painting and poetry. Although the activities of some photographers conform to the traditional notion of a fine art, the activity of exceptionally talented individuals producing discrete objects that have value in themselves, form the beginning photography has also lent itself to that notion of art which says that art is obsolete.

The power of photography --and its centrality in present aesthetic concerns-- is that it confirms both ideas of art. But the way in which photography renders art obsolete is, in the long run, stronger.

Like a wood fire in a room, photographs—especially those of people, of distant landscapes and faraway cities, of the vanished past—are incitements to reverie. The sense of the unattainable that can be evoked by photographs feeds directly into the erotic feelings of those for whom desirability is enhanced by distance.

It needs to furnish vast amounts of entertainment in order to stimulate buying and anesthetise the injuries of class, race, and sex. And it needs to gather unlimited amounts of information, the better to exploit natural resources, increase productivity, keep order, make war, give jobs to bureaucrats.

The camera's twin capacities, to subjectivise reality and to objectify it, ideally serve these needs as strengthen them. Cameras define reality in the two ways essential to the workings of an advanced industrial society: The production of images also furnishes a ruling ideology.

Social change is replaced by a change in images. The freedom to consume a plurality of images and goods is equated with freedom itself. The narrowing of free political choice to free economic consumption requires the unlimited production and consumption of images. Guns have metamorphosed into cameras in this earnest comedy, the ecology safari, because nature has ceased to be what it always had been - what people needed protection from.

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From its start, photography implied the capture of the largest possible number of subjects. Painting never had so imperial a scope. The subsequent industrialization of camera technology only carried out a promise inherent in photography from its very beginning: to democratize all experiences by translating them into images.

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Photography is the world's number one hobby. So when Susan Sontag's On Photography hit the bestseller list recently, it caused an uproar among photo professionals and hobbyists alike. "To photograph people," Sontag said, "is to violate them It turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed.".

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Feb 02,  · Susan Sontag' book, On Photography, is a unique book examining society's relationship to photographs. In my analysis of the first chapter, "In Plato's Cave", I elaborate on what Sontag is trying to say and argue against some of her books-wrfd.tks: 1. I approached On Photography expecting a sense of warmth and intellect that Maria Popova paints Susan Sontag with. One essay in, I was slightly disappointed to feel no warmth. So, I read an interview of hers where the interviewer says the "yes and no" attitude is typical of her writing, something that I had experienced as well/5.

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On Photography [Susan Sontag] on books-wrfd.tk *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Winner of the National Book Critics' Circle Award for Criticis m. One of the most highly regarded books of its kind4/5(). ON PHOTOGRAPHY Susan Sontag. Susan Sontag is an essayist and novelist. She has studied at Berkeley, Harvard, Ox­.