Regarding the Pain of Others (Paperback)
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.
“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