Regarding the Pain of Others.
Text by Susan Sontag.
Farrar Straus & Giroux, New York, 2003. 131 pp., no illustrations, 5¾x8½".
For the past 25 years, Sontag's classic collection of essays, On Photography, has shaped the critical dialogue surrounding the use, importance, and influence of the photographic medium. Regardless of whether one is in agreement or not with the content of those essays, what is abundantly helpful is her careful style, a conscious slowing-down of thought and speech. This same practice of close-reading is brought to bear on the subject of disaster and war in the newly released Regarding the Pain of Others. She takes a 1938 essay by Virginia Woolfe on the roots of war as her starting point, exploring the effects-both immediate and cumulative ones-of photographs of conflict, suffering, and death. This book is not to be missed.