Like most of her work, it caused a lot of controversy and gnashing of teeth. Susan Sontag. Something about "How could this woman who isn't a photographer write such bamsphemy!?! To Plato the world we live in isn’t really the real world – the real world is a world we cannot have access to, the real world is where things never die, things remain the same and don’t change. 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. More than anything, she does what good critics do, she makes observations that open into still greater questions. Her books include Against Interpretation, On Photography, Illness as Metaphor, and The Volcano Lover. Her thoughts give faux insights a bad name. To photograph is to confer importance. On Photography - a collection of essays by Susan Sontag - explores what the title suggests: a take on the importance, history and nature of the medium of photography. In doing this, I turned a 30 year hobby into a sort of job. ‧ I completely understand what a privileged position I am in: doing what I have always dreamed of doing but with no pressure to make a living from it. Susan Sontag. With an anthology of quotations (also shards of reality) from the unlikes of Daguerre, Man Ray, and a 1976 Minolta ad for further agitation. Her best-known works include, On Photography, The Way We Live Now, and In America. "Susan Sontag has written a book of great importance and originality.... All future discussion or analysis of the role of photography in the affluent mass-media societies is now bound to begin with her book." This seemingly limitless curiosity and brute capacity for knowledge is best exhibited in those first 2-3 essays (particularly the first two, which is why I keep saying "2-3"), and also remains less cloyingly didactic there. After the pop successes, Gopnik writes, Warhol’s life was shaped by a consuming desire “to climb back onto that cutting edge,” which led him to make experimental films, launch Interview magazine, and promote the Velvet Underground. influencers in the know since 1933. by ART & PHOTOGRAPHY | Sontag drops epigram after epigram, aphorism after aphorism, in these contentious essays, as she speeds through considering the subjects of photography's most famous practitioners, be it the rural towns of Roy Stryker or the "freaks" of Diane Arbus. Geoffrey Movius: In one of your recent essays on photography in The New York Review of Books, you write that "no work of imaginative literature can have the same authenticity as a document," and that there is "a rancorous suspicion in … Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag Hamish Hamilton £12.99, pp128. "On Photography" is the most brilliant book on photography I have ever read, or ever will read. 1970) world. Susan Sontag is one of the few nonfiction writers-- a list to which I'll add Walter Benjamin and Roland Barthes-- who can simultaneously be intellectually provocative as all hell while still crafting gorgeous prose. Dismemberments of reality. A Los Angeles–based photographer pays tribute to a legendary musician with anecdotes and previously unseen images collected from their 25-year collaboration. Prince fans are sure to appreciate the book, and those interested in art photography will also find the collection highly appealing. It’s difficult reading (as mentioned by other reviewers, everything seems to contain a new point, and I wanted to take my highlighter to every other sentence), yet it still remains engaging and is rarely dry. But the meaning of value itself can be altered ", The first 2-3 essays of the book are just astonishing. Let us know what’s wrong with this preview of, Published I'm giving it four stars not for the content itself, but for the quality of thinking I did while reading. On Photography is a 1977 collection of essays by Susan Sontag. It’s like there are questions and shadows in the periphery of my vision, and Susan Sontag puts both hands on my shoulders and turns me to face them head on. 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. To Plato the world we live in isn’t really the real world – the real world is a world we cannot have access to, the real world is where things never die, things remain the same and don’t change. It originally appeared as a series of essays in the New York Review of Books between 1973 and 1977. ENTERTAINMENT, SPORTS & CELEBRITY. Blake Gopnik Her thoughts give faux insights a bad name. Sontag died in 2004 at the age of 71. One essay in, I was slightly disappointed to feel no warmth. “To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them that they can never have; it turns people into objects that can be symbolically possessed. Q: Why is this book called "On Photography"? So photographs become—Sontag adduces a misconstruction of Proust's—"not so much an instrument of memory as an invention or replacement." Susan Sontag Susan Sontag (/ ˈ s ɒ n t æ ɡ /; January 16, 1933 – December 28, 2004) was an American writer, filmmaker, philosopher, teacher, and political activist. Best bits in the book were: I first read the article from which this book was born when I was doing my MFA (2000), 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. © Copyright 2021 Kirkus Media LLC. It was the first book dealing with photography, which is not technical, that I read. An Interview With Susan Sontag. Like most of her work, it caused a lot of controversy and gnashing of teeth. The book opens with "Plato's Cave," one of my favorite topics and certainly relevant to photography. So, so bad, I'd rate it one star if people took one stars seriously. It defines and presages the thinking that underlies the whole book. from the College of the University of Chicago and did graduate work in philosophy, literature, and theology at Harvard University and Saint Anne’s College, Oxford. The readings of 50s and 60s Polaroid and Minol. Each essay - of which there are five - was originally circulated periodically in the New York Review of Books between 1973-1977. Susan Sontag was long-time partner to famed photographer Annie Leibovitz. Susan Sontag (1933–2004) was a novelist, playwright, filmmaker, and one of the most influential critics of her generation. What have they become now, in the age of the selfie? With a hoarder’s zeal, Andy Warhol (1928-1987) collected objects he liked until shopping bags filled entire rooms of his New York town house. ART & PHOTOGRAPHY, by We’re glad you found a book that interests you! RELEASE DATE: April 21, 2020. In the book, Sontag expresses her views on the history and present-day role of photography in capitalist societies as of the 1970s. Just as a camera is a sublimation of the gun, to photograph someone is a subliminal murder - a soft murder, appropriate to a sad, frightened time.”, “Photographs are a way of imprisoning reality...One can't possess reality, one can possess images--one can't possess the present but one can possess the past.”, National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism (1977). by I found this book utterly maddening. An interesting book about the art of photography. While fascinating, 'every sentence contains a thought' is not as fun as it sounds. Sontag discusses photography as a medium for the representation of war and violence in contemporary culture. Retrieve credentials. Or something like that. Anyone interested in the social roles of photography will … Sontag’s 1977 collection of essays entitled On Photography is perhaps the most prescient and influential book ever written on the medium. “Most of Arbus's work lies within the Warhol aesthetic, that is, defines itself in relation to the twin … Her writing is filled to the brim with critical thought, keen observations, and passion. 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. It isn't intellectual, either. Ms. Sontag is concerned with what she sees as the cheapening of experience that the proliferation of photographs in our society has caused. With the cooperation of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, the author serves up fresh details about almost every aspect of Warhol’s life in an immensely enjoyable book that blends snappy writing with careful exegeses of the artist’s influences and techniques. Images are imprinted very deeply at the subconscious level? Sontag discusses in the six essays not only the philosophical question of how reality may be perceived and knowledge gained, but she also reviews photography in its context: as a tool, an industry, an activity that "imposes a way of seeing" and therefore, actually alters reality. 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. On hold. . In a vivid, close-set argument, she traces Whitman's theme, "the levelling of distinctions between the beautiful and the ugly, the important and the trivial," through Lewis Hine and Walker Evans to its "last sigh," the 1955 Family of Man exhibit, apex of "sentimental humanism"—and jumps to the toast of 1972, Diane Arbus, in whose world "everybody is an allen." Sontag sees that photography, leveling everything, also beautifies. The readings of 50s and 60s Polaroid and Minolta advertisements were my only other oases. Like many people before me, I felt a certain dread the next time I tried to pick up my camera after reading this book. A fascinating, major work that will spark endless debates. If anything, I found her work to be a bit too wordy and above my understanding when she made certain references to psychology, philosophy, and art history - as I said... the girls... Susan Sontag was born in New York City on January 16, 1933, grew up in Tucson, Arizona, and attended high school in Los Angeles. So we are confronted with photography, reputedly realistic, as the art "that has best shown how to juxtapose the sewing machine and the umbrella," and with the photographer as "the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes." John Berger and Susan Sontag speak about story telling and about the ethic of photography. Just over 3 years ago (I am writing this at the end of 2020), I calculated that my pension fund was large enough to allow me to retire from professional work in the HR Department of a large IT company and, instead, declare myself a self-employed nature/wildlife photographer. ‧ GENERAL BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR | But at the same time, Sontag is genius enough to avoid condemning photography. Forms vs. art. As everything she wrote, Susan Sontag's book on photography is brilliant. The last, essentially, is Sontag's subject, approached—after a splatter of (as yet) unsupported assertions —via touchstone figures: writers, photographers, painters interchangeably. This is one long string of "There is no such thing as a good or bad photograph, only more or less interesting ones", and that's an above average excerpt. This collection of six lucid and invigorating essays, the most famous being "In Plato's Cave", make up a deep exploration of how the image has affected society. So what does this entail for her analysis of photography? Sontag develops further the concept of 'transparency'. Refresh and try again. At the same time, Warhol yearned “for fine, old-fashioned love and coupledom,” a desire thwarted by his shyness and his awkward stance toward his sexuality—“almost but never quite out,” as Gopnik puts it. Susan Sontag was an American writer and filmmaker, teacher and political activist. This was terribly interesting, but I think you needed to know a little more than Sontag explained to understand where she is coming from in all this. Art Majors...creative photographers...media/communication people. RELEASE DATE: Nov. 19, 2019. It covered chapters such as: Plato’s cave, American seen through photographs darkly, melancholy objects, and the heroism of vis. edited by Sontag develops further the concept of 'transparency'. For Plato what we needed to do was get closer to reality, not further away from it. Despite not agreeing with it all, I have to love her for that. Reality vs. the cave.' The Diane Arbus section was the highlight of a boring collection, but I can't imagine the wikipedia entry on Arbus not rivalling Sontag's chapter. Pre-publication book reviews and features keeping readers and industry By placing a reference to Plato at the very beginning Sontag is telling us: 'I subscribe to the fundamental Platonic principles: the real world vs. the world of imitations. An epic cradle-to-grave biography of the king of pop art from Gopnik (co-author: Warhol Women, 2019), who served as chief art critic for the Washington Post and the art and design critic for Newsweek. She reveals the fissures, but doesn't try to fill them with some moral ballast. Anyone who reads this having previously nurtured an interest in photography at any level should experience a degree of nausea while reading. The book talks about the origins of photography and its juxtaposition against painting and what the benefits of both are vis-à-vis one another. Susan Sontag Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Apr 1, 2011 - Photography - 224 pages 1 Review Winner of the National Book Critics' Circle Award for Criticis m. Both times, the author and Prince came together through serendipity to create playfully expressive images that came to represent the singer’s “unorthodox ability to truly live life in the moment.” Other encounters took place while Prince was performing at Paisley Park, his Minneapolis studio, or at venues in LA, New York, Tokyo, and London. 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. Thank goodness I only listened to this. Susan Sontag When anything can be photographed and photography has destroyed the boundaries and definitions of art, a viewer can approach a photograph freely with no expectations of discovering what it means. I've never read anything by Susan Sontag, but encountered mentions of her book. The book talks about the origins of photography and its juxtaposition against painting and what the benefits of both are vis-à-vis one another. Anyone who reads this having previously nurtured an interest in photography at any level should experience a de. This seemingly limitless curiosity and brute capacity for knowledge is best exhibited in those first 2-3 essays (particularly the first two, which is why I keep saying "2-3"), and also remains less cloyingly didactic there. Photography has been held up as a record of things "as they were" - ". Alquien que ya lo haya leido y pueda compartirme su opinion ? However, fame didn’t banish lifelong anxieties heightened by an assassination attempt that left him so fearful he bought bulletproof eyeglasses. But levelling down, Arbus-like, is also "lowering the threshhold of what is terrible," as much modern art does, as Surrealism does systematically: "all subjects are merely objets trouvÃ‰s." Me encanta como escribe Susan. To see what your friends thought of this book. Though it is now regarded as a seminal art-historical text, Sontag was neither an art professional nor an academic: She was alternately celebrated and derided as a “public intellectual.” Good memories. As the author observes, the singer was never not the self-conscious artist: “Prince was Prince 24/7.” Nostalgic and reverential, this book—the second St. Nicholas produced with/for Prince—is a celebration of friendship and artistry. The Chinese want only complete, correct views, Sontag observes in a stunning windup. I approached On Photography expecting a sense of warmth and intellect that Maria Popova paints Susan Sontag with. The important thing to remember is that Plato wanted to banish the artists and he wanted to do this for a very good reason. “Every page of On Photographyraises important and exciting questions about its subject and raises them in the best way.”—The New York Times Book Review “On Photographyis to my mind the most original and illuminating study of the subject.”—Calvin Trillin, The New Yorker. Susan Sontag has returned photography to the cockpit of discussion it occupied when the exact mechanical image loomed as a threat to the person, to … Very many ideas are perceived by society through images. So, so bad, I'd rate it one star if people took one stars seriously. by Penguin. First published in 1977, it brings together a series of nonfiction pieces originally published in The New York Review of Books between 1973 and 1977. Although insightful in its interpretations of Warhol’s art, this biography is sure to make waves with its easily challenged claims that Warhol revealed himself early on “as a true rival of all the greats who had come before” and that he and Picasso may now occupy “the top peak of Parnassus, beside Michelangelo and Rembrandt and their fellow geniuses.” Any controversy will certainly befit a lodestar of 20th-century art who believed that “you weren’t doing much of anything as an artist if you weren’t questioning the most fundamental tenets of what art is and what artists can do.”, Categories: Susan Sontag lives in a sparsely furnished five-room apartment on the top floor of a building in Chelsea on the west side of Manhattan. The problem of heartlessness lies at the bottom of Susan Sontag’s recently published book, Regarding the Pain of Others, an essay on photography and its power to affect the viewer with images of suffering, brutality and the inhumanity of war. We’d love your help. by Books—as many as fifteen thousand—and papers are everywhere. So, Plato saw the world we live in as a world of shadows, that is, one step away from reality. ; This is the worst book I've read about photography. The influence of the image on society is enormous. Susan Sontag explores photography as a cultural phenomenon and how it became this way, which leads you to question why people started taking photographs in the first place. Susan Sontag thoughtfully explores the meaning of photos and photography in a series of essays published over years in "The New York Review of Books" in the 1970s. St. Nicholas (co-author: Whitney: Tribute to an Icon, 2012, etc.) Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. The Politics summary The Remains of the Day A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Susan Sontag On Photography – summary Plot Summary - Passing Character Phaedrus Apology summary Preview text usan Sontag: On Photography: In cave summary Humanity, argues Susan Sontag in in her collection of essays is still in cave. . I first read this book back in 1981, a few years after it was released. For them, a "good" picture; for us, a good picture. photographed by The important thing to remember is that Plato wanted to banish the artists and he wanted to do this for a very good reason. I felt drawn to Sontag’s writing after reading excerpts of her essays from one of her other works for a class. It’s difficult reading (as mentioned by other reviewers, everything seems to contain a new point, and I wanted to take my highlighter to every other sentence), yet it still remains engaging and is rarely dry. All Rights Reserved. “The dance between photographer and subject carried us away into hours of inspired photographs…and the beginning of a friendship that would last a lifetime.” In this book, the author fondly remembers their many professional encounters in the 25 years that followed. This is Susan Sontag's second book on photography and, like the first, published in 1977, it … Illustrations ; it assumes, reasonably enough, a few escape Number ) Pain of by! T banish lifelong anxieties heightened by an assassination attempt that left him so fearful bought. An `` art. her writing is filled to the brim with critical thought, keen observations and. Last published book before her death in 2004 Campbell ’ s Soup cans and silkscreens of Elvis and.. Found a book that interests you Nicholas ( co-author: Whitney: tribute to an icon, 2012, -. Of memory as an invention or replacement. her essays from one of my profs was particularly irked these. 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