Thoughts About Reading: Susan Sontag's Regarding the Pain of Others

In the past two years I've gone on various book binges, most of which I didn't completely finish... So I've decided to take the beginning of this year to finish up the leftovers.  The first book I decided to read was Susan Sontag's, Regarding the Pain of Others...

I finished reading, Regarding the Pain of Others, last week and have had a bit of a difficult time trying to figure out what to write about it.  In many ways, this short book is a direct response to her book On Photography.  I'm a big fan of taking time to digest something you've read, in this case - I feel as though I'll need to read it again to really say something comprehensive yet brief about this work. 

This among many quotes is one that has really stayed with me, 

"The imaginary proximity to the suffering inflicted on others that is granted by images suggests a link between the far away sufferers - seen close-up on the television screen- and the privileged viewer that is simply untrue, that is yet one more mystification of our real relations to power.  So far as we feel sympathy, we feel we are not accomplices to what caused the suffering.  Our sympathy proclaims our innocence as well as our impotence.  To that extent, it can be (for all our good intentions) an impertinent - if not an inappropriate - response.  To set aside the sympathy we extend to others beset by way and murderous politics for a reflection on how our privileges are located on the same map as their suffering, and may - in ways we might prefer not to imagine - be linked to their suffering, as the wealth of some may imply the destitution of others, is a task for which the painful, stirring images supply only an initial spark."

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