Class 6.2

Images that Matter

In the second half (pp12-24) of the first essay from Sontag’s On Photography, she turns from the private to public functions of photography. As suggested by her essay’s title, “In Plato’s Cave,” Sontag worries that photographic images don’t compel us to grapple with the real-world, but rather become a substitute for it. That feels counter-intuitive today, at a moment when images and video play a dominant role in national political debate. But it was also counter-intuitive in October 1973, six months after US troops pulled out of Vietnam—a war fought on US television screens no less than in Vietnamese jungle paths. So let’s consider her ideas carefully, not dismiss them over hastily.

For homework, as yesterday, please post one of Sontag’s more interesting claims from the second half of the reading, attaching to your comment a relevant image from the present day: something you’ve photographed, or something you’ve encountered in news reporting or on social media.

Comments are closed.