This is for Susan Sontag’s Regarding the Pain of Others.
Virginia Woolf concludes that there’s a great distinction between man and woman—man likes war and murder, and thus gives an explanation of the origin of war—gender. Woolf also says that no “we” should be taken for granted when the subject are looking at other people’s pain, because we cannot understand their pain. When looking at picture and photos, Woolf points out that people need to realise what the picture is. Do they reflect a common value, and what are they presenting about? Most pictures here reflect the great horror of war and slaughter, but the question is, can WE get the pain and despair only from these pictures?
One-sentence description: Pictures and photos are not able to empathise people who do not share the same experience.
Sometimes, people get “beauty” from the war pictures with dead bodies. In other words, people sometimes hope to see something gruesome, and that is part of our nature, the love for cruelty. As explanation, people can imagine the suffering by viewing the images, like sacrifice or altruism. However, most pictures remain ineffective and unproductive, unless they generate people’s empathy and even action. On the other hand, when we feel sympathy towards others’ suffering, we are innocent, in a way.
One-sentence description: People sometimes hope to see something gruesome, and the pictures will only take effect if they can make people move, or take actions.
There’s a difference between remembering and memory: remembering is an active act that has ethical value and emotion, and is the way we connect with all others, while memory is only an indifference noun, our only connection with the dead. Most of the time, we are unable to do anything to the pictures—war and slaughter have already taken place, and we can do nothing to change that. Thus, images somehow create this indifference: they make people watch the suffering but do nothing at the same time. But remember, standing back and think is not wrong.
One-sentence description: Merely watching the pictures is not wrong, but an action of remembering.