Quote Originally Posted by bjorke View Post
Thanks Roger, good thoughts. I'm in the middle of writing a short essay on war photography and some of the paradoxes outlined in Sontag's Regarding the Pain of Others (caution: ugly images) and evaluating it in the light of the sorts of cognitive-evolutionary analysis done by researchers such as Marc Hauser at Harvard.

Basically, I think that Sontag over-interprets the failures and frustrations of war photography in its apparent inability to halt war altogether. Researchers like Hauser et al, while not studying photography directly, reveal the crucial connection for human morality (which functions at a low level with strong universality, regardless of culture) and the importance of seeing people. Sight, and by extension photography, is (to my delight) a strong moralizing, humanizing force - far stronger than words.

Conservative/liberal left/right politics aside, I personally cannot think of many (any?) visual artists of any merit who are pro-war, even in the presence of great direct threat (Goya and Picasso come to mind as artists who were clearly threatened but whose images did not advocate violence against their self-declared enemies).
Where will the essay appear? I should be very interested to read it. I have to confess that I find Sontag the perfect example of someone who tries to evaluate photography in verbal terms, as a non-photographer, and fails even in those terms. I speak as one to whom words come easier than pictures.

I shall forthwith examine the Hauser reference.