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If photographs, as other art objects, bear moral implications, then photographic images can be read in more progressively ideological ways—ways that can suggest, for feminists, a reclaiming of the historical past.
Sontag does not actually write a history of cameras, but in two dozen different places we are afforded verbal snapshots of that history, while the psychology of photographs repeatedly appears on the pages.
Once inside we learn that the author is downhearted about the shutter business. While her basic indictments of photography and photographic reality are sharp, her own insatiable joy in repeating them in slight variants—who cherishes eighty-seven mugs of a clothesline thief?
These arguments are not spelled out in Sontag’s , but they do evolve naturally from her conclusions, even if they are tentative, about the nature of the photographic image and one’s dialectical relationship to it.
Such discoveries offer women liberating possibilities of enormous proportions.
He used his reading of the essays as a stimulus to his own thinking about photography. In this long essay on Sontag’s theoretical writings, Bruss mentions the large number of detractors who find her essays lacking in readability and coherence, as well as far too instinctive to be conclusive. She argues that Sontag’s conclusion is that photography has provided a modern sensibility that was not chosen and with which one cannot argue.
Nevertheless, Bruss finds her essays engaging and thoughtful. “Seeing and Being Seen: A Response to Susan Sontag’s Essays on Photography.” 68, no. Although he finds Sontag’s book to be one of the most insightful contributions to the understanding of photography, Evernden questions her emphasis on the act of photography as basically one of aggression; he suggests that a more pluralistic approach might be more useful. “Only a Language Game.” In helped to initiate a change in the ways in which photographs are made and read by challenging the ultimate value of photography as art and its role as an instrument of knowledge, communication, and culture.
—makes us lose interest, even makes us wish for a photograph every five pages.
Another way of evaluating Sontag’s performance is provided us by our memory of the layout in Plato’s cave, which she alludes to in the first and last essays.
Again and again photography’s predatory nature is attacked, and artistic seriousness is denied the photographer’s efforts.
Yet Sontag does not deal directly with a central issue: if photography transforms the world, then some aesthetic trophy is due it regardless of the vitiation of personal seeing and other social and psychical disturbances caused by the camera.