Susan Sontag
[Writer, theorist, and critic, b. 1933, New York, d. 2004, New York.]

 By furnishing this already crowded world with a duplicate one of images, photography makes us feel that the world is more available than it really is. 
 The vast maw of modernity has chewed up reality and spat the whole mess out as images. 
 A photograph is not only an image (as a painting is an image), an interpretation of the real; it is also a trace, something directly stenciled off the real, like a footprint or a death mask. 
 Photographs are perhaps the most mysterious of all objects that make up, and thicken, the environment we recognize as modern. 
 Life is a movie. Death is a photograph. 
 Our very sense of situation is now articulated by the camera’s interventions. The omnipresence of cameras persuasively suggests that time consists of interesting events, events worth photographing. This, in turn, makes it easy to feel that any event, once underway, and whatever its moral character, should be allowed to complete itself—so that something else can be brought into the world, the photograph. 
 Let the atrocious images haunt us. Even if they are only tokens, and cannot possibly encompass most of the reality to which they refer, they still perform a vital function. The images say: This is what human beings are capable of doing—may volunteer to do, enthusiastically, self-righteously. Don’t forget. 
 Needing to have reality confirmed and experience enhanced by photographs is an aesthetic consumerism to which everyone is now addicted. Industrial societies turn their citizens into image-junkies; it is the most irresistible form of mental pollution. 
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