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

 Life is a movie. Death is a photograph. 
 To remember is, more and more, not to recall a story but to be able to call up a picture. 
 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. 
 Today everything exists to end in a photograph. 
 Standing alone, photographs promise an understanding they cannot deliver. In the company of words, they take on meaning, but they slough off one meaning and take on another with alarming ease. 
 The disconcerting ease with which photographs can be taken, the inevitable even when inadvertent authority of the results, suggest a very tenuous relation to knowing. 
 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. 
 Strictly speaking, it is doubtful that a photograph can help us understand anything. 
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