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

 Though photographs, the world becomes a series of unrelated, free-standing particles; and history, past and present, a set of anecdotes and faits divers. The camera makes reality atomic, manageable, and opaque. It is a view of the world which denies interconnectedness, continuity, but which confers on each moment the character of a mystery. 
 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. 
 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. 
 To collect photography is to collect the world. 
 A photograph is supposed not to evoke but to show. That is why photographs, unlike handmade images, can count as evidence. But evidence of what? 
 Photographs state the innocence, the vulnerability of lives heading toward their own destruction, and this link between photography and death haunts all photographs of people. 
 Life is not significant details, illuminated by a flash, fixed forever. Photographs are. 
 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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