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

 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. 
 To collect photography is to collect the world. 
 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. 
 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. 
 Strictly speaking, it is doubtful that a photograph can help us understand anything. 
 The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people’s reality, and eventually in one’s own. 
 All photographs are memento mori. To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s (or thing’s) mortality, vulnerability, mutability. 
 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. 
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