Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Regarding Sontag

pg 3 "Men make war. Men (most men) like war, since for men there is 'some glory, some necessity, some satisfaction in fighting' that most women do not feel or enjoy....the killing machine has a gender, and it is male."

I wish I didn't agree with this - but I totally do.

pg 5 "War is an abomination; a barbarity; war must be stopped."

I am sooo glad that I agree with this.

pg 12 "The destructiveness of war...is not in itself an argument against waging war unless one things...that violence is always unjustifiable."

It truly is.

pg 18 "If it bleeds, it leads."

Hey - this is just capitalism at work. "Good taste" seems largely irrelevant. The government can't make laws governing EVERYTHING.

pg 20 "...a photograph has only one language and is destined potentially for all."

And yet - one's culture will help dictate what is taken from the photograph.

pg 23 "Beauty will be convulsive, or it will not be." -Andre Breton

A little confusing - but what an amazing idea. That which is boring, even-keel, cannot be beautiful. I don't necessarily agree unconditionally - but I understand the gorgeousness of what is new, unexpected, shocking.

pg 24 "...photography [keeps] company with death."

pg 29 "...its meaning...depends on...words."

Language persists in importance - even when talking about a captionless photo!

pg 35 "Most wars do not acquire the requisite fuller meaning."

Does this increase the pain felt? Decrease empathy?

pg 39 "The photographer's intentions do not determine the meaning of the photograph."

pg 40 "Suffering from natural causes, such as illness or childbirth, is scantily represented in the history of art."

I'd like to research this more...

pg 41 "...the appetite for pictures showing bodies in pain is as keen, almost, as the desire for ones that show bodies naked....There is the satisfaction of being able to look at the image without flinching. There is the pleasure of flinching."

The pleasure of flinching - like going punch for punch. I don't really understand it - but I practice it."

pg 42 "...there is shame as well as shock in looking at the close-up of a real horror."

pg 49 "...that invaluable substitute for war, international sports."

Haha. Also - mostly male-dominated, like war. Injuries, great battles - oh yeah.

pg 59 "To catch a death actually happening and embalm it for all time is something only cameras can do..."

I like looking at old-school funeral daguerrotypes.

pg 60 "More upsetting is the opportunity to look at people who know they have been condemned to die."

I really don't want to know.

pg 63 "...the 'terribly distinctness'...gives unnecessary, indecent information."

Indecent. What exactly crosses the line?

pg 75 "The image should appall, and in that terribilita lies a challenging kind of beauty. That a gory battlescape could be beautiful...is a commonplace about images of war made by artists."

Epic films about battle are always beautiful - but real life is so difference.

pg 78 "A photographer that specializes in misery - Sebastiao Slagado." !!!

Interesting job title!

pg 80 "...the spectacular is very much part of the religious narratives by which suffering, throughout most of Western history, has been understood."

Those crazy Catholics. Kidding. But seriously - the Crucifix is a horrible icon for a kid to have to deal with. I liked church somewhat when I was a kid - but that dead body nailed to the splintering wood was most disconcerting.

pg 82 "Habituation is not automatic."

pg 83 "People want to weep."

Why do we?

pg 86 "...the photographs of genocide have gone under the greatest institutional development."

pg 88 "Americans prefer to picture the evil that was there."

Ha - I certainly do!

pg 89 "Narratives can make us understand. Photographs do something else: they haunt us."

pg 93 "...we have a duty to look at lynching pictures..."

(do we, as Americans?)

pg 95 "Not all reactions to...pictures are under the supervision of reason and conscience."

pg 95 "...images of the repulsive can...allure."

pg 97 "...we have a degree of delight...in the real misfortunes and pains of others."


I had forgotten how very depressing that movie is.

Well - I may not have been affected quite so much the first time I watched this film. At the time, I was very happily engaged. Now that I am dealing with the end of a relationship that was not all bad, my reaction to the movie has changed considerably. I always thought that the premise of the movie was ridiculous. Why ever would you want to erase someone - or need to? You see - usually when I end a relationship, it is just that: I END IT. Perhaps I never really thought about how rough it might be to be on the other side of that - or even to end a relationship through the desire of both partners. Relationships ending - this kind of stuff was never particularly painful for me.

Now - I still think that it would be ridiculous to try to erase my fiance - and even if thinking about him does cause me pain (and oh yes - it does) - our relationship was far too important to me to want to eradicate the memories completely from my brain.

There are some types of pain that I do get rid of when possible, and I will admit that I have used certain substances to temporarily erase hurt from my consciousness. If my muscles ache, or I have a wound of some type, I run for the Ibuprofen. When I get sinus infections (horrid, disgusting things) - I drink gallons of fluids and take codeine for the splitting headaches. Emotional pain is so different, though. It can SEEM physical, but it truly has different implications. Taking ibuprofen every day until a wound heals is one thing - drinking tequila every night to take the edge off of a bad break-up is quite another. While the ibuprofen allows the wound to heal anyway - many methods (at least - the ones I've tried) for getting rid of emotional or psychological pain don't work in the same way. If I drink until I can't feel feelings anymore - my mind is not dealing with the deeper issues - like the body CAN when under the influence of Advil.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A Few Thoughts

Firstly, this was an amazing book.  I was a little wary once I got into some of the medical jargon, but even those bits were so interesting I couldn't skip paragraphs.

I had read a V. C. Andrews book regarding a kid who couldn't feel pain, and I thought it was a totally far-out idea.  I definitely didn't think it was an actual condition (congenital analgesia) and I must say it creeps me out.  Especially the bit about these kids later in life - how they eventually can develop the ability to feel pain, and that that type of pain can actually kill.  Death by pain sounds terribly romantic, and I can't imagine this happens a lot - but what a terrifying way to go.

I find it rather interesting when the book touches on pain as it relates to stereotypes.  Women (who sometimes have to go through that whole pesky "childbirth" thing) are seen as "the weaker sex" by many, and apparently many cultures have strange ideas about what kinds of people can "take" pain.  In my experience, it can go many ways.  I think of myself as being kind of a wuss (although - not as wussy as Gigi), but when I cut my thumb wide open with a steak-knife (sorry, Gigi) I had no problem pulling the wound apart to inspect it, clean it, line the pieces up as closely to the original as I could, and wrapping it.  In the book - it was a decorated military man who swooned and fainted at the approach of a sterile needle.  Because pain is so subjective and varied, it seems silly to try an put a label on a group of people as "stoic" or "weak."

I would question the information on page 65, if only from personal experience.  The author claims that statistics would show that men wait and suffer before seeking medical treatment, and that women are much more quick to see a doctor.  In my opinion, there are two types of people who are quick to seek medical attention- those more prone to hypochondria, and those of us who are particularly brave and like to face challenges.  In my experience, most people don't like the idea of having something wrong with them.  I haven't seen any correlation between this and gender.

The description on page 81 of a toothache made me want to cry.  Having my wisdom teeth out was, by far, the most traumatizing experience of my life (at least - of things that happened to my own body).  Pain in the head is just so much more awful than pain in the extremities, in my opinion.  I couldn't escape it.  It wasn't just my body suffering, either.  I was an emotional mess.  I was so messed up from not eating, and then when I tried to eat a few days after the surgery, I ripped apart any healing tissue, and swallowed so much blood that I was up vomiting all night.  That kept me from taking my painkillers, which just compounded the problem.   Have you ever thrown up with a mouth that can only open a centimeter?  Yeah - it was horrifying.  I am sure I will write more about that experience later, so I won't keep boring you now.

"heroine as a particularly powerful narcotic they claimed was free of an addictive potential" - page 112.  Ha.

I love codeine - boy, do I love codeine.

"Gentle Tissue Massage: Delightful" - page 123  (I completely agree.  Go get one done professionally if you never have.  It's LITERALLY like having all the "bad stuff" rubbed right out of your body.)

The placebo response amazes me.  The fact that the brain can do so much about our pain/illness/physical state unconsciously makes me wonder at the incredible machinery that is the body.  Not just humans, either.  Amazing.

When I read on page 150 that doctors thought that infants couldn't feel pain, I wanted to smack 80s doctors upside the head.  What on earth kind of logic is that?  Regardless of the cortex-development - hadn't we learned by the 80s that there is no way that we will ever fully understand the human brain?  Plus - if babies can't feel pain, then why would they cry?  It seems so ridiculous - I had never heard that before.