Susan Sontag

Sontag, Susan. On Photography. New York, 1999.

Susan Sontag foresees ruins as the result of actions and as the ultimate result of everything pictured by photography. “Many buildings, and not only Parthenon, probably look better as ruins.” Photographs themselves are mementos of what is passing, and thus the representation of debris of a disappeared moment.

A State of Belonging

An increasingly significant part of daily interactions is happening through people’s electronic, social bodies: on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, email, etc. It has long been noted that a persona one creates in writing is inevitably different from a “real person,” whatever this last creature should mean. The persona is a superimposition because of the nature of reflection, since estrangement embedded in writing and taking as well as posting pictures: once you completed a step, you are no longer the one who is stepping, and, by this very fact, perhaps never were. Nevertheless, social body which functions on the web is important and is a part of one’s social body outside of the web. A sense of belonging to the network is a sense of modern citizenship. In the twenty first century, the state would punish disobedient by excluding from social networks and throwing the perpetrator offline, thus virtually cutting her off her environment and, simultaneously, the very possibility of committing a misdeed.

An increasingly significant part of the individuality is involved online and expressed online, too. Sontag wrote that photography allows the photographer to demonstrate certain sensibilities. Now simple mechanisms of reblogging/sharing on Facebook/retweeting, in Twitter parlance, afford the same possibility of demonstrating, claiming and building one’s sensibilities through and by means of content one is concurrently consuming and reproducing. Self is lost and found in the overabundant multiplicity of channeled distractions.

Tourist Complications

The essential part of functioning as a tourist is the subject’s awareness of being a tourist. Kathleen Stewart calls this curious creature, knowledgeable of their being tourist, “post-tourist” (K. Stewart, Nostalgia: The Polemic), but I would suggest  that unless the tourist knows s/he is a tourist, s/he is not; s/he is a meanderer, a wanderer, a flâneur.

Tourism is a sweaty labor. One goes from a historic vista to another, eager to see as much as humanly possible, to delude oneself in the hot mess of momentarily entangled episodic experiences. The tourist does not retain the information for it is unneeded and unrequired. Was that statue of the eighteens century or of the sixteenth? Flemish or general Dutchmen? Madonna Litta or the Dame with ermine? Who cares. The tourist stores memories s/he would never revisit, in the boxes of their camera and phone. S/he incessantly photographs because pressing the masturbatory magic button (Cartier-Bresson) means the acclaimed by protestant ethics anti-idleness of constant work, even at rest (Sontag, On Photography), and justifies vain gazing. S/he collects souvenirs to recollect places (S. Stewart). The tourist is busy. S/he is not the native who by privilege of their constant access to landmarks is exempt from ever visiting them.


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