Pain has always been a lonely experience – something that cannot be shared with anyone. No one really understands what you are going through. Sure, we have come up with a range of words and some medical tests that can give an indication of how that pain is felt and how severe – maybe come to some reasonable conclusions based on these depictions – but the true feeling of pain is left only to ourselves.
This is not a new topic – people have long discovered that other people cannot relate to their pain and have tried a large number of methods in demonstrating their anguish. Most artistic forms come from pain – it’s easy to understand that some of the worlds most famous paintings and sculptures describe someone in great torment. However, only the very great have made it possible that their afflictions cross centuries and, with them, generations.
Susan Sontag goes in depth about how we perceive pain through art – looking at war photos and other forms of illustrations regarding people in suffering. A remarkable essay on how the mind in agony tries the same methods of exposing itself. From sketches of Francisco Goya to the photos of Ernst Friedrich the only thing that is different is the technology, the device that records – a fancy camera versus the almighty pen.
Allusions to a series of books, photos, movies and other media are given, mostly all with the basic subject of how far we have come in describing our pain and how little we absorb from the pain of people around us. Also, to be fair to accuracy, she also exposes a series of artistic views that are only that – artistic. A great range of photos have been scripted and do not show that ever alluding shot of true feeling – however, this does not impact our reception of the pain the medium shows us, it only makes us feel closer and receptive.

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