Notes On Attention Paid

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02 Regarding the Pain of Others, Chapter 8, Susan Sontag

… on figuring out that human depravity is a base condition…

Someone who is perennially surprised that depravity exists, who continues to feel disillusioned (even incredulous) when confronted with evidence of what humans are capable of inflicting in the way of gruesome, hands-on cruelties upon other humans, has not reached moral or psychological adulthood.1

… innocence is abominable after a certain age… we need to know what is possible… we need to fear a Nazi Germany type white supremacy in this country because we know what happened in Nazi Germany… we need to fear the atrocious and atrocities because we know these things are abundant in the world… i wonder if one day in my lifetime i will bare direct witness to unimaginable human suffering, succumb to that suffering myself… cosmic chaos is banging on the door…

If the goal is having some space in which to live one’s own life, then it is desirable that the account of specific injustices dissolve into a more general understanding that human beings everywhere do terrible things to one another.2

… and this is what H and i have had all of our lives, some space in which to live our lives, aren’t we fortunate?… a modern life, Sontag tells us, seeks our attention in a myriad of ways, mostly, i think, to sell us something… Sontag tells us its ok to spectate, that spectating is a natural human condition… perhaps we will learn what to avoid…

  1. Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others (p. 114). Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Kindle Edition. [return]
  2. Ibid. [return]