Sunday, January 24, 2010

in which she despairs at the state of the world

i'm in despair once again at the state of society. it's brought on by my reading of susan sontag's on photography. every sentence of this book is packed with meaning. it's thought-provoking and stimulates the intellect in a way that i'll admit i haven't experienced in far too long. the book was written in 1977 when it seems that theory still meant something, before postmodernism got hold of it and stripped meaning of meaning.  don't get me wrong, i'll admit i wholly embraced postmodernism - my shelves are filled with deleuze and guattari, derrida, baudrillard and the like. i am an educational product of the early to mid-90s, what can i say, i rolled around in the postmodernists and adored them, despite the fact that they ultimately deprived the world of any meaning at all.



as i've said before, i write in books. i scribble in the margins, i underline, i make stars and asterisks and draw little pairs of glasses where there's something i want to look up. i scrawl lightbulbs where the text gives me ideas and at times can scarcely decipher my own handwriting, so anxious i apparently was to get a thought down that it's illegible. as you can see in the shot above, sontag's on photography is full of scribblings and underlinings already and i'm only about 40 pages in. i've already got enough fodder and photo titles for my photo-a-day project for the entire month of february. but best of all, my brain is thinking again. i'm not sure when it stopped, but it had stopped. and oddly, i hadn't realized it until i picked up this book.



we were sitting at the breakfast table this morning with our tea and the sunday paper and i came across the illustration above. apparently, young people are so taken with the universe presented in james cameron's avatar that they come away from the film depressed. the blue-skinned girl, in 3D glasses is crying on her mother's knee, saying how sad she is and her mother comforts her, saying she understands, her father was the same after he'd seen all of the episodes of the brewer on DR. they're of course poking fun at this notion, but still. the fact that they've devoted a whole page of the sunday magazine to the notion that young people are depressed because they can't live within a movie, is startling. and is what makes me despair about the state of society. i think everyone should go read something real. i know i'm going to...

19 comments:

jude said...

my son though the effects in the film were amazing. but he told me he thought is was a not so convincing fairytale.,, and made a comment about people living too much for hollywood.

Jelica said...

i used to underline, write comments, draw, and generally have a dialogue with the text but only in my textbooks. in the books that i read for pleasure i sometimes mark the paragraphs that i like, but only with a pencil and very gently :)

Suecae Sounds said...

Post-modernism is a double edged sword, in the sense that in the hands of the cynic, it strips the world of any meaning whatsoever. But there are others...

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Well said and well underlined!

f8hasit said...

A good friend of mine in NY has a blog a city reader, http://www.acityreader.blogspot.com

and we were just talking about books. How this world of movies and kindles have reduced the power of reading and books.

I love that you leave notations on the pages. I do the same thing!
:-)

Maria-Thérèse afiori.com said...

I can't believe I haven't read that book yet. Yesterday I wrote a discussion on photography on my blog which actually relates to something there on the left page. 'tis a sign; I must read Sontag.

Härnösand is gloomily porridge-like, I want sunshine. Photography = drawing with light.

www.afiori.com

CatLadyLarew said...

I fear the demise of the book. Part of the joy of reading is feeling the book in one's hand and being able to make those notes in the margins. Just not possible with Kindle or online books. (She says as she spends her morning reading blog posts online.)

Elizabeth said...

That must be some book you found yourself.
Although I haven't seen Avatar nor am I affected by this movie. First time I found out about it was here when you told the blogworld your opinion about this movie.
Since than I am paying a little bit more attention and just last week I read that they expect a hausse of avatar-names for newborns.

Bill Stankus said...

Intentions are soaked in desire and wishes. Art offers alternatives. Photographs seem real yet exist only on paper (or computer screen).

Illusions, we swim in them and too often pretend they are real.

Bocat said...

I'm on my way out the door to find this book. I could use some thought provoking reading and now I have more time than ever. Quit my job last week because I hated it. Now I can read, write and photograph to my heart's content. Thank you for posting on this book!

Christina said...

i adore that you write in books. i have this book, and it takes my breath away, with beauty.
xo

TechnoBabe said...

Maybe we all should LIVE real and not through fantasy and movies and TV.
I read books both fiction and non fiction but I have learned what is real and appreciate knowing that. I am better able to face life's challenges. Nice post.

Char said...

and don't even get me started about the twilight peeps that do this.

prashant said...

i like, but only with a pencil and very gently

Work from home

christopher said...

I believe it is a double edged sword as well...greatly advantageous, but dangerous to yourself if used incorrectly.

Cyndy said...

I have never been able to write in a book. Even if I put an inscription for a gift, I think twice about it. I leave notes in the book, testing the binding! In my collection of old books, however, it is the ones with notes that I find most intriguing ~ I suddenly get two stories!

stephanie said...

The same type of thing happens to me; I don't realize that my mind has not been working very hard until I read something very REAL. And your comments about people wishing they could live in movies made me laugh, because I often think that people believe they do live in a movie. They act in ways that they have seen on the screen, never realizing that there are consequences for actions and that things don't always work out the way that movies might have you believe.

Now you've got my wheels turning...

Miss Malorie said...

I love a fellow scribble-in-the-margins book writer :) Everytime I'm at work and I have a book and a highlighter, the kids, without fail, will ask me why I write in the book. With the sincerest lack of understanding, which is what unnerves me. Why wouldn't I write in the book?

And I just just (as in like five minutes ago) read an article my friend sent me about people coming away depressed from seeing Avatar. Though depressed is too strong of an adjective to describe how I felt after the movie, I did feel a sense of, "awww man, too bad Pandora's not real." Which I feel has some type of significance.

(but, I am frightened that people really want to throw themselves off of buildings because of this. Despite how fantastically wonderful I found it, it's still at the end of the day, a movie.)

Bee said...

Very interesting post.

Sometimes when I read I'm very aware of some mental/emotional need to retreat into a fantasy world -- kind of like what you describe with Avatar. I definitely think that I need some Sontagian mental stimulation at the moment. Does cold weather start dulling the brain?