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Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Sontag on the Abu Ghraib pictures 

"Words alter, words add, words subtract. It was the strenuous avoidance of the word 'genocide' while some 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda were being slaughtered, over a few weeks' time, by their Hutu neighbors 10 years ago that indicated the American government had no intention of doing anything. To refuse to call what took place in Abu Ghraib -- and what has taken place elsewhere in Iraq and in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay -- by its true name, torture, is as outrageous as the refusal to call the Rwandan genocide a genocide."
Susan Sontag analyses the postcards from Abu Ghraib in detail:
"There is more and more recording of what people do, by themselves. At least or especially in America, Andy Warhol's ideal of filming real events in real time -- life isn't edited, why should its record be edited? -- has become a norm for countless Webcasts, in which people record their day, each in his or her own reality show...
An erotic life is, for more and more people, that which can be captured in digital photographs and on video. And perhaps the torture is more attractive, as something to record, when it has a sexual component. ... [Most] of the pictures seem part of a larger confluence of torture and pornography: a young woman leading a naked man around on a leash is classic dominatrix imagery. And you wonder how much of the sexual tortures inflicted on the inmates of Abu Ghraib was inspired by the vast repertory of pornographic imagery available on the Internet -- and which ordinary people, by sending out Webcasts of themselves, try to emulate."


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