The Musings of a Boho Girl

bōˈhēmēən (noun) 1. a free spirit ; 2. a writer; 3. an explorer of the Avant-Garde.

Tag: Susan Sontag

Summer Reads

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It’s coming: summer will be upon us. Soon we’ll have long warm days with sunshine, Pimm’s, and reading. *Fingers crossed* I will have found the perfect literary agent who will then find the perfect publisher for my manuscript (seriously, cross your fingers). Summer is the perfect time to do some reading. I have a list of fantastic books that I plan to read. Here we go.

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The Archives: Cataloging the Dead

The intersection between illness and photography has always fascinated me. Seeing pictures of cancer patients offering the photographer a weak smile while receiving chemotherapy feels voyeuristic, we’re meant to feel something. Sadness? Hope? The point is we’re meant to feel an emotion that evokes us to do something. A visual image that reminds us one day we could be receiving chemotherapy and wouldn’t we want the best drugs possible to save our lives. The intentions vary, but there are always intentions. The photography associated with the AIDS epidemic is different, even the images from professional photographers reflect a desire to be seen. Each picture attempts to capture a vanishing body and those fleeting moments before death. In the last few days, I’ve combed through images only to realise that everyone pictured was dead; each photo became a visual obituary of the young and ailing.

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Why I’m Looking Forward to Sontag on Film

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“Today everything exists to end in a photograph.” – Susan Sontag

A few days ago I came across my old copy of On Photography, it’s slightly worn: the cover has faded and the spine is cracked; but this book changed how I saw the world. Weren’t photographs proof of genocides? After the Holocaust people looked at images of bodies piled upon each other; they promised it would never happen again. Sontag writes “photographs furnish evidence. Something we hear about, but doubt, seems proven when we’re shown a photograph of it.” Perhaps those words and the Life magazine photo of David Kirby changed my perception of illness, it was 1990 and I was still too young to contextualize AIDS. I barely glimpsed the image of Kirby before the school librarian took the magazine away, she said it was for older students. His eyes haunted me, I wanted to know why he was sick. So I used my allowance to buy Life magazine from a drugstore. I couldn’t stop staring at his emaciated body, none of it made sense. He had AIDS, but I didn’t know what that was. It was a disease that hadn’t reached the suburbs. No one could explain it so I stored the magazine and didn’t look at those pictures again until I read Sontag’s On Photography. Two years later the story Kirby’s pictures told made sense. Read the rest of this entry »