Quotes of quotes of quotes of quotes, 9/28

Very soon I’ll be the proud owner of one of them newfangled Kodak Zi8 HD camcorder device gadget things, which I’m obviously quite excited about, but until it actually arrives, the wait will continue to kill me. This desire to get my hands on a camera and start shooting anything and everything leads me to today’s quote, a fragmentary meditation on the nature of photography, written by one of my favorites, Susan Sontag. The quote is taken from her slightly notorious book On Photography, a divisive work that tries to come to grips with cameras, images, time and other equally light subjects. I chose this particular quote (from the essay “Melancholy Objects”) because in it Sontag ties her theory of the photographic image to cinema, and I just so happen to like me some cinema, yes sir. We here at CineMadison aren’t feeling especially profound today.

But the relation of a still photograph to a film is intrinsically misleading. To quote from a movie is not the same as quoting from a book. Whereas the reading time of a book is up to the reader, the viewing of a film is set by the filmmaker and the images are perceived only as fast or as slowly as the editing permits. Thus, a still, which allows one to linger over a single moment as long as one likes, contradicts the very form of film, as a set of photographs that freezes moments in a life or a society contradicts their form, which is a process, a flow in time. The photographed world stands in the same, essentially inaccurate relation to the real world as stills do to movies. Life is not about significant details, illuminated in a flash, fixed forever. Photographs are.

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