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Sontag - Joby Martin Eng1A Essay#4 ONLY IN AMERICA Susan...

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Joby Martin Eng1A Essay #4 10/24/06 ONLY IN AMERICA! Susan Sontag is absolutely right: photographs are basic documentation of life. Photography is a “way of certifying experience” (Sontag, 311), she asserts in her essay entitled “On Photography.” She is correct in her assertion; human beings have taken to photography to document their experiences for many different professional, emotional, and psychological reasons. From baby pics to obits, most modern lives are chronicled in their entirety through the act of taking pictures. However, she approaches her subject from a professional perspective. Most Americans aren’t so deliberate in taking pictures as she and her fellow photographers. Most people merely have a camera in their backseat or purse or backpack. The casual ‘photographer’ must have difficulty relating to her thesis. One motivation that Sontag seems to overlook in her essay is verifying the unexpected. Virtually all the examples she uses- wedding photos, tourists, journalists- involve engaging in photography as a deliberate, pre-meditated activity. She does not offer much description of the spur of the moment, photography as a spontaneous crime of passion, figuratively speaking. The picture I selected is an example of photography in the second degree: pictures taken to capture proof of something no one would otherwise believe. Backstory is needed to fully appreciate this picture, so please allow me indulge. I took this picture at the Republican National Convention in 2002, just outside the Philadelphia Convention Center. I was covering the event for The Triangle , Drexel University’s multi-colored fishwrap of a student newspaper. The guy in the picture who
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is not Don King is my buddy OJ Bercetta, an art student at the University of Penn. OJ was playing Dr. Gonzo to my Hunter S. Thompson quite effectively. The entire event was complete spectacle, to say the least. There is a great deal of absurdity in the fact that some punk college freshmen were able to press-pass his way into the RNC, rubbing shoulders with newswriters from the world’s most prestigious publications. That absurdity is expressed in this picture, a chance experience standing just outside the circus. We were outside only long enough for OJ to inhald the byproduct of burning tobacco. Sometime during those 4 or 5 minutes, OJ said abruptly, “Holy shit! That’s Don King!” It was, in fact, Don King- holy shit!- standing right there, smack dab in the middle of 12 th and Market. This guy is like the love child of Mr. T and Satan- with a criminal record including murder in 1955, arson in 1955, manslaughter in 1966, tax evasion in 1984, and insurance fraud in 1984.
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