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Regarding the pain of others

Susan Sontag with the cast of Waiting For Godot, during the siege of Sarajevo

A citizen of Sarajevo, a woman of impeccable adherence to the
Yugoslav ideal, whom I met soon after arriving in the city the first
time in April 1993, told me: “In October 1991 1 was here in my nice
apartment in peaceful Sarajevo when the Serbs invaded Croatia, and
I remember when the evening news showed footage of the
destruction of Vukovar, just a couple of hundred miles away, I
thought to myself, ‘Oh, how horrible,’ and switched the channel. So
how can I be indignant if someone in France or Italy or Germany
sees the killing taking place here day after day on their evening news
and says, ‘Oh, how horrible,’ and looks for another program. It’s
normal. It’s human.” Wherever people feel safe—this was her bitter,
self-accusing point—they will be indifferent

Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others

Townes Van Zandt, “Big Country Blues”

Photographs by Richard Avedon, from his collection “In the American West”

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