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Image Control: Art, Fascism, and the Right to Resist

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Susan Sontag meets Hanif Adburraqib in this fascinating exploration of the unexpected connections between how we consume images and the insidious nature of Fascism Images come at us quickly, often without context. A photograph of Syrian children suffering in the wake of a chemical attack segues into a stranger’s pristine Instagram selfie. Before we can react to either, a Susan Sontag meets Hanif Adburraqib in this fascinating exploration of the unexpected connections between how we consume images and the insidious nature of Fascism Images come at us quickly, often without context. A photograph of Syrian children suffering in the wake of a chemical attack segues into a stranger’s pristine Instagram selfie. Before we can react to either, a new meme induces an LOL and a share. While such constant give and take might seem innocent, even entertaining, this barrage of content numbs our ability to examine critically how the world, broken down into images, affects us. Images without context isolate us, turning everything we experience into mere transactions. It is exactly this alienation that leaves us vulnerable to fascism—a reactionary politics that is destroying not only our lives and our nations, but also the planet’s very ability to sustain human civilization. Who gets to control the media we consume? Can we intervene, or at least mitigate the influence of constant content? Mixing personal anecdotes with historical and political criticism, Image Control explores art, social media, photography, and other visual mediums to understand how our culture and our actions are manipulated, all the while building toward the idea that if fascism emerges as aesthetics, then so too can anti-fascism. Learning how to ethically engage with the world around us is the first line of defense we have against the forces threatening to tear that world apart.


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Susan Sontag meets Hanif Adburraqib in this fascinating exploration of the unexpected connections between how we consume images and the insidious nature of Fascism Images come at us quickly, often without context. A photograph of Syrian children suffering in the wake of a chemical attack segues into a stranger’s pristine Instagram selfie. Before we can react to either, a Susan Sontag meets Hanif Adburraqib in this fascinating exploration of the unexpected connections between how we consume images and the insidious nature of Fascism Images come at us quickly, often without context. A photograph of Syrian children suffering in the wake of a chemical attack segues into a stranger’s pristine Instagram selfie. Before we can react to either, a new meme induces an LOL and a share. While such constant give and take might seem innocent, even entertaining, this barrage of content numbs our ability to examine critically how the world, broken down into images, affects us. Images without context isolate us, turning everything we experience into mere transactions. It is exactly this alienation that leaves us vulnerable to fascism—a reactionary politics that is destroying not only our lives and our nations, but also the planet’s very ability to sustain human civilization. Who gets to control the media we consume? Can we intervene, or at least mitigate the influence of constant content? Mixing personal anecdotes with historical and political criticism, Image Control explores art, social media, photography, and other visual mediums to understand how our culture and our actions are manipulated, all the while building toward the idea that if fascism emerges as aesthetics, then so too can anti-fascism. Learning how to ethically engage with the world around us is the first line of defense we have against the forces threatening to tear that world apart.

50 review for Image Control: Art, Fascism, and the Right to Resist

  1. 5 out of 5

    Vincent Scarpa

    A book of staggering intellect and emotional rigor. Just brilliant.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Adam Possehl

    In this powerful work of cultural criticism, Patrick Nathan explores the myriad insidious connections between Fascism, Politics, Identity, Art, and Photography. Through surprising and insightful discussions of social media, memes, gifs, films, and literature, Image Control encourages us to watch the world carefully and actively, instead of only looking passively at images and propaganda. Nathan is a thrilling writer and thinker, and Image Control is an essential read for 2021.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Leinani Lucas

    See the full review in the 8/25/21 edition of Real Change News Seattle. Here is a 2 paragraph "teaser". The Personal is Political: 'Image Control' in the eyes of the beholder The scenes of the Jan. 6 insurrection are burned into the minds of many Americans. “Image Control” discusses in depth about how terrible things are sensationalized. Pictures are repeatedly shown to us of refugees clinging to planes in Afghanistan, of fascists breaking into the Senate Chambers, of children starving and of homel See the full review in the 8/25/21 edition of Real Change News Seattle. Here is a 2 paragraph "teaser". The Personal is Political: 'Image Control' in the eyes of the beholder The scenes of the Jan. 6 insurrection are burned into the minds of many Americans. “Image Control” discusses in depth about how terrible things are sensationalized. Pictures are repeatedly shown to us of refugees clinging to planes in Afghanistan, of fascists breaking into the Senate Chambers, of children starving and of homelessness right in our neighborhoods. “Fascism trades in death,” Nathan says, and these images of horrors should never be stripped from that context. Images don’t solely serve to remind us, but they also distract us. Nathan talks about memes and how the use of pictures and incomplete text together can create relatable and funny scenarios for our friends and observers. When I post a photo of a raccoon leaning out the driver’s side window with watery eyes and caption it “me in the drive-thru when the barista asks how my day is going,” that sentence is incomplete. Even without saying it, the context is “I am having a bad day and a small act of kindness is enough to make me emotional.” I agree with Nathan that this continual manipulation of imagery is a fascinating form of communication.

  4. 4 out of 5

    MeatyMarvel

    I don’t know how to read. The book over looked cool and so I decided it was five stars (I’m here cuz of the insta live with shelfbyshelf)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Manda Nicole

    In this unique and interesting criticism of our current lives Patrick Nathan makes us stop and really think about what is going on around us. Images are constantly flying towards us before we have time to react digest another then another. We are used to it, so it seems harmless, normal even and so we fail to realize that we are losing our ability to think critically about the world and everything in it, including ourselves. Pulling from photography, social media, art and his own personal experi In this unique and interesting criticism of our current lives Patrick Nathan makes us stop and really think about what is going on around us. Images are constantly flying towards us before we have time to react digest another then another. We are used to it, so it seems harmless, normal even and so we fail to realize that we are losing our ability to think critically about the world and everything in it, including ourselves. Pulling from photography, social media, art and his own personal experience we are shown not only how problematic our current culture is, but teaches us how to step back look around and regain control of your self. Brilliantly researched and a truly fascinating read Image Control is a book unlike any I've come across before yet it has inspired me to keep digging in order to improve upon the life in which we live. If you like to challenge yourself, question common practices, or simply like to learn about the idea's fueling and influencing society this book is perfect for you! 3.5 out of 5 stars in my opinion, yet still highly recommended. If this concept intrigues you, don't hesitate to pick it up and dive in. You wont be disappointed. Thank you to netgalley and publishers for providing an advance e-copy of this book so that I may share my honest opinion.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Allie

    I stopped reading seriously when he said that cancel culture will in the future be "on par with the greatest discursive movements against power--including feminism, Marxism, queer theory, and intersectionality--in critical history." god help us if he's right. in the end he comes to some extreme, unsurprising conclusions: "To be happy and pursue happiness among so much suffering is to become complicit in the creation and perpetuation of that suffering." "To tolerate everything--or anything--that th I stopped reading seriously when he said that cancel culture will in the future be "on par with the greatest discursive movements against power--including feminism, Marxism, queer theory, and intersectionality--in critical history." god help us if he's right. in the end he comes to some extreme, unsurprising conclusions: "To be happy and pursue happiness among so much suffering is to become complicit in the creation and perpetuation of that suffering." "To tolerate everything--or anything--that the Republican Party stands for or to excuse it as 'just politics' is to tolerate genocide"

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    Patrick Nathan's work of criticism is such a gift and so needed in this particular moment. He deftly tackles gay assimilationist politics, the aesthetics of "resistance" in the era of Trump, photography and photojournalism, and so much more. I especially appreciated Nathan bringing nuance to the concepts of identity politics and intersectionality as they often play out in modern leftist politics. Lots of ideas in here I'll be chewing on for a while, and a good reminder of the value of reading cr Patrick Nathan's work of criticism is such a gift and so needed in this particular moment. He deftly tackles gay assimilationist politics, the aesthetics of "resistance" in the era of Trump, photography and photojournalism, and so much more. I especially appreciated Nathan bringing nuance to the concepts of identity politics and intersectionality as they often play out in modern leftist politics. Lots of ideas in here I'll be chewing on for a while, and a good reminder of the value of reading criticism as well.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Glen

    I won this book in a goodreads drawing. A rather strange book. It's supposed to be about fascism, but never actually defines what fascism is, besides stuff the author dislikes. He gets some facts wrong, and it's obvious he doesn't really know history or political science very well. That said, the commentary on the Twin Peaks television show was very interesting. I won this book in a goodreads drawing. A rather strange book. It's supposed to be about fascism, but never actually defines what fascism is, besides stuff the author dislikes. He gets some facts wrong, and it's obvious he doesn't really know history or political science very well. That said, the commentary on the Twin Peaks television show was very interesting.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bibliophile

    The book is a good read for any student of politics, or someone studying or involved in activism, or well, even economics. Everything plays into that eventually. A good read for everyone and gives you lots to think about, and many interesting perspectives to have a good meaningful discussion on the negatives of mindless social media esp. Some confusing facts and incoherence here and there though.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alastair Woods

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kayla

  12. 5 out of 5

    Chris Richards

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas Carter

  14. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

  15. 5 out of 5

    Philip Matusavage

  16. 4 out of 5

    Beth

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

  18. 4 out of 5

    Parsleyhorseshoes

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Phelan

  20. 5 out of 5

    Hunter

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dan

  22. 4 out of 5

    CJ

  23. 5 out of 5

    Serenee

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jane

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Alonso

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sam Glatt

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rachael

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dean Porter

  29. 4 out of 5

    Matilda

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joy Miraglia

  31. 4 out of 5

    sheikha h

  32. 5 out of 5

    alex g.

  33. 4 out of 5

    Thea

  34. 5 out of 5

    Steph

  35. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

  36. 5 out of 5

    Leo

  37. 4 out of 5

    Zephyr

  38. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Overmyer

  39. 5 out of 5

    spidersandcaterpillars

  40. 4 out of 5

    Eva

  41. 5 out of 5

    Adam

  42. 5 out of 5

    Katharine

  43. 4 out of 5

    Joy

  44. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

  45. 4 out of 5

    Rodrigo Paramo

  46. 5 out of 5

    David Rice

  47. 4 out of 5

    Isabella

  48. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

  49. 5 out of 5

    Chellej

  50. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

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