“The Imagination of Disasters,” a dissertation by Susan Sontag

Last Updated: 16 May 2023
Essay type: Argumentative
Pages: 3 Views: 204

While thinking about science fiction movies we usually associate disasters with these action packed, adventure seeking, and gory filled cinemas. An argumentative essay, written by Susan Sontag, ("The Imagination of Disasters") explains how the general public underestimates the power disasters can have due to how commonly they are used and the way disasters are portrayed in these movies. The author portrays her view by listing out countless movies to gain the attention and trust of the audience. Movies light a match that sparks imagination inside each of us, while that's good, at the same time it leads to us speculating that "this" imagination from movies is a common occurrence and leads us to believe it's normal in "real life". After reading and analyzing the essay I concluded that Sontag conveyed her message in such a way that allows the audience to easily connect to her and therefor it makes this an effective argument.

The essay introduces several ideas, which helps ignite her claim. Sontag introduces the five phases, which is a near perfect resemblance to most modern day science fiction movies. The five phases include: "The arrival of the thing, Confirmation of the hero's report by a host of witnesses, conferences between the scientist and military take place, the hero's loved one is great danger, and finally the centralized idea in which the ultimate weapon appear" (Sontag, 1-2). The steps Sontag list out help create that connection with the audience by the experience the audience and the author both share. Sontag argues, that in today's society people all over the world do not fear disaster when in actuality we should fear, and possibly prepare.

The author fears that if such a disaster were to occur that the public would be caught completely off guard, but the public would think nothing more of it because of how common it happens within these movies. Sontag introduces a counter argument to her claim by saying that science fiction films claim to be teaching you the "humane" way to use science, but rebuts it by saying that horror movies teach the public the same thing. Some movies tend to teach the world about the possible future (which leads the public to speculate), while horror movies teach the public that serial killers are normal. In actuality most things that happen in science fiction movies are not normal, and therefor cannot be seen as common occurrence in our day-to-day life (which is the author's argument).

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The methodology of "logos and pathos" is commonly used throughout Sontag's essay to gain the trust and support of the audience. Sontag uses words such as "war and terrorism" to explain how easily these words would evoke the emotions of fear and sadness, however war and terrorism are so common in movies that people never give them a second thought when it happens in real life. Logos is also commonly used throughout the essay when Sontag lists out example after example of movies where the fear of disasters could be made out.

Movies such as The Time Machine, Rodan, and Battle in Outer Space are all used to help influence the audience by giving them the same perspective as the author by stating how she can see how common disasters are in these movies, and the audience should think so too. Commonly authors will use logos and pathos to contribute to the claim of their argument because it allows for the author to gain the trust of the reader by presenting material that make it easier for the audience to connect to or follow.

The argument is constructed in a way that illustrates the author's beliefs, which influences the reactions of the reader. The overall idea centralizes around the idea that movies use disasters as coping mechanisms to deal with fear while also making the disasters seem as if they weren't a big deal. Sontag uses several complex devices to convey her message, while at the same time moralizing the issues that arise from "The Imagination of Disasters".

Sontag believes that people do not fear the power of disasters as much as they should, and will be surprised once one occurs. The overall message is clearly conveyed, and with the help of Logos, Ethos, and Pathos, the claim can be easily depicted and allows for the author to gain more creditability from the audience. The claim presented comes out in a well-organized essay using several persuasive and literary techniques, which did persuade me in favor of her argument. The general census about an apocalypse tends to be some "great big disaster", however an apocalyptic event could bee seen as something as "small" as a war or even terrorism.

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“The Imagination of Disasters,” a dissertation by Susan Sontag. (2023, May 16). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/the-imagination-of-disasters-a-dissertation-by-susan-sontag/

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