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Russia now is a story told in pictures, still and moving.

Nor do most of the reposters have any qualms about showing the full faces of the people in these videos and photos: apparently once they’ve been outed and humiliated in Russia, they’re fair game in the rest of the world.

(“While I am loathe to expose this young man any further, but [sic] this must be shown,” Melanie Nathan blogs while hawking one video.

No, it mustn’t.) There’s a panicked compulsion to give us more and more pictures to consume, partly because they drive up Web traffic, partly because they lend an urgency that makes mere explanations seem distracting.

But you can’t make sense of it unless you can Susan Sontag — but, of course, they’re limited in what they tell.

A photograph, or even a You Tube fragment of film, lacks context, is pulled free from the background that would give it meaning.

Last modified 26-Jan-2015 02:16