Why are pseudointellectuals so drawn to this c.u.n.t. ??
I think she once wrote for In These Times magazine didn't she? I once wrote a letter to the editor (I think she was on the editorial staff) about how pre-World War II Poland was as much a dictatorship under Josef Pilsudski and "the colonels" after he died in the 1930s as much as Germany and Russia were at the time. Instead of incisive thoughtfulness in reply, she gave a dismissive one liner. I think she may be a J.A.P.
She's full of shit that she doesn't have opinions on these matters like mere mortals.
Wow, I see somewhere a trailer park finally has dial up!
That's why we love her, OP.
Well, yes .. she is.
She was born Susan Rosenblatt. I'm not sure why she chose to rebrand herself as 'Susan Sontag', but it sure smacks of pretentiousness. I couldn't read her. After reading a few pages, I'm left feeling like she speaks a lot, but isn't really saying much of anything. I gave up trying to figure her out. It was too boring.
I know very little about Susan Sontag. After watching that video, is it possible that she wanted to be allowed to write in her own intellectual vaccuum, to be unimpeded by pop culture? Did she want to preserve her intellect as much as possible, almost in the style of an ancient Greek or Roman? Again -- I don't know her work or even much about her, but this occurred to me while watching that video. In other words, please don't flame!
If so, I could admire her for being so prickly and particular. If not, I might agree with OP. Maybe she wanted to be left alone, as a true intellectual.
I know someone here has an opinion on the matter.
"Always implausible (as implausible as justified megalomania), the Great Work is now truly odd. It proposes satisfactions that are immense, solemn, and restricting. It insists that art must be true, not just interesting; a necessity, not just an experiment. It dwarfs other work, challenges the facile eclecticism of contemporary taste. It throws the admirer into a state of crisis." — Susan Sontag
I'm mystified. How can people get any pleasure out of reading shit like this?
If I remember correctly, r8, Sontag is the surname of her mother's second husband, which Susan assumed when he adopted her.
Unless I know what she's talking about r10, I agree, it is shitty gibberish. She never did have a clear, incisive style, just a snobbish, I-know-all-the-big-words kind of attitude that turned many people off.
Well, r10, like most writers, she has terrible passages and beautiful ones. The beginning of her essay on the notebooks of Albert Camus is one of my favorites:
"Great writers are either husbands or lovers. Some writers supply the solid virtues of a husband: reliability, intelligibility, generosity, decency. There are other writers in whom one prizes the gifts of a lover, gifts of temperament rather than of moral goodness. Notoriously, women tolerate qualities in a lover—moodiness, selfishness, unreliability, brutality—that they would never countenance in a husband, in return for excitement, an infusion of intense feeling. In the same way, readers put up with unintelligibility, obsessiveness, painful truths, lies, bad grammar—if, in compensation, the writer allows them to savor rare emotions and dangerous sensations. And, as in life, so in art both are necessary, husbands and lovers. It’s a great pity when one is forced to choose between them."
In OP's link, she sure seems like one of those people who can't help but suck the joy out of every situation. She wouldn't even allow Chris Lydon - a great interviewer - to establish a meaningful, entertaining, exchange of ideas and conversation. What a pill!
Dyke Debby Downer
STOP TALKING ABIUT HER IN THE PRESENT TENSE - NEXT WEEK SHE WILL BE DEAD 8 YEARS
Annie Leibovitz's outstanding debts
She always seemed like the phony who reads dust jackets rather than books, but is still quick to criticize other people's work.
Thank you for keeping our attention focused on the most important issues at hand, R15!
I'll always have a lot of respect for her for this:
[quote]"Imagine, if you will, someone who read only the Reader's Digest between 1950 and 1970, and someone in the same period who read only The Nation or [t]he New Statesman. Which reader would have been better informed about the realities of Communism? The answer, I think, should give us pause. Can it be that our enemies were right?"
Not an easy thing to say for a prominent left-wing public intellectual.
She's the type of writer that only a character out of a Woody Allen movie would admit to reading.
R17, even by your standards your response makes little sense.
She was spot on:
[italic]The disconnect between last Tuesday's monstrous dose of reality and the self-righteous drivel and outright deceptions being peddled by public figures and TV commentators is startling, depressing. The voices licensed to follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize the public. Where is the acknowledgement that this was not a "cowardly" attack on "civilization" or "liberty" or "humanity" or "the free world" but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed super-power, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? How many citizens are aware of the ongoing American bombing of Iraq? And if the word "cowardly" is to be used, it might be more aptly applied to those who kill from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those willing to die themselves in order to kill others. In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards.
Our leaders are bent on convincing us that everything is O.K. America is not afraid. Our spirit is unbroken, although this was a day that will live in infamy and America is now at war. But everything is not O.K. And this was not Pearl Harbor. We have a robotic president who assures us that America stands tall. A wide spectrum of public figures, in and out of office, who are strongly opposed to the policies being pursued abroad by this Administration apparently feel free to say nothing more than that they stand united behind President Bush. A lot of thinking needs to be done, and perhaps is being done in Washington and elsewhere, about the ineptitude of American intelligence and counter-intelligence, about options available to American foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, and about what constitutes a smart program of military defense. But the public is not being asked to bear much of the burden of reality. The unanimously applauded, self-congratulatory bromides of a Soviet Party Congress seemed contemptible. The unanimity of the sanctimonious, reality-concealing rhetoric spouted by American officials and media commentators in recent days seems, well, unworthy of a mature democracy.
Those in public office have let us know that they consider their task to be a manipulative one: confidence-building and grief management. Politics, the politics of a democracy--which entails disagreement, which promotes candor--has been replaced by psychotherapy. Let's by all means grieve together. But let's not be stupid together. A few shreds of historical awareness might help us to understand what has just happened, and what may continue to happen. "Our country is strong", we are told again and again. I for one don't find this entirely consoling. Who doubts that America is strong? But that's not all America has to be.
Susan Sontag, The New Yorker, September 24, 2001[/italic]
There have been some interesting threads about her on DL over the years, including the one linked below.
P.S. Why are the words/abbreviations "DataLounge" and "DL" not recognized by the DL spell check?
She was a strange woman. Very arrogant and dismissive, which wound up giving her more attention than she probably deserved. She was a very minor novelist, but was an interesting non-academic critic.
Has anyone here read Sigrid Nunez's gossipy book about her, "Sempre Susan"?
In this day and age when anyone in the public eye feels beholden to always "please" journalists and the public in general, I find it refreshing.
I like that someone, especially a woman, had the courage to press an extremely particular view. She's not bullshitting. She's not diluting the conversation and dialogue. She kept an integrity to herself and her work that is highly commendable.
I agree that her critical essays are far more interesting than her novels.
Wow, she makes Madonna look like a wilting flower in comparison. Why would someone agree to be interviewed if they didn't want to respond to any questions asked of them? She categorically dismissed every single question the interviewer asked.
Word salad, R10.
Friend of the closet.
Maybe it's because I'm an academic but I don't understand what's difficult to understand what the quote at r10 is about. My sophomore students read pieces quite similar and analyse them in due course. No, it's not a NY Post article with easy to digest ideas and words, but I don't think Sontag would want those types of readers anyway.
I didn't find it hard to understand, r32, and even found it quite interesting and smart, but the last sentence was painfully pompous/pretentious:
[quote]It throws the admirer into a state of crisis.
No, it doesn't.
I'm surprised that you didn't understand the question at R10, R32. It was "How can people get any pleasure out of reading shit like this?", not "Is this quote difficult to understand?" as you seem to think.
BTW, when you mention that you are "an academic", do you really mean that you are an instructor at the local Community College?
R32 Sorry you don't understand the quote at R10. You should have demanded more of your education.
The essay at R21 is magnificent, and utterly applicable to what's to come re: Newtown.
Fetch me my smelling salts, Elvira. I'm having a Stendhal moment!
0.1% and his Sontag Chaser
Thank you for posting that, R21! I do agree with R35 that it is magnificent, BTW. And timely. Maybe I should give Sontag another try.
Say what you will about Camille Paglia, but I love her ballsy, pugnacious response to this Sontag interview:
She was such a cunt, she made my friend Julie looks like Mother Theresa.
She obviously didn't want to do the interview and acted like she every question asked, the interviewer and the potential audience were all beneath her notice. Not cool and not very "scholarly". Why do some "intellectuals" have to wield their knowledge like a police baton, ready to pummel anyone who even dares to approach them?
Also, wasn't she in a relationship with Annie Leibowitz? Did anyone on here ever encounter them at a public function together?
Fastest way for someone to get unwarranted respect: be labeled an 'intellectual' by the media and by other anointed(mostly self anointed) 'intellectuals'. Welcome into the circle jerk!
What the fuck is r42 about?
As for Sontag, I think that's what "public intellectuals" were like before the internet came along and democratised everything. You couldn't get away with posing like that anymore.
Why do all feminists seem like hideous monsters?
Well, she seems about as pompous as...ANY university professor. I actually LIKE what she said at the end - the interviewer said we all must be drawn to, interested in junk culture and she said she's not, and that it is important that some people are not. I AGREE! She was ahead of her time. This is even more important now than then (20 yrs ago).
Yes, but her place looks nicer than those tacky displays in NYSD, doesn't it, tasteful friends?
[quote]I wouldn't know or care, [R40].
You mean, just by watching that, you can't tell??
My God, how thick ARE you??
I believe that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap.
R21's excerpt would have been a lot more effective if it had been edited down to a paragraph.
Making a simple, direct point didn't seem to have a lot of attraction for her. She had interesting ideas, but wasn't much of a writer.
Palgia unfortunately is wrong, and Sontag is right. By now, we know junk culture is JUNK. We are surrounded by it, and dragged down by it. Ugh. Palgia seems quite shallow.
She was in a Woody Allen film once so she must have been funny.
Susan Sontag actually did make useful commentary, from time to time. Judith Butler is who this thread should be about - needlessly obscurantist and strangely vacant. She scares people away from the beauty of philosophy and literary theory.
It's never too late to post a link to Terry Castle's very entertaining (and devastating) sketch of Sontag.
R21- yes she was exactly correct and the knumbing media mass hug was revolting, as was the self righteous attack on Iraq that followed with all the embedded media- that was in reality a cynically immoral acts and one of the biggest blunders in American history in my opinion. The fallout from it, from death, to debt, to empowering Iran, to ignoring and creating the Afganistan endless war and destabilizing the Middle East is really the biggest fuck up that I have seen our government make in my lifetime.
Yeah she is arrogant as hell in that interview. She could have made her points without being so unpleasant- easily.
And YES- it is entirely unnecessary to follow the junk media or even pop culture or whatever you want to call 90% of what is one TV, from network news pundits to reality TV to video games and popular music. Nothing gets me more depressed about the world than network news or I should say the 24-hour news cycle on the networks and reality TV. But you can pick around it on TV (News Hour, Frontline etc. drama series like Madmen etc). And she loves to read- as do I. Lots of published work is trash too- but a lot is also wonderful and you can spend your whole life learning and growing if you find it.
Yeah, she and Annie Liebowitz (sp?) were lovers/partners and kind of closeted it seems- nothing to admire there. Neither one is a particularly nice woman I suppose- but they sure are both interesting and I suppose about as self centered as they come. I suppose they both liked to think of themselves as private, when in fact, they were/are not more private than Madonna. But that's OK- they are still, particularly Sontag, interesting.
Would [italic]monstres sacrées[/italic] work here?