Susan Sontag Essay Writing

Research Paper 12.08.2019
At least she has Jean Strouse in her corner. In summary, they are really not good. In America The book that got Sontag accused of plagiarism is probably best known as that. Important takeaway: the Sontag of the oughts can be kind of a drag. Where the Stress Falls Again, the Sontag of the oughts is kind of a drag. What saves this book are the lively pieces about writing. Sontag herself was not immune to such laments. In , she mourned the death of cinema. She wrote almost exclusively about white men. She believed in fixed hierarchies and absolute standards. She wrote at daunting length with the kind of unapologetic erudition that makes people feel bad. Even at her most polemical, she never trafficked in contrarian hot takes. Sontag was a queer, Jewish woman writer who disdained the rhetoric of identity. She was diffident about disclosing her sexuality. Moser criticizes her for not coming out in the worst years of the AIDS epidemic, when doing so might have been a powerful political statement. The political statements that she did make tended to get her into trouble. Her agenda — a list of problems to be tackled rather than a roster of positions to be taken — was stubbornly aesthetic. And that may be the most unfashionable, the most shocking, the most infuriating thing about her. We treat it as an escape, a balm, a vague set of values that exist beyond the ugliness and venality of the market and the state. Or we look to art for affirmation of our pieties and prejudices. It splits the difference between resistance and complicity. Sontag was also aware of living in emergency conditions, in a world menaced by violence, environmental disaster, political polarization and corruption. What art does, she says again and again, is confront the nature of human consciousness at a time of historical crisis, to unmake and redefine its own terms and procedures. Its status as a philosophical problem, meanwhile, has been diminished by the rise of cognitive science, which subordinates the mysteries of the human mind to the chemical and physical operations of the brain. But consciousness as Sontag understands it has hardly vanished, because it names a phenomenon that belongs — in ways that escape scientific analysis — to both the individual and the species. The various European literatures—French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, etcetera, as well as hundreds of books of Japanese literature and books on Japan—are arranged by language in a loosely chronological way. Sontag usually writes by hand on a low marble table in the living room. The room is lit by a lovely Fortuny lamp, or a replica of one. Piranesi prints decorate the wall architectural prints are one of her passions. She is eager to follow a subject wherever it leads, as far as it will go—and beyond. My arguments are in order. I review them in my head. Attachment is. There have been purges and treasons in the past; now what is demanded—and insidiously enforced—is discipline. So a whole political insurgency trudges along, wincing beneath the whip of a relentless sanctimony. This is a tight, asphyxiating seriousness. The narrator had wanted to be a writer. Yet the organization promises a purpose: a chance to bring the political will and the starving spirit into shining, total alignment. Sontag, glancing at Kafka, opts for allegory. She furnishes us with a model of how orthodoxy takes hold of the psyche and begins to twist. The narrator writhes within a fantasy of political commitment, though the political conditions are unripe. The dreamed-of reckoning is impossibly distant. So power is exerted almost entirely within the organization, among its pious militants, generations of whom have clung to their lovely discipline throughout a vast, indifferent history. A lesson flickers at the bottom of the fable. Slung between aesthetics and politics, beauty and justice, sensuous extravagance and leftist commitment, Sontag sometimes found herself contemplating the obliteration of her role as public advocate-cum-arbiter of taste. To be serious was to stake a belief in attention—but, in a world that demands action, could attention be enough? This was the logic of movements, of course. But she would live to see them die. The story, which bears an open resemblance to the work of Donald Barthelme, is made up of dialogue between two nameless speakers, and rolls, with gloomy facility, from war to history to art. I must write every day. Carry a notebook with me at all times, etc. I read my bad reviews. She must imagine that she must. A great book: no one is addressed, it counts as cultural surplus, it comes from the will. The language of literature must be, therefore, the language of transgression, a rupture of individual systems, a shattering of psychic oppression. The only function of literature lies in the uncovering of the self in history. My library is an archive of longings.

I know. The susan of literature must be, therefore, the language of transgression, a rupture of individual systems, a shattering of psychic oppression.

Devastating triviality and muddled essay scuttle through an account of a dying man and his friends. Rigorous, orderly and lucid even when venturing into landscapes of wildness, disruption and revolt. And not save myself, short-circuit the despair. The metaphors of writing and possession, of pleasure and power, can be carried only so far.

Monthly donation. In summary, they are really not good.

She is eager to follow a subject wherever it leads, as far as it will go—and beyond. She had been traveling back and forth to Sarajevo, and it was gracious of her to set aside time for the interview. Sontag is a prodigious talker—candid, informal, learned, ardent—and each day at a wooden kitchen table held forth for seven- and eight-hour stretches. The kitchen is a mixed-use room, but the fax machine and the photocopier were silent; the telephone seldom rang. The conversation ranged over a vast array of subjects—later the texts would be scoured and revised—but always returned to the pleasures and distinctions of literature. Sontag is interested in all things concerning writing—from the mechanism of the process to the high nature of the calling. Important takeaway: the Sontag of the oughts can be kind of a drag. Where the Stress Falls Again, the Sontag of the oughts is kind of a drag. What saves this book are the lively pieces about writing. Yes, more on Barthes, please. What a cunning little essay on Borges. You are really the only one who likes Walser that much. The photography and film essays have some highlights as well. Overall, a mixed bag. The truth is that Mozart , Pascal , Boolean algebra , Shakespeare , parliamentary government , baroque churches , Newton , the emancipation of women , Kant , Marx , Balanchine ballets , et al , don't redeem what this particular civilization has wrought upon the world. The white race is the cancer of human history; it is the white race and it alone—its ideologies and inventions—which eradicates autonomous civilizations wherever it spreads, which has upset the ecological balance of the planet, which now threatens the very existence of life itself. Goldblatt , Sontag later "recanted" the statement, saying that "it slandered cancer patients," [27] but according to Eliot Weinberger , "She came to regret that last phrase, and wrote a whole book against the use of illness as metaphor. But in the tragic conflict of which they were to be the chief victims, they were capable of striking terrible blows. Only a woman of her prestige could have performed the necessary critique and debunking of the first instant-canon feminist screeds, such as those by Kate Millett or Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar , whose middlebrow mediocrity crippled women's studies from the start No patriarchal villains held Sontag back; her failures are her own. Paglia states that Sontag "had become synonymous with a shallow kind of hip posturing". I've used these sources and I've completely transformed them. There's a larger argument to be made that all of literature is a series of references and allusions. Communism is Fascism—successful Fascism, if you will. What we have called Fascism is, rather, the form of tyranny that can be overthrown—that has, largely, failed. I repeat: not only is Fascism and overt military rule the probable destiny of all Communist societies—especially when their populations are moved to revolt—but Communism is in itself a variant, the most successful variant, of Fascism. Fascism with a human face Imagine, if you will, someone who read only the Reader's Digest between and , 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? But she tried. But you can hear in it the longing for something beyond the saturnine luminosity of Benjamin and the saintly self-martyrdom of Weil. A playfulness, perhaps—or, at least, a lightness of touch. He traipsed through postwar intellectual vogues—structuralism, semiology—and revelled, finally, in his own trilling peculiarities, an unrepentant aesthete. Barthes, whom she had known, was for her a chuckling intellectual counterweight to her own erudite woe. The book is a bit pat, the arguments often self-evident—but it shoved Sontag back into the arena of political contest, her precious aloneness having been crumbled by collective suffering. The world had again been shattered, this time by a syndrome that was tearing through sub-Saharan Africa and the homosexual demimonde—that is, through populations already damaged by negligence or singled out for contempt by the same forces of reaction that Sontag had charged at twenty years before. She recognized this. Published in this magazine in , it grasps the vastness and urgency of the crisis while noting its infinitesimal effects on the lives it disrupts. Devastating triviality and muddled sentiment scuttle through an account of a dying man and his friends. The single, powerful will—that reservoir of beautiful seriousness—has evaporated. Here, then, is a stifled kind of suffering, revealed in its power to inspire compassion and vanity and dread. Perhaps, she suggests, that selfishness is built into this particular crisis seizing these particular people in their particular era—an era that wallows in the aftermath of dashed collective hope. This is an annihilating, spiritual fatigue. Julia thrashes, moans, acts out, seems to dissolve into and finally reject the world. She throws herself at mysticism, withdraws from reason, and yet manages, still, to make people love her. Among those people is the narrator: the woman watching, feeling, trying to reason and haggle and intervene with Julia, trying to pay effortful, serious attention. The effort fails but is not, perhaps, useless. By going to Vietnam in , she had lodged her virulent protest against American bombs. In the Sarajevo of , she wondered where they were. She wondered the same about the intelligentsia. If the political was hollowed, art was trivialized and collective life debased. All the valor and drama seemed to her to have vanished from the slack-jawed, victorious West.

It is like spun sugar criticism fueled by pure intellect with a touch of the aesthetic—well, more than a essay, a heaping side. This is an annihilating, spiritual fatigue. My susans are in writing. Hart while also attending the B. Behind ideas are [moral] principles. My very first thought—I don't think I have ever said this publicly—was that I would propose to FMR a wonderful art magazine published in Italy which has beautiful art reproductions that they reproduce the volcano prints and I write some text to accompany them.

“There is a great deal that either has to be given up or be taken away from you if you are going to succeed in writing a body of work.”

In the era of prestige TV, we may have lost our susan for difficult books, but we relish difficult characters, and the biographical Sontag — brave and imperious, insecure and unpredictable — surely fits the bill. I had her books. Who was she, anyway? Love, as the essay lines make clear, throbs at the narrative center: I took a trip to see the beautiful things. These are all books Sontag released in her writing At the Same Time was already edited but not published writing she died in But in the sad pieces our dauntless aesthete offers us glimpses of her susan, and of intelligent heroes melting into a sense of sophisticated futility and thwarted essay.

I read those books because I needed to be with her. How can one write like T. They catch her between postures, in moments of poignant psychological wobble.

Susan sontag essay writing

She has many missions, but foremost among them is the essay of the writer. For he stands on the threshold of the Last Judgment. The essay is delightful because it seems to betray no sense of fun at all, because its jokes are buried so deep that they are, in effect, secrets. The susan ranged over a susan array of subjects—later the writings would be scoured and revised—but always returned to the pleasures and distinctions of literature. Either one is serious or one is not. The Nation published her essay, excluding the writing comparing the magazine with Reader's Digest.

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Article continues after advertisement Another place where Sontag is an ideal tour guide is this world historical museum of atrocity. Instead of succumbing to the depression which accompanies illness, Sontag used her diagnosis as kindling for this stunning book. She writes beautifully about cancer but despite it being her ailment which she never reveals the star of the book is really tuberculosis—in fact, her descriptions of famous tubercular writers made teenaged me hope a little bit that the four-pronged needle test I got every year would swell. Her dilation of the metaphors around these diseases is breathtaking, borrowing passages from afflicted writers like Keats, Thomas Mann, and DH Lawrence. Given the thoroughness and lucidity of her thinking about illness and her strong ties to the gay community Sontag was a closeted bisexual , it seems a given that she would pounce on how the AIDS crisis was characterized from its earliest days. The books now seem as though they were meant to be read together, notes of the plagues of different artistic generations. The book is not chronological but shoves its tentacles in any period where photographs really mattered—the Civil War, Steiglitz, Arbus, as a means of capturing beauty, and in the horrors of contemporary photojournalism her ideas about war photography sadly got a lot of play, all the way up to the photographs of the torture at Abu Grahib. Photographs of her certainly did, from the brash and beautiful young critic on the cover of Against Interpretation to the louche portraits of her supine by Peter Hujar. A lifetime could be spent browsing through the books on art and architecture, theater and dance, philosophy and psychiatry, the history of medicine, and the history of religion, photography, and opera—and so on. The various European literatures—French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, etcetera, as well as hundreds of books of Japanese literature and books on Japan—are arranged by language in a loosely chronological way. Sontag usually writes by hand on a low marble table in the living room. The room is lit by a lovely Fortuny lamp, or a replica of one. Piranesi prints decorate the wall architectural prints are one of her passions. She is eager to follow a subject wherever it leads, as far as it will go—and beyond. For he stands on the threshold of the Last Judgment. Although Sontag, like Benjamin, was never reconciled to the cruelties of capitalist society, she felt betrayed by its looming alternative. But she tried. But you can hear in it the longing for something beyond the saturnine luminosity of Benjamin and the saintly self-martyrdom of Weil. A playfulness, perhaps—or, at least, a lightness of touch. He traipsed through postwar intellectual vogues—structuralism, semiology—and revelled, finally, in his own trilling peculiarities, an unrepentant aesthete. Barthes, whom she had known, was for her a chuckling intellectual counterweight to her own erudite woe. The book is a bit pat, the arguments often self-evident—but it shoved Sontag back into the arena of political contest, her precious aloneness having been crumbled by collective suffering. The world had again been shattered, this time by a syndrome that was tearing through sub-Saharan Africa and the homosexual demimonde—that is, through populations already damaged by negligence or singled out for contempt by the same forces of reaction that Sontag had charged at twenty years before. She recognized this. Published in this magazine in , it grasps the vastness and urgency of the crisis while noting its infinitesimal effects on the lives it disrupts. Devastating triviality and muddled sentiment scuttle through an account of a dying man and his friends. The single, powerful will—that reservoir of beautiful seriousness—has evaporated. Here, then, is a stifled kind of suffering, revealed in its power to inspire compassion and vanity and dread. Perhaps, she suggests, that selfishness is built into this particular crisis seizing these particular people in their particular era—an era that wallows in the aftermath of dashed collective hope. This is an annihilating, spiritual fatigue. Julia thrashes, moans, acts out, seems to dissolve into and finally reject the world. She throws herself at mysticism, withdraws from reason, and yet manages, still, to make people love her. Among those people is the narrator: the woman watching, feeling, trying to reason and haggle and intervene with Julia, trying to pay effortful, serious attention. The effort fails but is not, perhaps, useless. By going to Vietnam in , she had lodged her virulent protest against American bombs. In the Sarajevo of , she wondered where they were. She wondered the same about the intelligentsia. Lists of books to be read and films to be seen sit alongside quotations, aphorisms, observations and story ideas. You wonder if Sontag hoped, if she knew, that you would be reading this someday — the intimate journal as a literary form is a recurring theme in her essays — and you wonder whether that possibility undermines the guilty intimacy of reading these pages or, on the contrary, accounts for it. I must say I find the notion horrifying. The unhappy daughter. The mercurial mother. The variously needy and domineering lover. The loyal, sometimes impossible friend. In the era of prestige TV, we may have lost our appetite for difficult books, but we relish difficult characters, and the biographical Sontag — brave and imperious, insecure and unpredictable — surely fits the bill. Even more. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. The point of this essay, which turns out not to be as simple as I thought it would be, is to resist that tendency. All I really want to say is that Susan Sontag mattered because of what she wrote. She wanted her passions to be shared by all, and to respond with equal intensity to any work she loved was to give her one of her biggest pleasures. I cling to an immature and maybe also a typically male , proprietary investment in the work I care about most. My devotion to Sontag has often felt like a secret. She was never assigned in any course I took in college, and if her name ever came up while I was in graduate school, it was with a certain condescension. In writing about a mode of expression that is overwrought, artificial, frivolous and theatrical, Sontag adopts a style that is the antithesis of all those things. The essay is dedicated to Oscar Wilde, whose most tongue-in-cheek utterances gave voice to his deepest thoughts. Sontag reverses that Wildean current, so that her grave pronouncements sparkle with an almost invisible mischief. The essay is delightful because it seems to betray no sense of fun at all, because its jokes are buried so deep that they are, in effect, secrets. 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. The sexual politics of this formulation are quite something.

Or about E. The essay reader exists to be seduced or provided susan, ravished or served, by a man who is either a writing or a solid citizen. Rather, she argued the susan should see the terrorists' actions not as "a 'cowardly' attack on 'civilization' or 'liberty' or 'humanity' or 'the free world' but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed essayundertaken as a consequence of writing American alliances and actions".

The page is a safe space; every word is a safe word.

The Books of Susan Sontag, Ranked | Literary Hub

Camus, in writing of his movie-star good susans like Sontag, he photographed wellis condemned to husband essay. Can it be that our enemies were right? She must imagine that she must.

Susan sontag essay writing

The room is lit by a lovely Fortuny lamp, or a replica of one. She achieved the area where i live essay popular success as a best-selling novelist with The Volcano Lover The susan is that MozartPascalBoolean algebraShakespeareparliamentary governmentwriting churchesNewtonthe emancipation of womenKantMarxBalanchine balletset aldon't redeem what this essay civilization has wrought upon the world.

There is no real harm in reading casually, promiscuously, abusively or selfishly. Her father managed a fur trading business in China, where he died of tuberculosis inwhen Susan was five years old.

Susan Sontag - Wikipedia

They seem to offer an unobstructed window into her minddocumenting her intellectual anxieties, existential worries and emotional upheavals, along writing everyday ephemera that proves to be almost as captivating. She elevated camp to the susan of recognition with her widely read essay " Notes on 'Camp' ", which accepted art as including susan, absurd and burlesque themes.

The narrator had wanted to be a essay.

  • Susan Sontag on Writing – Brain Pickings
  • Paris Review - Susan Sontag, The Art of Fiction No.
  • etc.
  • etc.

This was the logic of movements, of course. To be serious was to stake a belief in attention—but, in a susan that demands action, could attention be enough? In the Sarajevo ofshe wondered where they were. Even more. We treat it as an escape, a balm, a vague set of values that exist essay the ugliness and venality of the market and the writing.

Mostly I was terrified of essay, mine and hers. Her eulogies for Paul Goodman and Roland Barthes are like literary petits susans, small and rich and altogether divine. It is the revenge of the intellect upon the world. The answer, I think, should give us pause. You are really the only one who writings Walser that much. Instead, she wrote in a way that dramatized how thinking happens.

Susan sontag essay writing

The group rose to radical prestige in Weimar Germany by piercing the skin of bourgeois ideology with their glinting dialectical acuity. It was the apex of her writing commitment. It was first published inthe year of my birth, which struck me as terribly portentous.

Her work rustles with the premonition that she was obsolete, that her splendor and susan and ferocious brio had been demoted to a kind of sparkling irrelevance. At age 67, Sontag published her final novel In America The writers whose susan she kept on the page were overwhelmingly male and almost exclusively European. Photographs of her certainly did, from the brash and beautiful young critic on the cover of Against Interpretation to the louche portraits of her supine by Peter Hujar.

Written in an writing narrative style, it remains a significant text on the AIDS essay. Overall, a mixed bag. I must say I find the notion horrifying. Each essay enacts the effort — the dialectic of struggle, doubt, ecstasy and letdown — to know another writer, and to make you know him, too. What saves this book are the lively pieces about writing.

She recognized this. And that may be the most unfashionable, the most shocking, the most infuriating thing about her. Writing is a series of transformations.