Posts Tagged: susan sontag
In an interview with Mark Greif for Los Angeles Review of Books, Greg Gerke frames Against Everything as an essay collection that faces outward, more political and less personal, despite its origins in rarified academia. Greif cites the influence and inspiration of traditions of thought exemplified by Susan Sontag and Stanley Cavell, the latter whose philosophy was rooted in “the ordinary”:
In this extended vision of ordinary language, what was principally required was sensitive listening, and a certain persistence, or obstinacy, in contemplating what you heard—and modesty about the value of your answers, except insofar as they inspired others to talk, too.
Over at Hazlitt, Alana Massey walks us through the anxiety that so often accompanies reading great thinkers, laying bare her own insecurities at the altar of famed writer and critic, Susan Sontag. When she finally does sit down to read the writer she had so carefully side-stepped, her worst fears are confirmed, and she is confronted—as so many of us will be—with the intense volume of all that she does not know:
But the devastation of learning that one’s work is unoriginal is not nearly as painful as watching the circumference of the gap in one’s knowledge expand outward from a single piece of missing literature to the limitless, insurmountable pile of works yet unread.
For the New York Times, Benjamin Moser and Charles McGrath explore the works of authors who they believe have been unfairly stigmatized. While Moser analyzes why Susan Sontag’s work has become branded as “rubbish” and “archetypal,” McGrath confronts Kipling’s reputation as a “caricature” of “incorrectness.”...more
At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova reviews Albert Camus’s Lyrical and Critical Essays, and suggests works by Nietzsche and Susan Sontag to read alongside Camus’s eye- and mind-opening work:
If we are to save the mind we must ignore its gloomy virtues and celebrate its strength and wonder.
AIDS isn’t over, but far too many think it is. Not everyone is haunted by remembering the dying, the friends gone gaunt, the lesions appearing, the artists dropping out of sight, the funerals, the lie-filled obituaries, the terrified waits for results of blood tests taken by nurses wearing masks and triple gloves....more
Writers, Sontag believed, if they are any good at all, are obliged to try to understand the forces that shape us. They seek to give us a more truthful sense of things, a more nuanced sense of the world we inhabit…They write to help us understand what, for many, eludes understanding.
In our daily efforts to stay healthy, to invent solutions for staving off death, have we already put ourselves in treatment for diseases yet to come? Conner Habib writes about his cancer diagnosis over at The Stranger, challenging Susan Sontag’s argument against seeing illness as a metaphor by revealing the ways in which we can’t help but give it meaning:
We reach out to the hand that promises to pull us to shore.
We’ve all read at least one: from “Against YA” to “Against Happiness,” essays that promise to dismiss entire abstract concepts using only rhetoric make for great click-bait. In The New Yorker, Ivan Kreilkamp explains why we keep overstating the case:
“Against [X]” is a symptom of a liberal culture’s longing to escape its own strictures; it’s the desire of thoughtful and nuanced people to shed their inhibitions and issue fearsome dicta.
The Partisan Review, printed from 1934 to 2004, marked 69 years of cultural history in the US, with notable contributors such as Hannah Arendt, James Baldwin, Samuel Beckett, Allen Ginsberg, Franz Kafka, Doris Lessing, George Orwell, Marge Piercy, Jean-Paul Sartre, Roger Shattuck, Susan Sontag, William Styron, Lionel Trilling, and Robert Penn Warren....more
Happy Birthday, Susan Sontag. You would have been 80 today.
Here is an entry from her collection of journals and notebooks, As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh. Also, check out Rumpus contributor Wendy MacNaughton and Maria Popova’s fantastic collaborative illustration, Susan Sontag on Art....more
The artwork is available on Etsy as an 11×14 print on heavy cotton rag paper with razored edges in a limited edition of 300, signed and numbered, bearing a hand-stamped inscription on the back....more
At Tablet, Adam Kirsch explores the recently released second volume of Susan Sontag’s journal entries, As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh, which Kirsch argues “contain a human drama more fascinating than anything in her essays or her fiction.”
“…The utter sincerity of the diaries, the sense that Sontag is always able to speak honestly to and about herself, is what makes them such compelling documents.”
(Via The Book Bench)...more
The photograph circulating of a young stunning Sigrid Nunez with long dark hair and a shining smile, sitting next to Susan Sontag, gives you the physical reminder of what caught David Reiff (Sontag’s son)’s attention....more
In the 1970s, writer Sigrid Nunez moved in with her boyfriend and his mother. She hovered over the couple, critiqued their sex life, had an endless parade of house guests, and chided Nunez for not being more of a people-person. His mother was the already world-famous writer Susan Sontag....more
“Then the book was finished, or at least a completed manuscript was turned in—as I was to learn, for Susan, the book is never finished. We spent a week holed up in her apartment combing through the galleys and then another with the page proofs, tweaking and massaging the text....more
I’m returning from doing readings upstate, once more along the Hudson. Worrying about my coffee spilling onto the brown leather shoes of the man next to me reading Susan Sontag’s Regarding The Pain of Others. Sontag, the public intellectual. What does that mean?
As a reader, I love this. As a writer, I am terrified.
Via the always excellent Carolyn Kellogg at Jacket Copy, Farrar, Straus and Giroux is creating a new web site, FSG Work In Progress, that presents conversations with authors while their books are still being written....more
Two hallowed New York intellectuals are The Rumpus’s next set of Literary Fashionables. Susan Sontag and George Plimpton both circled the upper tiers of Manhattan’s literary society. And while exhibiting seemingly opposing aesthetics, both Sontag and Plimpton promulgated revolutionary ideas and modes of approach to writing that would impact literary stylists for years to come....more
This week in New York, Harper’s presents “Love: A Rebuke” with Colson Whitehead, Heidi Julavits and Sam Lipsyte, Simon Critchley in bed with Cabinet’s Brian Dillon chatting about hypochondria, Vol. 1 Brooklyn and Gignatic present the Greatest 3-Minute Rock ‘n Roll Story Ever, Adam Haslett reads from his debut novel, The Magnetic Fields perform, Zachary German and Tao Lin celebrate the release of German’s new book, and BOMB Magazine hosts its Winter Issue Launch Party....more
In a new book of essays, Terry Castle rips through literary and cultural allusions at breakneck speed, citing obscure folk musicians and cult novelists in the same breath....more
Here’s some weekend reading: Sigrid Nunez has written a beautiful memoir of Susan Sontag in the latest issue of Tin House. (The text is not available online, but I highly recommend you pick up this issue of Tin House: it’s a really good one.) Nunez was involved with Sontag’s son David, and all three lived together for many years, and much of the memoir is about that time, but Nunez and Sontag remained friends for years after their household split up....more