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Susan Sontag Quotes

Susan Sontag (January 16, 1933 - December 27, 2004)


Susan Sontag was a writer whose novels, essays, and criticism were influential in the 20th century. She was a social critic and also an activist, opposing the Vietnam war and organizing opposition to the fatwa against Salmon Rushdie, as just two notable examples.

Susan Sontag popularized the term "camp," and helped shape how culture thought about AIDS and cancer. She also wrote about photography.

Selected Susan Sontag Quotations

• Cogito ergo boom.

• Sanity is a cozy lie.

• The quality of American life is an insult to the possibilities of human growth.

• Ours is a culture based on excess, on overproduction; the result is a steady loss of sharpness in our sensory experience. All the conditions of modern life - its material plenitude, its sheer crowdedness - conjoin to dull our sensory faculties.

• Boredom is just the reverse side of fascination: both depend on being outside rather than inside a situation, and one leads to the other.

• It is the nature of aphoristic thinking to be always in a state of concluding; a bid to have the final word is inherent in all powerful phrase-making.

• What is most beautiful in virile men is something feminine; what is most beautiful in feminine women is something masculine.

• Although none of the rules for becoming more alive is valid, it is healthy to keep on formulating them.

• Existence is no more than the precarious attainment of relevance in an intensely mobile flux of past, present, and future.

• I was not looking for my dreams to interpret my life, but rather for my life to interpret my dreams.

• The only interesting answers are those that destroy the questions.

• Intelligence is really a kind of taste: taste in ideas.

• "Camp" is a vision of the world in terms of style - but a particular style. It is the love of the exaggerated.

• War-making is one of the few activities that people are not supposed to view realistically;" that is, with an eye to expense and practical outcome. In all-out war, expenditure is all-out, unprudent - war being defined as an emergency in which no sacrifice is excessive.

• Contemporary art, no matter how much it has defined itself by a taste for negation, can still be analyzed as a set of assertions of a formal kind.

• Making social comment is an artificial place for an artist to start from. If an artist is touched by some social condition, what the artist creates will reflect that, but you can't force it.

• The best emotions to write out of are anger and fear or dread. The least energizing emotion to write out of is admiration. It is very difficult to write out of because the basic feeling that goes with admiration is a passive contemplative mood.

• The writer is either a practicing recluse or a delinquent, guilt-ridden one; or both. Usually both.

• Volume depends precisely on the writer’s having been able to sit in a room every day, year after year, alone.

• To me, literature is a calling, even a kind of salvation. It connects me with an enterprise that is over 2,000 years old. What do we have from the past? Art and thought. That’s what lasts. That’s what continues to feed people and given them an idea of something better. A better state of one’s feelings or simply the idea of a silence in one’s self that allows one to think or to feel. Which to me is the same.

• I don’t want to express alienation. It isn’t what I feel. I’m interested in various kinds of passionate engagement. All my work says be serious, be passionate, wake up.

• The life of the creative man is lead, directed and controlled by boredom. Avoiding boredom is one of our most important purposes.

• It's a pleasure to share one's memories. Everything remembered is dear, endearing, touching, precious. At least the past is safe -- though we didn't know it at the time. We know it now. Because it's in the past; because we have survived.

• Every serious dancer is driven by notions of perfection -- perfect expressiveness, perfect technique.

• Taste has no system and no proofs.

• Interpretation is the revenge

• Every serious dancer is driven by notions of perfection -- perfect expressiveness, perfect technique. of the intellectual upon art.

• Any critic is entitled to wrong judgments, of course. But certain lapses of judgment indicate the radical failure of an entire sensibility.

• All ... forms of consensus about "great" books and "perennial" problems, once stabilized, tend to deteriorate eventually into something philistine. The real life of the mind is always at the frontiers of "what is already known." Those great books don't only need custodians and transmitters. To stay alive, they also need adversaries. The most interesting ideas are heresies.

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