Susan Sontag

Alas, this time it seems to have been Susan Sontag, the passionate but morally oh, so austere scourge of other sinners. Including me, when she bothered to notice me at all. There is a story by the talented journalist Michael Calderone in The New York Observer today headlined, "Regarding the Writing of Others: In FSG's posthumous collection of essays by Susan Sontag, an alert reader finds unattributed borrowings from Roland Barthe, Laura Miller." Read the article here.

She took a sip of red wine, then set the glass down on the bedside table. Unceremoniously, she pulled her top over her head and dropped her skirt. She was wearing nothing beneath. Still in her high heels, she walked toward him....

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"Wearing Nothing but Attitude" --New York Times, May 1, 2005 Was this trite phrase part of an ad campaign for a new Calvin Klein perfume or was it a headline for an article in the "Sunday Styles" section?

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Exposures

Regarding the Pain of Others By Susan Sontag (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 131 pp., $20)   One of the great platitudes of our epoch is that images, in particular photographic or filmed images, transmit messages that are much clearer and stronger than words, which disguise the truth more than they reveal it. But in truth nothing could be less certain: a photograph can stun us, but taken out of context it may not convey any significant meaning.

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No Choice

What do Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Susan Sontag have in common? All acknowledge a truth that most Americans would rather not: that what took place last week was, as Sontag put it, "[not an] attack on 'civilization' or 'liberty' or 'humanity' or 'the free world' but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions." That those actions should be a source of pride and not a cause for selfflagellation is beside the point. Terrorist grievances aren't with America. They're with America's global power.

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Kramer vs. Kramer

Robert Hughes reviews a book by former New York Times art columnist Hilton Kramer.

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