Susan Sontag

Who the heck is this woman? My new favorite brain food is who…


  • What we need is to use what we have.
  • What is the most beautiful in virile men is something feminine; what is most beautiful in feminine women is something masculine.
  • We live under continual threat of two equally fearful, but seemingly opposed, destinies: unremitting banality and inconceivable terror. It is fantasy, served out in large rations by the popular arts, which allows most people to cope with these twin specters.
  •  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.
  • The truth is balance. However the opposite of truth, which is unbalance, may not be a lie.
  • The only interesting answers are those that destroy the questions.
  • The life of the creative man is lead, directed and controlled by boredom. Avoiding boredom is one of our most important purposes.
  • 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.
  • Most people in this society who aren’t actively mad are, at best, reformed or potential lunatics.
  • Lying is the most simple form of self-defence.
  • It is not the position, but the disposition.
  • In most modern instances, interpretation amounts to the philistine refusal to leave the work of art alone. Real art has the capacity to make us nervous. By reducing the work of art to its content and then interpreting that, one tames the work of art. Interpretation makes art manageable, conformable.
  • Interpretation is the revenge of the intellectual upon art.
  • Depression is melancholy minus its charms – the animation, the fits.
  • A large part of the popularity and persuasiveness of psychology comes from its being a sublimated spiritualism: a secular, ostensibly scientific way of affirming the primacy of “spirit” over matter.

2 Comments on Sanity is a cozy lie.

    • B.E.M. says:

      Thanks for reminding me. I had not had time to read the whole thing yet.

      As I have packed 12 boxes and three bags today, I will allow myself the pleasure. 😉

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