Thursday, January 30, 2020

Reading Sontag

I am reading Sontag, by Benjamin Moser. I'm reading slowly and steadily, aware that it will lead me to re-read On Photography, which is actually on my bookshelf, and Against Interpretation, which is not. Unless it is on a small bookshelf elsewhere in the house. I remember reading parts of it years ago, maybe in college? Maybe in my parents' house? Anyway, it's interesting to be looking at the decades of her life, some of which overlap my own, from the context of now, in the "hindsight is 2020" mode of the year 2020, as we begin it. Capitalist consumerism has indeed taken over and led to excesses of all sorts, down to the situation that puts us in the middle of impeachment proceedings, and the strange argument that a sitting president can do anything he wants to win an election. Uh oh. This just turned into a ran...dom coinciday! (And a Thor's Day in the blog.)

The image above is the book cover, its front and its spine. The cover portrait is a photo by Richard Avedon. Benjamin Moser understands Sontag by reading her journals, private, as well as her published works. Reading it gives me pause, as happens whenever I read a biography. I've kept a journal for thirty years. Do I ever want anyone to read it? Don't I keep it primarily to hold myself together? To vent? To keep track of things for personal reference? I think so. Whenever Moser mentions that Sontag barely mentioned her son David in her journals, I worry if anything I say about my kids, or omit, would cause them pain. When he notes that major political/historical events are occurring, and she's writing about herself, her personal woes, I think, yes, this is a personal diary! The other things can be discussed in public forums. Sigh...  And then I immerse myself again, grateful to see the intellectual and critical ideas of the age laid out so clearly.

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