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Quotes by Susan Sontag

  • American author
  • Born January 16, 1933
  • Died December 28, 2004

Susan Sontag (; January 16, 1933 – December 28, 2004) was an American writer, filmmaker, philosopher, teacher, and political activist. She mostly wrote essays, but also published novels; she published her first major work, the essay "Notes on 'Camp'", in 1964. Her best-known works include On Photography, Against Interpretation, Styles of Radical Will, The Way We Live Now, Illness as Metaphor, Regarding the Pain of Others, The Volcano Lover, and In America. Sontag was active in writing and speaking about, or travelling to, areas of conflict, including during the Vietnam War and the Siege of Sarajevo.


Interpretation is the revenge of the intellectual upon art.




To take a photograph is to participate in another person's mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time's relentless melt.




Lying is the most simple form of self-defence.




Books are funny little portable pieces of thought.




I do not think white America is committed to granting equality to the American Negro. This is a passionately racist country; it will continue to be so in the foreseeable future.




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




The past itself, as historical change continues to accelerate, has become the most surreal of subjects - making it possible... to see a new beauty in what is vanishing.




In America, the photographer is not simply the person who records the past, but the one who invents it.




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




Science fiction films are not about science. They are about disaster, which is one of the oldest subjects of art.




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




Surrealism is a bourgeois disaffection; that its militants thought it universal is only one of the signs that it is typically bourgeois.




Authoritarian political ideologies have a vested interest in promoting fear, a sense of the imminence of takeover by aliens and real diseases are useful material.




It is not suffering as such that is most deeply feared but suffering that degrades.




Societies need to have one illness which becomes identified with evil, and attaches blame to its victims.




The painter constructs, the photographer discloses.




The problems of this world are only truly solved in two ways: by extinction or duplication.




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.




A fiction about soft or easy deaths is part of the mythology of most diseases that are not considered shameful or demeaning.




For those who live neither with religious consolations about death nor with a sense of death (or of anything else) as natural, death is the obscene mystery, the ultimate affront, the thing that cannot be controlled. It can only be denied.




So successful has been the camera's role in beautifying the world that photographs, rather than the world, have become the standard of the beautiful.




The only interesting answers are those that destroy the questions.




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




The becoming of man is the history of the exhaustion of his possibilities.




Depression is melancholy minus its charms - the animation, the fits.




As photographs give people an imaginary possession of a past that is unreal, they also help people to take possession of space in which they are insecure.




What we need is to use what we have.




In the final analysis, style is art. And art is nothing more or less than various modes of stylized, dehumanized representation.




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




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

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