Friday, March 25, 2005

COM: Sontag as metaphor

Well, i stole that of course. From Sontag herself Illness as Metaphor. Sontag, who died at Christmas, was a person whose passing i felt, but felt no particular need to celebrate obit-style. At least at the time. For one thing, she simply annoyed me. For all the weight of her reputation as one of the great minds of our time, i could never read past her outright pretentiousness and condescension -- two things that render writing superfluous in my mind. Why bother to enspell someone with your story if you begin by letting us know how great your story is? Turned me off quite frankly.

So, in fear of exposing what i thought might be a purely misogynist reaction on my part, i simply chose not to do any remembrance of her -- that would be for others.

But two things have happened in the meantime. First, outside of the major obits printed in the dailies, there has not been much of a heralding of her life or work. And that has struck me as odd.

Secondly, there was this piece, which i read today, courtesy of a tip on Slacker Friday, the weekly roundup of Eric Alterman at Altercation (MSNBC). I now figure my impressions (for i didn't know her) were not unreasonable, so i decided to post.

By Terry Castle at London Review of Books

But I’ve had the feeling the real reckoning has yet to begin. The reaction, to my mind, has been a bit perfunctory and stilted. A good part of her characteristic ‘effect’ – what one might call her novelistic charm – has not yet been put into words. Among other things, Sontag was a great comic character: Dickens or Flaubert or James would have had a field day with her. The carefully cultivated moral seriousness – strenuousness might be a better word – co-existed with a fantastical, Mrs Jellyby-like absurdity. Sontag’s complicated and charismatic sexuality was part of this comic side of her life. The high-mindedness, the high-handedness, commingled with a love of gossip, drollery and seductive acting out – and, when she was in a benign and unthreatened mood, a fair amount of ironic self-knowledge.

Read the rest here.


Post a Comment

<< Home