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 :: 1933-, American Essayist

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Fear of sexuality is the new, disease-sponsored register of the universe of fear in which everyone now lives.
~ Susan Sontag - [Sexuality]

 

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Tamed as it may be, sexuality remains one of the demonic forces in human consciousness -- pushing us at intervals close to taboo and dangerous desires, which range from the impulse to commit sudden arbitrary violence upon another person to the voluptuous yearning for the extinction of one's consciousness, for death itself. Even on the level of simple physical sensation and mood, making love surely resembles having an epileptic fit at least as much as, if not more than, it does eating a meal or conversing with someone.
~ Susan Sontag - [Sexuality]

 

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One set of messages of the society we live in is: Consume. Grow. Do what you want. Amuse yourselves. The very working of this economic system, which has bestowed these unprecedented liberties, most cherished in the form of physical mobility and material prosperity, depends on encouraging people to defy limits.
~ Susan Sontag - [Society]

 

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In the final analysis, ''style'' is art. And art is nothing more or less than various modes of stylized, dehumanized representation.
~ Susan Sontag - [Style]

 

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It is not suffering as such that is most deeply feared but suffering that degrades.
~ Susan Sontag - [Suffering]

 

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Taste has no system and no proofs.
~ Susan Sontag - [Taste]

 

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The discovery of the good taste of bad taste can be very liberating. The man who insists on high and serious pleasures is depriving himself of pleasure; he continually restricts what he can enjoy; in the constant exercise of his good taste he will eventually price himself out of the market, so to speak. Here Camp taste supervenes upon good taste as a daring and witty hedonism. It makes the man of good taste cheerful, where before he ran the risk of being chronically frustrated. It is good for the digestion.
~ Susan Sontag - [Taste]

 

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The hard truth is that what may be acceptable in elite culture may not be acceptable in mass culture, that tastes which pose only innocent ethical issues as the property of a minority become corrupting when they become more established. Taste is context, and the context has changed.
~ Susan Sontag - [Taste]

 

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Fewer and fewer Americans possess objects that have a patina, old furniture, grandparents pots and pans -- the used things, warm with generations of human touch, essential to a human landscape. Instead, we have our paper phantoms, transistorized landscapes. A featherweight portable museum.
~ Susan Sontag - [Things and Little Things]

 

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Using a camera appeases the anxiety which the work-driven feel about not working when they are on vacation and supposed to be having fun. They have something to do that is like a friendly imitation of work: they can take pictures.
~ Susan Sontag - [Travel and Tourism]

 

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The truth is balance. However the opposite of truth, which is unbalance, may not be a lie.
~ Susan Sontag - [Truth]

 

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Victims suggest innocence. And innocence, by the inexorable logic that governs all relational terms, suggests guilt.
~ Susan Sontag - [Victims]

 

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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.
~ Susan Sontag - [War]

 

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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.
~ Susan Sontag - [Past]

 

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The taste for worst-case scenarios reflects the need to master fear of what is felt to be uncontrollable. It also expresses an imaginative complicity with disaster.
~ Susan Sontag - [Pessimism]

 

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In America, the photographer is not simply the person who records the past, but the one who invents it.
~ Susan Sontag - [Photography]

 

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It is not altogether wrong to say that there is no such thing as a bad photograph -- only less interesting, less relevant, less mysterious ones.
~ Susan Sontag - [Photography]

 

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The painter constructs, the photographer discloses.
~ Susan Sontag - [Photography]

 

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Al forms of consensus about ''great'' books and ''perennial'' problems, once stabilized, tend to deteriorate eventually into something philistine. The real life of the mind is always at the frontiers of ''what is already known.'' Those great books don't only need custodians and transmitters. To stay alive, they also need adversaries. The most interesting ideas are heresies.
~ Susan Sontag - [Political Correctness]

 

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What pornographic literature does is precisely to drive a wedge between one's existence as a full human being and one's existence as a sexual being -- while in ordinary life a healthy person is one who prevents such a gap from opening up. Normally we don't experience, at least don't want to experience, our sexual fulfillment as distinct from or opposed to our personal fulfillment. But perhaps in part they are distinct, whether we like it or not.
~ Susan Sontag - [Pornography]

 

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