Whatever Happend to Susan Sontag?

Natasha Vita More (natasha@natasha.cc)
Fri, 29 May 1998 10:48:18 -0500

Cultural blaster Camilla Paglia once questioned the literary disappearance
of Susan Sontag. By doing so, she arouses an all-out search for Sontag's
writings. Susan Sontag's books _Styles of Radical Will_ and _Against
Interpretation_ are (like Paglia) a collection of quick witted essays not
only for their style but for content about culture.

[Camilla Paglia is a mentor for me. I love her intelligent outspoken stand
on many issues, especially feminism and education. Although she is a
self-professed libertarian, she seldom brings her politics into her essays
outright, but states her views on important issues in such a way that her
ideas ring louder than political phrasings.]

It wasn't difficult to pick up on what seems to be an unconscious lead by
Paglia that Sontag was her original mentor until Sontag denounced her
affiliation with Pop Culture (referenced in _Vamps and Tramps_). Paglia
saw this as a literary and professional blunder for Sontag. Regardless of
faux pas or not, I took this lead and decided to explore Sontag more
carefully. Vroom! Glad I did!

Sontag writes, in part, about culture and art. In the essay, "The
Aesthetics of Silence," she questions the artists' metaphoric silence. If
the artist chooses to be "silent," if he chooses to make art that is
confusing to the audience, then she is actually silencing art by making it
uncommunicative and unobtainable. If the artist creates a vocabulary that
is so difficult for the audience to read or understand, then he is
silencing art.

Another essay, "One culture and the new sensibility," focuses on the two
cultures of art and science (my favorite subject -:), questions C.P. Snows
assumptions (right on!) and heads into the ever changing new standards and
new attitudes toward pleasure. For her, high and low as slogans for art
are less and less meaningful and talks about interest in "sensory mixes."

If Sontag had made it through the ridicule of her initial support of Pop
Culture unscathed, and if she were still around, would she write - as a
controversial critic- about our transhuman culture with a wide-eyed view?
If she could make even coffee nervous - she could delve into transhumanity
with an inquisitive mind.

"None of us can ever retrieve that innocence before all theory when art
knew no need to justify itself, when one did not ask of a work of art what
is said because one know (or thought one knew) what it did. From now to
the end of consciousness, we are stuck with the task of defending art."

Natasha Vita More [fka Nancie Clark]: www.natasha.cc
Transhumanist Art Centre - Home of Extropic Art: www.extropic-art.com
**NEW** Transhuman Culture InfoMark: www.transhuman.org
PRESS RELEASE: "We are transhumans ..." Meme Orbits Saturn in 2004!

"The best defense is an aesthetic offense."