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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

entry arrow4:28 PM | Sontag's Dead

I can't believe it. Susan Sontag's dead. Here, Naya, is the apex of why this has indeed been a terrible year. Let's not even talk about Iris Chang or Gloria Anzaldua or Nick Joaquin or Jacques Derrida anymore. Death has been merrily picking away some of our most brilliant minds. With Sontag's passing, there's no real course for this world except to steer towards intellectual mediocrity.

Susan Sontag's dead.

The first time I heard of Sontag was when I read this short story, "The Way We Live Now," for my graduate fiction class. (Read an excerpt here.) It was a metaphor of our communal response to AIDS, and it proved so powerful for me, it seriously affected my own fiction.

She was a Renaissance Woman. She also was a brilliant essayist, iconoclast, activist, filmmaker, and theater director, and she was also a brillianr reader and fictionist. Her fiction soared because it was also replete with provocative ideas. The L.A. Times writes today:

In an interview for the Paris Review, in 1995, Sontag was asked what she thought was the purpose of literature. 'A novel worth reading, she replied, 'is an education of the heart. It enlarges your sense of human possibility, of what human nature is, of what happens in the world. It's a creator of inwardness.'

Read the rest here.

Later, I would know that she was considered "the most intelligent woman in America." I found that too limiting. She was for me the most intelligent human being in the world, at the height of her glory. I was already reading "On Camp" and On Photography by then and was too awestruck by her brilliance.

The New York Times writes:

"The theme that runs through Susan's writing is this lifelong struggle to arrive at the proper balance between the moral and the aesthetic," Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic and an old friend of Ms. Sontag's, said in a telephone interview yesterday. "There was something unusually vivid about her writing. That's why even if one disagrees with it -- as I did frequently -- it was unusually stimulating. She showed you things you hadn't seen before; she had a way of reopening questions."

Read more here. The New York Times has also compiled a compilation of her reviews and essays here.

Thank you, Ms. Sontag, for those questions.

UPDATE: Wood s Lot possibly has the best Susan Sontag archive there is in the Internet. Click here for treasures such as "Notes On Camp," and other essays by and about Sontag and her work.

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