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Obit: Writer & Social Critic Susan Sontag Dies

GUEST 28 Dec 04 - 04:35 PM
GUEST,David Ingerson 28 Dec 04 - 05:50 PM
Susanne (skw) 28 Dec 04 - 06:25 PM
GUEST 28 Dec 04 - 06:54 PM
harpgirl 28 Dec 04 - 08:18 PM
GUEST 28 Dec 04 - 08:29 PM
catspaw49 28 Dec 04 - 09:16 PM
GUEST 29 Dec 04 - 08:30 AM
GUEST 29 Dec 04 - 09:49 AM
Joybell 29 Dec 04 - 05:41 PM
GUEST 29 Dec 04 - 05:51 PM
GUEST 29 Dec 04 - 06:19 PM
Amos 31 Dec 04 - 04:12 PM
Peace 31 Dec 04 - 04:16 PM
GUEST 01 Jan 05 - 11:18 AM
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Subject: Obit: Writer & Social Critic Susan Sontag Dies
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 04:35 PM

Sadly, one of America's greatest, writer, essayist, and critic Susan Sontag, is gone at the age of 71.

Describing herself as an "obsessed moralist", she was one of the leading, most articulate intellectual voices from the left. She was a life long anti-war and human rights activist, and in recent years wrote scathing critiques of Bush's militarist reaction to the 9/11 attacks, including the Iraq war. She also gained international notoriety when she went to Sarajevo, and staged "Waiting for Godot" at the height of the siege of the city.

Here are the Reuters obituary and the AP obituary.

Her recent book, "Regarding the Pain of Others", is one of the most fascinating books I've read in years.

For those of you with access, the best of the obituaries is here at the New York Times.

What a force she was, and what a life she lived!


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Subject: RE: Obit: Writer & Social Critic Susan Sontag Dies
From: GUEST,David Ingerson
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 05:50 PM

Thank you for posting this sad information. I never did read any of her books but having been involved in the antiwar movement since the mid 60's, I often felt her strong and supportive presence in the media.

She's left a powerful and inspirational legacy. May it grow even stronger in her absence.

David


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Subject: RE: Obit: Writer & Social Critic Susan Sontag Dies
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 06:25 PM

Hopefully, she'll finally have time to rest in peace. She wasn't always right (who is?), but many topics would have been more poorly debated without her contributions.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Writer & Social Critic Susan Sontag Dies
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 06:54 PM

And the woman had such chutzpah! I mean, the stories about the staging of 'Waiting for Godot' in Sarajevo are astounding.

But then again, I thought she was completely in the wrong for accepting the the Jerusalem Prize in 2001. For being such a staunch anti-war and human rights activist with international cache, it is amazing she never really railed against the Israeli occupation and destruction of the Palestinian homelands.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Writer & Social Critic Susan Sontag Dies
From: harpgirl
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 08:18 PM

I remember an evening in Ann Arbor many many years ago when I sat in at an afterdinner conversation with Gayle Rubin, the radical lesbian activist and Susan Sontag at a downtown bar we liked, after a lecture by Sontag. I was so intimidated by the debate between Gayle and Susan I think of that evening every time I wonder just how smart I really am. I was humbled and hardly uttered a peep! What brilliance! Susan was an awesome intelligence and a great force in modern culture.

Chutzpah is what I lack to really test my intellectual powers! Those women,,,,Gayle is now a faculty member in her old anthro dept at UOFM and likely just as intellectually intimidating now as then...


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Subject: RE: Obit: Writer & Social Critic Susan Sontag Dies
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 08:29 PM

I never encountered Sontag in the flesh, but I did feel similarly intellectually shabby when I was in the presence of South African writer Nadine Gordimer. Very different sort of intellect than I would ascribe to Sontag, but quite intimidating all the same.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Writer & Social Critic Susan Sontag Dies
From: catspaw49
Date: 28 Dec 04 - 09:16 PM

Every once in awhile a person comes along so right, so strong, so perfect, and so needed by the times they live in that should they not exist, we would have to fictionalize them. We're lucky to have had her.........no character of fiction could have fulfilled the role so perfectly.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Obit: Writer & Social Critic Susan Sontag Dies
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 08:30 AM

Why should Susan Sontag support the notion of Palestinian homelands?

The 1966 Palestinian Covenant that the Palestinian people was unjustly displaced by the Jewish invasion of Palestine in 1917 was widely disseminated, but even Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leaders have frankly disavowed distinct Palestine identity. On March 3, 1977, for example, the head of the PLO Military Operations Department, Zuhair Muhsin, told the Netherlands paper Trouw that there are no differences between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese:

"We are one people. Only for political reasons do we carefully underline our Palestinian identity. For it is of national interest for the Arabs to encourage the existence of the Palestinians against Zionism. Yes, the existence of a separate Palestine identity is there only for tactical reasons. The establishment of a Palestinian State is a new expedient to continue the fight against Zionism and for Arab unity."… Extracts from "Israel and Palestine - Assault on the Law of Nations"

Susan Sontag may have felt quite justified in supporting her homeland's right to defend itself.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Writer & Social Critic Susan Sontag Dies
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 09:49 AM

Guest 8:30, I didn't say she "should". In my mind, her decision not to oppose the Israeli occupation was inconsistent with her political views and actions on war and human rights.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Writer & Social Critic Susan Sontag Dies
From: Joybell
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 05:41 PM

She was True-Love's tutor for a time when he was a smart-ass, opinionated country boy just out of high school. He says she wrote sarcastic remarks on his papers which he richly deserved. Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Obit: Writer & Social Critic Susan Sontag Dies
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 05:51 PM

dear GUEST 9.49 .. Sigh...

"the Israeli occupation"

When the head of the PLO Military Operations Department, (as quoted above) says:

"Yes, the existence of a separate Palestine identity is there only for tactical reasons. The establishment of a Palestinian State is a new expedient to continue the fight against Zionism and for Arab unity."

What sort of a Palestinian homeland is that? A concocted one, purely for political purposes. So again I say, why should she defend a state which has been concocted?

This thread was about Susan Sontag, a great person, a brilliant humanitarian. And someone who made her own informed decisions about what cause to support and why.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Writer & Social Critic Susan Sontag Dies
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Dec 04 - 06:19 PM

She also admonished the Israeli government and the mayor of Jerusalem for the treatment of the Palestinians when she accepted the Jerusalem Prize.

And BTW, people usual live in their lands they claim as their homeland, and don't invent one from whole biblical cloth like the Jewish refugees did when they invented their "homeland" in the Middle East and drove out the region's inhabitants.

Oddly enough, when Ben Gurion drove his boatloads of European Jewish refugees ashore, there were already people living in his "homeland". And they weren't European Jews, but Palestinians. Imagine that.

Now, what WERE those Palestinians doing in the Israeli homeland?

Oh right. Living there.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Writer & Social Critic Susan Sontag Dies
From: Amos
Date: 31 Dec 04 - 04:12 PM

Excerpted from:

http://www.theage.com.au/news/Opinion/Thoughtful-face-of-the-West/2004/12/31/1104344983934.html?oneclick=true

...Susan Sontag looked like a 70-year-old woman, but she looked more lithe and vigorous than any 70-year-old woman I had ever seen. She had that quality, which she had 10 or so years earlier, of never having lost whatever soaring quality it is that makes youth glow. She laughed like a girl and she fought like Crazy Horse.

This was the woman who brought a torrent of abuse down on her head when she said there was nothing cowardly about the September 11 attack and that it had happened because of specific American foreign policy.

The same woman who had been accused of turning right-wing many years earlier when she said, long before the Wall came down: "Communism was just fascism with a human face. The Reader's Digest was more right about communism than we were."

But liberal anger - and the truth-telling that went with it - was wired into this woman. We had barely sat down when she said, "And you" - meaning Australia - "sent troops to this hideous war. Not even Canada did that."

She talked, scathingly, of the Bush Administration as an administration (unlike Reagan's or Bush snr's) that was ideological through and through: where the most incidental accolades went to right-wing people.

"I mean you wouldn't expect them to give awards to me. Of course you would expect them to give awards to Bruce Willis, there's nothing wrong with that." But then she went on to itemise also-ran right-wingers the Administration was blinded by.

The odd thing, though, with Susan Sontag was that you never felt that she was simply rooting for her own team or that she was especially excited by politics.

She said once that she wrote - presumably her fiction - out of grief. I remember many years ago, when I interviewed her for The Age at the time The Volcano Lover was published, she wanted to know why this would be a good thing.

And yet the couple of hours we spent talking were completely without hauteur on Sontag's part. She talked about how much all the stored-away Gothic romance, all the gingerbread and grand guignol of Edgar Allan Poe came streaming back to her when she wrote. She spoke too, at this time, of how hard it was to accept that she could simply do something (even such a high-minded thing as writing fiction) because it gave her pleasure.

So what was it about Sontag that made her seem like the thoughtful face of the Western world?

I think it was the quality of her candour. In Manhattan, my friend Colin Oehring took it up to her about a very famous critic he admired and she didn't. "Well, even a stopped watch is right twice a day," she said and giggled.

She told a story about a famous novelist she once toured Poland with and said that the person in question had already written pages and pages when she and the poet John Ashbery got up at 9 o'clock after drinking the night before.

She talked about sex and how much people enjoyed it, or at least enjoyed talking about it, in New York. She talked about how there was more to life than the great classics of literature, there was having fun. She talked about those great classics and she thrust into our hands book after book, as presents.

Towards the end I asked her if she was fit. There had been another cancer scare in recent years - long after the first one in the '70s - that had led her to write Illness as Metaphor. "Me," she said. "I'm fine. As far as I know I'm fine." And then she added: "You know the thing about being sick is - whatever else can be said about it - it's a great adventure."

In the early 1990s I was sitting in New York with her when she decided to quote her old Southern friend Elizabeth Hardwick (one-time wife of Robert Lowell): "Well, by that time, it will be curtains for me or - as my students say - drapes!"

Well, now it's drapes for Susan Sontag.

What a life, what a fight, with illness, with metaphor, with politics, with art. This is the woman who staged Waiting for Godot, that play of excruciating suspense, in Sarajevo when it was a dangerous place to be, because the Bosnians were waiting on America to save them. This is the woman who spoke on behalf of every freedom and loved like a lover the classicism of art. May her light shine....




Amen.

A


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Subject: RE: Obit: Writer & Social Critic Susan Sontag Dies
From: Peace
Date: 31 Dec 04 - 04:16 PM

Quite an article. Quite a woman.


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Subject: RE: Obit: Writer & Social Critic Susan Sontag Dies
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Jan 05 - 11:18 AM

The life she lived certainly suggests that being nice and polite isn't all it's cracked up to be.


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