Susan Sontag
Quotations


Ambition, if it feeds at all, does so on the ambition of others.

It is the nature of aphoristic thinking to be always in a state of concluding; a bid to have the final word is inherent in all powerful phrase-making.

Much of modern art is devoted to lowering the threshold of what is terrible. By getting us used to what, formerly, we could not bear to see or hear, because it was too shocking, painful, or embarrassing, art changes morals.

Boredom is just the reverse side of fascination: both depend on being outside rather than inside a situation, and one leads to the other.

The whole point of Camp is to dethrone the serious. Camp is playful, anti-serious. More precisely, Camp involves a new, more complex relation to “the serious.” One can be serious about the frivolous, frivolous about the serious.

Anything in history or nature that can be described as changing steadily can be seen as heading toward catastrophe.

In good films, there is always a directness that entirely frees us from the itch to interpret.

Any critic is entitled to wrong judgments, of course. But certain lapses of judgment indicate the radical failure of an entire sensibility.

For those who live neither with religious consolations about death nor with a sense of death (or of anything else) as natural, death is the obscene mystery, the ultimate affront, the thing that cannot be controlled. It can only be denied.

Existence is no more than the precarious attainment of relevance in an intensely mobile flux of past, present, and future.

We live under continual threat of two equally fearful, but seemingly opposed, destinies: unremitting banality and inconceivable terror. It is fantasy, served out in large rations by the popular arts, which allows most people to cope with these twin specters.

Intelligence . . . is really a kind of taste: taste in ideas.

What is most beautiful in virile men is something feminine; what is most beautiful in feminine women is something masculine.

I envy paranoids; they actually feel people are paying attention to them.

The problems of this world are only truly solved in two ways: by extinction or duplication.

The writer is either a practicing recluse or a delinquent, guilt-ridden one; or both. Usually both.



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