Thursday, April 12, 2012

Well worth reading

There is a really interesting essay about Susan Sontag up at Tablet (not the awful Catholic publication but the good Jewish one). It charts how Sontag started off on one tack—the one most people associate with her—and then came to see that she was wrong. Not for aesthetic reasons but for moral ones. Teaser paragraph:
It was an unmistakable recantation, then, when Sontag published the essay “Fascinating Fascism,” which is collected in her 1980 volume Under the Sign of Saturn. For in this celebrated piece, she writes thoughtfully and indignantly about the rehabilitation of Riefenstahl. She exposes the way Riefenstahl rewrote her C.V. to minimize her profound Nazi ties and links her late-life photographic portraits of African tribesmen to her earlier fascist glorification of the body and violent struggle. But most of all, Sontag decries the way Western intellectuals and connoisseurs have been complicit in this rehabilitation.
Emphasis added. 

Odd as this may seem, fans of Mad Men should read this for Sontag's barbarism in Against Interpretation in 1966 is a prime example of precisely what went wrong with the larger culture between 1966 and 1979. An awful lot of boomer propaganda is devoted to pretending that that horrible failure was really a victory andit will be interesting to see if Matt Weiner has the courage to take a stand against it or whether the show will become typical boomer crap.

So far, the signs are not encouraging.

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