Powerful Susan Sontag Quotations

I recently read Jonathan Cott’s Susan Sontag: The Complete Rolling Stone Interview that was published this year. This interview is excellent, and Sontag’s words are inspiring. Check out a few of my favorite quotations from the book below. The entire book is 140 pages, and you really should by a copy for yourself or a friend.

“If I had to choose between the Doors and Dostoyevsky, then-of course-I’d choose Dostoyevsky. But do I have to choose?” (x)

“I think that the young-old polarization and the male-female polarization are perhaps the two leading stereotypes that imprison people.” (11)

“…most people don’t have any understanding or respect for science except of the most primitive kind, which is to say magic.” (18)

“…I feel that there’s something terrible about making the fifties and sixties and seventies into major constructs. They’re myths.” (30)

“I really believe in history, and that’s something people don’t believe in anymore. I know that what we do and think is a historical creation. I have very few beliefs, but this is a certainly a real belief: that most everything we think of as natural is historical and has roots…and we’re essentially still dealing with expectations and feelings that were formatted at that time, like ideas about happiness, individuality, radical social change, and pleasure. We were given a vocabulary that came into existence at a particular historical moment. So when I go to a Patti Smith Concert…I enjoy, participate, appreciate, and am tuned in better because I’ve read Nietzsche.” (34)

“But I don’t think this is a rebirth of fascism but rather an expression of a desire for strong sensation in a nihilistic context. Our society is based on nihilism-television is nihilism. I mean, nihilism isn’t some modernist invention….It’s at the very heart of our culture.” (45)

“I mean, to live is an aggression. You’re involved with aggression on all levels when you move around the world, you’re occupying a space that other people can’t occupy, you’re stepping on flora, fauna, and little creatures as you walk….that is part of the rhythm of living.” (49)

“I think there should always be freelance people who, however quixotic it may be, are trying to lop off a couple of more heads, trying to destroy hallucination and falsehood and demagogy-and making things more complicated, because there’s an inevitable drift towards making things more simple.” (138)