Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sontag Love-In

St. Patrick's Day really threw me off. The festivities got off to an early start, so I didn't read that day's Guardian like I usually do on a Saturday afternoon. And then the week remained busy socially so I didn't get around to reading the paper until last night. Thus it was a nice surprise to find an essay by Susan Sontag in the review section that will be published in her posthumous book of essays, At The Same Time, next month.

I've been having a sort of love-in with Sontag recently. On Photography is a crucial work for my PhD thesis and I'm continually re-reading it. And what I adore about Sontag is that the preciseness of her prose is actually deceiving. She layers meaning in her sentences so that every time I go back to her work, it's like a fresh read. When asked what writers ought to do, she replied in part, "Love words, agonize over sentences." I can always feel the intricate pain in the process of her work - which oftentimes is the element of art that I most enjoy: that perfect blend over the border of content and structure.

The essay is about the ethics of fiction writing and how important the novelist is in the age of television. That the function of literature is to tell stories, as opposed to that of television which simply provides information. (Literature involves. It is the recreation of human solidarity. Television (with its illusion of immediacy) distances - immures us in our own indifference.)

Read the essay. Don't listen to my terrible precis. Though this one line summarizes perfectly what I believe is the entire point of art: A novelist leads the reader over a gap, makes something go where it was not.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, I read your blog and essay... very interesting. I wish I could find someone like you to talk to in real life. I'm a huge Sontag fan and I loved your ideas and vision. :) calvin