Sunday, 20 February 2011


This is a wonderful interview with Susan Sontag, 3 hours long! I'm not nearly that far in yet but I thought I'd post it anyways. It begins with what the interviewer describes as a 'state of the union' question, which places the interview around 2002, I think, right before the Iraq war kicked off.

The meat of the interview begins at about 5:05 when Sontag is asked to describe her latest book, 'Regarding the Pain of others', which she sais is primarily a book on war. She discusses the impact of images of war (a discussion which is actually more useful in relation to the essay on Marshall McLuhan) and explores a little of what she discussed in 'on Photography'. Sontag states that maybe on of the reasons that we didn't truly understand the 'horror' of what went on in certain wars was that there was no photographic evidence;
'We don't know really what happened in the Korean war, in the way we know what happened in the Vietnam war because there was very little photographic and television coverage... in a certain sense the things we pay attention to now are the things that are photographed.'
Sontag is then asked about the computer, and describes it as a wonderful means of communication, but that she does no primary research on the computer, and still prefers books.

During the question and answer section Sontag describes America and it's attitude to war as as a country 'of victory', where the union has to always be perceived as victorious, and a country 'of fear'. This creates an environment in which the country is inclined to 'overestimate menace'.

When asked about the marriage of literature and 'politics', she cites Dostoevsky, and how he became religious and conservative during the time of his greatest works, and states that ' we don;t read Dostoevsky's books for his views, we love his books for their wisdon, their humanity, for their depth, for their seriousness, for their moral and psychological enlightenment.' concluding that if an author of 'literature' writes merely to present his views, he's going in the wrong direction.

At 32 minutes, Sontag is asked a question on the subject of 'the essay versus the works of fiction'. Check it out for yourselves.

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