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A large part of the popularity and persuasiveness of psychology comes from its being a sublimated spiritualism: a secular, ostensibly scientific way of affirming the primacy of “spirit” over matter.

SUSAN SONTAG, Illness As Metaphor

Photography has become almost as widely practiced an amusement as sex and dancing -- which means that, like every mass art form, photography is not practiced by most people as an art. It is mainly a social rite, a defense against anxiety, and a tool of power.

SUSAN SONTAG, On Photography

Photography is an elegiac art, a twilight art. Most subjects photographed are, just by virtue of being photographed, touched with pathos.

SUSAN SONTAG, On Photography

War-making is one of the few activities that people are not supposed to view “realistically”; that is, with an eye to expense and practical outcome. In all-out war, expenditure is all-out, unprudent—war being defined as an emergency in which no sacrifice is excessive.

SUSAN SONTAG, AIDS and Its Metaphors

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

SUSAN SONTAG, The Benefactor

Surrealism in painting amounted to little more than the contents of a meagerly stocked dream world: a few witty fantasies, mostly wet dreams and agoraphobic nightmares.

SUSAN SONTAG, On Photography

Surrealism can only deliver a reactionary judgment; can make out of history only an accumulation of oddities, a joke, a death trip.

SUSAN SONTAG, On Photography

The fear of AIDS imposes on an act whose ideal is an experience of pure presentness (and a creation of the future) a relation to the past to be ignored at one's peril. Sex no longer withdraws its partners, if only for a moment, from the social. It cannot be considered just a coupling; it is a chain, a chain of transmission, from the past.

SUSAN SONTAG, Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors

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

SUSAN SONTAG, "America, Seen Through Photographs, Darkly," On Photography

The ideology of capitalism makes us all into connoisseurs of liberty--of the indefinite expansion of possibility.

SUSAN SONTAG, Aids and Its Metaphors

Fear of sexuality is the new, disease-sponsored register of the universe of fear in which everyone now lives. Cancerphobia taught us the fear of a polluting environment; now we have the fear of polluting people that AIDS anxiety inevitably communicates. Fear of the Communion cup, fear of surgery: fear of contaminated blood, whether Christ's blood or your neighbor's.

SUSAN SONTAG, Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors

My library is an archive of longings.

SUSAN SONTAG, As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980

AIDS obliges people to think of sex as having, possibly, the direst consequences: suicide. Or murder.

SUSAN SONTAG, Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors

To paraphrase several sages: Nobody can think and hit someone at the same time.

SUSAN SONTAG, Regarding the Pain of Others

Sanity is a cozy lie.

SUSAN SONTAG, attributed, Women Know Everything!

Science fiction films are not about science. They are about disaster, which is one of the oldest subjects of art.

SUSAN SONTAG, "The Imagination of Disaster", Against Interpretation and Other Essays

Using a camera appeases the anxiety which the work-driven feel about not working when they are on vacation and supposed to be having fun. They have something to do that is like a friendly imitation of work: they can take pictures.

SUSAN SONTAG, On Photography


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