Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Susan Sontag

Monday Morning Links!

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Mary Karr Reminds the World That David Foster Wallace Abused and Stalked Her, and Nobody Cared.

* “I would just like to say that my inbox is full of accounts of Díaz’s behavior right now. And I mean full.”

They Revealed Harassment Claims Against a Professor, and Were Disciplined.

* Leaving Herland.

The Real Free-Speech Crisis Is Professors Being Disciplined for Liberal Views, a Scholar Finds.

* Bullshit Jobs in academia.

* Identification, Investigation, and Understanding of Ritualistic Criminal Activity (February 4, 1989).

Millennials Are Way Poorer Than Boomers Ever Were.

America’s teachers on strike: ‘We are done being the frog that is being boiled.’

The think piece doesn’t so much diminish art as render it wholly incidental. The mere existence of a work—and the contemporary proliferation of work after work after work—is enough to justify the think piece. The fundamental problem with so much  contemporary criticism is that the prospective critic is structurally encouraged to not care, to treat the value of one-or-another book/TV episode/movie as wholly irrelevant to the task of writing about it. Sontag wrote that desperate, interpretive searches for meaning constitute “the compliment that mediocrity pays to genius.” (One thinks of Henry James’s yearning lit-crit protagonist.) The think piece effectively inverts this formulation. Now it is more common to see genius (or perhaps “genius,” the work of people who, to nip a phrase from the controversial and cuttingly mean critic Armond White, “think they think”) pay compliments to mediocrity. The clarity of critical judgment alights on every rotten movie, grating pop singer, or paperback book written for awkward adolescents alive in the throes of their protean horniness, and dissolves, ultimately, into a sprawling field of meaninglessness. It’s not that, following Sontag, erotics has replaced bloodless hermeneutics. It’s that we’re now subject to soft, dopey forms of both. Enormously erudite and intelligent expositions about extremely stupid things have degraded both the standard for writing about serious things and the seriousness of those serious things themselves.

* Yeah, you better run: China bans Peppa Pig because she ‘promotes gangster attitudes.’

University apologizes to Native American students detained on college tour.

* The man who cracked the lottery.

Misreading the manufacturing statistics.

The key to reading paeans to McCain is realizing that they’re really just love letters from normative centrist militarism to itself.

* On lunar hay fever.

* RIP, Killmonger’s mom.

A team of scientists undertakes an ambitious experiment which could change thinking about welfare.

* “In America, you can be too poor to die.”

* And if you follow me on Facebook, you know that I’ve been raving all weekend about Nintendo Labo. Believe the hype! It’s truly great. Like Calvin’s magic cardboard boxes came to life. It’d buy three more kits if they were available, and might eventually buy a second robot one so my kids can play the Vs mode….

Holiday Ritual in Which Each Participant Draws the Name of Another Participant Out of a Hat and Then Sends Them an Anonymous Greeting Card Featuring a Quote by Essayist Susan Sontag and Probably Some Sort of Holiday Greeting While You’re at It

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Written by gerrycanavan

December 22, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Sontag

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Was this denial, à la Kübler-Ross? I can see how it could be described this way, but I don’t believe so. My mother’s refusal to accept death was not one ‘stage’ in the process leading first to acceptance and then (perhaps conveniently for the care givers who could parse their patients’ deaths in this way?) to extinction itself. It was at the core of her consciousness. She was determined to live because she simply could not imagine giving in, as she put it to me once, long before her final cancer, to the imperative of dying. I suppose, as was once said of Samuel Beckett, that her quarrel too was with the Book of Genesis.

What it was like to watch Susan Sontag die, by her son, David Rieff.

Written by gerrycanavan

May 18, 2008 at 4:36 am

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Good Writing, Free

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What are some of your absolute favourite online essays, articles and other pieces of non-fiction writing? One of the Best AskMes Ever has the best essays available on the Internet, including such classics as:

* Politics and the English Language (Orwell)
* In the Beginning Was the Command Line (Stephenson)
* A Person Paper on Purity in Language (Hofstadter)
* Notes on Camp (Sontag)

and many others.

Written by gerrycanavan

May 3, 2008 at 8:31 pm

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