Posts Tagged ‘Susan Sontag’

No apologies

February 2, 2012


               “Or you stand at the railing of the boat going up the Nile, a day’s journey from Luxor, and it’s sunset. You’re just looking. There are no words you are impelled to write down; you don’t make a sketch or take a photograph. You look, and sometimes your eyes feel tired, and you look again, and you feel saturated, and happy, and terribly anxious.

               There is a price to be paid for stubbornly continuing to make love with one’s eyes… For not letting go: of ruined grandeur, of the imperative of bliss. For continuing to work on behalf of, in praise of, beauty…

               Indeed, one might spend a lifetime apologising for having found so many ways of acceding to ecstasy.”


Susan Sontag, “About Hodgkin,” Where the Stress Falls, London: Penguin 2009: 159.

Why I love Sontag.

September 17, 2010

June 13, 1996

New York

Dear Borges,

Since your literature was always placed under the sign of eternity, it doesn’t seem too odd to be addressing a letter to you. (Borges, it’s ten years!) If ever a contemporary seemed destined for literary immortality, it was you. [111]

…Your modesty was part of the sureness of your presence. You were a discoverer of new joys. …You showed that it is not necessary to be unhappy, even while one is clear-eyed and undeluded about how terrible everything is. Somewhere you said that a writer—delicately you added: all persons—must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. (You were speaking of your blindness.)

…You said that we owe literature almost everything that we are and what we have been. If books disappear, history will disappear, and human beings will also disappear. I am sure you are right. Books are not only the arbitrary sum of our dreams, and our memory. …Books are much more. They are a way of being fully human. [112]

…(Borges, it’s ten years!) All I mean to say is that we miss you. I miss you. …


Susan Sontag, ‘A letter to Borges’, Where the Stress Falls, London: Penguin Books, 2009 [2001]: 111-113.