As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks 1964–1980

Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (544p) ISBN 978-0-374-10076-6
“The notebook has become an art form,” writes Sontag toward the end of this second collection of her own notebooks and journals. Beginning as the Vietnam War is heating up and ending right before the Reagan era, this volume offers at times deliciously mad and maddening aphorisms (even notes for an essay on the aphorism), compulsively compiled lists (“Movies I saw as a child...”), and acute observations on her self, oddly without veering into autobiography. There are surprisingly few allusions to her cancer in the mid-1970s. “These journals show Sontag playing with and discovering the words to express many of the central themes of her most scintillating work, such as kitsch. She also treats themes as disparate as Marshall McLuhan, Samuel Beckett, her one-time lover María Irene Fornés, and as the ’60s close, revolution, and much more. Editor Rieff, Sontag’s son, eschews footnotes in favor of bracketed identification of people, as well as the meaning of many shorthand fragments. America’s Simone de Beauvoir, Roland Barthes, and Simone Weil rolled into one, Sontag fascinates with her teeming interests turning in on themselves. Agent: The Wylie Agency. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/2012
Release date: 04/10/2012
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