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Susan Sontag's Quotes

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Born: 1933-01-28
Profession: Author
Nation: American
Biography of Susan Sontag

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Victims suggest innocence. And innocence, by the inexorable logic that governs all relational terms, suggests guilt.

Tags: Guilt, Innocence, Logic

For those who live neither with religious consolations about death nor with a sense of death (or of anything else) as natural, death is the obscene mystery, the ultimate affront, the thing that cannot be controlled. It can only be denied.

Tags: Cannot, Death, Else

Life is not significant details, illuminated by a flash, fixed forever. Photographs are.

Tags: Details, Forever, Life

Most people in this society who aren't actively mad are, at best, reformed or potential lunatics.

Tags: Best, Mad, Society

The painter constructs, the photographer discloses.

Tags: Constructs, Painter

A fiction about soft or easy deaths is part of the mythology of most diseases that are not considered shameful or demeaning.

Tags: Easy, Fiction, Soft

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

Tags: Aids, Possibly, Sex

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

Tags: Ambition, Feeds, Others

Any important disease whose causality is murky, and for which treatment is ineffectual, tends to be awash in significance.

Tags: Disease, Treatment, Whose

Anything in history or nature that can be described as changing steadily can be seen as heading toward catastrophe.

Tags: History, Nature, Seen

Existence is no more than the precarious attainment of relevance in an intensely mobile flux of past, present, and future.

Tags: Future, Past, Present

In the final analysis, style is art. And art is nothing more or less than various modes of stylized, dehumanized representation.

Tags: Art, Less, Style

It is not altogether wrong to say that there is no such thing as a bad photograph - only less interesting, less relevant, less mysterious ones.

Tags: Bad, Less, Wrong

It is not suffering as such that is most deeply feared but suffering that degrades.

Tags: Deeply, Feared, Suffering

Mallarme said that everything in the world exists in order to end in a book. Today everything exists to end in a photograph.

Tags: Book, End, Today

My idea of a writer: someone interested in everything.

Tags: Idea, Someone, Writer

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

Tags: Art, Films, Science

So successful has been the camera's role in beautifying the world that photographs, rather than the world, have become the standard of the beautiful.

Tags: Beautiful, Become, Successful

Societies need to have one illness which becomes identified with evil, and attaches blame to its victims.

Tags: Blame, Evil, Illness

Surrealism is a bourgeois disaffection; that its militants thought it universal is only one of the signs that it is typically bourgeois.

Tags: Signs, Thought, Universal

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

Tags: Capitalism, Liberty, Makes

The love of the famous, like all strong passions, is quite abstract. Its intensity can be measured mathematically, and it is independent of persons.

Tags: Famous, Love, Strong

The problems of this world are only truly solved in two ways: by extinction or duplication.

Tags: Problems, Truly, Ways

The taste for quotations (and for the juxtaposition of incongruous quotations) is a Surrealist taste.

Tags: Quotations, Surrealist, Taste

To photograph is to confer importance.

Tags: Importance, Photograph

Volume depends precisely on the writer's having been able to sit in a room every day, year after year, alone.

Tags: Able, After, Alone
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What is most beautiful in virile men is something feminine; what is most beautiful in feminine women is something masculine.

Tags: Beautiful, Men, Women

What we need is to use what we have.

Tags: Known, Truth, Writing

The past itself, as historical change continues to accelerate, has become the most surreal of subjects - making it possible... to see a new beauty in what is vanishing.

Tags: Beauty, Change, Past

AIDS occupies such a large part in our awareness because of what it has been taken to represent. It seems the very model of all the catastrophes privileged populations feel await them.

Tags: Large, Seems, Taken

Authoritarian political ideologies have a vested interest in promoting fear, a sense of the imminence of takeover by aliens and real diseases are useful material.

Tags: Fear, Political, Real

I do not think white America is committed to granting equality to the American Negro. This is a passionately racist country; it will continue to be so in the foreseeable future.

Tags: Country, Equality, Future

I don't want to express alienation. It isn't what I feel. I'm interested in various kinds of passionate engagement. All my work says be serious, be passionate, wake up.

Tags: Interested, Serious, Work

Making social comment is an artificial place for an artist to start from. If an artist is touched by some social condition, what the artist creates will reflect that, but you can't force it.

Tags: Making, Place, Start

The aim of all commentary on art now should be to make works of art - and, by analogy, our own experience - more, rather than less, real to us. The function of criticism should be to show how it is what it is, even that it is what it is, rather than to show what it means.

Tags: Art, Experience, Real

I envy paranoids; they actually feel people are paying attention to them.

Tags: Actually, Attention, Envy

To take a photograph is to participate in another person's mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time's relentless melt.

Tags: Another, Moment, Time

Intelligence is really a kind of taste: taste in ideas.

Tags: Ideas, Intelligence, Taste

The life of the creative man is lead, directed and controlled by boredom. Avoiding boredom is one of our most important purposes.

Tags: Boredom, Creative, Life

Silence remains, inescapably, a form of speech.

Tags: Remains, Silence, Speech

The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own.

Tags: Everyone, Makes, Reality

What is the most beautiful in virile men is something feminine; what is most beautiful in feminine women is something masculine.

Tags: Beautiful, Men, Women

Any critic is entitled to wrong judgments, of course. But certain lapses of judgment indicate the radical failure of an entire sensibility.

Tags: Failure, Judgment, Wrong

The truth is balance. However the opposite of truth, which is unbalance, may not be a lie.

Tags: Lie, May, Truth

A family's photograph album is generally about the extended family and, often, is all that remains of it.

Tags: Family, Often, Photograph

Depression is melancholy minus its charms - the animation, the fits.

Tags: Animation, Depression, Melancholy

Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs.

Tags: Becomes, Strategy, Travel

Sanity is a cozy lie.

Tags: Cozy, Lie, Sanity

The only interesting answers are those that destroy the questions.

Tags: Answers, Destroy, Questions

As photographs give people an imaginary possession of a past that is unreal, they also help people to take possession of space in which they are insecure.

Tags: Give, Help, Past

Books are funny little portable pieces of thought.

Tags: Books, Funny, Thought

Interpretation is the revenge of the intellectual upon art.

Tags: Art, Revenge

Although none of the rules for becoming more alive is valid, it is healthy to keep on formulating them.

Tags: Alive, Keep, Rules

I was not looking for my dreams to interpret my life, but rather for my life to interpret my dreams.

Tags: Dreams, Life, Rather

In America, the photographer is not simply the person who records the past, but the one who invents it.

Tags: America, Past, Simply

'Camp' is a vision of the world in terms of style - but a particular style. It is the love of the exaggerated.

Tags: Love, Style, Vision

It is not the position, but the disposition.

Tags: Position

Lying is an elementary means of self-defense.

Tags: Elementary, Lying, Means

Lying is the most simple form of self-defence.

Tags: Lying, Simple

The becoming of man is the history of the exhaustion of his possibilities.

Tags: Becoming, Exhaustion, History

To him who is in fear everything rustles.

Tags: Fear, Him

If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: 'Thou shalt not ration justice.'

Tags: Democracy, Justice, Keep

Alas, how quickly the gratitude owed to the dead flows off, how quick to be proved a deceiver.

Tags: Dead, Gratitude, Off

If it were possible to cure evils by lamentation and to raise the dead with tears, then gold would be a less valuable thing than weeping.

Tags: Dead, Less, Possible

No treaty is ever an impediment to a cheat.

Tags: Cheat, Impediment, Treaty

There is no success without hardship.

Tags: Hardship, Success

All a man's affairs become diseased when he wishes to cure evils by evils.

Tags: Become, Evils, Wishes

Look and you will find it - what is unsought will go undetected.

Tags: Advice, Bad, Enemy

God's dice always have a lucky roll.

Tags: Dice, God, Lucky

Time alone reveals the just man; but you might discern a bad man in a single day.

Tags: Alone, Bad, Time

A day lays low and lifts up again all human things.

Tags: Again, Human, Low

A word does not frighten the man who, in acting, feels no fear.

Tags: Acting, Fear, Word

Don't you know that silence supports the accuser's charge?

Tags: Accuser, Charge, Silence

The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of all our adversities.

Tags: Ourselves, Sad, Sorrow

Quick decisions are unsafe decisions.

Tags: Decisions, Quick, Unsafe

Things gained through unjust fraud are never secure.

Tags: Fraud, Secure, Unjust

A soul that is kind and intends justice discovers more than any sophist.

Tags: Discovers, Justice, Soul

It is the merit of a general to impart good news, and to conceal the truth.

Tags: General, Good, Truth

Now I see that going out into the testing ground of men it is the tongue and not the deed that wins the day.

Tags: Ground, Men, Tongue

Our happiness depends on wisdom all the way.

Tags: Depends, Happiness, Wisdom

Whoever thinks his friend more important than his country, I rate him nowhere.

Tags: Country, Friend, Him

Isn't it the sweetest mockery to mock our enemies?

Tags: Mock, Mockery, Sweetest

No lie ever reaches old age.

Tags: Age, Lie, Old

Silence is an ornament for women.

Tags: Ornament, Silence, Women

Do not grieve yourself too much for those you hate, nor yet forget them utterly.

Tags: Forget, Hate, Yourself

Without labor nothing prospers.

Tags: Labor, Prospers

If you have done terrible things, you must endure terrible things; for thus the sacred light of injustice shines bright.

Tags: Done, Injustice, Light

It is the task of a good man to help those in misfortune.

Tags: Good, Help, Task

Much wisdom often goes with fewest words.

Tags: Often, Wisdom, Words

Old age and the passage of time teach all things.

Tags: Age, Old, Time

There is no greater evil than anarchy.

Tags: Anarchy, Evil, Greater

You should not consider a man's age but his acts.

Tags: Acts, Age, Consider

A state is not a state if it belongs to one man.

Tags: Belongs, State

Kindness is ever the begetter of kindness.

Tags: Kindness

No speech can stain what is noble by nature.

Tags: Nature, Noble, Speech

A lie never lives to be old.

Tags: Lie, Lives, Old

Best to live lightly, unthinkingly.

Tags: Best, Lightly

Better not to exist than live basely.

Tags: Exist

No one longs to live more than someone growing old.

Tags: Growing, Old, Someone

But this is a true saying among men: the gifts of enemies are no gifts and profitless.

Tags: Men, Saying, True
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