Monday, January 03, 2005

Susan Sontag

I remember her New Yorker piece after the 9/11/01 attack. It was a direct hit, yet its effect was to disarm the group of people we expect more from, the readership of the New Yorker. Susan correctly placed the attackers within the grasp of history and within the logic of cause and effect. The Administration supported by the corporate press, however, made of the 9/11 attack an attack on righteousness and Holy America. Susan’s message was not only lost, but its persuasive power “head faked” the Liberal intelligentsia into stasis, inactivity, political lethargy, into believing that the masses needed the American Jihadist message to survive psychologically.

It is true that the greatest and the least among us were frightened and literally terrorized by the attack. It is also true that, unless stoked to a fever pitch of paranoia, we would have (most of us) gotten over our fear of flying, our fear of Manhattan, our fear of life in the modern age in a month or so. But Susan’s words fell on ears that were plugged with the fast-food of the corporate press, the GIFs and Flash iconography of the internet, the hush of primal fears having found an icon and an earthly enemy upon which to place their fear of satan.

The intelligentsia will miss Susan Sontag more than it now knows. Few have been so beautifully brilliant and yet so human and ultimately forgiving.