Susan Sontag has died aged 71. We’ll remember her for these words, written after September 11:
Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a ‘cowardly’ attack on ‘civilization’ or ‘liberty’ or ‘humanity’ or ‘the free world’ but an attack on the world’s self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions? In the matter of courage (a morally neutral virtue): Whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday’s slaughter, they were not cowards.
BBC posters mourn the yawning vacuum left by this departed admirer of courage:
Derrida and Sontag, that’s too big of a loss for one year. And I am sad to say, I don’t see a hopeful new generation to replace such geniuses … – Karoly Aliotti, New York, NY
She will be greatly missed. I agree with Karoly. The loss of Derrida and Sontag within a few months has left a yawning vacuum which looks like it won’t be filled. The “intellectuals” of the 21st Century are more focused on building search engines than writing books. Sad. – Nadeem Azam, London, UK
I am devastated. Susan Sontag was a heroine to me. I’ve read every book she’s written except for The Benefactor, and it’s in the queue. I wish I could have met her, and talked to her about things like punk rock, and needing an erotics of art. – Josh Humphries, Roanoke, Virginia, USA
James Wolcott pens a 50-word tribute:
One by one the lights go out. First, Edward Said and now Susan Sontag, dead at 71. Both were engaged intellectuals and cosmopolitan sensibilities, committed to art and justice with consciences that seldom slept, and with their loss the cultural life of the city becomes even more pallid and gray.
That’s 50 more words than Wolcott has written about the tsunami disaster. Of course, after writing this, I doubt Wolcott has the … what’s the word? … courage to go near that particular subject.
UPDATE. Trevino at Red State aims to be fair. Nice essay.
UPDATE II. James Taranto takes another look at Sontag: “On rereading this brief essay, what most struck us was that Sontag actually saw a connection between Iraq and Sept. 11, something her fellow travelers on the left have been at pains to deny.”