Friday, November 01, 2019

A homophobe and a crybaby

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Susan Sontag: Lucid to the end

Image result for susan sontag pictures"
From James Wolcott's review of a biography of Susan Sontag:

But further tests quashed that hope. When the doctors delivered the news, she screamed: ‘But this means I am dying!’ Despondency tore a hole in her. A doctor’s assistant tried to offer pastoral counsel:

‘You might want to take this time to concentrate on your spiritual values.’

‘I have no spiritual values!’

Rob's comment:
Good for her! 

In Against Interpretation, Sontag deconstructed the idea of some kind of generic religion. Her analysis also applies to the annoying contemporary over-use of the term "spiritual": 

Does the notion "religion" have any serious religious meaning at all? Put another way: can one teach or invite people to be sympathetic to religion-in-general? What does it mean to be "religious"? Obviously it is not the same thing as being "devout" or "orthodox." 

My own view is that one cannot be religious in general any more than one can speak language in general; at any given moment one speaks French or English or Swahili or Japanese, but not "language." 

Similarly one is not "a religionist," but a believing Catholic, Jew, Presbyterian, Shintoist, or Tallensi. Religious beliefs may be options, as William James described them, but they are not generalized options. It is easy, of course, to misunderstand this point...

To be religious is always to be in some sense an adherent (even as a heretic) to a specific symbolism and a specific historical community, whatever the interpretation of these symbols and this historic community the believer may adopt...

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