Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Great Regulars: Credentials, in fact, are an important

category of [Susan] Sontag's thought. The ones that matter to her are not university degrees or professorships--after starting out in academia, she spent her whole career defiantly outside the academic system--but something more profound, if still capable of misuse: seriousness. Indeed, you could learn a lot about Sontag just by following the career of the word "serious" in her work. In "The Aesthetics of Silence," she notes that a writer who stops writing, such as Rimbaud, thereby earns "a certificate of unchallengeable seriousness"; silence is what happens "whenever thought reaches a certain high, excruciating order of complexity and spiritual seriousness."

from Adam Kirsch: Tablet: Susan Sontag Tells All


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