Sontag was a shameless apologist for aesthetic pleasure. Accordingly, I revere her essays not only for what they say but for how they say it. The essay, in Sontag’s hands, became perilously interesting, governed by caprice masquerading as commentary. Her capriciousness, like foppish fiction-maverick Ronald Firbank’s, turned on the dime of the sentence, that unit of fidelity to the “now,” to contemporaneous duration. Sentence maven, she enmeshes me still: In her prose’s hands I’m a prisoner of desire, yearning for a literary art that knows no distinction between captive and captor. Such art can be sadomasochistic in its charm, its coldness, and its vulnerability.
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
The dime of the sentence
Wayne Koestenbaum on Susan Sontag (in an essay titled "Perspicuous Consumption" and published in Artforum in March 2005):