Book : Reborn, Susan Sontag

I bought Susan Sontag's Early Diaries (1947-1963) - Reborn, compiled by his son, David. This is word of thoughts/quotations/questions/arguments/etc that were selected from her diaries in her early adolescence till mid thirties. I first read about her from brainpickings years ago and thought of her as someone interesting, especially her writings on a lot of things : life, God, love, marriage, etc. My curiosity was now answered after reading her diaries. 

What I learned :
The book showed me her side of story in her early life, I learned about her struggle and confusion, her random thoughts and how she faced her problems. I don't know why, but for me, reading other people's writings really help me understand people. So this is why I read a lot :F

That's the right one ! 

Anyhow, I extracted what I found interesting or like and shared it here for my own record and you may read it if you like these things too ! :


Ideas disturb the levelness of life.

A thought occurred to me today - so obvious, so always obvious! It was absurd to suddenly comprehend it for the first time - I felt giddy, a little hysterical : There is nothing, nothing stops me from doing anything except myself. What is to prevent me from just picking up and taking off? Just the self-enforced pressures of my environment, but which have always seemed so omnipotent that I never dared to contemplate a violation of them. But actually, what stops me? A fear of my family - mother, especially? A clinging to security and material possessions? Yes, it is both of those, but only those realities that keep me... What is college? I can learn nothing, for that which I want to know I can accumulate, and have done so, on my own, and the rest will be drudgery. College is safety, because it is the easy, secure thing to do. 

Concerning the death of Getrude Stein : she came out of a deep coma to ask her companion Alice Toklas, "Alice, Alice, what is the answer?". Her companion replied, "There is no answer." Getrude Stein continued, "Well then, what is the question?", and fell back dead. 

From the Journals of Soren Kierkegaard :
"There are many people who reach their conclusions about life like schoolboys: they cheat their master by copying the answer out of a book without having worked out the sum for themselves."

David, very obliging and tender as he prepares for bed, whereupon this dialogue. 

D : "What if God never made the world?".
SS : "Then we wouldn't be. That would be too bad, wouldn't it?"
D : "Wouldn't be? Not even Moses?"
SS : "How could anyone be, if there weren't a world to be in?"
D : "But if there wasn't a world, where would God be?"
SS : "God exists before the world. He isn't a person or thing"
D : "Then if God isn't a person, why did he has to rest?"
SS : "Well the Bible speaks of God as a person, because that's the only way we can imagine God. Because he is not really a person".
D : "What is he? A cloud?"
SS : "He's not a thing. He is the principle behind the whole world, the ground of being, everywhere".
D : "Everywhere? In this room?"
SS : "Well, why not? Sure".
He : "Is God good?"
SS : "Oh, yes"
D : "Is God goodest thing there is?"
SS : "That's just right. Goodnight".

For theory of language :
Limit of thought = language. Language is link between sensations + the world.

Lesson: not to surrender one's heart where it's not wanted.

Tourism essentially a passive activity. You set yourself in a certain surrounding - expecting to be excited, amused, entertained. You need bring nothing to the situation - the surrounding is sufficiently charged. Tourism and boredom.

What difference could there be between the situation of one person who was sane while all the rest of the world was mad, and that one person who was mad while everyone else was sane?

It hurts to love. It's like giving yourself to be flayed and knowing that at any moment the other person may just walk off with your skin.

To write you have to allow yourself to be the person you don't want to be (of all the people you are).

Writing is a beautiful act. It is making something that will give pleasure to others later.

The past is no less a dream.

Beware of anything that you hear yourself saying often.

The writer must be four people :
  1. The nut, 
  2. The moron,
  3. The stylist,
  4. The critic.

1 supplies the material; 2 lets it come out; 3 is taste; 4 is intelligence.
A great writer has all 4 - but you can still be a good writer with only 1 and 2; they are the most important.

The fear of becoming old is born of the recognition that one is not living now the life that one wishes. It is equivalent to a sense of abusing the present.

Hippolyte said, Blessed is the mind with something to occupy it other than its own dissatisfactions.

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