The Believer: “Memento Mori: On Susan Sontag”

HEADERSusan At The House On Hedges Lane, Wainscott, Long Island, 1988

Susan Receiving Chemotherapy Bertilda Garcia Cutting Susan's Hair August 1998

West 24th Street, New York, 1993

Hedges Lane Wainscott, Long Island, 1994

I’ve always had a literary crush on Susan Sontag.  For her intelligence, her insistence that photography was a “program of populist transcendence,” her self-admitted fascination with beauty (as though to be gorgeous were a talent!), and her belief that life was built on the ad hoc. Honored to have the next extended essay from the “Various Paradigms” series up today on The Believer Logger looking back at Annie Leibovitz’s photographs of Sontag after her death.

Discussed: memento mori, Whitman, Kodak, Hal Foster, Richard Halliburton’s “Complete Book of Marvels,” illness as metaphor, the non-nuclear family, death & the surreal, and “immoderate appetite.” With great thanks to my fantastic editor, Hayden Bennett, for posting! For the full text read here.


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