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Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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« In Which We Keep Susan Sontag's Notebook Forever »

As she got older, the journals of Susan Sontag become both noticeably more mature while retaining the essential naivete that allows any person to keep making artistic insights into middle age. Her deeply investigative insights into her concepts of self as person, artist and woman oscillage between a transparent childishness and an opaque, absorptive wisdom.

Ppl in the World


August 5, 1964

Ontological anxiety, "Weltangst." The world blank or crumbling, shredding. People are wind-up dolls.

I'm afraid.

"The gift" has meant to me; I wouldn't buy this for myself (it's nice, a luxury, not necessary) but I buy it for you. Denial of self.

There are people in the world. 

A constriction in the chest, tears, a scream that feels as if it would be endless if I let it out. 

I should go away for a year.

August 8, 1964

I have a wider range as a human being than as a writer. (With some writers, it's the opposite.) Only a fraction of me is available to be turned into art.


A miracle is just an accident, with fancy trappings.

Change life comes through accidents.


My loyalty to the past my most dangerous trait, the one that has cost me most.


Self-respect. It would make me lovable. And it's the secret of good sex.


The best things in Simone Weil are about attention. Against both the will + the categorical imperative. 

One can never ask anyone to change a feeling. 

August 24, 1964

Great art has a beautiful monotony Stendhal, Bach. (But not Shakespeare.)

A sense of the inevitability of style the sense that the artist had no alternatives, so wholly centered is he in his style.

Compare [Gustave] Flaubert and [James] Joyce ("voulu," constructed, intricate) with [Choderlos de] Laclos and [Raymond] Radiguet.

The greatest art seems secreted, not constructed.

November 14, 1965

The book is getting clearer in my mind, and I want to do it fast, in first draft, by January. If I do five pages a day, in sixty days I'll have 300 pages. 

November 16, 1965

Laura Riding: sign above her bed: GOD IS A WOMAN

LSD: everything decomposes (blood, cells, wire) no structure, no situations, no involvement. Everything is physics.

November 24, 1965

Lillian Hellman identified with Becky Sharp [in William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair] always wanted to be a bitch, to bait people. I never got past admiring and envying her for being able to throw the dictionary back at the drippy schoolmistress. All that manipulative stuff with men was beyond me.

Analysis: two or three cataracts have fallen from my eyes. A hundred more to go?

I come each night around 2.00 or 3.00. The NY Times is my lover.


November 29, 1965

Weekend with Jasper [with whom SS had become involved earlier that year]

Nothing that's said, one can ask: why? (including: why shd I say that?)

Everything becomes mysterious with Jasper. I think I don't just either opine or give (or solicit) information.

Intelligence is not necessarily a good thing, something to value or cultivate. It's more like a fifth wheel necessary or desirable when things break down. When things go well, it's better to be stupid...Stupidity is as much value as intelligence.

Don't generalize. Not: I always or usually do this or that, but I did then. Also, don't predict your future behavior. You don't know what you're going to do or feel in that situation (or: what that situation will be like).

December 3, 1965

Movies in the last week:

Von Sternberg's Thunderbolt

Demy, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

Oscar Wilde

Monster from Green Hell

Half Human: The Story of the Abominable Snowman

Dreyer, Ordet

Bresson, Procès de Jeanne d'Arc

Freda, Theodora, Empress of Salves

Blood Feast

David Lean, Great Expectations

John Ford, The Informer

Places to see:

Winchester Mystery House

Lola Montez' grave in Brooklyn

Klimt paintings in public buildings + houses in Vienna

Florida Everglades + Sanibel Island

Salt mine near Cracow Poland - runs 80 miles underground, been in existence 1000 years

New Amsterdam Theatre - 42nd Street - Art Nouveau frescoes + relief (1906)

Police Academy - NY - tour every Wed aft

Rainbow Room - top of RCA building - 30s ocean liner

Tiffany Tennis Court - NYC Art Nouveau

Musée Grévin (Paris) - esp Theatre des Miracles

Watts Tower - LA - house near cathedral in Chartres like Watts Tower

December 12, 1965

Dressing > good (means leisure vs work)

bad (means for others vs for oneself)

For me, to dress is to "dress up," play the grown-ups' game. When I'm myself, I'm sloppy.

The Jesuit device (one of many) for promoting concentration in prayer & meditation: "composition of place. You think closely about where an edifying event (say, the Crucifixion) took place – weather, flora & fauna, colors, etc. & thus understand its deeper meaning more easily.

"I don't like remembering things." – Ezra Pound

July 23, 1966

To become famous in order to have access to people, not to be alone.

I am too "close" to David in the sense that I identify with him. When I spend a great deal of time with him, I lose the sense of my age; I accept the limits of his world (no sexuality, shyness, etc.).

I smile too much. How many years have I been saying that? Fifteen at least. it's the Mother-and-Judith in me

I must learn to be alone and what I've discovered is that being with David isn't being alone (despite my acute loneliness). It's a whole universe of its own, to which I adjust. With David, I become a different person than I am alone.

What I liked about being with Barbara is that I felt more adult with her than with most people. (The company of Elliot, of Paul, for instance, makes me childish.)

When I'm alone after a while I do begin to look at people. I don't, with David (he inhibits me? I'm distracted by him?); I don't with Elliot (his interests, their specificity, confuse + distract me).

These minutes, writing this in the lobby of the Ambassador at a table spread with a white cloth, by the open doors on a fine Saturday morning, having just finished a big breakfast (two boiled eggs, Prague ham, roll with honey, coffee and alone, alone (David upstairs, still sleeping) watching the other people in the lobby, on the terrace, passing on the street have been the first moments since the beginning of summer in which I have had some sense of well-being.

I am alone I ache the novel is bogged down and so on. Yet for the first time, despite all the anguish + the "reality problems," I'm here. I feel tranquil, whole, ADULT.

December 3, 1965

Art is a "situation"

Art is the biggest antique business going. Art as cultural souvenirs.


Is beauty important? Maybe, sometimes, it's boring. Maybe what's more important is the "the interesting." Everything that's interesting eventually seems beautiful.

You can purchase the notebooks of Susan Sontag, collected in three volumes, here.

"Love for Sale" - Dexter Gordon (mp3)

"Second Balcony Jump" - Dexter Gordon (mp3)

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