poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

though I am not a fan of andrew sullivan... this is a worthy read on Susan Sontag.

Susan Sontag and a Case of Curious Silence


THE INNING OF SONTAG: I have to say I'm amazed at the fact that almost all the obituaries for Susan Sontag omitted her primary, longtime relationship with Annie Leibovitz, the photographer. Of 315 articles in Nexis, only 29 mention Leibovitz, and most of them referred merely to their joint projects. Leibovitz was unmentioned as a survivor in the NYT and Washington Post. It's striking how even allegedly liberal outlets routinely excise the homosexual dimension from many people's lives - even from someone dead. But perhaps it is reflective of Sontag's own notions of privacy and identity. She championed many causes in her day, but the gay civil rights movement was oddly not prominent among them.

MORE ON SONTAG: I'm not the only one to notice how the big media has essentially lied by omission about Susan Sontag's life. An op-ed in today's L.A. Times notes the following: An unauthorized biography written by Carl Rollyson and Lisa Paddock and published by W.W. Norton in 2000, reports that Sontag was, for seven years, the companion of the great American playwright Maria Irene Fornes (in Sontag's introduction to the collected works of Fornes, she writes about them living together). She also had a relationship with the renowned choreographer Lucinda Childs. And, most recently, Sontag lived, on and off, with Leibovitz.

Even Hitchens mentions only her ex-husband. Privacy? From a woman who detailed every aspect of her own illnesses? From someone whose best work is redolent with homosexual themes? But, of course, Sontag understood that her lesbianism might limit her appeal in a homophobic culture - even on the extreme left, where she comfortably lived for decades. That was her prerogative. But that's no reason for the media to perpetuate untruths after her death. And it's certainly reason to review her own record in confronting injustice. Just as she once defended the persecution of gay people in Castro's Cuba, she ducked one of the burning civil rights struggles of her time at home. But she was on the left. So no one criticized.


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