He didn’t get the sex out of his way!

“I do nothing to draw attention to my appearance. If someone wants to, they can take a closer look and maybe discover that I am attractive. But I won’t do anything to help him.”

Susan Sontag


A great thinker, essayist, short story, novelist, critic, human rights defender has passed from this world; A mind that constantly thinks, produces and inspires admiration on different fields such as politics, art, photography, aesthetics, pornography, cinema and AIDS has passed. According to some, he was a traitor, and according to others, he was “the voice of conscience.”

Susan Sontag, who made a name for herself with her attitude towards the war and her extraordinary actions, slammed Israel’s Palestine policies, the West’s unresponsiveness to the victims in Bosnia, and especially the US war in Iraq after 9/11. : “American society is being put to sleep by being made stupid, by spreading fear and distrust.” Frankly, it would be incomplete to evaluate Sontag’s statement only in America today.

“War is deep; War empties the bowels. War burns the skin. War rips organs out of the body. War destroys. And war comes from the nature of the human species.” Susan Sontag said so in her book, Caring for the Pain of Others, but now we are going to go into the daily life of this versatile and full woman who died at the age of 71 due to cancer. What was she really like?


Here is Always Susan, the biography of the American writer Sigrid Nunez about Susan Sontag, whom he met at a young age, of this admirable intellectual; It paints an outspoken portrait of an out-of-the-box spirit and a dazzlingly brilliant mind, and chronicles the time Nunez spent together with Sontag’s son, David.

“It’s always good to start any business by breaking a rule.” His unusualness was evident even before he even attempted anything, so it was his rule to be late. Prideless, boring, exemplary and serious; These were Susan Sontag’s favorite and frequent words. “You can tell how serious people are by looking at their books.”

Showing her own unique stance with every word, this woman, in Pete Hamill’s words, “the smartest face of her generation” was not afraid to appear masculine:

“Let the sex get in the way? No way! But most women were too timid. Most women were afraid of showing up, of appearing too smart, too passionate, too confident. They were afraid of not being a lady lady. They didn’t want to appear harsh, cold, selfish, or arrogant. They were afraid of looking masculine and the number one rule was to get over it all.”

When she lost her breast to cancer, she refused to be embarrassed, brave enough to pull up her shirt to show her scar. He thought that everyone should be curious and be able to look without fear.

He was impatient with other women because they didn’t look more like him; women’s addiction to handbags also amazed him. Where did women get the idea that they would disappear without a bag?

Men did not carry handbags. Why did women take on themselves a burden? Instead, why didn’t they always wear clothes with pockets big enough to hold keys, wallet, and cigarettes, as men do?


She was a feminist who found most women inadequate, but she often found fault with her fellow feminists, criticizing feminism’s rhetoric as being largely naive, emotional, and anti-intellectual.

Along with this striking view of women, he also had a terrific habit of exaggerating and was morbidly obsessed with beauty. But she saw beauty in all types of people, even in most men and women whom others didn’t find remarkable at all.

Every work of art he loved was a masterpiece, every artist who influenced him was a genius, every brave man or woman was a hero, and Helen or Adonis popped up from every corner. And Sontag was smitten enough to say, “If I’m close to someone, even if it’s just a friend, I’m always sexually attracted to that person.”


While the years they spent together were challenging, Sigrid Nunez had the opportunity to tap into Susan Sontag’s overflowing and infecting wisdom, after all, Sontag was a natural mentor.

Right here, Nunez’s words should be included:

“It was impossible to live with Sontag and avoid his mastery. Even someone who had only met him once would likely have left with a reading list. He was spontaneously instructive and moralistic; He wanted to make an impact, to be a model, an example. He wanted to improve other people’s minds and refine their tastes, to tell people things they didn’t know (in some cases, things they didn’t even want to know, but insisted they should)… ”

He was a natural mentor, but hated teaching. The main reason behind this was that teaching was a job; He hated almost any job he agreed to do for pay. To him, accepting any job was humiliating.

On the other hand, he found the idea of ​​borrowing a book from the library rather than buying it insulting. Using public transport instead of a taxi was also extremely humiliating. At the age of twenty-six, when he moved to New York, he had promised himself he would never do that, no matter how poor he was. Moreover, he thought that any person with respect would understand and feel like him.

Translated into our language with Ayça Sabuncuoğlu’s flawless translation, Always Susan allows us to get to know this great master much more closely.

Always Susan – A Biography of Susan Sontag / Sigrid Nunez / Translated by: Ayça Sabuncuoğlu / Kafka Kitap / 88 p.

Source: Cumhuriyet Gazetesi – Güncel by www.cumhuriyet.com.tr.

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