A Word Or Two From Susan Sontag – 1971 – Past Daily Reference Room: Arts And Ideas Edition

Susan Sontag - One of the most influential critics of a generation. . . and beyond.

Susan Sontag – One of the most influential critics of a generation. . . and beyond.

. . . or click on the link here for Audio PlayerCBC – An Interview With Susan Sontag – 1971 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection

I originally ran across this rare interview with Author/filmmaker/activist Susan Sontag with the idea of running it as a sort of look at the social/intellectual climate of the 1960s and 1970s. It was a complex time and ideas were running into overdrive. Much has been marginalized, a lot has been forgotten, and some is just filed away under that quaint and uncomfortable category; Nostalgia.

But as I listened to it, I began to realize the points Susan Sontag were making are just as relevant now as they were in 1971 when this interview was recorded. The elements of concern about our society, its take on culture, its writing and art are probably more germane in 2015 than they were even in the 1970s.

Certainly, we’ve made enormous strides in the area of Technology and Science. But what about Art and Culture and Society in general?

This is a fascinating glimpse into the mind of one of the great critical figures of the last century, who was as outspoken as she was articulate in expressing her views.

Granted, a lot of what she discusses is in connection to the War in Vietnam – a war which has been replaced by various excursions over the years, yielding about the same results. We didn’t have terrorism then (at least not to the extent we do now). And there are some aspects of our culture which are just markedly different than they were in the 70s.

But the similarities outweigh the differences and, replacing a few references here and there and changing a few words, she could be talking about the current state of censorship, or protest or our new Fear-based and Trivialized Society.

An essential listen. Obviously, if you’re familiar with Susan Sontag this will come as no surprise to you and it is a great interview with one of the notable figures from the past. If you aren’t familiar with Susan Sontag, aren’t familiar with her writing or have never heard her voice – this is one you really need to sit down and spend some time with.

Here is that 1-hour interview with Susan Sontag, recorded by the CBC in Canada for the Ideas program in 1971.

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