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100 Thought-Provoking Quotes By Susan Sontag That You Can’t Overlook

Famous As: Writer and Filmmaker, Best Known for her Essay 'Notes on 'Camp'
Born On: January 16, 1933
Died On: December 28, 2004
Born In: New York, New York, United States
Died At Age: 71
Susan Sontag was a renowned Jewish-American writer, who was also a prolific filmmaker, teacher and political activist. She discovered her undying love for books during her teenage. She started off her career by writing essays for some renowned newspapers and soon published the most notable essay of her career titled “Notes on Camp” which brought her many accolades. This encouraged her to publish her debut novel titled ‘The Benefactor’ where her experimental way of writing failed to fascinate the masses. She further published some successful short-stories and novels before coming up with her first best-selling novel called ‘The Volcano Lover’. After this, she proved to be a versatile writer as she successfully fascinated the masses in different genres of fiction and non-fiction. Her successful works include ‘Essays’, and 'In America’, which won ‘National Book Award for Fiction’. Apart from this, she has also proved her mettle on the big screen by working as a writer and director for a couple of successful movies including ‘Letter from Venice’. Her writings, essays, work, thoughts, books and novels are still very popular among the masses. We bring to you a collection of quotes and sayings by Susan Sontag whose writings and thoughts covered various subjects and viewpoints.
I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list.

I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list.

Susan Sontag
My library is an archive of longings.

My library is an archive of longings.

Susan Sontag
Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.

Attention is vitality. It connects you with others. It makes you eager. Stay eager.

Susan Sontag
To paraphrase several sages: Nobody can think and hit someone at the same time.

To paraphrase several sages: Nobody can think and hit someone at the same time.

Susan Sontag
Interpretation is the revenge of the intellectual upon art.

Interpretation is the revenge of the intellectual upon art.

Susan Sontag
Today everything exists to end in a photograph.

Today everything exists to end in a photograph.

Susan Sontag
Depression is melancholy minus its charms.

Depression is melancholy minus its charms.

Susan Sontag
Sanity is a cozy lie.

Sanity is a cozy lie.

Susan Sontag
The only interesting answers are those which destroy the questions.

The only interesting answers are those which destroy the questions.

Susan Sontag
I discovered that I am tired of being a person. Not just tired of being the person I was, but any person at all

I discovered that I am tired of being a person. Not just tired of being the person I was, but any person at all

Susan Sontag
Never worry about being obsessive. I like obsessive people. Obsessive people make great art

Never worry about being obsessive. I like obsessive people. Obsessive people make great art

Susan Sontag
Time exists in order that everything doesn’t happen all at once…and space exists so that it doesn’t all happen to you.

Time exists in order that everything doesn’t happen all at once…and space exists so that it doesn’t all happen to you.

Susan Sontag
It hurts to love. It's like giving yourself to be flayed and knowing that at any moment the other person may just walk off with your skin.

It hurts to love. It's like giving yourself to be flayed and knowing that at any moment the other person may just walk off with your skin.

Susan Sontag
10 percent of any population is cruel, no matter what, and 10 percent is merciful, no matter what, and the remaining 80 percent can be moved in either direction.

10 percent of any population is cruel, no matter what, and 10 percent is merciful, no matter what, and the remaining 80 percent can be moved in either direction.

Susan Sontag
My emotional life: dialectic between craving for privacy and need to submerge myself in a passionate relationship to another.

My emotional life: dialectic between craving for privacy and need to submerge myself in a passionate relationship to another.

Susan Sontag
The likelihood that your acts of resistance cannot stop the injustice does not exempt you from acting in what you sincerely and reflectively hold to be the best interests of your community.

The likelihood that your acts of resistance cannot stop the injustice does not exempt you from acting in what you sincerely and reflectively hold to be the best interests of your community.

Susan Sontag
I want to be able to be alone, to find it nourishing - not just a waiting.

I want to be able to be alone, to find it nourishing - not just a waiting.

Susan Sontag
I envy paranoids; they actually feel people are paying attention to them.

I envy paranoids; they actually feel people are paying attention to them.

Susan Sontag
Photographs are a way of imprisoning reality...One can't possess reality, one can possess images--one can't possess the present but one can possess the past.

Photographs are a way of imprisoning reality...One can't possess reality, one can possess images--one can't possess the present but one can possess the past.

Susan Sontag
The painter constructs, the photographer discloses.

The painter constructs, the photographer discloses.

Susan Sontag
A good book is an education of the heart. It enlarges your sense of human possibility what human nature is of what happens in the world. It's a creator of inwardness.

A good book is an education of the heart. It enlarges your sense of human possibility what human nature is of what happens in the world. It's a creator of inwardness.

Susan Sontag
The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own.

The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own.

Susan Sontag
I'm only interested in people engaged in a project of self-transformation.

I'm only interested in people engaged in a project of self-transformation.

Susan Sontag
Life is a movie; death is a photograph.

Life is a movie; death is a photograph.

Susan Sontag
The writer is either a practicing recluse or a delinquent, guilt-ridden one--or both. Usually both.

The writer is either a practicing recluse or a delinquent, guilt-ridden one--or both. Usually both.

Susan Sontag
I don’t care about someone being intelligent; any situation between people, when they are really human with each other, produces ‘intelligence.

I don’t care about someone being intelligent; any situation between people, when they are really human with each other, produces ‘intelligence.

Susan Sontag
To take a photograph is to participate in another person's mortality, vulnerability, mutability. precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time's relentless melt.

To take a photograph is to participate in another person's mortality, vulnerability, mutability. precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to time's relentless melt.

Susan Sontag
Mad people = People who stand alone and burn.
I'm attracted to them because they give me permission to do the same.

Mad people = People who stand alone and burn. I'm attracted to them because they give me permission to do the same.

Susan Sontag
Science fiction films are not about science. They are about disaster, which is one of the oldest subjects of art.

Science fiction films are not about science. They are about disaster, which is one of the oldest subjects of art.

Susan Sontag
I have always been full of lust - as I am now - but I have always been placing conceptual obstacles in my own path.

I have always been full of lust - as I am now - but I have always been placing conceptual obstacles in my own path.

Susan Sontag
Instead of expecting all and being lowered into despair each time I get less, I expect nothing now and, occasionally, I get a little, and am more than a little happy.

Instead of expecting all and being lowered into despair each time I get less, I expect nothing now and, occasionally, I get a little, and am more than a little happy.

Susan Sontag
Art is seduction, not rape.

Art is seduction, not rape.

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

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

Susan Sontag
One can never ask anyone to change a feeling.

One can never ask anyone to change a feeling.

Susan Sontag
What I really wanted was every kind of life, and the writer’s life seemed the most inclusive.

What I really wanted was every kind of life, and the writer’s life seemed the most inclusive.

Susan Sontag
The truth is always something that is told, not something that is known. If there were no speaking or writing, there would be no truth about anything. There would only be what is.

The truth is always something that is told, not something that is known. If there were no speaking or writing, there would be no truth about anything. There would only be what is.

Susan Sontag
Passion paralyzes good taste.

Passion paralyzes good taste.

Susan Sontag
Love is friendship on fire -- anonymous

Love is friendship on fire -- anonymous

Susan Sontag
Rules of taste enforce structures of power.

Rules of taste enforce structures of power.

Susan Sontag
Wherever people feel safe (...) they will be indifferent.

Wherever people feel safe (...) they will be indifferent.

Susan Sontag
Nothing is mysterious, no human relation. Except love.

Nothing is mysterious, no human relation. Except love.

Susan Sontag
Read a lot. Expect something big, something exalting or deepening from a book. No book is worth reading that isn't worth re-reading.

Read a lot. Expect something big, something exalting or deepening from a book. No book is worth reading that isn't worth re-reading.

Susan Sontag
My ignorance is not charming.

My ignorance is not charming.

Susan Sontag
I like to feel dumb. That’s how I know there’s more in the world than me.

I like to feel dumb. That’s how I know there’s more in the world than me.

Susan Sontag
The really important thing is not to reject anything.

The really important thing is not to reject anything.

Susan Sontag
Being in Love means being willing to ruin yourself for the other person.

Being in Love means being willing to ruin yourself for the other person.

Susan Sontag
Etymologically, 'patient' means sufferer.

Etymologically, 'patient' means sufferer.

Susan Sontag
The fear of becoming old is born of the recognition that one is not living now the life that one wishes.

The fear of becoming old is born of the recognition that one is not living now the life that one wishes.

Susan Sontag
[O]ne person's 'barbarian' is another person's 'just doing what everybody else is doing.

[O]ne person's 'barbarian' is another person's 'just doing what everybody else is doing.

Susan Sontag
If I thought that what I'm doing when I write is expressing myself, I'd junk the typewriter. Writing is a much more complicated activity that that.

If I thought that what I'm doing when I write is expressing myself, I'd junk the typewriter. Writing is a much more complicated activity that that.

Susan Sontag
Reading usually precedes writing. And the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer.

Reading usually precedes writing. And the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer.

Susan Sontag
It is passivity that dulls feeling.

It is passivity that dulls feeling.

Susan Sontag
Result of self-consciousness: audience and actor are the same. I live my life as a spectacle for myself, for my own edification. I live my life but I don't live in it. The hoarding instinct in human relations.

Result of self-consciousness: audience and actor are the same. I live my life as a spectacle for myself, for my own edification. I live my life but I don't live in it. The hoarding instinct in human relations.

Susan Sontag
The writer must be four people: 1) The nut, the obsede 2) The moron 3) The stylist 4) The critic. 1 supplies the material; 2 lets it come out; 3 is taste; 4 is intelligence.

The writer must be four people: 1) The nut, the obsede 2) The moron 3) The stylist 4) The critic. 1 supplies the material; 2 lets it come out; 3 is taste; 4 is intelligence.

Susan Sontag
One can know worlds one has not experienced, choose a response to life that has never been offered, create an inwardness utterly strong and fruitful.

One can know worlds one has not experienced, choose a response to life that has never been offered, create an inwardness utterly strong and fruitful.

Susan Sontag
What, I ask, drives me to disorder? How can I diagnose myself? All I feel, most immediately, is the most anguished need for physical love and mental companionship -

What, I ask, drives me to disorder? How can I diagnose myself? All I feel, most immediately, is the most anguished need for physical love and mental companionship -

Susan Sontag
Can I love someone...and still think/fly? Love is flying, sown, floating. Thought is solitary flight, beating wings.

Can I love someone...and still think/fly? Love is flying, sown, floating. Thought is solitary flight, beating wings.

Susan Sontag
All struggle, all resistance is -- must be -- concrete. And all struggle has a global resonance. If not here, then there. If not now, then soon. Elsewhere as well as here.

All struggle, all resistance is -- must be -- concrete. And all struggle has a global resonance. If not here, then there. If not now, then soon. Elsewhere as well as here.

Susan Sontag
Most of my reading is rereading.

Most of my reading is rereading.

Susan Sontag
Desire has no history...

Desire has no history...

Susan Sontag
Religion is probably, after sex, the second oldest resource which human beings have available to them for blowing their mind.

Religion is probably, after sex, the second oldest resource which human beings have available to them for blowing their mind.

Susan Sontag
Life is not about significant details, illuminated a flash, fixed forever.

Photographs are.

Life is not about significant details, illuminated a flash, fixed forever. Photographs are.

Susan Sontag
She felt herself needing more and more sleep. When she awoke in the morning, she thought of when she might lie down again - and when she would sleep. She started going to the movies.

She felt herself needing more and more sleep. When she awoke in the morning, she thought of when she might lie down again - and when she would sleep. She started going to the movies.

Susan Sontag
My urge to write is an urge not to self-expressionism but to self-transcendence. My work is both bigger and smaller than I am.

My urge to write is an urge not to self-expressionism but to self-transcendence. My work is both bigger and smaller than I am.

Susan Sontag
Time eventually positions most photographs, even the most amateurish, at the level of art.

Time eventually positions most photographs, even the most amateurish, at the level of art.

Susan Sontag
I don't want to express alienation. It isn't what I feel. I'm interested in various kinds of passionate engagement. All my work says be serious, be passionate, wake up.

I don't want to express alienation. It isn't what I feel. I'm interested in various kinds of passionate engagement. All my work says be serious, be passionate, wake up.

Susan Sontag
Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration's shove or society's kiss on your forehead.

Do stuff. Be clenched, curious. Not waiting for inspiration's shove or society's kiss on your forehead.

Susan Sontag
Real art has the capacity to make us nervous.

Real art has the capacity to make us nervous.

Susan Sontag
Try not to live in a linguistic slum.

Try not to live in a linguistic slum.

Susan Sontag
There is nothing wrong with standing back and thinking. To paraphrase several sages: 'Nobody can think and hit someone at the same time.

There is nothing wrong with standing back and thinking. To paraphrase several sages: 'Nobody can think and hit someone at the same time.

Susan Sontag
I am only interested in people engaged in a project of self-transformation.

I am only interested in people engaged in a project of self-transformation.

Susan Sontag
One criticizes in others what one recognizes and despises in oneself. For example, an artist who is revolted by another’s ambitiousness.

One criticizes in others what one recognizes and despises in oneself. For example, an artist who is revolted by another’s ambitiousness.

Susan Sontag
A large part of the popularity and persuasiveness of psychology comes from its being a sublimated spiritualism: a secular, ostensibly scientific way of affirming the primacy of spirit over matter.

A large part of the popularity and persuasiveness of psychology comes from its being a sublimated spiritualism: a secular, ostensibly scientific way of affirming the primacy of spirit over matter.

Susan Sontag
As objects of contemplation, images of the atrocious can answer to several different needs. To steel oneself against weakness. To make oneself more numb. To acknowledge the existence of the incorrigible.

As objects of contemplation, images of the atrocious can answer to several different needs. To steel oneself against weakness. To make oneself more numb. To acknowledge the existence of the incorrigible.

Susan Sontag
Making social comment is an artificial place for an artist to start from. If an artist is touched by some social condition, what the artist creates will reflect that, but you can't force it.

Making social comment is an artificial place for an artist to start from. If an artist is touched by some social condition, what the artist creates will reflect that, but you can't force it.

Susan Sontag
To the militant, identity is everything.

To the militant, identity is everything.

Susan Sontag
The problems of this world are only truly solved in two ways: by extinction or by duplication

The problems of this world are only truly solved in two ways: by extinction or by duplication

Susan Sontag
The only interesting ideas are heresies

The only interesting ideas are heresies

Susan Sontag
Love words, agonize over sentences. And pay attention to the world.

Love words, agonize over sentences. And pay attention to the world.

Susan Sontag
Desire wills its perpetuation ad infinitum.

Desire wills its perpetuation ad infinitum.

Susan Sontag
Writing is a mysterious activity.

Writing is a mysterious activity.

Susan Sontag
With genius, as with beauty -- all, well almost all, is forgiven.

With genius, as with beauty -- all, well almost all, is forgiven.

Susan Sontag
How much self-love comes in the guise of selfless devotion!

How much self-love comes in the guise of selfless devotion!

Susan Sontag
All great art contains at its center contemplation, a dynamic contemplation.

All great art contains at its center contemplation, a dynamic contemplation.

Susan Sontag
All aesthetic judgment is really cultural evaluation.

All aesthetic judgment is really cultural evaluation.

Susan Sontag
Gide and I have attained such perfect intellectual communion that I experience the appropriate labor pains for every thought he gives birth to!

Gide and I have attained such perfect intellectual communion that I experience the appropriate labor pains for every thought he gives birth to!

Susan Sontag
...what I write is smarter than I am. Because I can rewrite it.

...what I write is smarter than I am. Because I can rewrite it.

Susan Sontag
War has been the norm and peace the exception

War has been the norm and peace the exception

Susan Sontag
One cannot use the life to interpret the work. But One can use the work to interpret the life.

One cannot use the life to interpret the work. But One can use the work to interpret the life.

Susan Sontag
The ideal or the dream would be to arrive at a language that heals as much as it separates.

The ideal or the dream would be to arrive at a language that heals as much as it separates.

Susan Sontag
If literature has engaged me as a project, first as a reader, then as a writer, it is as an extension of my sympathies to other selves, other domains, other dreams, other territories.

If literature has engaged me as a project, first as a reader, then as a writer, it is as an extension of my sympathies to other selves, other domains, other dreams, other territories.

Susan Sontag
Theories that diseases are caused by mental states and can be cured by will power are always an index of how much is not understood about a disease.

Theories that diseases are caused by mental states and can be cured by will power are always an index of how much is not understood about a disease.

Susan Sontag
The fear of becoming old is born of the recognition that one is not living now the life that one wishes. It is equivalent to a sense of abusing the present.

The fear of becoming old is born of the recognition that one is not living now the life that one wishes. It is equivalent to a sense of abusing the present.

Susan Sontag
Despite the illusion of giving understanding, what seeing through photographs really invites is an acquisitive relation to the world that nourishes aesthetic awareness and promotes emotional detachment.

Despite the illusion of giving understanding, what seeing through photographs really invites is an acquisitive relation to the world that nourishes aesthetic awareness and promotes emotional detachment.

Susan Sontag
To travel is to shop.

To travel is to shop.

Susan Sontag
Pop art: only possible in an affluent society, where one can be free to enjoy ironic consumption.

Pop art: only possible in an affluent society, where one can be free to enjoy ironic consumption.

Susan Sontag
The best criticism, and it is uncommon, is of this sort that dissolves considerations of content into those of form.

The best criticism, and it is uncommon, is of this sort that dissolves considerations of content into those of form.

Susan Sontag
It was not a question of knowledge...but of alertness, a fastidious transcription of what could be thought about something, once it swam into the stream of attention.

It was not a question of knowledge...but of alertness, a fastidious transcription of what could be thought about something, once it swam into the stream of attention.

Susan Sontag
Collecting expresses a free-floating desire that attaches and re-attaches itself—it is a succession of desires. The true collector is in the grip not of what is collected but of collecting.

Collecting expresses a free-floating desire that attaches and re-attaches itself—it is a succession of desires. The true collector is in the grip not of what is collected but of collecting.

Susan Sontag
Photographs shock insofar as they show something novel.

Photographs shock insofar as they show something novel.

Susan Sontag