har journal

It’s not ‘natural’ to speak well, eloquently, in an interesting articulate way. People living in groups, families, communes say little–have few verbal means. Eloquence–thinking in words–is a byproduct of solitude, deracination, a heightened painful individuality.
— 

Susan Sontag

1976

As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh

Journals & Notebooks

1964 - 1980

To say a feeling, an impression is to diminish it—expel it.  But sometimes feelings are too strong: passions, obsessions. Like romantic love. Or grief. Then one needs to speak, or one would burst. The desire for reassurance. And, equally, to be reassured. (The itch to ask whether I’m still loved; and the itch to say, I love you, half-fearing that the other has forgotten, since the last time I said it.)
—  Susan Sontag, As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh

CONTEMPT, not indignation  

“There is only one thing I dread; not to be worthy of my sufferings.”              

                                                   —Dostoyevsky  

“There is only one thing I dread; that my sufferings will not be worthy of me.”

                                                     —Sontag

Susan Sontag, from As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980 (Penguin, 2012)

She is a profoundly gentle person… But this must be one reason for her terribly self-destructive history. She’s rarely known how to defend herself, except by withdrawal (tuning out, running away). How come she never developed even a normal capacity for hostility? … Too much insecurity to allow anger. But if there’s no anger experienced, one feels so vulnerable—
—  Susan Sontag, from As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks 1964-1980

Things I like: fires, Venice, tequila, sunsets, babies, silent films, heights, coarse salt, top hats, large long-haired dogs, ship models, cinnamon, goose down quilts, pocket watches, the smell of newly mown grass, linen, Bach, Louis XIII furniture, sushi, microscopes, large rooms, ups, boots, drinking water, maple sugar candy.

Things I dislike: sleeping in an apartment alone, cold weather, couples, football games, swimming, anchovies, mustaches, cats, umbrellas, being photographed, the taste of licorice, washing my hair (or having it washed), wearing a wristwatch, giving a lecture, cigars, writing letters, taking showers, Robert Frost, German food.

Things I like: ivory, sweaters, architectural drawings, urinating, pizza (the Roman bread), staying in hotels, paper clips, the color blue, leather belts, making lists, Wagon-Lits, paying bills, caves, watching ice-skating, asking questions, taking taxis, Benin art, green apples, office furniture, Jews, eucalyptus trees, pen knives, aphorisms, hands.

Things I dislike: Television, baked beans, hirsute men, paperback books, standing, card games, dirty or disorderly apartments, flat pillows, being in the sun, Ezra Pound, freckles, violence in movies, having drops put in my eyes, meatloaf, painted nails, suicide, licking envelopes, ketchup, traversins [“bolsters”], nose drops, Coca-Cola, alcoholics, taking photographs.

—  Journal entry 2/21/77, As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals & Notebooks 1964-1980 @sontagfilm
Feeling of discontinuity as a person. My various selves… how do they all come together? And anxiety at moments of transition from one “role” to another. Will I make it fifteen minutes from now? Be able to step into, inhabit the person I’m supposed to be? This is felt as an infinitely hazardous leap, no matter how often it’s successfully executed.
—  Susan Sontag, from As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks 1964-1980

I will never just outlast this pain. (Healing passage of time, etc.) I am frozen, paralyzed, the gears are jammed. It will only recede, diminish if I can somehow transpose the emotion—as from grief to anger, from despair to assent. I must become active. As long as I continue to experience myself as done to (not doing) this unbearable pain will not desert me—

Susan Sontag, from As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980 (Penguin, 2012)