Regarding Susan Sontag: Making it Personal


Written By: Anthony Martin

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‘Never worry about being obsessive.

I like obsessive people.

Obsessive people make great art’

– Susan Sontag

Known to each and every photography graduate in the country, the author of the book On Photography is an integral part of the creative curriculum: you read Sontag during your first year of studies, understand her writing by the second and learn to argue against it and retire it as outdated by the time you receive your diploma. Easy.

For year, Sontag’s best-known books were part of my library, but it wasn’t until last night that I really thought about the personality behind my university essay quotes and asked, who is that dark-haired woman on the back cover?

Regarding Susan Sontag documentary film premiered in the UK last night and was sold out in most venues. Leaving the cinema after the screening, I heard many people saying: ‘I never saw her that way…’ and ‘these personal stories will change the way I read her academic writing…’.  The film tells a story of a strong, independent and endlessly curious woman, who thought, fought and loved passionately – someone I can relate to much better than the academic writer I was introduced to at university.

Susan Sontag on Love: Illustrated Diary Excerpts by Brainpicking

And if your teacher tells you Susan Sontag’s work is largely out of date, remind them that more than a decade ago she wrote: ‘today everything exists to end in a photograph’, which is all the more relevant in the ‘picture or it didn’t happen culture we are living in.

‘A writer, I think, is someone who pays attention to the world’.

Susan Sontag

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