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Standard modern attitudes (mixed media)
on 29 October 2011
Looking at this 45 years on (crikey) one's hard put to see what all the fuss was about - yes, a stimulating collection of cultural-philosophical essays (reviews, actually, in the main) of the type there are so many of these days one thinks of them as belletristic, or maybe humanistic - I'm just now toying with Roger Kimball's Experiments against Reality, and Ozick plugs away manfully - but they don't sell like Sontag. I guess 'attitude' sums it up. Back then academic disciplines kept themselves to themselves; in making a pitch for the 'common reader' or 'educated public' Sontag made the whole thing hip and inadvertently spawned cultural studies. 'One culture' she talks about in the final piece and it's kind of come to pass. She represented a point in the demographic when the thirst for learning post-WW2 - both of the *culture* and the *understanding* varieties - met late 50s/early 60s affluence and everything got way more fun - both more 'important' and less serious. What excited me about the volume at the time (and overcame its forbidding title and vile mauve livery) was not 'Notes on "Camp"' (back then gays were still queers) or the knee-jerk trio Genet/Sarraute/Artaud (yawn) but the presence of *film* on equal terms with these literary heavies, and not Bresson/Resnais (yawn yawn) or the fatous survey of sci-fi film plots either (I tell you, Forbidden Planet was an insult to the intelligence of a 13-year-old in 1956 and retro irony has a lot to answer for*) but my beloved Godard - only one film, and very far from his best in my view, but still.. I now see that the article, all 10 pages of it but split into trendy Godardian numbered paragraphs, was reprinted from Moviegoer! Thus are reputations (hers) fabricated. An undoubted hotchpotch, if you like this you'll call it steely and if not, dry. It's zeitgeist in spades. Maybe I'll get round to reading it some day
[Oct '12] I post **two** alternate reviews on amazon.com - and thanks for your 3 positive votes, fellow Britons!
* Not that Sontag sounds very enthusiastic. '[S]cience fiction films can be looked at as thematically central allegory, replete with standard modern attitudes' and '[t]here is a sense in which all these movies are in complicity with the abhorrent.' A sense in which?? Talk about a turn-off; reads like parody, if you ask me..