Sunday, November 16, 2008

More on Sontag's Diaries

The first volume of Susan Sontag's diaries (edited by her son, David Rieff) will be published in the U.S. by Farrar, Straus and Giroux next month. In England they'll have to wait until January, but today's Independent quotes a couple of passages dealing with Sontag's sexuality, including this one that she wrote at the age of 15: "I am very young, and perhaps the most disturbing aspects of my ambitions will be outgrown ... so now I feel I have lesbian tendencies (how reluctantly I write this)."

She sounded less reluctant a year later, when she wrote about having sex with another woman, but if the Times excerpts are any indication, Sontag continued to have a complicated relationship with her sexuality for many years to come. In December of 1959, at the age of 26, she wrote:

My desire to write is connected with my homosexuality. I need the identity as a weapon, to match the weapon that society has against me.

It doesn't justify my homosexuality. But it would give me — I feel — a license.

I am just becoming aware of how guilty I feel being queer. With H., I thought it didn’t bother me, but I was lying to myself. I let other people (e.g. Annette [Michelson, film scholar]) believe that it was H. who was my vice, and that apart from her I wouldn’t be queer or at least not mainly so.

. . .

Being queer makes me feel more vulnerable.

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