Sunday, September 10, 2006

So, Susan Sontag Was Really Jewish

From her recently published journal from 1958

St. Germain des Prés. Not the same as Greenwich Village, exactly. For one thing, expatriates (Americans, Italians, English, South Americans, Germans) in Paris have a different role + self-feeling than provincials (e.g. kids from Chicago, the West Coast, the South) who come to New York. No rupture of national identification, and mal-identification. Same language. One can always go home. And, anyway, the majority of Villagers are New Yorkers — internal, even municipal, expatriates

The cafe routine. After work, or trying to write or paint, you come to a cafe looking for people you know. Preferably with someone, or at least with a definite rendez-vous.. . . One should go to several cafes — average: four — in an evening.

Also, in New York (Greenwich Village) there’s the shared comedy of being Jewish. That’s missing, too, from this bohemia. Not so heimlich. In Greenwich Village, the Italians — the proletarian background against which deracinated Jews + provincials stage their intellectual and sexual virtuosity — are picturesque but pretty harmless. Here, turbulent marauding Arabs.

Who was Susan Sontag?


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