Sunday, September 15, 2013

Susan Sontag hates Christopher Lydon, Camille Paglia hates Susan Sontag

John sent me these incredibly amusing videos last night. (He's been reading the Library of America Sontag and doing research for a piece.) First watch this:


Then watch this (being "being smug about her smugness," as John put it):


"I am the Sontag of the '90s," says Camille Paglia. Says Sontag: "Who is Camille Paglia?"

I met Christopher Lydon once. He emceed the Mass Poetry Festival the year I sort of "opened" for Patricia Smith and Mark Doty. Christopher Lydon was incredibly nice to me, said "That was great!" after my reading and told me "I'd like to interview you." I had no idea who he was. On the drive home John said, shocked and amazed, "Christopher Lydon wants to interview you?!" I said "Who's Christopher Lydon?" (Patricia Smith and Mark Doty were both very rude to me, by the way. Lydon never called.)

Whether or not Susan Sontag actually knew who Camille Paglia was, I love the idea of strategic ignorance. (Who is Mark Doty?)

Who is the person in your field that you'd get the most political mileage out of ignorance of their existence?

14 comments:

  1. My ignorance is usually non-strategic. Just plain old "who the fuck is that?" (usually not said out loud, lest I reveal how remarkably illiterate I am).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But one can't read everything Ray, don't you know!

      Delete
    2. Yeah, but...but...

      Sometimes I'm talking to people and they're rattling off names of writers, and they're rattling off names of the PUBLISHERS of these writers (ditto movies & screenwriters & producers & studios), and I read A TON and I watch A LOT of movies and I don't understand how they know all this stuff, how they somehow keep IMDB and Publishers Weekly in their heads. And how I'm supposed to navigate this world if I can't remember it all like they do.

      And then we talk about what a book or a movie actually MEANS, and sometimes they have a lot less to say, which makes me think maybe I'm concentrating on the right things.

      I dunno. Was another weird week of crushing outsiderness, I guess.

      Delete
    3. I dunno, whenever people are talking about people you haven't heard of, it seems absurd, but sometimes you're the one talking about someone that someone else hasn't heard of, you know?

      Delete
    4. Yeah, and how did Sontag know all that stuff about Genet and Artaud and Godard et al. when she was only 25? She was awesome. Gorgeous, too. Okay, that's probably sexist; probably you're thinking, "How are her looks relevant to her work?" I'm just saying. Love the b&w 60s footage of her on youtube.

      Delete
    5. Who are the hot gorgeous MALE cultural critics, hmm????

      Delete
  2. Allan Bloom. Everybody wanted to fuck Allan Bloom, especially after The Closing of the American Sphincter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ewwwww.

      I was shocked, SHOCKED! to learn that this guy was a major French sex symbol. He looks like Gilligan to me:

      https://www.google.com/search?q=jean+paul+belmondo&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=jHM3UqfOFIKSigKi9IDgAQ&sqi=2&ved=0CJkBEIke&biw=1680&bih=925&dpr=1

      Delete
  3. Oh, he was sexy. Have you seen him in Breathless or other Godard? He made me take up smoking.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just watched A Woman is a Woman the other night with John, which was quite amusing, but I didn't find Belmondo to be a sex god. Maybe Breathless will change my mind!

      Delete
    2. I enjoyed him also in Le Doulos, a Jean-Pierre Melville film. (Melville directed Le Samourai with Alain Delon--so fucking great.) Like L'Etranger it shows you what it means to be a Frenchman's copain. I don't know, maybe you just don't find him sexy. What attracts one woman may repulse another. He's an outlaw in Breathless, and you know what Waylon Jennings says about outlaws and ladies.

      Delete
    3. I FREQUENTLY am completely indifferent to the men who everyone goes ga-ga over, both in real life and in celeb culture. Ryan Gosling? Meh, who cares? He's OK I guess.

      Delete
  4. Three people in my field that I'd get the most mileage out of ignorance of their existence are Ron Silliman, Billy Collins, and Marvin Bell.

    Re: who are the hot gorgeous male cultural critics: well, I was going to smile sweetly and say, Why, me, of course, probably with some smiley emoticon thingie after it. But to answer your question at least a little more seriously:

    John Berger goes at the top of my list, in that category.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember not knowing who Ron Silliman was! I found out at my first AWP, in Austin.

      John Berger is one of those people who looks best in black & white.

      Delete