There is nothing wrong with changing one’s mind. And who can blame Sontag for coming to the conclusion—if indeed this is what happened—that an evening of Verdi is preferable to an evening of Cage? The trouble with Sontag is that all too often her voice, however distinctive its intonations, sounds an awful lot like a sophisticated version of what other people were saying. Sometimes what we are hearing is little more than the chatter of the bohemian crowd she hung out with in New York or Paris. And isn’t that just another variation on the mass mind? Pauline Kael once said to me, about “Notes on Camp,” that most everybody in Sontag’s immediate circle would have known all about camp long before she wrote the essay, so that the essay amounted to little more than reportage. Perhaps there is a sense in which Sontag was always more of a reporter—an intellectual scout—than a critic.
More from Jed Perl’s review of Susan Sontag’s As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964–1980 in the link. [via The New Republic]