A wise man sees as much as he ought, not as much as he can.
Michel de Montaigne (1533 -1592)
Sontag was an aesthete and held that "the wisdom that becomes available over a deep, lifelong engagement with the aesthetic cannot, I venture to say, be duplicated by any other kind of seriousness." Some might argue, though, that she gave aestheticism a bad name and that hers fed nicely into her political foolishness. Joseph Epstein April 1, 2011 - Wall Street Journal Book Review
Enough ain't near a feast, Hickey - Larry "Tri-State" Monahan ( dec.) N.B. the late Mr. Monahan was 5'6" in height and weighed 294 lbs.
Michel de Montaigne was a Renaissance statesman, skeptic, and introduced the genre of the essay a unified consideration of a thought, concept or topic. Montaigne influenced Sir Francis Bacon, Blaise Pascal, and Mark Twain who showered humanity with keen insights within graceful sentences. Sadly, faux thinkers and loudmouths like Rousseau, Emerson, Thoreau and Nietzsche aped Montaigne and are much more widely read, canonized in schools texts, and dropped from the tongues of dimwits.
America is yet blessed with Montaigne's spiritual and technical son - Joseph Epstein.
I read anything by Joe Epstein with equal gusto in the same manner that I can blindly point to any item on Gene & Georgetti's menu - it is always the best selection and most satisfying. I can not choose better - each item is uniquely mouthwatering.
Joseph Epstein lives in Evanston and is completely immune from that locale's penchant for political, ideological, environmental, moral, legal and critical snobbery. Mr. Epstein is as immune from cant, as I am prone to slinging the horseshit.
I try to shed the skin of my prejudices, but not real hard. I am not about to get a massive grabber doing the work that that exercise would entail. I embrace my baggage - more pity me.
Joseph Epstein on the other hand works 24/7 at Montaigne's dictum - Que sais-je?' -What the Hell do I know?
Jospeh Epstein is an intellectual, moral, and cultural athlete. I am a fat-head. Perhaps morbidly obese.
I am not alone. Most of us have rolling, waves of lard between our ears because we swallow Super-sized bags of junk-thought. We dine at Oprah's buffet and nod with conviction to NPR, Glen Beck, or Jason Biggs. We accept what the New York Times, The Atlantic, Salon, or any editorial offers and toss it whole into our precious spiritual and intellectual bloodstreams.
During the Renaissance, Montaigne labeled the packages for consumption and today Joseph Epstein does the same for us.
The other day, Joseph Epstein wrote about the celebrated lesbian, essayist, Ho Chi Minh apologist, feminist and exhibitionist Susan Sontag.
Susan Sontag, like Steve Sondheim, are names that register with all of us, but most of us really do not know why. At a cocktail party, someone usually bullies us into a corner by dropping the Sontag bomb - "Of course, you know, Susan Sontag said, wrote, filmed and dismissed your very position on the existence of concrete. Just because you stand on a sidewalk, does prove anything; the will to accept the outre point of view is what frees you from being a racist and a sexist. Don't you think?"
Uh, huh. Hey, is there anymore of those toast points with fois gras? I gotta try some more of those, excuse me.
Joseph Epstein can not always be physically available to bail us cranial lard-asses out, but we can fend off those empty calories heaped on our plates. Try this serving of Joe Epstein:
Rounding her political career off nicely, when the Twin Towers were destroyed and nearly 3,000 people murdered, Sontag, in the New Yorker, wrote that the attack was "on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions"—and so America, in other words, had it coming. "Some ideas are so stupid," Orwell said, "that only an intellectual could believe them," and Susan Sontag seems, at one time or another, to have believed them all.Mighty Tasty and good for you!
Sontag was an aesthete and held that "the wisdom that becomes available over a deep, lifelong engagement with the aesthetic cannot, I venture to say, be duplicated by any other kind of seriousness." Some might argue, though, that she gave aestheticism a bad name and that hers fed nicely into her political foolishness. Apropos of Sontag, Hilton Kramer remarked: "Aestheticism is not, after all, primarily a philosophy of art. It is a philosophy of life." This woman who eschewed morality and judgment in art never had the least doubt about her own moral superiority and the righteousness of her views.
In literature Ms. Sontag's taste in ideas ran to the dark, the oblique and the violent. As Camille Paglia put it, she "made fetishes of depressive European writers." One is reminded here of the Romanian writer E.M. Cioran, who, when young, felt a special partiality to writers who had committed suicide. Antonin Artaud, Roland Barthes, Samuel Beckett, Walter Benjamin, Elias Canetti and Cioran himself were among the writers about whom Sontag wrote most enthusiastically.
Enthusiastically but not convincingly. Walter Benjamin, one of her enthusiasms, must surely be among the 20th century's most overrated writers. Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Karl Kraus—Benjamin could render the juiciest of subjects arid. In her essay on Elias Canetti, Sontag notes his admiration for the novelist Hermann Broch and "those great patient novels 'The Death of Virgil' and 'The Sleepwalkers.' " Anyone who has read Broch's books will know that the burden of patience chiefly falls on the reader, for Broch's heavily longueur-laden novels are proof yet again of Santayana's discovery that the Germans are utterly devoid of the emotion of boredom.
Cleanse your palate and burn off some lard, Kids! Click my post title for Jospeh Epstein's brilliant dismissal of the Big Mac 'N Cheese that was Susan Sontag, God rest her.