John Palcewski (forioscribe) wrote,
John Palcewski

[Bleep] On The [Bleep]

Deborah Eisenberg in the New York Review of Books says "Susan Sontag's presence, in essays, interviews, fiction, film, and theater, wove itself so firmly into our culture that when it vanished upon her death in late 2004, one became abruptly aware of the delicacy of the fabric." (Full review here.)

As for making images, she says that "to photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed", and "there is an aggression implicit in every use of the camera."

Many years ago I eagerly began to read Sontag's meditation "On Photography," but found it wholly opaque and incomprehensible. By happenstance a week later my editor sent me to cover her at a lecture she was scheduled to deliver at Lafayette College, in Eastern Pennsylvania. I took a position near the lectern and was about to fire away, when I was pulled aside by the college's public relations director.

"You must NOT photograph Ms. Sontag while she speaks," the woman said, "she does not permit it."

I lowered my camera.

When Songag concluded her twenty-five minute lecture--which to me was as incomprehensible as her book--she unsmilingly addressed me, the only photographer in the room, and said: "You have exactly one minute to do your picture taking."

Being relatively young, arrogant, and excessively thin-skinned, I found her imperious command offensive. So I raised my Nikon and took a single shot. Then I turned and walked out.

My editor, an unrepentant sexist pig, loved both the story and the image. "Bitch on the rag," he said.


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