What was banal can, with the passage of time, become fantastic. Many things in the world have not been named; and many things, even if they have been named, have never been described. Of course, one can't always say that. So, again, Camp rests on innocence. Wherever there is development of character, Camp is reduced. But sensitive people are a dime a dozen. The reason for the flourishing of the aristocratic posture among homosexuals also seems to parallel the Jewish case. To patronize the faculty of taste is to patronize oneself. (The entire section is 2,576 words.).
As a young feminist possessed of above average academic abilities and a taste for committing offenses in the culture wars, I turned easily to Paglia as an inspirational how-to manual for tearing things down. It is susan sonntag essay surely a notable fact about Miss Sontag's sensibilityher "subject" and the principle of her shift in critical methodthat it so often strikes you cold, even icy. For obvious reasons, the best examples that can be cited are movie stars. "Life is too important a thing ever to talk seriously about." - Vera, or The Nihilists. Camp taste is a kind of love, love for human nature.
(The entire section is 2,321 words.) To continue reading, start your 48-hour free trial » Walter Kendrick (Contemporary Literary Criticism) Under the Sign of Saturn contains seven examples of the form in which Sontag first made her popular. They bear, each one, the. Confining the story to England alone, we see Camp continuing wanly through 19th century aestheticism (Bume-Jones, Pater, Ruskin, Tennyson emerging full-blown with the Art Nouveau movement in the visual and decorative arts, and finding its conscious ideologists in such "wits" as Wilde and Firbank. There is Camp in such bad movies as The Prodigal and Samson and Delilah, the series of Italian color spectacles featuring the super-hero Maciste, numerous Japanese science fiction films ( Rodan, The Mysterians, The H-Man ) because, in their relative unpretentiousness. On the barren edge of Camp lie a number of attractive things: the sleek fantasies of Dali, the haute couture preciosity of Albicocco's The Girl with the Golden Eyes.
The relation of Camp taste to the past is extremely sentimental. Of 1937 ; etc.) by Busby Berkeley - does not mean to be funny. The cruder one is moral and "humanistic." She has susan sonntag essay been accused of being inhuman or antihuman for ignoring moral and spiritual elements in art, or rather for sanctioning and encouraging the immoral, pornography or camp, for example, violence or extravagance. Others were foreign to me - Weil, Ionesco, Norman. A sensibility (as distinct from an idea) is one of the hardest things to talk about; but there are special reasons why Camp, in particular, has never been discussed. Jewish liberalism is a gesture of self-legitimization. Illness as Metaphor in 1978, would serve as apologism for those earlier remarks. But such an analysis cannot ignore what in Art Nouveau allows it to be experienced as Camp. It goes without saying that the Camp sensibility is disengaged, depoliticized - or at least apolitical. Art Nouveau is full of "content even of a political-moral sort; it was a revolutionary movement in the arts, spurred on by a Utopian vision (somewhere between William Morris and the Bauhaus group) of an organic politics and taste. A pocket history of Camp might, of course, begin farther back - with the mannerist artists like Pontormo, Rosso, and Caravaggio, or the extraordinarily theatrical painting of Georges de La Tour, or Euphuism (Lyly, etc.) in literature.
The point isn't that there is criticism, neat, familiar, unquestionable as a procedure, and then there is what Miss Sontag does, odd, peripheral although maybe useful; but that what she has been doing, or attempting, is more interesting. The ultimate Camp statement: it's good because it's awful. Random examples of items which are part of the canon of Camp include Swan Lake. It's simply that the process of aging or deterioration provides the necessary detachment - or arouses a necessary sympathy. Persons, however, respond to their audiences. Another effect: time contracts the sphere of banality. It is practically necessary to meet someone on their terms first if you hope to convert them to yours. It makes the man of good taste cheerful, where before he ran the risk of being chronically frustrated. Her standpoint could not be more accurate. And the relation of Camp taste to the past is extremely sentimental.
Camp taste is by its nature possible only in affluent societies, in societies or circles capable of experiencing the psychopathology of affluence. Jews and homosexuals are the outstanding creative minorities in contemporary urban culture. Life is not stylish. First published in 1966, this celebrated book Sontags first collection of essays quickly became a modern classic, and has had an enormous influence in America and abroad on thinking about the arts and contemporary culture. What it does is to offer for art (and life) a different - a supplementary - set of standards. This is explicit in the snide comments about "philistinism" and about the bad effects on culture of "people with minds in the vague asides about "magic" in art, in the preferences for non-verbal over verbal art, in the.
Camp taste transcends the nausea of the replica. The experiences of Camp are based susan sonntag essay on the great discovery that the sensibility of high culture has no monopoly upon refinement. Persons begin "camping Mae West, Bea Lillie, La Lupe, Tallulah Bankhead in Lifeboat, Bette Davis in All About Eve. But today is not that day. Many examples of Camp are things which, from a "serious" point of view, are either bad art or kitsch. The question isn't, "Why travesty, impersonation, theatricality?" The question is, rather, "When does travesty, impersonation, theatricality acquire the special flavor of Camp?" Why is the atmosphere of Shakespeare's comedies ( As You Like It, etc.) not epicene, while that of Der Rosenkavalier is? Or maybe youve gotten a whiff. This direct approach continues on through. Camp asserts that good taste is not simply good taste; that there exists, indeed, a good taste of bad taste. Her literary and philosophical references are broad and applied with originality.
The peculiar relation between Camp taste and homosexuality has to be explained. This is not so with such famous would-be Camp films of the fifties as All About Eve and Beat the Devil. Perhaps, though, it is not so much a question of the unintended effect versus the conscious intention, as of the delicate relation between parody and self-parody in Camp. Without passion, one gets pseudo-Campwhat is merely decorative, safe, in a word, chic. A great deal of Camp suggests Empson's phrase, "urban pastoral. Start 48-Hour Free Trial to Unlock. Homosexuals have susan sonntag essay pinned their integration into society on promoting the aesthetic sense.
It is good for the digestion. (The entire section is 2,453 words.) To continue reading, start your 48-hour free trial » Frank Kermode (Contemporary Literary Criticism) Susan Sontag is a good deal more than a mere explainer. Ordinarily we value a work of art because of the seriousness and dignity of what it achieves. The excruciating is also one of the tonalities of Camp; it is the quality of excruciation in much of Henry James (for instance, The Europeans, The Awkward Age, susan sonntag essay The Wings of the Dove ) that is responsible for. There is seriousness in Camp (seriousness in the degree of the artist's involvement) and, often, pathos. While it's not true that Camp taste is homosexual taste, there is no doubt a peculiar affinity and overlap.
Analysis of these terms reveals the two extremes which Sontag has been comparing throughout her piece;?hermeneutics? Any sensibility which can be crammed into the mold of a system, or handled with the rough tools of proof, is no longer a sensibility at all. Not only is Camp not necessarily bad art, but some art which can be approached as Camp (example: the major films of Louis Feuillade) merits the most serious admiration and study. To this the only answer is that no material or data or subject or, for that matter, mood in the aesthetic realm has anything to do with being sanctioned or deplored, needs validation or, in short, lies in the moral universe at all. Against Interpretation that "what I have been writing is not criticism at all, strictly speaking, but case studies for an aesthetic, a theory of my own sensibility the remark was thrown out as an afterthought, a footnote. Eisenstein's films are seldom Camp because, despite all exaggeration, they do succeed (dramatically) without surplus. The form of jottings, rather than an essay (with its claim to a linear, consecutive argument seemed more appropriate for getting down something of this particular fugitive sensibility. That means Camp discloses innocence, but also, when it can, corrupts. I am speaking, obviously, of a style of personal existence as well as of a style in art; but the examples had best come from art. Her strong, idiosyncratic sense of the contours of her own culture makes her sensitive to the cultural difference of the alien sage. It incarnates a victory of style over content, aesthetics over morality, of irony over tragedy. The pure examples of Camp are unintentional; they are dead serious. Camp taste has an affinity for certain arts rather than others.
Finally, it cripples her attempt to develop "case studies for an aesthetic" (her own description of her intention) because an aesthetic is an intellectual thing. But it is not enough to offer a corrective to such people. When she wrote, as the coda to one susan sonntag essay of her most famous essays "Against Interpretation that "in place of hermeneutics, we need an erotics of art she drove many persons nearly wild with misapprehension that what she meant. The whole point of Camp is to dethrone the serious. I dont know when I stopped feeling that it was bold to simply call out the ills of society and the foibles of other writers. Susan Sontag has been engaged in trying to plot the course of her new feelings, which is to say her responses as a representative advanced consciousness. Dont redeem what this particular civilization has wrought upon the world. Sontag has a way of distilling a work of art into a precise description that needs surprisingly little in the way of textual evidence. Considered a little less strictly, Camp is either completely naive or else wholly conscious (when one plays at being campy).
Art Nouveau objects, typically, convert one thing into something else: the lighting fixtures in the form of flowering plants, the living room which is really a grotto. He sought rare sensations, undefiled by mass appreciation. It's not a love of the old as such. S preparation for this criticism shows in the inclusion of her final statement. But she differs, too, from the traditional critic of general culture in that she is deeply involved in aesthetic awareness. They aren't Camp; though Art Nouveau, influenced by Blake,. Wilde himself is a transitional figure. Or 9 and 14, which outline the canon of camp figures and fantasies over time? Most people think of sensibility or taste as the realm of purely subjective preferences, those mysterious attractions, mainly sensual, that have not been brought under the sovereignty of reason. Camp is the triumph of the epicene style. Camp is art that proposes itself seriously, but cannot be taken altogether seriously because it is "too much." Titus Andronicus and Strange Interlude are almost Camp, or could be played as Camp. Later Essays has essays from the '80s through her death in 2004. Classical ballet, opera, movies have seemed so for a long time.
The androgyne is certainly one of the great images of Camp sensibility. The Enquirer, headlines and stories, aubrey Beardsley drawings, swan Lake. The alarm that many people feel at the approach of Susan Sontag, the distaste, resentment and even fury she causes, has, it seems to me, two bases. "One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.", phrases Philosophies for the Use of the Young. The first instinct is to say,?Yes, Sontag meant to make just such a jab at the modern interpreter? For the aristocratic posture with relation to culture cannot die, though it may persist only in increasingly arbitrary and ingenious ways. Time liberates the work of art from moral relevance, delivering it over to the Camp sensibility. Detachment is the prerogative of an elite; and as the dandy is the 19th century's surrogate for the aristocrat in matters of culture, so Camp is the modern dandyism. Ordinarily, writers are dead or incapacitated before Readers are bestowed on them.
Being an ideal term to describe the type of over-intellectualization that takes place with modern interpreters, and?erotics? Camp - Dandyism in the age of mass culture - makes no distinction between the unique object and the mass-produced object. All Camp objects, and persons, contain a large element of artifice. Concert music, though, because it is contentless, is rarely Camp. Her tendency to name big names, to relate everything back to the narrow slice of Greco-Roman history that she studied, to go after the fissures in canonical works of art, to eschew footnotes, to fling campy insults, to give didactic. Anybody who does Freudian criticism or looks for morals in art, or whose vision is directed only toward what is happy, healthy and prudent, needs this book. Her particular polemica strong element in the general thrust of postwar New York literary criticismis to celebrate the leopards in the temple of literature, not those cool and calm consciousnesses (like the Sophocles and Shakespeare of Matthew Arnold).
As a taste in persons, Camp responds particularly to the markedly attenuated and to the strongly exaggerated. Imagine Paglia ever earnestly admitting she was wrong about anything. By this time, she was facing serious public backlash for an essay. Essays of the 1960s 70s because Im excited to know: Who is Susan Sontag? Nor is it a matter of any classical inability to "feel and attempts to discredit her on this ground are obtuse and unjust. One may capture the ideas (intellectual history) and the behavior (social history) of an epoch without ever touching upon the sensibility or taste which informed those ideas, that behavior. "Susan Sontag's essays are great interpretations, and even fulfillments, of what is really going.". Sontag thinks art should be experienced. Critics may analyze her repeated references to Greek literature or possibly her use of sexual imagery, but none could ignore the simplicity, brevity, and word choice that characterize the concluding sentence. This introduction to Barthes forms the concluding essay in her own selection, A Susan Sontag Reader. It is the love of the exaggerated, the "off of The best example is in Art Nouveau, the most typical and fully developed Camp style. Pop Art is more flat and more dry, more serious, more detached, ultimately nihilistic.).
A work can come close to Camp, but not make it, because it succeeds. What Miss Sontag wants to encourage, in art and criticism, is respect for susan sonntag essay sensuous surfaces, for feeling, for form, for style. For instance, there is the kind of seriousness whose trademark is anguish, cruelty, derangement. Nevertheless, when adequate thought is applied to the situation one is forced to ask how else she could have more effectively driven home her point. This sensibility also insists on the principle that an oeuvre in the old sense (again, in art, but also in life) is not possible. Some of the 58 points have gone more viral than others. The third, Camp, is wholly aesthetic. When he proclaimed the importance of the necktie, the boutonniere, the chair, Wilde was anticipating the democratic esprit of Camp. To start very generally: Camp is a certain mode of aestheticism. Time may enhance what seems simply dogged or lacking in fantasy now because we are too close to it, because it resembles too closely our own everyday fantasies, the fantastic nature of which we don't perceive.
This book also includes Sontags, on Photography from 1977, which was the first of many engagements with the medium. Pure Camp is always naive. Her ideas are consistently stimulating, particularly when they do not get in the way of her major theoretical premiseas in the little essay "Piety Without Content where she uses the analogy of political fellow-traveling to destroy, beautifully, the rosy idea of common-denominator religiousness. Genet's statement that "the only criterion of an act is its elegance" 2 is virtually interchangeable, as a statement, with Wilde's "in matters of great importance, the vital element is not sincerity, but style." But what counts, finally. Unlike most literary critics, Sontag believes that literary criticism is growing increasingly destructive towards the very works of art that they, supposedly, so greatly?appreciate? If she could be rescued from all her culture-hungry interpreters, it might be possible to find the writer who has been made into a symbol. Yet there is also a feature of the Art Nouveau objects which suggests a disengaged, unserious, "aesthete's" vision.
The Partisan Review wherein she drew a metaphor that linked white civilization with cancer. So is Camp taste, which definitely has something propagandistic about. But not a bitter or polemical comedy. At the least newcomers are expected to observe the rules. Sontag's ability to stay one step ahead of Continental Thinking has earned her high marks in the world of intellectual journalism. A Susan Sontag Reader, a choice from her criticism and fiction, is in no way susan sonntag essay scant, but it interested me to note that one could regret the omission of almost any piece of her writing, any. Beyond this Miss Sontag has marched, aggressively and with her great bristling apparatus of learning, pointing every which way but most dangerously at certain processes of literary erudition itself, into some sacred realms, to the consternation of their guardians. She has, in effect, laid a trap for the modern critic (who just happens to be you, me, and practically every other reader) with her final statement as the bait. And that would include the journal of her recent visit to North Vietnam, reprinted in this new collection, Styles of Radical Will. Sontag has a wide variety of artistic concerns upon which her ideology expands and contracts over the course of her 50 years as a publishing theorist, often repudiating her younger selves in the process.
One doesn't need to know the artist's private intentions. But extraordinary in the sense, often, of being special, glamorous. Only one of them was really out of the closet. Here we do accept a disparity between intention and result. De Mille, Crivelli, de Gaulle, etc.) who makes. For Camp art is often decorative art, emphasizing texture, sensuous surface, and style at the expense of content. We are better able to enjoy a fantasy as fantasy when it is not our own. The dandy was overbred. There must be some significance to these terms? The perfection of Trouble in Paradise and The Maltese Falcon, among the greatest Camp movies ever made, comes from the effortless smooth way in which tone is maintained. There is a sense in which it is correct to say: "It's too good to be Camp." Or "too important not marginal enough.
When the susan sonntag essay critics finally?excavates? But homosexuals, by and large, constitute the vanguard - and the most articulate audience - of Camp. Camp is (to repeat) the relation to style in a time in which the adoption of style - as such - has become altogether questionable. It is the farthest extension, in sensibility, of the metaphor of life as theater. The ideas about morality and politics in, say, Lady Windemere's Fan and in Major Barbara are Camp, but not just because of the nature of the ideas themselves.