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found memoir (part iii)

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From Susan Sontag’s Journals:


With my new eyes I re-survey the life around me. Most particularly I become frightened to realize how close I came to letting myself slide into the academic life. It would have been effortless… just keep on making good grades – (I probably would have stayed in English – I just don’t have the math ability for Philosophy) – stayed on for a master’s and a teaching assistantship, wrote a couple of papers on obscure subjects that nobody cares about, and, at the age of sixty, be ugly and respected and a full professor. Why, I was looking through the English Dept. publications in the library today – long (hundreds of pages )monographs on such subjects as: The Use of “Tu” and “Vous” in Voltaire; The Social Criticism of Fenimore Cooper; A Biography of the Writings of Bret Harte in the Magazines + Newspapers of California (1859-1891)…

Jesus Christ! What did I almost submit to?!?



… These last few weeks have been vitally revealing in the same way as my summer employment of a year ago. I learned then that I cannot endure white collar work, + that I could not count on being able to get along after college, reading, writing, etc., and with any job to give me enough money to live. (I had naively supposed that it was better to do something meaningless than something pseudo-intellectual, i.e., teaching – I did not realize how apathetic, drained one becomes by the activity of most of one’s working hours.) That eliminated one-half of my aspirations toward proletarian living, + my present manner of physical existence has stripped off the other half of my illusion!

Happy 2009! Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear. My resolution is to try to come to terms with that “Jesus Christ!” bit at the end of the May 1949 entry by the end of the year…

Written by adswithoutproducts

January 1, 2009 at 6:12 am

Posted in foundmemoir

4 Responses

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  1. So how _did_ she pay the rent and eat, then?


    January 3, 2009 at 5:46 am

  2. That’s funny, I am reading ‘Reborn’ now and wanted to note these two quotes so typed in a short section into Google to find something cut and pastable and this is the top of only 4 hits (I think only 2 ‘real’ ones).

    To which I would add the last of the holy trinity of intellectual anxieties (p. 165, late 1957 entry):

    “The ratés, the failed intellectuals (writers, artists, would-be Ph.D.’s). People like Sam Wolfenstein [mathematician], with his limp, his briefcase, his empty days, his addiction to the films, his penny-pinching and scavengering, his arid family nest from which he flees — terrifies me.”

    poor Sam Wolfenstein…


    February 27, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    • would this be reference to Samuel Wolfenstein, math instructor at the American College in Paris from UC Berkley, circa 1962-1964? what is ‘Reborn’ — full title, author?

      Charles A. Ralston

      November 20, 2014 at 6:59 pm

  3. It’s Susan Sontag’s diaries….


    November 21, 2014 at 12:04 pm

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