Against Interpretation and Other Essays by Susan Sontag

By Susan Sontag

First released in 1966, this celebrated book--Sontag's first number of essays--quickly turned a latest vintage, and has had a tremendous effect in the US and in another country on considering the humanities and modern tradition. in addition to the identify essay and the recognized "Notes on Camp," Against Interpretation comprises unique and provocative discussions of Sartre, Simone Weil, Godard, Beckett, science-fiction video clips, psychoanalysis, and modern spiritual considering. This variation includes a new afterword through Sontag.

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Sample text

In the story of the pishtaco, I heard the collected rage of generations of Indians robbed not only of their health and their lives, but of their sexual and reproductive rights as well. These tropes of the boss and his maid, the pishtaco and his Indian are shaped by gender-the topic of much recent writing about Latin America-but they are also about sex. Relatively little has been written about sex in the Andes, a lacuna partly explained by the distortions of our racial unconscious, in which blacks appear hypersexualized, while Indians seem childlike and without desires.

At times I feel like a man who walks in the night and believes in ghosts; every comer is heimlich and full of terrors' " (quoted in Freud 1963: 30). The pishtaco, too, reveals a curious convergence of the familiar and the unknown. In the opening stories above, the old man immediately recognized a foreigner looking for the schoolteacher as the evil being who had recently killed two people in his neighborhood; the young woman recognized a stranger seen from a distance as a pishtaco. Employing the perfect tautology of myth, both speakers knew the pishtaco precisely because they had never seen him before.

37 I was initially surprised to hear the word inga, for Zumbagua was never part of the Inca empire, and people there do not identify with Incas as ancestors. I gradually realized that in local Quichua inga frequently functioned as a euphemism for runa, much as aut6ctono did for indio in local Spanish. This reluctance to use the word runa to modify shimi is not surprising. In Cotopaxi Spanish, runa is often used as an adjective to describe anything foul, ugly, coarse, or of poor quality. " And just as in my white Missouri childhood, when casually offensive expressions like "nigger-rigged" were all too common, Spanish-speakers in Cotopaxi have coined compound words using runa.

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