Sunday, October 12, 2003

Here's Susan Sontag at the Frankfurt book fair, according to La Vanguardia:

The always combative Susan Sontag proved in Frankfurt that reaching 70 years has not taken away a bit from her mordacity when expressing her opinion of everything happening in the world. Especially regarding questions which, as she says, oblige her to "open her mouth". The targets of her harsh criticisms yesterday were Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Arnold Schwarzenegger, George W. bush, Henry Kissinger, Silvio Berlusconi, ETA terrorism, and even the Spice Girls. The American author--winner of the 2003 Principe de Asturias Prize for literature along with the Moroccan Fatima Murnissi, and who today will receive the German booksellers' Peace Prize--did not mince her words. Asked about the election of Schwarzenegger as governor of California, she replied that it was "a bad joke come true". "Nevertheless," she added, his election is significant, the same as Berlusconi in Italy, because the people elected them because of characteristics that have nothing to do with politics. Schwarzenegger is not very intelligent, he's an idiot. but he is successful and in the movies he has always represented violence, something seductive today in the United States. The election of both of them shows that we are living in a post-political era. Policies are no longer made by people who are professionally in charge of them and who look for the best solutions through debate. Something similar is happening in other areas. The people don't listen to Mozart, but to the Spice Girls. We're living through the dissolution of the old order."

Sontag also criticized the direction of her country ("it's changing from the Republic to the Empire") and its political system ("there's only one party, the Republicans, and its wing that calls itself the Democrats, but 30 or 40 percent of the people are not represented politically") described Bush as "that horrible man from Texas", and called Kissinger "one of the greatest war criminals of all time". In her opinion, Hillary Clinton does not have a chance to become the first woman president of the United States, because only "a very conservative woman" could ever win.

Sontag, in addition, revived her controversy with Garcia Marquez because of his silence about the Castro regime's violations of human rights. "Regarding Cuba," said Sontag, "Garcia Marquez has silenced things he knows and therefore he has not been honest. His answer was ridiculous when he said that in private conversations he has helped many dissidents to leave Cuba." The author also rejected the violence in the Basque country. "I am against the armed struggle in the Basque Country. I've been there and I've talked with the people. I know that Basque extremist groups do not represent the whole population."


1) We completely agree with Ms. Sontag on Cuba, Garcia Marquez, and the ETA, and we congratulate her for speaking out on these subjects when it might have been more politically correct of her not to do so.

2) Arnold Schwarzenegger may or may not turn out to be a good governor, but he is distinctly not an idiot.

3) We don't like Berlusconi either. He's a crook. A pro-American crook, but a crook nonetheless.

4) Since when is violence more seductive now in the US than in the past? Murder rates are way down and general violent crime is much worse in Europe than the US. And the stupidest violent movies I've ever seen were when the university movie theater put on Jean-Luc Godard Week once when I was there.

5) Most of us are much happier when politics are run by non-professional politicians. Besides, I thought we agreed that Powell and Rice and Rumsfeld and Cheney and company are very important in helping Bush run things, and they know all about policies and politics, don't they?

6) Fifty years ago people were complaining about those damn teenagers listening to Elvis instead of Mozart.

7) Ms. Sontag does not seem to like Texas or Texans very much. My impression is that, in general, Texas and Texans don't much care for Ms. Sontag, either. Exceptions: Molly Ivins, Ann Richards.

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