Friday, March 14, 2008

history or psychology?

I hadn't known until today that a book I consider to be one of the most interesting ever written about Freud - Philip Rieff's The Mind of the Moralist - was quietly quasi-coauthored by Rieff's then-wife Susan Sontag, who was at the time (1959) an instructor in religion at Columbia. I should say that this is just something I've heard; I myself have no evidence. But I have found some textual or indirect the one thing the young Sontag published in 1960, which was a review of a book about Greek and Shakespearean drama that somehow permits the reviewer to summarize the end-of-ideology critique of politics as a form of change-suppressing ahistorical psychologizing. I've got more to say about this 1960 piece on my 1960 blog here.

I had the honor of hosting Sontag - and of interviewing her - in 2003, soon after she published Regarding the Pain of Others. Here is a link to video recordings of her talk and of that interview.