Calling to mind Daniel Dennett’s advice on how to compose a successful critical commentary, Susan Sontag offers three steps to refuting any argument, from the newly released As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980, which is an intimate look behind the scenes of an imperfect genius.
From September 16, 1965, written during a trip to Paris, Sontag writes:
The main techniques for refuting an argument:
Find the inconsistency
Find the counter-example
Find a wider context
Instance of (3):
I am against censorship. In all forms. Not just for the right of masterpieces— high art— to be scandalous.
But what about pornography (commercial)?
Find the wider context: notion of voluptuousness à la Bataille?
But what about children? Not even for them? Horror comics, etc.
Why forbid them comics when they can read worse things in the newspapers any day. Napalm bombing in Vietnam, etc.
A just/ discriminating censorship is impossible.
As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh follows up the 2008 Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963. Complement with her thoughts on style and metaphors, the function of common sense, and aphorisms and the commodification of wisdom.