As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980 (Journals of Susan Sontag #2)

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  252 ratings  ·  31 reviews
This, thesecond of three volumes of Susan Sontag’s journals and notebooks, begins where the first volume left off, in the middle of the 1960s. It traces and documents Sontag’s evolution from fledgling participant in the artistic and intellectual world of New York City to world-renowned critic and dominant force in the world of ideas with the publication of the groundbreaki...more
523 pages
Published April 10th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2012)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,539)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I love all the tortured parts—Sontag's relationship insecurities with other women and her feelings of not writing enough—which is the best thing about this book. I don't care for her son's terrible bracket edits (ugh), nor reading her fragments for pages and pages, though yeah I know this is a notebook. I kept thinking about Nin while reading Sontag, one so emotional and sensual in the prose, the other so intellectual and tense. This took me a long time to finish because I had so many parts to c...more
Heather Fowler
What I love about this book is that it is an accumulation of journals and, as such, has the sort of urgency and private feel to it that almost represents voyeurism. Between lists of Sontag's readings and cinema rankings, ideal short fiction collection ideas, glimpses at her analysis of how some of her work was experienced, and general thoughts about intellectualism/intellectuals of her acquaintances, there was also this extreme analysis of self and identity. In tiny parcels. I loved the parts ab...more
James Murphy
Susan Sontag was a thinker. To read her journals is to have the impression she was only that, lacking a side as woman, lover, mother, or friend. But she was all of those things, as she knew. Her journals seem to be attempts to weld the two sides of herself into one person, to harness her enormous intellect and interests to the flesh of the woman she was. She says she's not saying things in absolute terms. She claims to be allowing something to be said, something independent of herself. I'm not s...more
If weird and bizarre Orientalist aphorisms are dealbreakers for you (and they are for me. We all have our Things) then it would be best to skip 1968 and parts of 1972-73. There's also some REALLY UNFORTUNATE RACIST/ABLEIST TERMS used at around p.345, so maybe skip that too. Maybe you're wondering why I even bothered giving this any stars at all? It's because it's a diary, and because there are a lot of moments where Sontag really exquisitely lays bear this deep pain and melancholy. I disagree wi...more
Jamie Carr (Tin House Books, Editorial Intern): “5/5/64. The right hand = the hand that is aggressive, the hand that masturbates. Therefore, to prefer the left hand!…To romanticize it, to sentimentalize it!” And so begins Susan Sontag’s As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980. Compiled by her daughter, this volume tracks Sontag’s wanderings, artistic influences, struggle to find a sense of self outside of her romantic relationships, anger about the American war...more
Apr 03, 2012 Hannah marked it as to-read
"Being in love (l’amour fou) a pathological variant of loving. Being in love = addiction, obsession, exclusion of others, insatiable demand for presence, paralysis of other interests and activities. A disease of love, a fever (therefore exalting). One “falls” in love. But this is one disease which, if one must have it, is better to have often rather than infrequently. It’s less mad to fall in love often (less inaccurate for there are many wonderful people in the world) than only two or three tim...more
Zöe Yu
This is a great book to understand more thoughts beyond Susan Sontag's interviews and novels. I wanted to say more here, but probably I'd better go back to my proposal and nail that one first.

She categories writers with three teams. And the publishing of this book already made her in the third team, as she wanted, to be like Kafka, that her words "become reference points for successive generations in many languages."

Feb 14, 2013 M. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
The second volume of Sontag's notebooks is just as radically fascinating as the first. I love Sontag's brain, and her notebooks offer such a specific insight into that--her humanity, her internal struggles, developing ideas that eventually turn into her brilliant essays. So much greatness in the extra-textual work of so many artists.
Disjointed, gorgeous, well-arranged and includes fascinating journal entries on lovers, projects completed and abandoned, and thoughts on art and literature. Would absolutely recommend to those familiar with/interested in Sontag.
The more important question is, "What did Carlotta think?"
I hate giving this only three stars's someone's journal. Someone who is brilliant and an incredible writer, but someone who, in this context, wrote for her self. Which means sometimes you get pages of lists of foreign films, or just the names of Russian intellectuals with a note "to read," or notes for an essay that point out to dozens of other works on the topic.

When Sontag is writing prose, actual paragraphs about her work or her family or her disappointments and joys, this is an incr...more
I learned about this book from the blog "brain pickings" which reviews off the beaten track books. Disjointed, passionate, brilliant snippets from the personal journals of Susan Sontag, edited by her son. At times, I felt like I was looking at things she really would have preferred to keep private. At other times, the writing felt strangely disconnected from reality:

"The right hand =the hand that is aggressive, the hand that masturbates. Therefore, to prefer the left hand! romanticize it, t...more
"The ultimate fantasy: the recovery of the irrecoverable past."

"To say a feeling, an impression is to diminish it--expel it."

"A miracle is just an accident, with fancy trappings."

"One can never ask anyone to change a feeling."

"Nothing is mysterious, no human relation. Except love."

"What makes fantasy pleasurable, bearable, for most people is that, usually, one doesn't want--really--for the fantasy to come true. (sex, dreams of glory, etc.) I find fantasies--of love, warmth, sex--unbearably painf...more
Dorie Raven
Ordinarily I like reading journals and diaries, and Sontag's journals lend themselves well to browsing. However, her own comments about "notebook thinking," and aphorisms apply here. I got the sense that even in her private journal, Sontag is alternately talking down to readers or expecting us to keep up in a sort of intellectual obstacle course. (I don't actually know if she intended these for publication, and if she didn't then it would obviously change my view of what she's written here.) But...more
Perhaps a great mind is not made, but born and perhaps you can never change your character from adolescence to adulthood. Sontag's mind was defined before she was even in college and it continues through her maturation in this second journal. What is significant, however, is that her insecurities and depression manifested herself during her adulthood, and through her battle with cancer, she did not write much about it or her battles, but her thoughts clearly reflected her sense of the illness, b...more
Zhaodan Kong
I would say journal is not my favorite format. It is so unstructured that my thought gets lost quite easily and lists of movies she watched and her daily activities won't help either. From such a perspective, I find that the most attractive parts of the book are where she spells out her thoughts on philosophy and politics and describes her struggling of being a good lover, which can essentially be read as essays, but more personal since the journal is not intended for public eyes.
An absolutely fascinating glimpse into the mind of one of the most influential essayists of the 20th century. Interspersed with searing personal appraisals these diaries - notebooks really - provide a wonderful insight into the thought processes, the influences, her reading and the people she met. This lady was seriously connected!

As she says in one of her aphoristic entries, we don't write letters any more, we talk to our notebooks.

Well worth a read.
Mills College Library
Biog S6999a 2012
Dec 03, 2013 Jen added it
I've never been so happy to finish a book. Or maybe—this is the closest I've ever come to not finishing a book, but then I finished. Sontag's been an inspiration for me. (She grew up in In Tucson, which is my hometown.) But these journals, sheesh. Her constant striving, and competing and comparing herself to other writers, is exhausting and depressing to read. Inspirational as an example of what I do not want to be; somewhat excruciating to read.
Weirdly, I have never read any novel or essay by Susan Sontag, only her first notebooks, that my mother had offered me some years ago. I still like her thoughts, the vivacity of her mind, the numerous ideas. But more than anything else, what I find fascinating, is the fact that we can discover a person, a mind, an experience of the world,... Otherness. And I still love her thoughts about love.
John Orman
Collection of sentences, paragraphs, and even just phrases from Sontag's notebooks. "A word that has the power to hurt, e.g., kitsch, is still alive." "Cerebral jogging." "dream > science fiction." Some very odd juxtapositions of wordplay make up the raw material of a writer's thoughts, and so it is thought-provoking.
Sontag's journal, lots of it in point form and quite vague, so not a riveting read, but interesting to get some insight into her, and see how her thinking and interests change over this 16 year period. Most interesting for me were her insights on romantic relationships.
At first I was happy to hear these journals and notebooks were coming out but - we no longer have Susan Sontag and mining her journals for more fine work like On Photography is a poor sport (for me). Time to reread. Against Interpretation, maybe.
Nancy Stringer
"I'm not a mind isn't good enough, isn't really first rate...I'm not mad enough, not obsessed enough...."

The dark lady of American letters.
I didn't get all of this book read, but anything by Sontag is worth a reader's time and energy.
James Penido
Brilliant,emocional,sometimes poignant.A Susan Sontag we knew only after her death.
Asmayani Kusrini
Very personal writing. I wonder if Sontag's would've agree to publish it
L a n c e
so glad they are publishing these in such quick succession.
Dec 16, 2013 Elbrackeen added it
Shelves: dnf
returned to the library unskimmed, maybe next time
Jeff Lewis
Wonderful. Beautiful. Read it.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 51 52 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists
  • Susan Sontag: The Complete Rolling Stone Interview
  • Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You're So Tired
  • Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag
  • Big Questions from Little People: And Simple Answers from Great Minds
  • The Where, the Why, and the How: 75 Artists Illustrate Wondrous Mysteries of Science
  • The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs
  • I Saw a Peacock with a Fiery Tail
  • My Poets
  • Mourning Diary
  • About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, and Five Interviews
  • Henri's Walk to Paris
  • What Light Can Do: Essays on Art, Imagination, and the Natural World
  • Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece
  • A Technique for Producing Ideas
  • Modernism: The Lure of Heresy from Baudelaire to Beckett and Beyond
  • Forty-one False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers
  • Wisdom of the Heart
Jewish American literary theorist, novelist, filmmaker, and feminist activist.
More about Susan Sontag...
On Photography Against Interpretation and Other Essays Regarding the Pain of Others Illness as Metaphor & AIDS and Its Metaphors Reborn: Journals and Notebooks, 1947-1963

Share This Book

“My library is an archive of longings.” 2313 likes
“One can never ask anyone to change a feeling.” 24 likes
More quotes…