In this collection of essays, what stands out to me is that there are no stars here. Unlike both Against Interpretation (where there are two stars, plus many other good essays) and On Photography (where the whole book is a star), this book has some good essays (on silence, her response to questions about the US and Vietnam), and some essays that either feel endless repetitive or clearly of a time and place, but less relevant away from the moment.
Namely, what stands out to me to be an ok essay, but also that stays firmly in place in the 1969 when it’s written, is the long essay on Godard. In addition, the essays on pornography also feels like part of a process of thinking on the subject, but not one that really has much to it when the book is done.
Overall, this feels like a lot of follow ups to better books, searching and climbing, but failing to establish itself.
“I live in an unethical society that coarsens the sensibilities and thwarts the capacities for goodness of most people but makes available for minority consumption an astonishing array of intellectual and aesthetic pleasures. Those who don’t enjoy (in both senses) my pleasures have every right, from their side, to regard my consciousness as spoiled, corrupt, decadent. I, from my side, can’t deny the immense richness of these pleasures, or my addiction to them.”
“Religion is probably, after sex, the second oldest resource which human beings have available to them for blowing their mind.”