Rehearsing Don Quixote
“Writing is a beautiful act. It is making something that will give pleasure to others later.”
—Susan Sontag, from Reborn: Journals and Notebooks 1947-1963

Luc Sante begins his New York Times review of Susan Sontag’s newly published journals as follows: “You might say there are two kinds of writers: those who keep a journal in the hope that its contents might someday be published, and those who do not keep a journal for fear that its contents might someday be published.” This first volume, edited by Sontag’s son David Rieff, covers Sontag’s life from age 14 to 30—her meals, her hair, the prison of her marriage, her travels abroad, her love affairs, and, above all, her insatiable appetite for culture.

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Another variation of origins appears in the January 26 issue of The New Yorker: the sayings of George Balanchine, and the people he stole them from.

Example: “I am not a man, but a cloud in trousers.”

Can you name that poet? It’s Mayakovsky, and it’s from one of the first poems I really fell in love with.

Another: “A realibus ad realiora.” (from reality to a higher reality). That’s Vyacheslav Ivanov.

Balanchine’s appropriation: To make the beautiful more beautiful.