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  • LIKES / DISLIKES

    On Licorice, Bach, Jews and Penknives

    Things I like: fires, Venice, tequila, sunsets, babies, silent films, heights, coarse salt, top hats, large long- haired dogs, ship models, cinnamon, goose down quilts, pocket watches, the smell of newly mown grass, linen, Bach, Louis XIII furniture, sushi, microscopes, large rooms, boots, drinking water, maple sugar candy.

    Things I dislike: sleeping in an apartment alone, cold weather, couples, football games, swimming, anchovies, mustaches, cats, umbrellas, being photographed, the taste of licorice, washing my hair (or having it washed), wearing a wristwatch, giving a lecture, cigars, writing letters, taking showers, Robert Frost, German food.

    Things I like: ivory, sweaters, architectural drawings, urinating, pizza (the Roman bread), staying in hotels, paper clips, the color blue, leather belts, making lists, wagon-lits, paying bills, caves, watching ice-skating, asking questions, taking taxis, Benin art, green apples, office furniture, Jews, eucalyptus trees, penknives, aphorisms, hands.

    Things I dislike: television, baked beans, hirsute men, paperback books, standing, card games, dirty or disorderly apartments, flat pillows, being in the sun, Ezra Pound, freckles, violence in movies, having drops put in my eyes, meatloaf, painted nails, suicide, licking envelopes, ketchup, traversins [“bolsters”], nose drops, Coca-Cola, alcoholics, taking photographs.

    This material is excerpted and adapted from the forthcoming book “As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980,” by Susan Sontag, edited by David Rieff.


    About a month ago the divine Leigh Patterson, editor of SYNONYM and contributor to Alldayeveryday, asked me to participate in an ongoing feature called Likes/Dislikes. For this series Patterson, "asks interesting individuals to create two lists: one of their likes, one of dislikes. The feature is based on two things: an excerpt from Susan Sontag’s As Consciousness Is Harnessed to Flesh: Journals and Notebooks, 1964-1980 and another from Roland Barthes’ autobiography (trans. Richard Howard, 1977)." At first approach this project seemed completely daunting since I do not fancy myself a list maker or collector of thoughts in this fashion, however as I thought about it more and more it was remarkable how things just popped into my brain into groupings because of Patterson's prompt.

    Even before the invitation, I have long thought that categorizing items was a very human quality, perhaps a strange survival technique in some way. How many selections do you make in a day based on what you enjoy and what you'd rather not experience? Is this safe, is this dangerous? Does this feel good, does this make me feel bad? As a visual artist, I find myself asking all kinds of questions and striving to find a harmonious balance in the choices that I make. Much of it is instinctual and always seems very personally distinct, but variable and capricious, too. In creating my lists for Alldayeveryday I often felt compelled to include gratuitous conditions to certain likes or dislikes, and then quickly realized that I had to commit without apology to this list. I hope that the readers understand the exercise and that these collections of items or sensations are certainly truths, but can't be perceived as permanent since nothing certainly is.

    So here it is folks, a list of likes and dislikes from me created on May 18, 2014 at approximately 6:02 pm. I look through them now and see some reign true today, but then some don't. Thanks to Leigh for thinking of me for this project, it was so much fun and delivered so much insight!

    As a note: the awesome print above of Susan Sontag is part of the incredible pinup writer collection that Erik Heywood creates for his Oakland book store called BOOK/SHOP. Sontag is PINUP NO. 4 and is available now in their shop, but you can also get your hands on one by emailing them at info@book---shop.com.