Susan Sontag - Illness as Metaphor and AIDS and Its Metaphors
My aim was to alleviate unnecessary suffering — exactly as Nietzsche formulated it, in a passage in Daybreak that I came across recently:Thinking about illness! — To calm the imagination of the invalid, so that at least he should not, as hitherto, have to suffer more from thinking about his illness than from the illness itself — that, I think, would be something! It would be a great deal!The purpose of my book was to calm the imagination, not to incite it. Not to confer meaning, which is the traditional purpose of literary endeavor, but to deprive something of meaning: to apply that quixotic, highly polemical strategy, ‘against interpretation,’ to the real world this time. To the body. My purpose was, above all, practical. For it was my doleful observation, repeated again and again, that the metaphoric trappings that deform the experience of having cancer have very real consequences: they inhibit people from seeking treatment early enough, or from making a greater effort to get competent treatment. The metaphors and myths, I was convinced, kill.