Una Mullally: Southern patriotic grandstanding must stop if we want a united Ireland

North-South dialogue and cohesion must avoid unionist vs nationalist binaries

 Writer and philosopher Susan Sontag: her intellectualism was deeply rooted in an empathy that might well assist in moves towards Irish unity. Photograph: George Rose/Getty

Writer and philosopher Susan Sontag: her intellectualism was deeply rooted in an empathy that might well assist in moves towards Irish unity. Photograph: George Rose/Getty

A few years ago, Jonathan Colt, a contributing editor of Rolling Stone magazine, published the full text of an interview he conducted with Susan Sontag, an edited version of which appeared in the magazine in 1979. The conversation is loaded with thought-provoking observations about life from Sontag, who died over 14 years ago. Many of them are quotable, but two keep returning to me. “There’s an active notion of neutrality that people don’t understand . . . transcendent neutrality isn’t an attitude of ‘I won’t take sides’, it’s compassion. Where you do see more than just what separates people or sides.”

Another relates to examining the origins of our own thoughts: “We have more or less the same bodies, but very different kinds of thoughts . . . I believe that we think much more with the instruments provided by our culture than we do with our bodies, and hence the much greater diversity of thought in the world.”

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