Because the new sensibility demands less ‘content’ in art, and is more open to the pleasures of ‘form’ and style, it is also less snobbish, less moralistic — in that it does not demand that pleasure in art necessarily be associated with edification. If art is understood as a form of discipline of the feelings and a programming of sensations, then the feeling (or sensation) given off by a Rauschenberg painting might be like that of a song by the Supremes. The brio and elegance of Budd Boetticher’s The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond or the singing style of Dionne Warwick can be appreciated as a complex and pleasurable event. They are experienced without condescension.
– Susan Sontag, “One Culture and the New Sensibility,” 1965
[I’ve been under the impression for a long time that Sontag mentioning the Supremes and Dionne Warwick was a Big Deal. To this McLuhan/Aesthetics of Rock fan, it all seems a bit so-what to me, but perhaps in context, in 1965 — inside the halls of academia? — assigning value to the Supremes did signal some kind of line being crossed. I don’t know. I’ve also heard that Sontag later shrugged off whatever affinities she once expressed for pop, though I’ve never seen the evidence of such.]