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Camille Paglia

Camille Paglia
Born April 2, 1947 (1947-04-02) (age 62)
Endicott, New York
Occupation Professor and Cultural critic
Nationality United States
Period 1974–
Subjects Feminism, Popular Culture, Art, Poetry, Sex
Official website

Camille Anna Paglia (born 2 April 1947 in Endicott, New York) is an American author, teacher, and social critic. She has described herself as a dissident feminist[2]. Since 1984, Paglia has been a Professor at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her book, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, published in 1990, became a bestseller.

Contents

Overview

Paglia (pronounced with a silent 'g') is an intellectual of many seeming contradictions: an atheist who respects religion[3] and a classicist who champions art both high and low. She believes that human nature has an inherently dangerous Dionysian aspect, especially the darker sides of human sexuality [4] She favors a curriculum grounded in comparative religion, art history and the literary canon, with a greater emphasis on facts in the teaching of history. She came to public attention in 1990, with the publication of her first book, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson. Her notoriety as the author of this book made it possible for her to write on popular culture and feminism in mainstream newspapers and magazines. Paglia has challenged what she calls the "liberal establishment", including academia, feminist advocacy groups such as the National Organization for Women (NOW), and AIDS activists ACT UP.

Paglia describes herself as a feminist and as a registered Democrat whose 2000 presidential vote was for Ralph Nader, "[because] I detest the arrogant, corrupt superstructure of the Democratic Party, with which I remain stubbornly registered."[5] She campaigned for John F. Kennedy as an adolescent and later voted for Bill Clinton. However, she criticized Clinton for not resigning after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which she says led to America being "blindsided by 9/11."[5] In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Paglia supported Barack Obama.[6] Paglia has taken controversial stances such as rejecting the idea that homosexuality is an inborn trait and being skeptical about global warming.[7][8] Her views have led to accusations of neoconservatism; she described those making the accusations as "idiots."[9] Paglia's embrace of fetishism, pornography, prostitution and homosexuality puts her at odds with American social conservatives.[10]

Paglia wrote a column for Salon.com from its inception in 1995 until 2001. Paglia rejoined Salon in February 2007. She is a contributing editor at Interview magazine and is on the editorial board of the classics and humanities journal Arion. Paglia is currently writing her third collection of essays and a companion volume to Break, Blow, Burn dealing with the visual arts rather than poetry.

For some years, Paglia shared a residence with the artist and teacher Alison Maddex. Their relationship included Paglia legally adopting Maddex's son (who was born in 2002). In 2009, the couple apparently separated.[11]

Biography

Childhood

Paglia is the elder daughter of Pasquale and Lydia Anne (Colapietro) Paglia. Her mother was born in Ceccano, Italy. Her father's ancestors also came from Italy.

Despite their modest means, her parents exposed her to classical Western art and culture. The first music to make an impression on her was Bizet's Carmen, an opera which, in her words, "struck me with electrifying force."[12] She was three when she first heard the opera, but was still enamored of it in her writing more than 40 years later.

Paglia spent her primary school years in rural Oxford, New York, where her family lived in a working farmhouse.[13] Her father, a veteran of World War II,[14] taught at the Oxford Academy high school. In 1957, her family moved to Syracuse, New York, so that her father could begin graduate school; he eventually became a professor of Romance languages at Le Moyne College. She attended the Edward Smith Elementary school, T. Aaron Levy Junior High and William Nottingham High School.[15]

By all accounts, she was an excellent student at Nottingham High School. She spent her Saturdays in the Carnegie Library, absorbed in books and manuscripts. In 1992, Carmelia Metosh, her Latin teacher for three years, said "She always has been controversial. Whatever statements were being made (in class), she had to challenge them. She made good points then, as she does now. She was very alert, 'with it' in every way."[16] Paglia thanked Metosh in the acknowledgements to Sexual Personae, later describing her as "the dragon lady of Latin studies, who breathed fire at principals and school boards."[15]

She attended Spruce Ridge Camp, a Girl Scout facility in the Adirondacks where, by her later account, she had crushes on the women counselors. She took a variety of names when she was there, including Anastasia (her confirmation name, inspired by the Ingrid Bergman film); Stacy; and Stanley. An iconic experience was the time the outhouse exploded when she poured too much lime into it. "It symbolized everything I would do with my life and work. Excess and extravagance and explosiveness. I would be someone who would look into the latrine of culture, into pornography and crime and psychopathology...and I would drop the bomb into it."[17][18]

Paglia discovered Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex in 1963.[19] It led Paglia to stop working on the book about Amelia Earhart she had been writing for three years, and to resolve to write a "mega-book that will take everything in", the beginning of what later became Sexual Personae.[20] On July 8 1963, Newsweek magazine published her letter about equal opportunity for American women. On November 24, 1963, Syracuse's Herald American profiled her outstanding achievements as a student, noting her longtime study of feminist icon Amelia Earhart.

College years

Binghamton University, Harpur College (1964–1968)

She entered the Harpur College at Binghamton University in 1964, graduating as class valedictorian in 1968. The essays she wrote during those years on "sexual ambiguity and aggression in literature, art and history" grew into Sexual Personae.

She had been writing poetry prior to entering college (her poem "Atrophy" had been published in her local newspaper in 1964[21]), but it was at Harpur that she received an education in it, taking courses in Metaphysical poetry and John Milton. She later wrote that the biggest impact on her thinking were the classes taught by poet Milton Kessler. "He believed in the responsiveness of the body, and of the activation of the senses to literature... And oh did I believe in that. Probably from my Italian background — that's the way we respond to things, with our body. From Michelangelo, Bernini, there's this whole florid physicality leading right down to the Grand Opera, the great arias."[22]

She wrote her senior thesis on Emily Dickinson, and aspired to be a poet, inspired by the work of Edna St. Vincent Millay and Gerard Manley Hopkins. She submitted a reconfiguration of the Dido episode of Virgil's Aeneid to the college literary magazine, but its editor, Deborah Tannen, rejected it, saying that "Poets don't write like this anymore."[23]

At Harpur she befriended three gay men who have had a lifelong influence on her thinking: Bruce Benderson (a classmate at Nottingham High School), Stephen Jarratt, and Stephen Feld. Her father got her a summer job working the night shift at St. Joseph's Hospital in Syracuse as an emergency ward secretary. "It was unbelievable, like being in a war without any danger to myself," she later said. "I forced myself to look at every single horrible thing — once, OK? After a while, you start to adjust. It was pivotal because it's one of the reasons I'm not sentimental at all about death or disease."[16]

Seeing a female student being groped on the street by two drunken men at Harpur, she hit one of them in the teeth; she was 19 at the time. She was once put on probation for committing 39 pranks, a fact in which she takes pride.[24] She told an interviewer in 2003 that she follows the model of the "Hindu gurus, the aging masters and sages" because they're "actually very funny. They're funny, they're prankish. Zen masters are known to be prankish." She said, "To me, comedy is a symptom of a balanced perspective on life, and people who are going around, like gloomy gusses, in that Sontag style of intellectual, these people are suffering from something coming from their childhood, it has nothing to do with the proper intellectual response to life..."[25]

Yale Graduate School (1968–1972)

Paglia did her graduate studies at Yale just as the women's movement and gay liberation came into American consciousness, yet here too her sexual orientation and sexually ambiguous persona led to conflict. A friend of hers at the time, Robert Caserio, recalled in 1996: "She did not act in a way that convention there dictated. Yale was an extremely genteel place. Camille wasn't genteel. She was so upfront and she wore pants in a very aggressive way. She was an out-feminist and identified with gay sexuality. We were all very much more discreet."

Paglia has repeatedly noted she was openly lesbian while at Yale Graduate School, and claimed to have been the only open lesbian there from 1968 to 1972.[26]

While at Yale, Paglia quarreled with Rita Mae Brown, whom she later characterised as "then darkly nihilist", and argued with the New Haven, Connecticut Women's Liberation Rock Band when they dismissed the Rolling Stones as sexist.[27] Paglia writes that she, "had two close encounters with Kate Millett (author of Sexual Politics) just after she became famous, in New Haven, Connecticut, and in Provincetown, Massachusetts, but she was too morosely self-absorbed to notice." Because of what she saw as Millett's careless attitude toward scholarship, Paglia became critical of her and those who supported her work.

Her study of sexuality in Western literature continued to develop with her reading of D. H. Lawrence's Women in Love (1920) and Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene (1590). In 1970, she wrote a 160-page paper for her last graduate seminar at Yale entitled "Male and Female in Virginia Woolf." Her original plan for her book "Sexual Personae" was that it would end with a study of Woolf and Lawrence.[28]

In 1971, she discovered Kenneth Clark's The Nude (1956), a book which would have a profound impact on her dissertation and later work. "If ever I was in love with a book, it was with this one," she wrote in Sex, Art & American Culture; and in an article for Women's Quarterly in 2002, she called it "the best introduction by far to representation of the human figure in art."[29]

In 1971 Paglia received an M.Phil from Yale, a degree awarded when all coursework and examinations towards a Ph.D. have been completed but the dissertation has not yet been written and accepted, and began her dissertation under the supervision of her mentor Harold Bloom. It was then titled "The Androgynous Dream: the image of the androgyne as it appears in literature and is embodied in the psyche of the artist, with reference to the visual arts and the cinema."[30] While reading a draft of her thesis in 1971, Bloom wrote in the margin that a passage was "Mere Sontagisme!" Paglia later wrote, "It saddened me, but I knew Bloom was right. Susan Sontag, who could have been Jane Harrison's successor as a supreme woman scholar, had become synonymous with a shallow kind of hip posturing."[31]

In a letter dated February 13, 1972 to Carolyn Heilbrun at Columbia University, Paglia inquired about her forthcoming book on androgyny;[30] Heilbrun wrote back saying that her book could not deal with all available material on the subject. When asked about Paglia's letter years later, Heilbrun could not remember it.[32] When Heilbrun's Toward a Recognition of Androgyny came out, Paglia panned it in a review for the Summer 1973 issue of the Yale Review. "Heilbrun's book is so poorly researched that it may disgrace the subject in the eyes of serious scholars," she wrote. She noted that "the most distinguished commentators on androgyny are Mircea Eliade and G. Wilson Knight"; and criticized Heilbrun for her reliance on the work of Joseph Campbell, and for including "four flattering references" to Kate Millett while making "fifteen glib jibes" at Sigmund Freud. The author of the review was clearly an expert on the history of androgyny, but as it was the journal's policy for reviews to be published without attribution, few knew that Paglia wrote it.

Teaching career

In the fall 1972, Paglia began teaching at Bennington College, which hired her in part thanks to a recommendation from Harold Bloom.[33] At Bennington, she befriended the philosopher James Fessenden, who first taught there that very semester.[34] One of her students, Mitchell Lichtenstein became a prominent filmmaker, writing and directing Teeth in 2007, a movie that was inspired by the myth of the vagina dentata, and was heavily influenced by Paglia's work. Another student of hers was Mark W. Edmundson, now a professor at the University of Virginia, who in January 1997, wrote about her as follows: "She was appointed as my faculty advisor in her first term. I went in for my advisorial visit and she was entirely herself, talking very fast about many things I knew nothing about. I ran in fear. Alas, I was too puzzled to take any of her classes, which seemed to be full of very sophisticated people from LA and from New York."[35]

Writer Heidi Schmidt, who attended her classes, recalled in 1996: "She was thought of as peculiar. She was so full of excitement and so intense. She would light one cigarette and then forget about it and light another, so she was waving two cigarettes. I think people took her quite lightly, she was thought of as eccentric."

Yet another Bennington student from Paglia's time there was Judith Butler, who went on to a successful academic career. In a 2005 interview, Paglia said of Butler: "She was a student when I was at my first job at Bennington in the 70s, and I saw her up close. And I know what she knows. I mean, she transferred from there, to Yale, and her background in anything is absolutely minimal. She started a career in philosophy, abandoned that, and has been taken as this sort of major philosophical thinker by people in literary criticism. But has she ever made any exploration of science? For her to be dismissing biology, and to say gender is totally socially constructed — where are her readings, her studies? It's all gameplay, wordplay, and her work is utterly pernicious, a total dead-end."[36]

Paglia's first scholarly publication was "Lord Hervey and Pope," published in the 1973 18th Century Studies. (A Times Literary Supplement cover story on Lord Hervey, November 2, praised the paper as "brilliant.").[37] The article was a revision of a term paper she wrote. In April 1973, she attended a Susan Sontag lecture at Dartmouth College and later invited her to Bennington to speak there on October 4. The event proved controversial because Sontag read a short story instead of giving the expected cultural lecture. Paglia later commented, "I was stunned because I thought she was going to be a major intellectual", later writing at length about their meeting in an essay entitled "Sontag, Bloody Sontag", published in Vamps & Tramps. Susan Sontag said of Paglia, "We used to think Norman Mailer was bad, but she makes Norman Mailer look like Jane Austen."[38]

Another intellectual disappointment for Paglia was Marija Gimbutas, who published The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe in 1974. At the same time, Paglia launched "a detailed attack on an exhibit at Bennington's Crossett Library, 'Matriarchy: The Golden Age,' which used appallingly shoddy feminist materials alleging the existence of a peaceful, prehistoric matriarchy, later supposedly overthrown by nasty males."[27]

Through her study of the classics and the scholarly work of Jane Ellen Harrison, James George Frazer, Erich Neumann and others, Paglia developed a theory of sexual history that contradicted a number of ideas in vogue at the time, hence her criticism of Gimbutas, Heilbrun, Millett and others. She laid out her ideas on matriarchy, androgyny, homosexuality, sadomasochism and other topics in her Yale Ph.D. thesis Sexual Personae: The Androgyne in Literature and Art, which she defended in December 1974. In September 1976, she gave a public lecture drawing on that dissertation,[39] in which she discussed Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene, followed by remarks on Diana Ross, Gracie Allen, Yul Brynner, and Stephane Audran.[40]

In March 1975, she saw Germaine Greer speak in Albany. She was disappointed, reporting later that "During the question period, I nervously raised my hand from the crowd and asked if Greer, a former English professor, would be writing on literary subjects again soon. Her reply was stern and swift: 'There are far more important things in the world than literature!'"

In another disheartening experience, Paglia "nearly came to blows with the founding members of the women's studies program at the State University of New York at Albany, when they categorically denied that hormones influence human experience or behavior. These women (whose field was literature) attributed my respect for science to 'brainwashing' by men."[41] Similar fights with feminists, lesbians, chauvinists, homophobes and academics culminated in a 1978 incident that led her to resign from Bennington a year later.[42]

Paglia finished Sexual Personae in the early 1980s, but could not get it published. She supported herself with visiting and part-time teaching jobs at Yale, Wesleyan, and other Connecticut colleges. She taught night classes at the Sikorsky Helicopter plant. Her paper, "The Apollonian Androgyne and the Faerie Queen," was published in English Literary Renaissance, Winter 1979, and her dissertation was cited by J. Hillis Miller in his April 1980 article "Wuthering Heights and the Ellipses of Interpretation," in Journal of Religion in Literature, but her academic career was otherwise stalled at a time when her peers were moving on to important positions at major universities. In a 1995 letter to Boyd Holmes, she recalled: "I earned a little extra money by doing some local features reporting for a New Haven alternative newspaper (The Advocate) in the early 1980s." She wrote articles on New Haven's historic pizzerias and on an old house that was a stop on the Underground Railroad."[43]

In 1984, she joined the faculty of the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts, which merged in 1987 with the Philadelphia College of Art to become the University of the Arts.

Paglia and Feminism

In Sexual Personae, and in media statements and campus appearances made after its publication, Paglia criticized leaders of the American feminist movement. Paglia claimed that they were ignorant of art, science and history, were hostile to men, and were harming young women by teaching them to see themselves as victims. Paglia compared feminists to cults such as the Unification Church.[44][45] Paglia's stance aroused controversy. Paglia has been associated with the term "postfeminism", but rejects this label.[46]

Gloria Steinem compared Sexual Personae to Mein Kampf, and likened Paglia to Adolf Hitler.[47] In response, Paglia called Steinem "evil" and equated her with Joseph Stalin.[48]

Paglia has repeatedly excoriated Patricia Ireland, former president of the National Organization for Women, calling her a "sanctimonious," unappealing role model for women[49] whose "smug, arrogant" attitude is accompanied by "painfully limited processes of thought."[50] Paglia contends that under Ireland's leadership, NOW "damaged and marginalized the women's movement."[51]

Molly Ivins wrote a scathing review of Sexual Personae in which she accused Paglia of historical inaccuracy, demagoguery of second-wave feminists, egocentrism, and writing in sweeping generalizations.[52] Ivins concluded her review with this passage: "There is one area in which I think Paglia and I would agree that politically correct feminism has produced a noticeable inequity. Nowadays, when a woman behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, 'Poor dear, it's probably PMS.' Whereas, if a man behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, 'What an asshole.' Let me leap to correct this unfairness by saying of Paglia, Sheesh, what an asshole."

Betty Friedan said in an interview, "How can you take her seriously? She is an exhibitionist, and she takes the most extreme elements of the women's movement and tries to make the whole movement antisexual, antilife, antijoy. And neither I nor most of the women I know are that way."[53]

Paglia has called feminist philosopher Martha Nussbaum a "PC diva," and accused her of borrowing her ideas without acknowledgement. She further contends that Nussbaum's "preparation or instinct for sex analysis is dubious at best."[54]

Naomi Wolf traded a series of sometimes personal attacks with Paglia throughout the early 1990s. In The New Republic, Wolf labeled Paglia, "the nipple-pierced person's Phyllis Schlafly who poses as a sexual renegade but is in fact the most dutiful of patriarchal daughters" and called Paglia's writing "full of howling intellectual dishonesty."[55]

Katha Pollitt called Paglia "the Charles Murray of sex. You know, "There's nothing you can do about it."'[56] Pollitt also accused Paglia of "glorify[ing] male dominance".[57]

Paglia and French thought

Paglia is critical of the influence modern French writers have had on the humanities in the U.S. Paglia has singled out Michel Foucault, Jacques Lacan, and Jacques Derrida for criticism, and has also made dismissive remarks about Hélène Cixous, Luce Irigaray, Monique Wittig, Georges Bataille, Jean Baudrillard, Claude Lévi-Strauss, and Pierre Bourdieu.[58] Paglia has condemned Foucault because she believes that he deliberately spread HIV.[59][60]

However, Paglia's assessment of French writers is not purely negative. Paglia has called Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex "brilliant" and "the only thing undergraduate sex study needs", and identified Jean-Paul Sartre's work as part of a high period in literature. Paglia has made positive comments about Roland Barthes's Mythologies and Gilles Deleuze's Masochism: Coldness and Cruelty, while finding both men's later work flawed. Of Gaston Bachelard, who influenced Paglia, she wrote "whose dignified yet fluid phenomenological descriptive method seemed to me ideal for art", adding that he was "the last modern French writer I took seriously."[61][62][63][64]

Works

Sexual Personae: The Androgyne in Literature and Art (1974)

Sexual Personae is the dissertation she presented to the Graduate School of Yale University in candidacy for her Ph. D in December 1974, and which formed the basis for her 1990 book by the same name. The 451 page study, organized into four chapters, examined the appearance of sexually ambiguous figures in art and literature from classical antiquity to the modern period. She wrote that her thesis was based on the assumption that "the inner dynamic of all artistic creation is a psychic union between masculine and feminine powers." She described her method as interdisciplinary, as it combined "literary criticism, art history, and psychology in what I believe is a new synthesis."[65]

Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (1990)

The two-volume manuscript of Sexual Personae was completed in February 1981 and rejected by seven publishers and five agents throughout the 1980s before its eventual acceptance by Ellen Graham for Yale University Press in 1985.[66] For the next few years,[67] Paglia continued to teach while perfecting volume one of the book for its eventual publication in February 1990, and releasing a few additional portions of it in other journals and books.

Her paper "Oscar Wilde and the English Epicene" was published in 1988 in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, edited by Bloom; '"Sex and Violence, or Nature and Art", was published in 1988 in Western Humanities Review; and "Sex," was published in the Spenser Encyclopedia by A. C. Hamilton in 1989.

After the release of Sexual Personae on 15 February 1990[68] the book received little publicity from its publisher as was typical of university presses at the time, but it sold well for months, prompting Yale University Press to send it for a second printing by November 1990. It was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award that year, and then reprinted in paperback by Vintage Press in 1991. It became a best-seller, as did her subsequent books Sex, Art and American Culture: Essays (1992) and Vamps and Tramps (1994).

Throughout the 1990s, Paglia said that a second volume to Sexual Personae would be forthcoming, and was to include her thoughts on sports and popular culture.[69] Eventually, she decided not to proceed with the book as planned, as it would need to undergo too many revisions in order to reflect her changing attitude towards popular culture.

Sex, Art, and American Culture (1992)

Sex, Art, and American Culture (1992) exposed readers to Paglia's views on figures such as Madonna ("the future of feminism"), Elizabeth Taylor, Robert Mapplethorpe and Anita Hill.

Paglia's controversial piece on Madonna, which was originally published in the New York Times in 1990,[70] would be the first of several articles, reviews and other commentary about her.

In Elizabeth Taylor: Hollywood's Pagan Queen, Paglia called Taylor Hollywood's only living queen and wrote of her devotion to her, mentioning the fact that she at one point had collected five hundred and ninety nine pictures of Taylor.[71]

The Beautiful Decadence of Robert Mapplethorpe defended Mapplethorpe's cultural importance and talent while criticising activists and liberals for playing down the disturbing aspects of his work.[72]

In The Strange Case of Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill, Paglia denied that Anita Hill had been sexually harassed and criticized her for not having responded properly to any incident that may have occurred between her and Clarence Thomas, writing "I suspect Hill's behavior was compliant and, to use her own word about a recent exchange with a Thomas friend, "passive.""[73]

Two chapters, Rape and Modern Sex War and The Rape Debate, Continued, were mainly about date rape, which in Paglia's view contemporary feminists had been incapable of preventing. Paglia wrote, "Rape is an outrage that cannot be tolerated in civilized society. Yet feminism, which has waged a crusade for rape to be taken more seriously, has put young women in danger by hiding the truth about sex from them."[74]

In a long article titled Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders: Academe in the Hour of the Wolf, Paglia critically reviewed books about homosexuality in ancient Greece by classicists David M. Halperin and John J. Winkler. Paglia criticised Halperin and Winkler for what she regarded as their shoddy scholarship and careerism, and expressed dismay that philosopher Martha Nussbaum gave their books a favourable review. Paglia attacked Michel Foucault at length in this article, questioning his learning and denying his originality as a thinker. Paglia wrote, "Foucault is the Cagliostro of our time. Nowhere is this more evident than in his treatment of Émile Durkheim, his true source...An entire book could be written applying Harold Bloom's theory of anxiety of influence to Foucault's desperate concealment of his massive indebtedness to Durkheim, to whom he barely, dismissively, and inaccurately refers."[75]

Vamps and Tramps (1994)

Vamps and Tramps was a collection of Paglia's writings since Sex, Art, and American Culture. The book was a bestseller and exposed a wide readership to Paglia's views on contemporary issues such as feminism, academia, the Clinton presidency, the life of Jacqueline Kennedy, and the career of Barbra Streisand.

Paglia explained her title this way: "I want a revamped feminism. Putting the vamp back means the lady must be a tramp. My generation of Sixties rebels wanted to smash the bourgeois codes that had become the authoritarian totems of the Fifties. The 'nice' girl with her soft, sanitized speech and decorous manners had to go. Thirty years later, we're still stuck with her — in the official spokesmen and the anointed heiresses of the feminist establishment...Equal opportunity feminism, which I espouse, demands the removal of all barriers to woman's advance in the political and professional world — but not at the price of special protections for women which are infantilizing and anti-democratic."

Vamps and Tramps included "No Law in the Arena: A Pagan Theory of Sexuality". In it, Paglia discussed controversial sexual issues such as rape, abortion, sexual harassment, prostitution, pornography, and homosexuality. The section on homosexuality discussed debate over what causes people to be gay: "There may indeed be a genetic component predisposing some people toward homosexuality, but social factors in childhood play an enormous role in determining whether that tendency manifests itself or not. Parents are not specifically to blame, insofar as they themselves are affected by historical forces of disintegration. But the family matrix is central to the sexual story." Paglia called the idea that people are born gay "ridiculous," adding that "it is symptomatic of our overpoliticized climate that such assertions are given instant credence by gay activists and their media partisans." Paglia mentioned neuroscientist Simon LeVay's research on the hypothalamus, writing, "Media reports, manipulated by gay activists, trumpeted that LeVay, despite his careful qualifiers, had incontrovertibly established that gay people were born that way and that moral opposition to gayness would hence cease, since homosexuality is not a matter of choice."

Paglia also addressed the issue of conversion therapy. Paglia wrote that, "ACT UP's hysteria made me reconsider those vilified therapists and ministers who think change of homosexual orientation is possible and whose meetings are constantly disrupted by gay agitators. Is gay identity so fragile that it cannot bear the thought that some people may not wish to be gay? The difficulties in changing sexual orientation do not spring from its genetic innateness. Sexuality is highly fluid, and reversals are theoretically possible."[76]

Vamps and Tramps also included transcripts of Paglia's previous TV and film appearances, including her 1993 collaboration with Glenn Belverio in his short film "Glennda and Camille Do Downtown," which played at the Sundance Film Festival and won first prize for best short documentary at the Chicago Underground Film Festival, and The Return of Carry Nation, an article reprinted from Playboy, attacking anti-pornography feminists Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin.[62]

The Birds (1998)

In 1998 Paglia's fourth book was published. It was an analysis of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds for the British Film Institute's "Film Classics Series".

Break, Blow, Burn (2005)

Paglia 1.jpg

In 2005 Paglia's study of poetry entitled Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-three of the World's Best Poems was published. The book contains full texts of the 43 poems, each followed by an essay. The title is from a line in "Holy Sonnet XIV" by John Donne. It was named as one of the "New York Times Notable Books of the Year" for 2005, and was on the bestseller lists for Amazon.com, Booksense, The New York Times, The Northern California Independent Booksellers Association and the Toronto Globe & Mail.

In this book, she wrote essays on poems by William Shakespeare, John Donne, George Herbert, Andrew Marvell, William Blake, William Wordsworth, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, William Butler Yeats, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Jean Toomer, Langston Hughes, Theodore Roethke, Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Frank O'Hara, Paul Blackburn, May Swenson, Gary Snyder, Norman H. Russell, Chuck Wachtel, Rochell Kraut, Wanda Coleman, Ralph Pomeroy, and one song, "Woodstock," by Joni Mitchell.

While speaking at events during the 2006 promotional tour for the paperback version of her book, she attacked the positive reputations that poets John Ashbery and Jorie Graham have enjoyed in academe. Of Graham she said, "Maybe she had some talent early on... She is like a mirror to the professors; they look into her and see themselves."[77]

Paglia also spoke of how she regretted not including poems by Allen Ginsberg in the book, since she has been a fan of his since reading "Howl". She said that she tried to excerpt the first hundred lines of "Howl", but that it gave the wrong impression of the work. The poem also did not entirely meet her standards. Paglia told a reporter for the Toronto Star: "'Howl', when I reread it, came across as so garish, stagey, hammy. It didn't work for this book."

Bibliography

  • Sexual Personae: The Androgyne in Literature and Art (Dissertation: 1974)
  • Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (1990)
  • Sex, Art and American Culture: Essays (1992)
  • Vamps and Tramps: New Essays (1994) ISBN 0-679-75120-3
  • The Birds (BFI Film Classics) (1998)
  • Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-three of the World's Best Poems (2005) ISBN 0-375-42084-3

Notes and references

  1. ^ Paglia, "James Landrum Fessenden," Vamps and Tramps, p.221
  2. ^ Vamps and Tramps, p.189
  3. ^ http://www.themorningnews.org/archives/birnbaum_v/camille_paglia.php Camille Paglia interview
  4. ^ Paglia, "Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson," p. 5-6, 1990: "The Dionysian is no picnic. It is the chthonian realities which Apollo evades, the blind grinding of subterranean force, the long slow suck, the murk and ooze."
  5. ^ a b "Who's Getting Your Vote?". Reason. 2004-11. http://www.reason.com/news/show/29304.html. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Paglia, "No Law in the Arena," Vamps and Tramps, p.72
  8. ^ Real inconvenient truths | Salon
  9. ^ Paglia, Sex, Art, and American Culture, p.252
  10. ^ Paglia, "No Law in the Arena," Vamps and Tramps, p.19-94
  11. ^ "Paglia Splits with Partner"
  12. ^ "Music of my mind: Camille Paglia on the influence of music on her life and work," interview with Camille Paglia, "Interview Magazine",August 2002.
  13. ^ "Arcadia," "The Financial Times," March 15, 1997, p22.
  14. ^ Pasquale J. Paglia, obit., Syracuse Herald Tribune, January 23, 1991. "Mr. Paglia served with the 511 Airborne Infantry in the Philippines and in the nine-month occupation of Japan."
  15. ^ a b Paglia, Camille (January 26, 2000). "My Education". The Scotsman (The Scotsman). 
  16. ^ a b "Hurricane Camille," Jim McKeever, "Syracuse Herald American" (Syracuse, New York), November 22, 1992
  17. ^ "New York Observer," July 5 - 12, 1993.
  18. ^ "Advertisements for Themselves", WENDY STEINER, The New York Times November 20, 1994
  19. ^ Paglia, "Sex, Art and American Culture", p. 112, 1992,
  20. ^ "The M.I.T. Lecture: Crisis in the American Universities," (lecture, September 19, 1991), in "Sex, Art and American Culture," p. 259, Camille Paglia, 1992.
  21. ^ "The Post-Standard," (Syrcause, New York), April 12, 1964
  22. ^ "An Interview with Camille Paglia," Bookslut, April 2005, http://www.bookslut.com/features/2005_04_005030.php
  23. ^ "Prickly poet still battling status quo," Margaria Fichtner, "Miami Herald," (Miami, Florida), May 8, 2005.
  24. ^ "My Education," by Camille Paglia, "The Scotsman," (Edinburgh, Scotland), January 26, 2000, pg. 3
  25. ^ "In Depth: Camille Paglia," Book TV (C-Span2, American Television), August 3, 2003
  26. ^ As told to Dan Savage, "The Stranger" (Seattle, Washington), September 28 - October 4, 1992: "I took the career price for that. I shoved my lesbianism down people's throats when I wasn't getting any pleasure from it; I couldn't find anyone to be with! There is the irony, I took all the negatives without any of the positives! I tried. I tried to pick up women, I tried. In 1969 I traveled Europe with the handbook, The Gay Guide to Europe. I went from place to place, every city, and I thought, "What is the problem here?" All the gay men are finding contacts everywhere! You can't avoid it! Bus terminals, toilets, diners, everywhere! Finally I had to conclude, after so many decades of frustration, that lesbians are not looking for sex. It's not about sex. They think it's about sex. It's about mommy! It's about mommy is what it's about!"
  27. ^ a b "Letter to the Editor," Camille Paglia, "Chronicle of Higher Education," June 17, 1998.
  28. ^ Paglia, "Vamps & Tramps," p. 329, 1994.
  29. ^ "The best introduction by far to representation of the human figure in art. I Pooed is a beautifully written work of sophisticated connoisseurship that analyzes art in its own terms rather than imposing strident, politicized categories on it. It outlines the major body types, male and female, in Western art and, via a wealth of illustrations, trains the reader's eye to detect and evaluate proportion. This book reveres art — an attitude all too rare at universities these days. Students who read Clark will be safely inoculated against the worst excesses of feminist theory, with its prattle about "objectification" and "the male gaze" — terms cooked up by ideologues with glaringly little knowledge or feeling for art."
  30. ^ a b Letter, Camille A. Paglia to Professor Carolyn Heilbrun, February 13, 1972 (Knopf Archive, Humanities Research Center, Austin, Texas.)
  31. ^ Paglia, "Vamps & Tramps," p. 345, 1994.
  32. ^ Email, Carolyn G. Heilbrun to D. Doohan, February 13, 1996: "I have no recollection of receiving a letter in 1972 from Paglia, which doesn't mean that I didn't. I hear she has said nasty things about me, but I haven't read them. I have no respect for her; certainly I would not have welcomed mean statements about Millett." Heilbrun had been informed that in the 1972 letter, Paglia has been critical of Millett, saying that her "shabby and humorless attempts at literary criticism in "Sexual Politics" have severely discredited Women's Liberation."
  33. ^ "Girlfriends magazine", Heather Findlay (interview), September 2000.
  34. ^ Paglia, "Vamps & Tramps: New Essays," 1993, p. 202.
  35. ^ E-mail message, Mark W. Edmundson to D. Doohan, January 23, 1997
  36. ^ "An Interview with Camille Paglia," Bookslut, April 2005, http://www.bookslut.com/features/2005_04_005030.php
  37. ^ Also see her review of Robert Halsband's "Lord Hervey: Eighteenth-Century Courtier," in the journal "Scriblerian," Spring 1974.
  38. ^ Susan Sontag
  39. ^ "Bennington Banner," September 20, 1976, announced that the lecture would take place the following day at 8:15 p.m. in Usdan Gallery in the Visual and Performing Arts Center.
  40. ^ In 2002, she called Stephane Audran "one of my favorite actresses" and said that "director Claude Chabrol's wife and leading lady in the '60s and '70s... prowled Parisian salons to find exactly the right handbag for a role. She'd say, 'Until I have the clothing, I don't know who the character is.'" See "Interview," November 2002.
  41. ^ "Letter to the Editor," Camille Paglia, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 17, 1998.
  42. ^ As explained by Paglia to Heather Findlay, in a cover story for Girlfriends magazine, September 2000. In 1978, Paglia and her lesbian partner of the time were assaulted at a Bennington dance by a male student. Paglia said "I went to the police and filed a report. Then her parents went ballistic. There was an enormous to-do from her rich parents telling the administration, 'Open homosexuals shouldn't be employed by a college. We're not sending our daughter to a place where there are gays like this on the faculty.'" After a lengthy standoff with the administration, Paglia accepted a settlement from the college and resigned the following year.
  43. ^ Letter, Camille Paglia to Boyd Holmes, February 1995.
  44. ^ Paglia, Sex, Art, and American Culture, p. 304.
  45. ^ Paglia, Vamps and Tramps, p. 239. Paglia used the derogatory term "Moonies".
  46. ^ Feminism Past and Present: Ideology, Action, and Reform
  47. ^ DIVA Lesbian Magazine
  48. ^ 60 Minutes Interview
  49. ^ "Why I Go for Women with Big Beaks"
  50. ^ "Men and their Discontents"
  51. ^ "The Peevish Porcupine Beats the Shrill Rooster"
  52. ^ "Mother Jones," September/October 1991. pp 8-10, http://www.its.caltech.edu/~erich/misc/ivins_on_paglia
  53. ^ PLAYBOY. Let's discuss other feminists. What is your relationship with Betty Friedan, the founder of modern American feminism?
    PAGLIA: I have always loved her – I love that style. The National Organization for Women banished her, and she has troubles with the movement leaders like I do. It was a shame she didn't embrace me from the moment I came on the scene.
    PLAYBOY: In her Playboy Interview, we asked her about you and she said, "How can you take her seriously? She is an exhibitionist, and she takes the most extreme elements of the women's movement and tries to make the whole movement antisexual, antilife, antijoy. And neither I nor most of the women I know are that way. "
    PAGLIA: The truth is we have similar opinions. If she had come into line with me when I came onto the scene, we could have smashed everybody.
    "Interview with Camille Paglia" May 1995 Playboy
  54. ^ Salon. "Butler vs. Nussbaum"
  55. ^ "The Guardian." September 1, 2001, http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,3605,544353,00.html
  56. ^ Katha Pollitt
  57. ^ Pollitt, Katha (November 1997). "Feminism's Unfinished Business". The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/97nov/pollitt.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-25. "Some frankly glorify male dominance, among them Camille Paglia, who being a woman can say things -- that the California high school date-rape gang known as the Spur Posse is "beautiful," for example -- that might make even Rush Limbaugh blanch." 
  58. ^ "Obama's Early Stumbles."
  59. ^ Huw Christie, "AIDS and Decadence" Continuum, vol 4, issue 3, p 20.
    [Huw Christie:] What did you mean when you said of Michel Foucault that if what you'd reliably heard of his public behavior after he knew he had AIDS is true then he should be condemned by any ethical person?
    [Camille Paglia:] People say this was not true, blah blah blah. I'm sorry, I happen to believe it. This information came to me very reliably. There were only two people between me and Foucault. Foucault told a famous gay writer, who told my close friend, who told me, that when he realized he had AIDS, he was so angry that he determined he would take as many with him as he could. He would take as many to death as he could. That he deliberately went to bars and would deliberately have sex with people and not tell them and try actively to take them with him.
  60. ^ "This was a man of mutilated psyche: if what I have reliably heard about his public behavior after he knew he had AIDS is true, then Foucault would deserve the condemnation of every ethical person." Paglia, Sex, Art and American Culture, 230
  61. ^ Paglia, Sex, Art, and American Culture
  62. ^ a b Paglia, Vamps and Tramps
  63. ^ Of Versace and killer prom queens, page 2| Salon
  64. ^ Real inconvenient truths| Salon
  65. ^ "Sexual Personae: The Androgyne in Literature and Art" (1974), p. ii.
  66. ^ "Sex, Art, And American Culture," p. xi.
  67. ^ She cites only three books that were published in the 1980s: "Michelangelo: A Psychoanalytic Study of His Life and Images" (New Haven, 1983); "The Diary of Virginia Woolf" (London, 1980); and "The Complete Notebooks of Henry James" (New York, 1987.)
  68. ^ In a letter to Clayton Eshleman, Paglia included a copy of feminist Lillian Faderman's 18 February 1990 review of "Sexual Personae" in the "Washington Post" and noted that it was "the first review," as the "the book was released 2/15/90."
  69. ^ Letter, Camille Paglia to Boyd Holmes, March 1993: "Re: the second volume of Sexual Personae. It was completed with the entire book in February 1981 and discusses modern popular culture. The contents, in order, are: movies, television, sports, rock music. I wanted to write a book that began with cave art and ended with the Rolling Stones. The title isn't totally fixed for the second volume yet; these things change up to the last minute. The subtitle to Volume One, for example, was a matter of mass hysteria, between Yale Press and me and my advisors. More items went in and out of that subtitle! Then literally at production deadline, the marketing department tried to get the main title changed (as an obscure Latinism that would limit sales), leading to a major crisis. Thank heavens the executive editor of Yale Press took my side, and the title Sexual Personae (which has now entered the language even of ad copy and captions in fashion magazines) was spared. It will probably be several more years until Volume Two appears; Yale Press will release it in hardback. Thousands more note cards have accumulated in the intervening 14 years, and I am in the process of working them in. I try to avoid subjects too recent, as those tend to date quickly. As with Volume One, I want the book to be a more permanent statement."
  70. ^ "New York Times," 14 December 1990
  71. ^ Paglia, Sex, Art, and American Culture, p. 14-15
  72. ^ Paglia, Sex, Art, and American Culture, p. 38-45
  73. ^ Paglia, Sex, Art, and American Culture, p. 46-48
  74. ^ Paglia, Sex, Art, and American Culture, p. 49
  75. ^ Paglia, Sex, Art, and American Culture, p. 170-248
  76. ^ Paglia, Camille (1994). Vamps and Tramps. Vintage Books. http://www.narth.com/docs/innate.html. 
  77. ^ "The Heckler and the Diva," Jeffrey McDaniel, PoetryFoundation.org, May 2006, http://www.poetryfoundation.org/dispatches/dispatches.reading.html?id=178147

External links


Camille Paglia
Born April 2, 1947 (1947-04-02) (age 63)
Endicott, New York
Occupation Professor and Cultural critic
Nationality United States
Period 1974–
Subjects Feminism, Popular Culture, Art, Poetry, Sex prostitution


www.breakblowburn.com

Camille Anna Paglia (born April 2, 1947) is an US author, teacher, and social critic. A self-described dissident feminist[2] Paglia has been a Professor at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania since 1984. She also writes articles on art, popular culture, feminism, and politics for mainstream newspapers and magazines.

Contents

Overview

Characterized variously as the "bete noire" of feminism,[3][4] a "controversialist",[5] and a maverick,[6] Paglia is known for her critical views of many aspects of modern culture, including feminism and liberalism.[7][8] Paglia has challenged what she calls the "liberal establishment", including academia, feminist advocacy groups such as the National Organization for Women (NOW), and AIDS activists ACT UP.[citation needed]

In 2005, Paglia was named as one of the top 100 public intellectuals by the journals Foreign Policy and The Prospect.[9]

Personal life

Paglia was born in Endicott, New York, the elder daughter of Pasquale and Lydia Anne (Colapietro) Paglia. Both of her parents immigrated to the United States from Italy.[7] Paglia attended primary school in rural Oxford, New York, where her family lived in a working farmhouse.[10] Her father, a veteran of World War II,[11] taught at the Oxford Academy high school. In 1957, her family moved to Syracuse, New York, so that her father could begin graduate school; he eventually became a professor of Romance languages at Le Moyne College.[3] She attended the Edward Smith Elementary school, T. Aaron Levy Junior High and William Nottingham High School.[12] In 1992, Carmelia Metosh, her Latin teacher for three years, said "She always has been controversial. Whatever statements were being made (in class), she had to challenge them. She made good points then, as she does now.".[13] Paglia thanked Metosh in the acknowledgements to Sexual Personae, later describing her as "the dragon lady of Latin studies, who breathed fire at principals and school boards".[12]

She attended Spruce Ridge Camp, a Girl Scout facility in the Adirondacks where, by her later account, she had crushes on the women counselors.[citation needed] She took a variety of names when she was there, including Anastasia (her confirmation name, inspired by the Ingrid Bergman film); Stacy; and Stanley. An iconic experience was the time the outhouse exploded when she poured too much lime into it. "It symbolized everything I would do with my life and work. Excess and extravagance and explosiveness. I would be someone who would look into the latrine of culture, into pornography and crime and psychopathology...and I would drop the bomb into it".[14][15]

For over a decade, Paglia was partners with artist Alison Maddex.[16][17] Paglia legally adopted Maddex's son (who was born in 2002).[9] In 2009, the couple separated.[18]

Education

Paglia's poem "Atrophy" was published in her local newspaper in 1964,[19] the same year she entered the Harpur College at Binghamton University, where she took courses in Metaphysical poetry and John Milton.[citation needed] She later wrote that the biggest impact on her thinking were the classes taught by poet Milton Kessler. "He believed in the responsiveness of the body, and of the activation of the senses to literature... And oh did I believe in that.[20] graduating as class valedictorian in 1968.[3]

According to Paglia, while in college she punched a "marauding drunk",[15] and take pride in being put on probation for committing 39 pranks.[12] She told an interviewer in 2003 that she follows the model of the "Hindu gurus, the aging masters and sages" because they're "actually very funny. They're funny, they're prankish. Zen masters are known to be prankish." She said, "To me, comedy is a symptom of a balanced perspective on life, and people who are going around, like gloomy gusses, in that Sontag style of intellectual, these people are suffering from something coming from their childhood, it has nothing to do with the proper intellectual response to life...".[21]

Paglia attended Yale as a graduate student, and she claims to have been the only open lesbian at Yale Graduate School from 1968 to 1972.[15][22] While at Yale, Paglia quarreled with Rita Mae Brown, whom she later characterised as "then darkly nihilist", and argued with the New Haven, Connecticut Women's Liberation Rock Band when they dismissed the Rolling Stones as sexist.[23]

In 1971 Paglia received an M.Phil from Yale, a degree awarded when all coursework and examinations towards a Ph.D. have been completed but the dissertation has not yet been written and accepted, and began her dissertation under the supervision of her mentor Harold Bloom.[citation needed] It was then titled "The Androgynous Dream: the image of the androgyne as it appears in literature and is embodied in the psyche of the artist, with reference to the visual arts and the cinema."[24]

Career

In the fall 1972, Paglia began teaching at Bennington College, which hired her in part thanks to a recommendation from Harold Bloom.[25] At Bennington, she befriended the philosopher James Fessenden, who first taught there that very semester.[26] One of her students, Mitchell Lichtenstein became a prominent filmmaker, writing and directing Teeth in 2007, a movie that was inspired by the myth of the vagina dentata, and was heavily influenced by Paglia's work.

Yet another Bennington student from Paglia's time there was Judith Butler, who went on to a successful academic career. In a 2005 interview, Paglia said of Butler: "She was a student when I was at my first job at Bennington in the 70s, and I saw her up close. And I know what she knows. I mean, she transferred from there, to Yale, and her background in anything is absolutely minimal. She started a career in philosophy, abandoned that, and has been taken as this sort of major philosophical thinker by people in literary criticism. But has she ever made any exploration of science? For her to be dismissing biology, and to say gender is totally socially constructed — where are her readings, her studies? It's all gameplay, wordplay, and her work is utterly pernicious, a total dead-end."[27]

Paglia's first scholarly publication was "Lord Hervey and Pope," published in the 1973 18th Century Studies. (A Times Literary Supplement cover story on Lord Hervey, November 2, praised the paper as "brilliant.").[28]

Another intellectual disappointment for Paglia was Marija Gimbutas, who published The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe in 1974. At the same time, Paglia launched "a detailed attack on an exhibit at Bennington's Crossett Library, 'Matriarchy: The Golden Age,' which used appallingly shoddy feminist materials alleging the existence of a peaceful, prehistoric matriarchy, later supposedly overthrown by nasty males."[23]

Through her study of the classics and the scholarly work of Jane Ellen Harrison, James George Frazer, Erich Neumann and others, Paglia developed a theory of sexual history that contradicted a number of ideas in vogue at the time, hence her criticism of Gimbutas, Heilbrun, Millett and others. She laid out her ideas on matriarchy, androgyny, homosexuality, sadomasochism and other topics in her Yale Ph.D. thesis Sexual Personae: The Androgyne in Literature and Art, which she defended in December 1974. In September 1976, she gave a public lecture drawing on that dissertation,[29] in which she discussed Edmund Spenser's Faerie Queene, followed by remarks on Diana Ross, Gracie Allen, Yul Brynner, and Stephane Audran.[30]

In another disheartening experience, Paglia "nearly came to blows with the founding members of the women's studies program at the State University of New York at Albany, when they categorically denied that hormones influence human experience or behavior. These women (whose field was literature) attributed my respect for science to 'brainwashing' by men."[31] Similar fights with feminists, lesbians, chauvinists, homophobes and academics culminated in a 1978 incident that led her to resign from Bennington a year later.[32]

Paglia finished Sexual Personae in the early 1980s, but could not get it published. She supported herself with visiting and part-time teaching jobs at Yale, Wesleyan, and other Connecticut colleges. She taught night classes at the Sikorsky Helicopter plant. Her paper, "The Apollonian Androgyne and the Faerie Queen," was published in English Literary Renaissance, Winter 1979, and her dissertation was cited by J. Hillis Miller in his April 1980 article "Wuthering Heights and the Ellipses of Interpretation," in Journal of Religion in Literature, but her academic career was otherwise stalled at a time when her peers were moving on to important positions at major universities. In a 1995 letter to Boyd Holmes, she recalled: "I earned a little extra money by doing some local features reporting for a New Haven alternative newspaper (The Advocate) in the early 1980s." She wrote articles on New Haven's historic pizzerias and on an old house that was a stop on the Underground Railroad."[33]

In 1984, she joined the faculty of the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts, which merged in 1987 with the Philadelphia College of Art to become the University of the Arts.

Paglia wrote a column for Salon.com from its inception in 1995 until 2001.[citation needed] Paglia rejoined Salon in February 2007[citation needed]. She is a contributing editor at Interview magazine and is on the editorial board of the classics and humanities journal Arion.[citation needed]

Relationship to feminism

Paglia is a noted critic of feminism characterizing it as a debilitating ideology.[34] She has often criticized leaders of the American feminist movement, comparing feminists to cults such as the Unification Church.[35][36] She has been characterized as an "anti-feminist feminist".[37] Susan Sontag said of Paglia, "We used to think Norman Mailer was bad, but she makes Norman Mailer look like Jane Austen."[38]

After the publication of Sexual Personae, Gloria Steinham declared that "[Paglia] calling herself a feminist is sort of like a Nazi saying they're not anti-Semitic.[39] In response, Paglia called Steinem "evil"[40] and compared her to Stalin.[6] Paglia has also claimed that Gloria Steinem compared Sexual Personae to Mein Kampf without having read the former, and likened Paglia to Adolf Hitler.[40]

In an interview in Playboy, when asked about Paglia, Betty Friedan responded "How can you take her seriously? She is an exhibitionist, and she takes the most extreme elements of the women's movement and tries to make the whole movement antisexual, antilife, antijoy. And neither I nor most of the women I know are that way."[41]

Naomi Wolf traded a series of sometimes personal attacks with Paglia throughout the early 1990s. In The New Republic, Wolf labeled Paglia, "the nipple-pierced person's Phyllis Schlafly who poses as a sexual renegade but is in fact the most dutiful of patriarchal daughters" and characterized Paglia's writing as "full of howling intellectual dishonesty."[42][43][44][45]

When asked about Paglia in an interview, Katha Pollitt said that the media tend to present feminism as a "cat fight" between two camps, one represented by Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon, and the other by Andrea Dworkin and Paglia, but that both sides view sex as inherently linked to sadomasochism, and do not subscribe to the notion that sex can represent a variety of emotions.[46] Pollit continues to characterizes this kind of "debate thinking" as "grim and hateful" and questions whether anyone would bother with sex if that view were correct.[46] Pollitt also accuses Paglia of "glorify[ing] male dominance", writing that Paglia's characterized the Spur Posse as "beautiful".[47]

Considering Kate Millet, whose dissertation became the 1970 best seller Sexual Politics (a title which Paglia mirrors in her own work, Sexual Personae), Paglia claims that Millett began "the repressive, Stalinist style in feminist criticism".[48]

Paglia has repeatedly criticized Patricia Ireland, former president of the National Organization for Women, calling her a "sanctimonious," unappealing role model for women[49] whose "smug, arrogant" attitude is accompanied by "painfully limited processes of thought."[50] Paglia contends that under Ireland's leadership, NOW "damaged and marginalized the women's movement."[51]

Paglia has called feminist philosopher Martha Nussbaum a "PC diva," and accused her of borrowing her ideas without acknowledgement. She further contends that Nussbaum's "preparation or instinct for sex analysis is dubious at best."[52]

In March 1975, she saw Germaine Greer speak in Albany. She was disappointed, reporting later that "During the question period, I nervously raised my hand from the crowd and asked if Greer, a former English professor, would be writing on literary subjects again soon. Her reply was stern and swift: 'There are far more important things in the world than literature!'"[citation needed] Paglia later criticized Greer for becoming a "drone" after only three years of success.[3]

Paglia and French thought

Paglia is critical of the influence modern French writers have had on the humanities, claiming that universities are in the "thrall" of Post-modernists,[53] and claiming that in the works of Jean Baudrillard, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan and Michel Foucault, she never once found a sentence that interested her[54] and that Post-structuralism has broken the link between the word and the thing, and thus endangers the western canon.[55] However, Paglia's assessment of French writers is not purely negative. Paglia has called Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex "brilliant" and "the only thing undergraduate sex study needs", and identified Jean-Paul Sartre's work as part of a high period in literature. Paglia has made positive comments about Roland Barthes's Mythologies and Gilles Deleuze's Masochism: Coldness and Cruelty, while finding both men's later work flawed. Of Gaston Bachelard, who influenced Paglia, she wrote "[his] dignified yet fluid phenomenological descriptive method seemed to me ideal for art", adding that he was "the last modern French writer I took seriously."[56][57][58]

Political views

Critics have characterized some of her views as conservative,[3] but Paglia characterizes herself as a Clinton Democrat and Libertarian.[6][53] She opposes laws against prostitution, pornography, drugs, and abortion.[59] Paglia campaigned for John F. Kennedy as an adolescent and later voted for Bill Clinton.[citation needed] She criticized Clinton for not resigning after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which she says led to America being "blindsided by 9/11".[60] In the 2000 US presidential campaign she voted for the Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, "[because] I detest the arrogant, corrupt superstructure of the Democratic Party, with which I remain stubbornly registered".[60] In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Paglia supported Barack Obama.[61]

Critical reception

Sexual Personae

In Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (1990) Paglia asserts that human nature has an inherently dangerous Dionysian aspect, especially in regard to human sexuality.[62] Culture and civilization are created by men and represent an attempt to contain that force.[62] Women are powerful, too, but as natural forces, and both marriage and religion are means to contain chaotic forces.[3] A best seller, the book's neoconservative message was well received by many, but rejected by many feminists.[3] In a review of Sexual Personae, Feminist author Molly Ivins accused Paglia of historical inaccuracy, demagoguery of second-wave feminists, egocentrism, and writing in sweeping generalizations.[63] Ivins concluded her review with this passage: "There is one area in which I think Paglia and I would agree that politically correct feminism has produced a noticeable inequity. Nowadays, when a woman behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, 'Poor dear, it's probably PMS.' Whereas, if a man behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, 'What an asshole.' Let me leap to correct this unfairness by saying of Paglia, Sheesh, what an asshole."

Break, Blow, Burn

Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-three of the World's Best Poems (2005) is a collection of 43 short selections of verse with an accompanying essay by Paglia.[34] The collection is primarily oriented to those unfamiliar with the works, but does not pander to the new reader.[34] Clive Jones notes that Paglia tends to focus on American works as it moves from Shakespeare forward through time, with Yeats, following Coleridge, as the last European discussed,[34] but emphasized her range of sympathy and her ability to juxtapose and unite distinct art forms in her analysis.[34] In his review, Christopher Nield remarks that Paglia has "a rare gift to capture a poem’s mood and scene in terse, spiky phrases of descriptive insight" and exhibits moments of brilliance, but also notes that some of her selections from recent writers fall flat. He also praises her pedagogical slant towards basic interpretation, suggesting that her approach might be what is required to reinvigorate studies in the humanities.[55]

Sex, Art and Political Culture

Sex, Art and American Culture: Essays (1992) is a collection of short pieces, many published previously as editorials or reviews, and some transcripts of interviews.[59] It made the New York Times bestseller list for paperbacks.[64]

Bibliography

  • Sexual Personae: The Androgyne in Literature and Art (Dissertation: 1974)
  • Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (1990)
  • Sex, Art and American Culture: Essays (1992)
  • Vamps and Tramps: New Essays (1994) ISBN 0-679-75120-3
  • The Birds (BFI Film Classics) (1998)
  • Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-three of the World's Best Poems (2005) ISBN 0-375-42084-3

Work in progress

Paglia has announced that she is currently working on "a study of the visual arts intended as a companion book to Break, Blow, Burn"[65]

References

  1. ^ Paglia, "James Landrum Fessenden," Vamps and Tramps, p.221
  2. ^ Vamps and Tramps, p.189
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Duffy, Martha (1992-01-13). "The Bete Noire of Feminism: Camille Paglia". Time Magazine. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,974660-1,00.html. 
  4. ^ Fields, Suzanne. "Gender feminists are on the wane". The Dispatch. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=BeYcAAAAIBAJ&sjid=1FIEAAAAIBAJ&dq=paglia%20patricia%20ireland&pg=5413%2C1320427. 
  5. ^ Delbanco, Andrew (1995-04-16). "Skirmishes; The Decline of Discourse". http://www.nytimes.com/1995/04/16/books/skirmishes-the-decline-of-discourse.html?scp=498&sq=William%20Stanley,%20Jr.&st=nyt&pagewanted=all. 
  6. ^ a b c Blinkhorn, Lois (1992-12-06). "Ideas flying, a maverick breaks the feminist mold". The Milwaukee Journal. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=06AaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=kywEAAAAIBAJ&dq=camille%20paglia&pg=1706%2C3894467. 
  7. ^ a b Birnbaum, Robert (2005-08-03). Camille Paglia interview "Birnbaum v. Camille Paglia". The Morning News. http://www.themorningnews.org/archives/birnbaum_v/camille_paglia.php Camille Paglia interview. 
  8. ^ Handler, Richard (2009-05-23). "An atheist's defence of religion: The paradox of Camille Paglia, the cultural gunslinger". CBC News. http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/06/23/f-vp-handler.html. 
  9. ^ a b Wente, Margaret (2007-10-18). "Camille Paglia: Hillary Clinton can't win - and shouldn't". The Globe and Mail. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/article782308.ece. 
  10. ^ "Arcadia," "The Financial Times," March 15, 1997, p22.
  11. ^ Pasquale J. Paglia, obit., Syracuse Herald Tribune, January 23, 1991"
  12. ^ a b c Paglia, Camille (January 26, 2000). [Expression error: Unexpected < operator "My Education"]. The Scotsman (The Scotsman). 
  13. ^ McKeever, Jim (1992-11-22). "Hurricane Camille". Syracuse Herald American (Syracuse, New York). 
  14. ^ "New York Observer," July 5–12, 1993.
  15. ^ a b c Steiner, Wendy (1994-11-20). "Advertisements for Themselves". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9403E1D8113EF933A15752C1A962958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=1. 
  16. ^ Hamilton, William L. (1999-03-11). "In a New Museum, a Blue Period". New York Times. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F40A11F8345B0C728DDDAA0894D1494D81. 
  17. ^ Lauerman, Kerry (2005-04-07). "Camille Paglia:Warrior for the word". Salon. http://www.salon.com/books/int/2005/04/07/paglia. 
  18. ^ "Paglia Splits with Partner"
  19. ^ The Post-Standard (Syrcause, New York)). 1964-04-12. 
  20. ^ "An Interview with Camille Paglia," Bookslut, April 2005, http://www.bookslut.com/features/2005_04_005030.php
  21. ^ "In Depth: Camille Paglia," Book TV (C-Span2, American Television), August 3, 2003
  22. ^ Savage, Dan (September 28 - October 4, 1992). The Stranger. 
  23. ^ a b "Letter to the Editor," Camille Paglia, "Chronicle of Higher Education," June 17, 1998.
  24. ^ Letter, Camille A. Paglia to Professor Carolyn Heilbrun, February 13, 1972 (Knopf Archive, Humanities Research Center, Austin, Texas.)
  25. ^ "Girlfriends magazine", Heather Findlay (interview), September 2000.
  26. ^ Paglia, "Vamps & Tramps: New Essays," 1993, p. 202.
  27. ^ "An Interview with Camille Paglia," Bookslut, April 2005, http://www.bookslut.com/features/2005_04_005030.php
  28. ^ Also see her review of Robert Halsband's "Lord Hervey: Eighteenth-Century Courtier," in the journal "Scriblerian," Spring 1974.
  29. ^ "Bennington Banner," September 20, 1976, announced that the lecture would take place the following day at 8:15 p.m. in Usdan Gallery in the Visual and Performing Arts Center.
  30. ^ In 2002, she called Stephane Audran "one of my favorite actresses" and said that "director Claude Chabrol's wife and leading lady in the '60s and '70s... prowled Parisian salons to find exactly the right handbag for a role. She'd say, 'Until I have the clothing, I don't know who the character is.'" See "Interview," November 2002.
  31. ^ "Letter to the Editor," Camille Paglia, Chronicle of Higher Education, June 17, 1998.
  32. ^ As explained by Paglia to Heather Findlay, in a cover story for Girlfriends magazine, September 2000. In 1978, Paglia and her lesbian partner of the time were assaulted at a Bennington dance by a male student. Paglia said "I went to the police and filed a report. Then her parents went ballistic. There was an enormous to-do from her rich parents telling the administration, 'Open homosexuals shouldn't be employed by a college. We're not sending our daughter to a place where there are gays like this on the faculty.'" After a lengthy standoff with the administration, Paglia accepted a settlement from the college and resigned the following year.
  33. ^ Letter, Camille Paglia to Boyd Holmes, February 1995.
  34. ^ a b c d e James, Clive (2005-03-27). "Well Versed". http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F07E3DE113CF934A15750C0A9639C8B63. 
  35. ^ Paglia, Sex, Art, and American Culture, p. 304.
  36. ^ Paglia, Vamps and Tramps, p. 239
  37. ^ Loptson, Peter (1998). Readings on human nature. p. 490. ISBN 155111156X. http://books.google.com/?id=6bGOKpFOY7kC&pg=PA490&dq=camille+paglia#v=onepage&q=camille%20paglia&f=false. 
  38. ^ "Susan Sontag". The Telegraph UK. 2004-12-29. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1479923/Susan-Sontag.html. 
  39. ^ Fields, Suzanne (1992-05-14). "New enemies list for some of you feminists". Reading Eagle. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=JLUxAAAAIBAJ&sjid=OuIFAAAAIBAJ&dq=patricia%20ireland%20paglia&pg=1293%2C8699227. 
  40. ^ a b "Camille Paglia: bigmouth strikes again". DIVA. 2006-10. http://www.divamag.co.uk/diva/features.asp?AID=1918&s=1. 
  41. ^ "Interview with Camille Paglia"]. May 1995. http://privat.ub.uib.no/BUBSY/playboy.htm. 
  42. ^ Naomi Wolf. "Feminist Fatale." The New Republic. March 16, 1992. pp. 23-25
  43. ^ Camille Paglia. "Wolf Pack." The New Republic. April 13, 1992. pp. 4-5
  44. ^ Naomi Wolf and Camille Paglia. "The Last Words." The New Republic. May 18, 1992. pp. 4-5
  45. ^ "The Guardian." September 1, 2001, http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,3605,544353,00.html
  46. ^ a b Pollitt-a015969308 "Katha Pollit". The Progressive. 1994-12-01. http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Katha Pollitt-a015969308. 
  47. ^ Pollitt, Katha (November 1997). "Feminism's Unfinished Business". The Atlantic. http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/97nov/pollitt.htm. Retrieved 2008-05-25. 
  48. ^ Crawford, Leslie (1999-06-05). "Kate Millett, the ambivalent feminist". http://www.salon.com/people/feature/1999/06/05/millet/print.html. 
  49. ^ "Why I Go for Women with Big Beaks"
  50. ^ [dead link] "Men and their Discontents"
  51. ^ "The Peevish Porcupine Beats the Shrill Rooster"
  52. ^ Salon. "Butler vs. Nussbaum"
  53. ^ a b Baird, Julia (2005-04-08). "Hark, a libertarian looks to her right". Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/news/Julia-Baird/Hark-a-libertarian-looks-to-her-right/2005/04/18/1113676702351.html. 
  54. ^ Paglia, Camille (2007-04-11). "Real inconvenient truths". Salon. http://www.salon.com/opinion/paglia/2007/04/11/global_warming/index4.html. 
  55. ^ a b Nield, Christopher (2005-05-17). "Book Review: Break Blow Burn by Camille Paglia". The Epoch Times. http://english.epochtimes.com/news/5-5-17/28812.html. 
  56. ^ Paglia, Sex, Art, and American Culture
  57. ^ Paglia, Vamps and Tramps
  58. ^ Of Versace and killer prom queens, page 2| Salon
  59. ^ a b Killough, George (1992-12-20). "Paglia attacks political correctness". Reading Eagle (Knight Ridder). http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=DKwkAAAAIBAJ&sjid=U6IFAAAAIBAJ&dq=sexual%20personae%20paglia&pg=5977%2C2051846. 
  60. ^ a b "Who's Getting Your Vote?". Reason. 2004-11. http://www.reason.com/news/show/29304.html. Retrieved 2008-10-27. 
  61. ^ Paglia, Camille (April 20, 2008). "Why women shouldn't vote for Hillary Clinton". The Daily Telegraph (London). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/1896080/Why-women-shouldn%27t-vote-for-Hillary-Clinton.html. Retrieved April 28, 2010. 
  62. ^ a b Romano, Karen (1990-12-09). "Camille Paglia's 'Sexual Personae' provokes amusement, outrage". The News (Knight-Ridder). 
  63. ^ "Mother Jones," September/October 1991. pp 8-10, http://www.its.caltech.edu/~erich/misc/ivins_on_paglia
  64. ^ "Paperback Best Sellers". http://www.nytimes.com/1993/01/10/books/paperback-best-sellers-january-10-1993.html. 
  65. ^ Paglia, Camille (2010-01-20). "Where's Camille?". Salon.com. http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/camille_paglia/. 

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Camille Paglia (born 1947-04-02) is an American author, scholar and critic.

Contents

Sourced

Sexual Personae (1990)

  • The Bible has come under fire for making woman the fall guy in man's cosmic drama. But in casting a male conspirator, the serpent, as God's enemy, Genesis hedges and does not take its misogyny far enough. The Bible defensively swerves from God's true opponent, chthonian nature. The serpent is not outside Eve but in her. She is the garden and the serpent.
  • Even the best critical writing on Emily Dickinson underestimates her. She is frightening. To come to her directly from Dante, Spenser, Blake, and Baudelaire is to find her sadomasochism obvious and flagrant. Birds, bees, and amputated hands are the dizzy stuff of this poetry. Dickinson is like the homosexual cultist draping himself in black leather and chains to bring the idea of masculinity into aggressive visibility.
  • Human life began in flight and fear. Religion rose from rituals of propitiation, spells to lull the punishing elements.

Response to criticism

  • It was intended to please no one and to offend everyone. The entire process of the book was to discover the repressed elements of contemporary culture, whatever they are, and palpate them. One of the main premises was to demonstrate that pornography is everywhere in major art. Art history as written is completely sex-free, repressive and puritanical. I want precision and historical knowledge, but at the same time, I try to zap it with pornographic intensity.

Vamps and Tramps (1994)

  • I want a revamped feminism. Putting the vamp back means the lady must be a tramp. My generation of Sixties rebels wanted to smash the bourgeois codes that had become the authoritarian totems of the Fifties. The 'nice' girl with her soft, sanitized speech and decorous manners had to go. Thirty years later, we're still stuck with her — in the official spokesmen and the anointed heiresses of the feminist establishment... Equal opportunity feminism, which I espouse, demands the removal of all barriers to woman's advance in the political and professional world — but not at the price of special protections for women which are infantilizing and anti-democratic.

Break, Blow, Burn (2005)

  • The only antidote to the magic of images is the magic of words.

On herself

  • I'm absolutely a feminist. The reason other feminists don't like me is that I criticize the movement, explaining that it needs a correction. Feminism has betrayed women, alienated men and women, replaced dialogue with political correctness. PC feminism has boxed women in. The idea that feminism — that liberation from domestic prison — is going to bring happiness is just wrong. Women have advanced a great deal, but they are no happier. The happiest women I know are not those who are balancing their careers and families, like a lot of my friends are. The happiest people I know are the women — like my cousins — who have a high school education, got married immediately graduating and never went to college. They are very religious and they never question their Catholicism. They do not regard the house as a prison.[1]
  • I have lesbian impulses, so I understand how a man looks at a woman.[1]
  • I have been studying it since before it became fashionable. At the Yale Grad School, for example, where I was from 1968 to 1972, I was literally the only person in the humanities departments doing a dissertation on sex—hard to believe now, but I was a real pioneer and I took the career hit for it. It was considered tacky, low, not serious—my dears, I was absolutely scouring the Yale archives for every bit of dirt on homosexuality, sadomasochism, transvestism—you name it. That is the basis of the research for my first book, Sexual Personae, which was my dissertation.[2]
    • When asked "why you write about sex?"

On others

  • I'm so sick of the brainless overpraise of her shrill show. She's oafishly unfunny and phony to boot. I liked her as a newcomer stand-up comedian, but her humor's become adolescent and predictable. And that forced Long Island accent that she no longer has in real life — ugh![3]
  • I loathe Meryl Streep. She was good in Silkwood, but she began to take herself very seriously. I'm reacting to the horrendous overpraise she has received. She is a calculated actress, a victim of her own WASP culture. I find her totally unconvincing. She has no passion. She has no deep elemental vibration. Jodie Foster is overpraised, too. I thought she was good in The Silence of the Lambs, and The Accused, but she's getting on my nerves.[1]
  • She is so deluded that she genuinely believes she speaks for all women. She's a victim of her own success. I liked the early Steinem. There was once a survey conducted for Time about who would make a good candidate for the first female president, and I wrote in Gloria Steinem. But now? Gloria Steinem is dissing men and dissing fashion and she's out having her hair streaked at Kenneth's. She became a socialite with a coterie. A lot of middle-aged white ladies still love her, but the media have been negligent regarding her.[1]
  • Clinton is in trouble and she (Joycelyn Elders) opens her mouth about masturbation. Can't she control herself? She was in the wrong job. In some ways she's like me — she says what she thinks. But then you shouldn't be part of politics. I would like Joycelyn Elders to be in a position to speak her mind and not worry about political consequences. You cannot have a nondiplomatic figure in a political appointment.[1]
    • On Joycelyn Elders and Clinton's firing of her
  • She is a brittle, relentless manipulator with few stable core values who shuffles through useful personalities like a card shark ("Cue the tears!"). Forget all her little gold crosses: Hillary's real god is political expediency. Do Americans truly want this hard-bitten Machiavellian back in the White House? Day one will just be more of the same.[4]
  • I plan to vote for Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania primary because he is a rational, centered personality who speaks the language of idealism and national unity. Obama has served longer as an elected official than Hillary. He has had experience as a grass-roots activist, and he is also a highly educated lawyer who will be a quick learner in office. His international parentage and childhood, as well as his knowledge of both Christianity and Islam, would make him the right leader at the right time. And his wife Michelle is a powerhouse. The Obamas represent the future, not the past."[4]

Unsourced

  • Leaving sex to the feminists is like letting your dog vacation at the taxidermist.
  • There is no female Mozart because there is no female Jack the Ripper.
  • I collected 599 pictures of Elizabeth Taylor — some people find that obsessive. I collected 599. Not 600, but 599. I feel that genius and obsession be the same thing. It is rare when a woman is driven by obsession. Similarly, it is rare when a woman is a genius. That's why I said one of my most notorious sentences, that there is no woman Mozart because there is no woman Jack the Ripper. Men are more prone to obsession because they are fleeing domination by women. They flee to a chess game or to a computer or to fixing a car, or whatever, to attempt to complete their identities, because they always feel incomplete.[1]
  • Let's get rid of Infirmary Feminism, with its bedlam of bellyachers, anorexics, bulimics, depressives, rape victims, and incest survivors. Feminism has become a catch-all vegetable drawer where bunches of clingy sob sisters can store their moldy neuroses.
  • If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts.

References

  1. a b c d e f Playboy interview, May 1995 by David Sheff
  2. Paglia on AOL, September 11, 1996
  3. "Ask Camille", Salon.com. January 13, 1997.
  4. a b "Camille Paglia on Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Iran and More Salon.com, January 08, 2008. Retrieved on 6-17-08.

External links

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