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Paglia, all y'all
February 14, 2007 9:41 PM   Subscribe

Paglia's back. "I had certainly assumed the Web was surfeited with more than enough material, but evidently many others beside myself find the partisan polarization of the blogosphere numbingly predictable and its prose too often slapdash, fragmentary or drearily prolix." If you like that sentence, you'll love the return of Camille Paglia to Salon.com.
posted by staggernation (61 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
The difference between me and Paglia?
I look better in casual seperates.

You're gonna hurt me, aren't you...
posted by Dizzy at 9:50 PM on February 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


(I look better with Spel Chek, too...)
posted by Dizzy at 9:51 PM on February 14, 2007


"Pelosi has style and pizazz and knows how to put the shiv in while smiling ever so brightly at the cameras. She's brass knuckles in a velvet glove, and I'm loving every minute of it."

Now that's some good shit right there. Nothing even close to this will ever appear on HuffPo - Paglia is fun to read, and educational without being didactic, to boot.
posted by chlorus at 9:59 PM on February 14, 2007


"surfeited with more than enough material"?
posted by QuietDesperation at 10:00 PM on February 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


I heard she died of a surfeit of self-promotion after she "burst on the national scene in 1990".

I'm sorry, I just don't believe that's a phrase you should ever write about yourself.
posted by Wolof at 10:03 PM on February 14, 2007


Ugh.
posted by trip and a half at 10:05 PM on February 14, 2007


QuietDesperation writes "'surfeited with more than enough material'?"

I find that phrase drearily prolix.



Seriously, this is kind of fun. Her writing is endlessly mockable.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:05 PM on February 14, 2007


It IS endlessly mockable, yes. She'll review a toilet brush with the same intensity she devotes to analysis of a poem by Blake or Dickinson.
posted by fleetmouse at 10:10 PM on February 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Having said that, I still love her, as much as I love Harlan Ellison whose writing is also endlessly mockable. Have those two ever met? Jesus Christ, oy.
posted by fleetmouse at 10:13 PM on February 14, 2007


when she praised Rush Limbaugh's erudition.

Missed that one. Ugh.

Otherwise, I like her, despite her transparent effort to offend everyone who would like ordinarily like her for her opinions and her writing style. Let her into the big tent.

She's not a camel's nose; she's a camel's hump.

(Here I am parodying and praising her style. She is sui generis.)
posted by kozad at 10:15 PM on February 14, 2007


The insight of her Salon.com columns regarding matters of gender has been almost as brilliantly illuminating as that provided on cable television by Mr. Chris Matthews.

Personally I have nothing against reading a toilet bush like a Blake poem, but the last thing our political discourse needs more of is more stupid blathersing by the likes of Paglia and Matthews about who's butcher than whom.

(And by the way, do people still read Salon?)
posted by washburn at 10:17 PM on February 14, 2007


Her commentary on the Basic Instinct DVD was excellent, if a bit ridiculous at times.
posted by dhammond at 10:18 PM on February 14, 2007


Salon faded from relevance when it experimented, nobly albeit, with a variety of ways to make me not want to click through ads, subscribe, or otherwise suffer to filter through its too-hip navel gazing to the one or two stand-out pieces.

Their promotion of Paglia always smacked of "oh, you like her? She's the next big thing!"

But I've found the secret is to read only the first two thirds of whatever she writes. The first two pages, and in those the first two sections, and so on.

Her need for conclusions to resonate makes them almost alwyas sound hollow.
posted by abulafa at 10:37 PM on February 14, 2007


It's hard for me to remember that time in the early to mid 90's when reading Paglia was a somewhat edgy thing to do. When I run into her stuff recently, I can't get more than a few paragraphs in -- if only she was a third as clever as she thinks she is.

But hey, Glenn Greenwald is now a Salon blogger. Maybe he's the "dreary prolix" guy or something, but if you want to read the thorough analyses of important issues that the MSM no longer does, he's worth a look.
posted by bardic at 10:40 PM on February 14, 2007


I've always wondered: how do you correctly pronounce her last name? PAGlia? PAYlia? PayLEEah? I've heard a few different pronunciations used, but I don't think I've ever heard her introduced on TV or radio.

A Brief Autobiography of Camille Paglia, as Told Through Introductory Appositive Phrases in her Online Column.
posted by painquale at 11:07 PM on February 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


Meh. Rush Limbaugh with a thesaurus.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:15 PM on February 14, 2007


No, BP, she's both more and less than that.


And I love her writing. It's awesome and awful at the same time. If ever there was a person absolutely suited to wow and woo third-year college students, it's Camille Paglia. She's smart as hell and dense as fuck! What's NOT to like?
posted by mountain_william at 11:56 PM on February 14, 2007


Me love her in person. She make me laugh. With the blinking and spitting and thick eyebrows. Me not smart enough to read her stuff. Me not smart enough to mock since me not know what prolix mean. What prolix mean? Sound sexy.
posted by tkchrist at 12:09 AM on February 15, 2007


And nobody -- not Hillary, Obama, McCain nor Anna Nicole -- can escape her level gaze.

I was trying to think of something smarty-pants-ish to say about that, but ... I have to go to bed. God.
posted by raysmj at 12:28 AM on February 15, 2007


camille paglia is like ayn rand without all the charm.
posted by Hat Maui at 1:34 AM on February 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


camille paglia is like ayn rand without all the charm.

Say what you want Dude, at least Ayn had an ethos.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:00 AM on February 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


Surfeit with the Paglian
posted by Flashman at 2:17 AM on February 15, 2007


Kristeva. That is all. No. No link.
posted by rhizome23 at 2:40 AM on February 15, 2007


you know who else had an ethos?
posted by Hat Maui at 3:05 AM on February 15, 2007



Paglia is an inspiration to undergraduate thesaurus users and GRE vocab studiers. She never fails to use several obscure words where one common simple one would do. She is Shift-F7.
posted by srboisvert at 3:49 AM on February 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hate that thesaurus?

That seems a little dim to me.

Look, short words!
posted by Wolof at 4:12 AM on February 15, 2007


Unnecessary verbiage intentionally obfuscates otherwise clear thinking, betraying long-held anxieties of intellectual and emotional inadequacies. Hey, that was fun!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:20 AM on February 15, 2007 [6 favorites]


Paglia got totally pwnd when she came and did a talk at my school when she was teaching at Bennington. She's all huff & puff, no blow your house down.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:29 AM on February 15, 2007


Somebody wanna turn me on the one where she praises Limbaugh for being erudite? Being a former EIB listener, I could use a chuckle.
posted by pax digita at 5:17 AM on February 15, 2007


Paglia dares criticize others' writing? She's among the most predictable and turgid prose stylists in the pseudo-intellectual realm.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:40 AM on February 15, 2007


Julie Burchill with a postgraduate degree. Amazing to think that, in the early 1990s, wide-eyed students took Sexual Personae seriously.
posted by Mocata at 6:10 AM on February 15, 2007


Paglia's back

Well, fuck.
posted by moss at 6:26 AM on February 15, 2007


As an Amazon with the brain of a pre-Stonewall gay man, I ...

AKA, Xena the closeted accountant.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:34 AM on February 15, 2007


Do I have to read that drivel to endlessly mock her?

Who am I kidding, this is Metafilter! I know nothing of that article other than its crapiness.
posted by Shave at 6:52 AM on February 15, 2007


To replicate the Paglia experience, read this out loud at 5 words/second, pausing every 3 minutes or so to breathe.
posted by clevershark at 6:52 AM on February 15, 2007


My Moment of Clarity with Paglia came when she said Bush should call off the invasion of Iraq...




... because the breakup of Columbia over his home state was an abvious omen. Good enough for the Romans, good enough for her.
posted by COBRA! at 6:55 AM on February 15, 2007


That's what I like about her, COBRA! She interprets reality as literature, as poetry. Everything that happens is fraught with significance, the way schizophrenics and hallucinogen users perceive the world. Fun!

She's the perfect antidote to the meaninglessness and absurdity of the 20th century. The stars aren't just stars. They form symbols that revolve around the earth and inform our existence.

Mark my words, of the body of Chandra Levy ever turns up, she'll use the word revenant at some point. Bodies don't just turn up. It means something.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:12 AM on February 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh wait, they did turn up. Heh. Shows how closely I follow current events.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:14 AM on February 15, 2007


Or 5 year old events, for that matter.
posted by fleetmouse at 7:14 AM on February 15, 2007


painquale, I'm so glad you posted that. I swear on any holy text you care to name that I had no recollection of it when I started this thread, but I was actually the online editor of McSweeney's at the time. Let me see if I can dig up the email wherein the author of the piece notified me that Paglia had complained about being referred to as a "tubby Midwesterner."

OK, here it is.
I received e-mail from Camille Paglia's assistant saying that a) she thought the piece was 'ingenious and very amusing indeed' and b) that she is not the author of the phrase "As a tubby midwesterner." I checked back, and I indeed goofed--that one (which appeared back in 1997, when I began keeping track) was by a reader, not by the svelte, Northeastern-hailing Prof. Paglia. I'm really sorry--I thought I had quadruple-checked them all. The assistant went on to say this:

"We assume you will be informing McSweeney's of the necessary correction as soon as possible.

"Naturally, we think it's more appropriate for the writer to contact them, rather than our office."
posted by staggernation at 7:16 AM on February 15, 2007


washburn: Salon recently wrote of Barack Obama's days as an uppity smug young man.
posted by lukemeister at 7:20 AM on February 15, 2007


I'm actually sort of pro-Paglia, but seriously: "after I burst on the national scene in 1990 with the publication of "Sexual Personae," is a phrase that indicates either a bad, small-changes-that-make-it-worse editor or a singular incapacity for self-reflection.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:46 AM on February 15, 2007


I'm waiting for "As someone who was wrongly identified as a tubby midwesterner, I..."
posted by drezdn at 8:18 AM on February 15, 2007


If I'm remembering correctly, there was a review of some gay studies book (republished in Sex, Art and American Culture) where she was just trashing the guy on the merits, but then writes that any scholar who would republish an interview of themselves (as this guy did) could never be taken seriously.

I like my irony like moonshine.
posted by solistrato at 8:19 AM on February 15, 2007


Paglia is interesting to read. She has a gift for expressing relatively simple ideas in mind-bogglingly complex ways. Her "I know more cross-dressing pro-drug conservative gun owning abortionists than you do!" schtick can get really old, though.

In Camile's world, history seems to be divided into 'Before Me' and 'After Me.'
posted by verb at 8:42 AM on February 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


She's harmless and kind of fun, but a damn poor substitute for the sort of public intellectual this country should be capable of producing. Where the hell are all the smart, insightful, not-full-of-shit intellectuals? Writing ad copy and debugging code, prolly.
posted by facetious at 9:23 AM on February 15, 2007


"Say what you want Dude, at least Ayn had an ethos."

I don't think they meant ethos, I think they word they wanted was mythos. Please make a note of it.

---
"Where the hell are all the smart, insightful, not-full-of-shit intellectuals?"

Ahem.
posted by davy at 11:07 AM on February 15, 2007


Where the hell are all the smart, insightful, not-full-of-shit intellectuals?
They've all been sent to Iraq. As cannon-fodder. To die on the front lines.
posted by Flashman at 11:24 AM on February 15, 2007


She's a self-important horse's ass, who does wrong by everyone who listens to her -- by misleading them, if they believe her, or by making them think all academics are full of shit, if they don't. The people I know who took Sexual Personae seriously are probably the people I know who are most deeply and unreflectively sexist. Also, see Molly Ivins' take on her in Mother Jones 1991 -- much more enjoyable than reading anything of CP's.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:00 PM on February 15, 2007


From a great Molly Ivins takedown of Paglia in 1991:

"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."
posted by JackFlash at 2:03 PM on February 15, 2007


I don't think they meant ethos, I think they word they wanted was mythos. Please make a note of it.

in the parlance of john mclaughlin, WRONG!

please correct your notes.
posted by Hat Maui at 4:53 PM on February 15, 2007


"She's harmless and kind of fun, but a damn poor substitute for the sort of public intellectual this country should be capable of producing. Where the hell are all the smart, insightful, not-full-of-shit intellectuals? Writing ad copy and debugging code, prolly."

I agree on the poor substitute part, but alas, the really interesting folks no longer really have the sort of venues you'd need to hear them talk. It seems as if hipster self-promoting types (i.e. Paglia) and long-standing, established argument types (e.g. Chomsky) pretty much dominate the scene, and few other folks are getting admitted.

I can name some folks who you might enjoy reading, though. Michael Warner, especially his book Publics and Counterpublics, is exceptional. Stuart Ewen is a pleasure to read. And as far as political books, especially the Iraq-related ones, I have yet to see one as interesting and readable as Robert Ivie's Democracy and America's War on Terror.

Still, you're right about wondering where these folks are - their level of public output in the sort of forum where they would get a lot of notice is far below what one might like.

The other possibility, though, is that America's public intellectuals are now doing film, especially documentary. And while I like many of Michael Moore's films, he's not my example. I'm thinking instead of Eugene Jarecki and his Why We Fight, and of course, Errol Morris.
posted by hank_14 at 6:05 PM on February 15, 2007


I have a very high tolerance for bullshit. This isn't to say I don't recognize it. It's just that I don't mind that someone might spew it for my entertainment. Then again, I don't really consider Paglia's opinions to be bullshit, per se. I can also stand rambling speech or writing as long as it rambles through some interesting topics. And Paglia certainly does that.

She has a unique perspective, if you don't take her too seriously. I think her underlying theme is "what makes us human" and every subject she touches on is merely a proxy for this larger argument*. Date rape, theater, pornography, whatever, it's all going to lead back to the brutal indifference of nature in conflict with the idyllic and necessary delusions of civilization, and how this shapes our cultures.

Paglia is all ego and mouth. As such, it should be completely understandable that she contradicts herself often. She is a whirlwind of opinion and personality. Things are going to get mixed up. Her sweeping generalizations, her binary distinctions, these are products of this same frenetic mind. She has no time for qualifications. She has a lot to say. Taken through a sturdy filter of being comfortable in your own opinions, I think you can read Paglia and occasionally gain insight into the human condition from her observations. And have a good time.

She makes me laugh. She makes me cringe. And yes, she makes me think. If I had the opportunity to, I would enjoy spending time with her babbling on about everything under the sun.

* I haven't read much at all of her ramblings at Salon in her last stint so I don't know how much she may have drifted from this theme. I doubt she has, though.
posted by effwerd at 8:31 PM on February 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


Her "I know more cross-dressing pro-drug conservative gun owning abortionists than you do!" schtick can get really old, though.

So can her boring narcissism.
posted by blucevalo at 8:49 PM on February 15, 2007


"Where the hell are all the smart, insightful, not-full-of-shit intellectuals?"

How about:
Cass Sunstein
Mike Davis
Judith Butler
Michael Hardt
Mark Danner
Christopher Hitchens
Chris Hedges
Sheldon Wolin
Ben Barber
Some of my favorite female intellectuals have died recently, (Iris Young, Susan Sontag) so my list is a bit of a sausage fest. Still, I think these are all vibrant thinkers, engaged with the problems of our day (many of these books about about terrorism, democracy, or imperialism) but thinking well beyound the limits we think of as 'mainstream.'
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:18 AM on February 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


damn it! typos and bad phrasing steal a lot of the intellectual rigor of that comment... just read the damn books!
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:20 AM on February 16, 2007


effword: .... I don't really consider Paglia's opinions to be bullshit, per se.....

Paglia is all ego and mouth. As such, it should be completely understandable that she contradicts herself often.


Hmm.... I guess I'm not understanding what you mean by 'bullshit', then. In the Frankfurtian sense, she would seem to be a living exemplar of bullshit.

I lost any ability to have respect for Paglia when I read an interview with her where she claimed that she'd decided on her intellectual approach -- basically, figuring out whatever was orthogonal to the status quo and doing just that -- because she divined that it was a surer path to publication and notoriety than actually trying to figure out what was true.
posted by lodurr at 8:14 AM on February 16, 2007


... sausage fest ...

Man, that's a creepy phrase. Makes me think of nice juicy italian sausages, and makes me nauseous, all at once...
posted by lodurr at 8:16 AM on February 16, 2007


Back to Molly Ivins's take (RIP), I think this part really sums it up best -- not the funniest part of the piece, but the most straightforward:
What we have here, fellow citizens, is a crassly egocentric, raving twit. The Norman Podhoretz of our gender. That this woman is actually taken seriously as a thinker in New York intellectual circles is a clear sign of decandence, decay, and hopeless pinheadedness. Has no one in the nation's intellectual capital the background and ability to see through a web of categorical assertions? One fashionable line of response to Paglia is to claim that even though she may be fundamentally off-base, she has "flashes of brilliance.' If so, I missed them in her oceans of swill.
posted by lodurr at 8:30 AM on February 16, 2007


lodurr,

Hmm.... I guess I'm not understanding what you mean by 'bullshit', then.

Yeah, I have a few extra classifications jammed in that spectrum :). Paglia has all the appearance of bullshit, certainly, but I take two things into account: I don't think she's purposefully muddying her commentary in an effort to put one over on anyone (except that she is some grande dame), and regardless of her purpose, I don't see it as a threat of any kind. I have no problem with anyone calling Paglia's opinions bullshit, I was just qualifying for my own sake, I guess. Maybe "talking out her ass" is a good way to characterize this subclass. Same general area, different state of matter.

The bottom line is I consider Paglia harmless fun. I've had and have a lot of dear friends who I imagine are a lot like she would be in person. Many of them with ideologies and egos that would surely threaten the very foundations of the civilization had they any venue for their megalomania but thankfully they're just harmless eccentrics who love to hear themselves talk.
posted by effwerd at 8:56 PM on February 16, 2007


should edit myself better...
posted by effwerd at 8:59 PM on February 16, 2007


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