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Sex, Art, and American Culture: Essays

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A collection of twenty of Paglia's out-spoken essays on contemporary issues in America's ongoing cultural debate such as Anita Hill, Robert Mapplethorpe, the beauty myth, and the decline of education in America. A collection of twenty of Paglia's out-spoken essays on contemporary issues in America's ongoing cultural debate such as Anita Hill, Robert Mapplethorpe, the beauty myth, and the decline of education in America.


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A collection of twenty of Paglia's out-spoken essays on contemporary issues in America's ongoing cultural debate such as Anita Hill, Robert Mapplethorpe, the beauty myth, and the decline of education in America. A collection of twenty of Paglia's out-spoken essays on contemporary issues in America's ongoing cultural debate such as Anita Hill, Robert Mapplethorpe, the beauty myth, and the decline of education in America.

30 review for Sex, Art, and American Culture: Essays

  1. 5 out of 5

    Edward Podritske

    In her lecture at M.I.T. in 1991, Camille Paglia remarked at the outset that she faced a dilemma on the occasion of that appearance. She was unsure about whether she should conduct herself as a lady or just be herself, since she undoubtedly had both friends and enemies in the audience. She reckoned that nobody came to see her perform as a lady so she would just be herself, as she put it, "...which is, you know, abrasive, strident, and obnoxious. So then you all can go outside and say, 'What a bi In her lecture at M.I.T. in 1991, Camille Paglia remarked at the outset that she faced a dilemma on the occasion of that appearance. She was unsure about whether she should conduct herself as a lady or just be herself, since she undoubtedly had both friends and enemies in the audience. She reckoned that nobody came to see her perform as a lady so she would just be herself, as she put it, "...which is, you know, abrasive, strident, and obnoxious. So then you all can go outside and say, 'What a bitch!'" To which I would add, "What an erudite, mordacious, sexy and wonderful bitch; I am totally smitten." There are some mystic elements to her view of life but they pale in comparison to the complete intellectual package she so effectively presents to the culture. Like all truly serious intellectuals she has a historical perspective which she applies to her particular interests in art, sex and culture. She abhors, as many of us do, the degraded system of education in the United States from public school to the ivory towers of career academia. Paglia earned her chops by spending her time in libraries rather than schmoozing in faculty lounges or "sucking up" to the already tenured radicals and administrators. Camille Paglia makes a case for reform in education which would in the long run improve the field of aesthetics, which I personally find appealing. With a call to personal responsibility and ethics she also smacks down modern feminists with several deftly applied blows. There is much more in this collection of essays. If you are a fan of Madonna or Elizabeth Taylor this book will interest you. If you like rock music or remain confused about the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill controversy during the former's confirmation hearings you will appreciate Paglia's scathing comments. Her discussions of rape and the so-called "date-rape" issue, which so infuriated the feminist establishment, are so practical and tied to the reality of a sexually charged species that you may wonder why more writers do not have the guts to say it. I recommend this book of essays for the pleasure of erudition.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Theo Logos

    Puritanism with all its absolutism and obsessive focus on sexual purity is deeply ingrained in the American psyche. The American Right Wing is Puritan by default. The American Left Wing goes through regular cycles of its own brand of Puritanism, differing from the Puritanism of the Right only in its conclusions, but not at all in its methods or absolutism. The present moment is mired deeply in one of those cycles. Little wonder then, that Camille Paglia is strictly verboten among present day Lef Puritanism with all its absolutism and obsessive focus on sexual purity is deeply ingrained in the American psyche. The American Right Wing is Puritan by default. The American Left Wing goes through regular cycles of its own brand of Puritanism, differing from the Puritanism of the Right only in its conclusions, but not at all in its methods or absolutism. The present moment is mired deeply in one of those cycles. Little wonder then, that Camille Paglia is strictly verboten among present day Leftists. Paglia is a professional iconoclast. Her stock in trade is smashing all those ideas and sayings which have been determined to be too sacred to challenge. This tends to make the worshippers of those sacred ideas inordinately angry, and triggers the reaction of “let’s burn the heretic!” This is most unfortunate, because ideas that are not allowed to be challenged tend to be weak ideas. The very reason one is not allowed to challenge them is often because they are too weak to withstand intellectual rigor. I don’t always agree with Paglia’s point of view. But I love her presentation. I love the boldness with which she sets about slaying sacred cows, in full damn the torpedoes style. I adore the fact that she is the antithesis of Puritanism — refuses to have any truck with it in any form. She is no longer much in the public eye, and our discourse is that much weaker for it. For any group, movement, or society that harries its intellectual iconoclast into silence is doomed to become weak, flabby, and irrelevant.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Hava

    I got up to 100 pages in this, and I couldn't go any further. Camilla Pagila claims to be a feminist, but she's an MRA in women's drag. She writes scornfully of feminism as a movement, at the same time she claims herself as one. I cannot take seriously the view of a woman who victim blames women for being raped, who says that if a woman dresses provocatively or is on a date with a man, she should "take the risk of being raped" and even more gross, excuses men for their "deepest urges" and says t I got up to 100 pages in this, and I couldn't go any further. Camilla Pagila claims to be a feminist, but she's an MRA in women's drag. She writes scornfully of feminism as a movement, at the same time she claims herself as one. I cannot take seriously the view of a woman who victim blames women for being raped, who says that if a woman dresses provocatively or is on a date with a man, she should "take the risk of being raped" and even more gross, excuses men for their "deepest urges" and says that that is just a man "being a man". I would throw this book in the trash, except I can't do that to a book, even one as terrible as this is. I've never left a book unfinished, but life is too short to keep reading something I hate. Fuck Camille Paglia, and fuck this book. I left the one star because her essay on Madonna was pretty good, but that's it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    I don't always agree with her and I sometimes I have no idea what she is talking about, but hey, I could say that about my mother and she is my favorite woman on earth. Every once in a while she says something that is so profound, to me anyway, you start fumbling for a highlighter like you are going to be tested on it later. But really, you just want to remember it. I love the whole idea of the anti-feminist feminist--she's outrageously liberal, but there is nothing bleeding heart about her. Cam I don't always agree with her and I sometimes I have no idea what she is talking about, but hey, I could say that about my mother and she is my favorite woman on earth. Every once in a while she says something that is so profound, to me anyway, you start fumbling for a highlighter like you are going to be tested on it later. But really, you just want to remember it. I love the whole idea of the anti-feminist feminist--she's outrageously liberal, but there is nothing bleeding heart about her. Camille is intense and unapologetic and gets riled up talking about sex and feminism and religion and Madonna, its hard not to be intrigued by a woman who is so balls out.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Paglia is brilliant and controversial. I find her to be a natural progression in the exploration and study of feminism. I adore this book and her anti-feminist feminist approach. When I took a Women's Studies class at SFSU in early 1990s, they hated her, which of course, made me love CP even more. Read her and rejoice. Paglia is brilliant and controversial. I find her to be a natural progression in the exploration and study of feminism. I adore this book and her anti-feminist feminist approach. When I took a Women's Studies class at SFSU in early 1990s, they hated her, which of course, made me love CP even more. Read her and rejoice.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    this book would probably offend a lot of people, but she makes solid arguments for all of her un-PC views. at the very least it demands that people look at the basis of their view of the world and question whether it is based on fact and reason or a sugar-coated, spotty overview of history and touchy-feelyness.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ill D

    My initial experiences with Paglia are twofold. Even though I don't understand how it ended up on my 5TB hard drive, I read and thoroughly enjoyed Glittering Images during my second year in Hong Kong. Elucidating as it was burgeoning in its width of erudition I chomped every delicious word. About a year later (don't know where this one came from either) I read through about a third of Sexual Personae. Again, I loved every word and the phenomenal syntheses they bore (the intro on Nefertiti was ba My initial experiences with Paglia are twofold. Even though I don't understand how it ended up on my 5TB hard drive, I read and thoroughly enjoyed Glittering Images during my second year in Hong Kong. Elucidating as it was burgeoning in its width of erudition I chomped every delicious word. About a year later (don't know where this one came from either) I read through about a third of Sexual Personae. Again, I loved every word and the phenomenal syntheses they bore (the intro on Nefertiti was ballin'). Yet, I was somewhat at a loss when I finally came upon the chapter of Wordsworth and Blake (even though I dug the Ulver album). Having not read neither, it felt a little less than fair to dive in so (in a rare case) I put off reading it. I was also distracted by Preacher. In either case, here I am (2018) back at the Paglia trough. Do I agree with everything she says? Of course not. And I'm sure that the only person who completely agrees with Camille Paglia is, well, Camille Paglia. You might disagree (or evidently loathe given the comment/review section here) with her message but her medium cannot be denied. Paglia's flair for writing is only outmatched by the sheer force of her words; hypnotism and erudition fused. The thing the critics need too understand is just that, she's a CRITIC. Like Breatbart's previous tech editor, the now disgraced MILO, she is a TROLL. And that's her job. All shapes and sizes kids and these gadflies have an important role to play in society. Without these people, society tends to ossify. (Unsurprisingly those cultures not too big on art are also the most oppressive and most unchanged). Again, to repeat myself, she's a troll. And some of her opinions and statements are unvarnished trolling. Some of her perspectives, unbelievably enough, have been unfairly misconstrued as such. If, for example, you want freedom, it comes with the responsibility of the consequences they entail. The fact that that is considered trigger-worthy these days shows just how far into the Kali Yuga we've slunk already. Whatever my relationship to the text, its a solid read. With opinions that range from the truly out there, to the indefensible, and even to good ol' common sense, Paglia has a lot to say. And this one is probably her most human offering (that I've read). If you don't dig anything else, give her lecture at MIT and the ensuing background write-up for Sexual Personae at the end a whirl. Rejected stones can become cornerstones. One and a half firey thumbs up.

  8. 5 out of 5

    sologdin

    Apparently it is the rape victim's fault after all. contains the obnoxious essay that challenges barthes & foucault implicitly on the notion of authorial intentions. paglia's rhetoric in these sections is a screed not dissimilar from the worst of ann coulter. at its most manifestly worthless in this moment, the argument is retrograde of literary theory in the US of the 1950s. that's fugly. Apparently it is the rape victim's fault after all. contains the obnoxious essay that challenges barthes & foucault implicitly on the notion of authorial intentions. paglia's rhetoric in these sections is a screed not dissimilar from the worst of ann coulter. at its most manifestly worthless in this moment, the argument is retrograde of literary theory in the US of the 1950s. that's fugly.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Geralyn

    Women who drink at parties and walk home in the dark do not deserve to be raped. That's not what they have coming to them, and that's not what they are asking for. She disagrees. It's like reading theonion.com. Women who drink at parties and walk home in the dark do not deserve to be raped. That's not what they have coming to them, and that's not what they are asking for. She disagrees. It's like reading theonion.com.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Aneece

    A contrarian's contrarian. Yes, that bad. A contrarian's contrarian. Yes, that bad.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Teri

    Can a woman be both a feminist and be sexual? There is a feminist thought that women suffer from oppression by men and that all feminists hate men. Camille Paglia challenges the stereotypical identity of feminism in her book. Her main thesis answers the question that women can be feminists and embrace sexuality. Women can be strong and independent and be sexual. The images of these women are found in many forms of art from literature, print, and music. According to Paglia, the identity of a femi Can a woman be both a feminist and be sexual? There is a feminist thought that women suffer from oppression by men and that all feminists hate men. Camille Paglia challenges the stereotypical identity of feminism in her book. Her main thesis answers the question that women can be feminists and embrace sexuality. Women can be strong and independent and be sexual. The images of these women are found in many forms of art from literature, print, and music. According to Paglia, the identity of a feminist as taught by academia has it all wrong. Paglia is not your typical feminist scholar. She is brash, and she is loud. She does not conform to many streams of feminist thought. She has her ideas and opinions, and she is not afraid to share them and go against the grain. Paglia has roots in academia, having studied at Binghamton and Yale universities and makes her living as a professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Despite being grounded in academia Paglia is often critical of traditional study and calls for broad changes in learning constructs at the university level. Her unique view of academia and many other topics are tackled in Sex, Art, and American Culture: Essays. Two major themes come to the forefront in Paglia’s essays. The first is Paglia’s views on women, feminism, and sexuality. Her belief that sex one should embrace sex in all its forms and portray all forms of art. The second theme is her strong views on psychological theory. Paglia is a follower of Freudian thought and is appalled at those that follow the tenets of Foucault, Lacan, and Derrida. Paglia’s book is comprised of twenty-one essays on her views of feminist thought as they apply to sex and art. Many of these articles are published in magazines and journals. Paglia’s main discourse throughout her book does not conform to mainstream feminism. Paglia feels that sex should not be shunned. She boasts that she is pro pornography and prostitution. Sex is beautiful. Women are beautiful. She feels that feminists should not shun commercial ads that use women to exude a sexual theme to sell a product but to see the ad as a sensual work of art that portrays women as a beautiful, sexual being. Paglia uses examples of Madonna and Elizabeth Taylor to support her thesis that women can be beautiful, and they can be sexual, they can be sensual and also be strong independent women who embrace their identity and sexuality. These images are also seen in music and art, and Paglia goes as far as challenging a fellow professor who offered a lecture on the negative aspects of women’s sexuality depicted in art. To Paglia, these were works of art that showed the power women have as sexual beings. Art should be looked at for its positive messages on sexuality, not on its negative messages of oppression. Paglia seems to contradict herself, though, when speaking on the subject of date rape. Paglia lays much blame on women for most cases of date rape, especially in regards to collegiate women who attend fraternity parties and follows a young man to their room. Paglia views this as a signal that the woman is open to sexual liaisons, and therefore there is no date rape but consensual sex. Many people would consider Paglia’s views as victim-blaming, but Paglia states her case unequivocally. Paglia is not your typical feminist. She has ideas on women and sex that goes against the norm. She is radical and appears to go off in left field. However, her views should be considered. These views allow one to see feminism from a different lens. Her views challenge the current ideology on the role of art and sex in feminist thought. It is discourse, like Paglia’s, that allows people to expand their worldview and consider a different side of sexuality.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    I Hate Camille Paglia. I just wanted to get that out there before I said anything else. Because, given how much I hate Camille Paglia and pretty much everything she says on pretty much everything (in a somewhat similar vein as the way I feel about Ann Coulter, for example) of course I would give any of her work one star. That said, I think this is one of those infuriating books one ought to read, if only to get all fired up once again in your own views, particularly about women and feminism and I Hate Camille Paglia. I just wanted to get that out there before I said anything else. Because, given how much I hate Camille Paglia and pretty much everything she says on pretty much everything (in a somewhat similar vein as the way I feel about Ann Coulter, for example) of course I would give any of her work one star. That said, I think this is one of those infuriating books one ought to read, if only to get all fired up once again in your own views, particularly about women and feminism and sex and culture. I can't believe I even made it all the way through this book--but it's true, I did, at least at one point in my life many years ago. I think now there are so many things I really want to read, and really look forward to reading, that I don't think I could ever go back and reread this book in its entirety--perhaps just selections to remind me how stupid some people are.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Liam O'Leary

    Here is a woman with a compelling voice. It moves at a dazzling speed, reiterates and emphasises itself, is a little too slanderous at times, zips between references between disciplines. The old proverb that 'people who speak too fast or too much have little to say' is annihilated by this performance. I didn't disagree with her: it was either I agreed or "I don't know enough here to disagree". I'll try read the poststructuralists despite her warning as I think every view deserves fair trial before Here is a woman with a compelling voice. It moves at a dazzling speed, reiterates and emphasises itself, is a little too slanderous at times, zips between references between disciplines. The old proverb that 'people who speak too fast or too much have little to say' is annihilated by this performance. I didn't disagree with her: it was either I agreed or "I don't know enough here to disagree". I'll try read the poststructuralists despite her warning as I think every view deserves fair trial before criticism, but I think I get her view. In all I think I gained a fresh realistic perspective on modern culture, and finally, a coherent intelligent account on some of the potential problems of current academic feminism.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kaethe

    Camille Paglia, much like Bill Maher, seems to have based her career on being the One Person In the World Brave Enough to Call "Bullshit" On Everyone Else. Thank goodness there's one woman in America brave enough to tell all the rest of us that we're wrong. Camille Paglia, much like Bill Maher, seems to have based her career on being the One Person In the World Brave Enough to Call "Bullshit" On Everyone Else. Thank goodness there's one woman in America brave enough to tell all the rest of us that we're wrong.

  15. 4 out of 5

    A

    I've always thought Camille Paglia was a pseudointellectual - emphasis on pseudo - with rhetoric as empty as the hot air she blows. And now she's endorsing the Drumpf. She's as much of a joke as he is. I've always thought Camille Paglia was a pseudointellectual - emphasis on pseudo - with rhetoric as empty as the hot air she blows. And now she's endorsing the Drumpf. She's as much of a joke as he is.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mickey Hernandez

    Good critique of contemporary feminism and Postmodernism. "Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders" is the most valuable essay in the collection. Good critique of contemporary feminism and Postmodernism. "Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders" is the most valuable essay in the collection.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Will

    "The people who criticize me, these establishment feminists, these white upper-middle-class feminists in New York, especially, who think of themselves as so literate, the kind of music they like, is, like Suzanne Vega." "The people who criticize me, these establishment feminists, these white upper-middle-class feminists in New York, especially, who think of themselves as so literate, the kind of music they like, is, like Suzanne Vega."

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pascal

    I didn't read the whole book, like her essay on Elizabeth Taylor. Didn't really care. I thought her essay on Madonna was enlightening and fun, I didn't know that much about Madonna, but then it sort of has this weird sexual element to it as she talks about her Madonna obsession, where you know Paglia just wants to fuck Madonna. Overall, I think Camille Paglia has some interesting points, from a distance. However, she's a lot like a Monet, the closer you inspect her theories and work, the more of I didn't read the whole book, like her essay on Elizabeth Taylor. Didn't really care. I thought her essay on Madonna was enlightening and fun, I didn't know that much about Madonna, but then it sort of has this weird sexual element to it as she talks about her Madonna obsession, where you know Paglia just wants to fuck Madonna. Overall, I think Camille Paglia has some interesting points, from a distance. However, she's a lot like a Monet, the closer you inspect her theories and work, the more of a mess it all seems. I think it's fair to have a libertarian argument against the "totalitarian" feminist movement espoused by such figures as Dwarkin, however with her line of reasoning I wonder what she'd say about Bill Cosby today. Would she blame them for trusting him too much? She also is very scattered with a lot of her ideas, which makes her opinions less worthy, her ideas don't develop, they sort of just jump around like the ADD type of speaker she is. She is obsessed with American culture and espouses a Manifest Destiny element to it. However despite all this, her work is impressive, she uses a lot of cultural references, but then she falls back on a positivist view on the world which is really confusing. Psychologically I think she's an example of the Tea Party mentality, and an interesting voice to study if one is curious in some of the logic behind libertarian mentality, which has some valid points at times. I wouldn't read it again, nor would I really recommend it to anyone unless they want a few laughs and get caught in a pop culture academic.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rachael Richardson

    Fleeting moments of fun. all around, sort of engrossing. an important argument to experience. However, her style is quite particular and I found it relatively annoying and occasionally revolting. not to mention her position on most things is absurd. and to many, will be quite offensive. but the essays are real short and can be read just as easily as mediocre op ed pieces in the ny times...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ethel Margaret

    The first few essays were off-putting, but her discussion of rape drew me in more. I don't think Paglia's magazine articles showcase her at her best. I look forward to reading Sexual Personae which, from the portions I've read, I think exhibits Paglia's talent as a wordsmith with an impressive command of language. The first few essays were off-putting, but her discussion of rape drew me in more. I don't think Paglia's magazine articles showcase her at her best. I look forward to reading Sexual Personae which, from the portions I've read, I think exhibits Paglia's talent as a wordsmith with an impressive command of language.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Zoe's Human

    It's a pity Ms. Paglia is either unwilling or unable to assert her own thoughts without deriding others. She has a number of important and relevant things to speak about; however, her attitude that anyone who behaves or believes differently is bad, wrong, incompetent, and/or stupid leaves me unable to finish this book and unwilling to attempt anything else of hers. It's a pity Ms. Paglia is either unwilling or unable to assert her own thoughts without deriding others. She has a number of important and relevant things to speak about; however, her attitude that anyone who behaves or believes differently is bad, wrong, incompetent, and/or stupid leaves me unable to finish this book and unwilling to attempt anything else of hers.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sheryl

    complicated.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Djordje

    Looking for something to make you REALLY want to read Paglia? Just read the angry 1-star reviews left by the run-of-the-mill campus feminists of today as responses to her work.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I agree with most of her discourse but I disagree with a lot of her conclusions. For example, while I agree with her analysis that date rape is a slippery slope in which women should be responsible for their actions, I disagree with her conclusion that the perpetrator of the crime should not be prosecuted. I think her provocative statements are great debate starters. I do think she is right that male and female energies are different and both are needed in a thriving culture. But while she has a I agree with most of her discourse but I disagree with a lot of her conclusions. For example, while I agree with her analysis that date rape is a slippery slope in which women should be responsible for their actions, I disagree with her conclusion that the perpetrator of the crime should not be prosecuted. I think her provocative statements are great debate starters. I do think she is right that male and female energies are different and both are needed in a thriving culture. But while she has a pro-masculine animus, I think it interesting that she rejects women biological imperative for nurturing... Perhaps this due to feminist rejection that men are biological programmed to be competitive but I think it is somewhat hypocritical for her male has masculine imperative to be dominant without saying that women have a biological imperative to be motherly. Paglia is an extreme cultural libertarian who is an advocate of prostitution and pornography as a way for women to reclaim their sexual domination over men. Artistically, she hold Madonna as a positive role model for women since she can play power politics like men but does not throw her sexuality out the window to do it. In fact, Paglia thinks she should be all women's role model because she uses her sexuality as part of her show of power. She thinks that masculine energy is dangerous by nature and she lauds the creative destructive side of men as the innovators of society. She also accepts that it is testosterone fueled actions that women like in their men. Paglia is really a libertarian with her liberal point of view on sex and drugs but pays homage toward capitalism and its efficiencies that made her one of the most liberated women on earth. For her, capitalism remains the most efficient mechanism to bring the highest quality of life to the greatest number of people. I like her view of rock stars as artist who are dedicated to their art by looking at and studying other artists instead of bowing towards the commercialization of their art form. She likes Marlon Brando imperative to be rough and contradictory at the same time. i think it is interesting that her view of homosexuality as revolutionaries and should remain that way instead of being reformers trying to changed organized institutions to their way of thinking. I think she is correct in stating that gay people should continue to be innovators of culture that they are. I like her emphasis on keeping art in their respective places so it does not dilute the art or the opposing institutions. I think it is interesting how she thinks that "unwarranted praise to boost self-esteem" is what is creating a mediocrity education system She thinks Anita Hill is a hypocrite who was passive to Clarence Thomas sexual advances in order to further her career and now comes out against him in his fight for nomination of the supreme court. It is interesting to meet a self-professed feminists who is conservatively unapologetic in American exceptionalism in its power that has created "the most open, dynamic, creative nation" on earth and she credits American capitalism as giving women independence of choice. Since she thinks that masculine energy is chaotic but creative force that is needed for the material advancement of the world. She thinks that by raising masculine energy to its rightful place, feminine energy will again be fully defined and honored. She likes the duality of the sexes by choice and rejects the blending of the sex role. She thinks that it is academic fantasy that feminism strongest proponents have a "could have it all" without prioritizing mentality. Whereas she used to disdain hierarchy, she now praises it in civilization as the chief mover for progress and laughs at egalitarianism. She thinks that we are more animalistic in our nature with our desire to dominate and civilization is what educates us to modulate our natural animalism. She shows how biology via hormones is more important in determining how a group of male/females behaves rather than cultural forces. While biology clearly has an important role in determining our actions, there are exceptions to the rule like she herself tended to be more aggressive as a female and liked living dangerously and exploring the dark side of things. Paglia decries the academic movement towards specialization instead of the dynamic synthesism she naturally prefers. She is also saddened by the abandonment of poetry by rock music. She says that great teachers live their subject and in turn the subject transforms them. For her, criticism without emotion is dead. Although she fondly reminisces about the sixties, she also knows that it was time of unfulfilled potential due to widespread drug use. EAST MEETS WEST: MULTICULTURALISM - Is current multi-culturalism studies too focused on oppression rather than contribution to American society? I wonder if this divide is generational in which new immigrants and their children concentrate more on what is great about America in contrast to where they came from whereas minority-americans who have been here for ages concentrate on their relative oppression by the majority. Is she accurate in stating that religion gives us enlightened detachment from human suffering and desire? Whereas Western religion focuses on absolute truth, Eastern religion focuses on an all-encompassing truth, a certain oneness with the universe. Whereas Western medicine focuses on finding "the cure" to disease states, Eastern medicine focuses on well-being and return to balance. Thus, while western medicine is probably better for someone who is already sick, eastern medicine is better at preventing sickness by seeking balance via ones well-being. The west has a duality and progress toward something is a necessity while the east focuses on relativity. The whole world is tending west with the result of increase freedom, justice, and humanity but also brings the negativeness of a more materialistic, mundane, and fragmented way of life that leads to disintegration of society and individuals. While the concept of human right is a western phenomenon, letting go is more important than personal happiness in the east. Paglia states contemporary S&M is also about letting go of oneself and trust the other. Buddhism is about letting go in order to gain everything while Westerner's are goal-oriented with the expectation of some sort of progress. The downside to this constant wanting is greed. Westerners objectify women's bodies while easterners focus on her movt/manners as the sign of beauty. For example, for traditional Chinese breast are not eroticized b/c its function is primarily utilitarian motherhood. An interesting piece of trivia is that eastern art work lacks perspective since having perspective means you see the world through the eyes of the individual looking on art. CRITIC ON AMERICAN ACADEMIA: A good point she makes is that scholarship swayed by politics become propaganda. A lot of sexuality studies can be explained by biology, now. Paglia focuses on Freud as the master of psychoanalytic thought. She likes Freud because the Freudian view of sexuality deals with psychological conflict which she thinks is important in love and aggression in sexuality. Her distaste from Foucult comes from the divorce from emotion that Foucult shows in his analysis. Foucult is analytical and deals more with matters of power. She wants scholarship to be purist devoid of any political or personal involvement. Again, she decries the fragmentation of American humanities department. In its place she favors a generalized liberal arts education for graduate students. She thinks conferences are a waste of time because all people get from it is networking which in the end furthers one's career but does not necessarily further scholarship. She decries academic feminism as an echo chamber totally out of touch with reality. It is a shame how much economic progress in academia is tied towards one's publications. As one can imagine, Paglia going against the academic grain made her poor but she did it because she thought it was the right thing to do. For grade school children, she wants order and discipline instead of coddling. She thinks that conflict builds character. She represents the essence of the 60's which is free thought and free speech. She exalts the sixties as the opening of American consciousness at the price of messed up lives due to its excess of drugs and sex which resulted in rampant STD's. I wonder if she prefers to keep oppressed people oppressed since edgy intellectual thought seems to come from people who are oppressed such as gay men and Jews. She argues that debate on conflicting view points is what will allow intellectual progress. Now that Jews are largely accepted by society, it is strange to think of them at the vanguard of the civil rights movement because of their tradition of pragmatic debate over religion which spilled over into civil rights. I think it is interesting how she credits Black music as giving rise to the popularity of American music. Even though Americans experienced the 60's revolution, the french intellectuals took over American academia due to American capitalism which during the budget crisis of the 70's were looking an intellectual tradition that was ready made which the French certainly had. Like most libertarians, she dislike being labeled a minority-American because she says it handicaps her talents as an individual. She likes people who can straddle the fence in embodying their own ethnic heritage while at the same time connecting with the larger population. She cites Oprah Winfrey as the best example of this phenomenon and perhaps Barack Obama. Although I agree with her premise that everyone should learn english in order to get ahead in the US, I disagree with her insistence of de-ghettofication since it takes a cultural ghetto to make sure multiculturalism is alive in America. i appreciate the fact that she realizes that women have to prioritize what they want out of life. I think it is refreshing to have a feminist say that there are honorable men out there who defend rape victims. I like how she defends capitalism as a great way to liberate women from the mundane task of household chores. She prefers fluidity in labeling her sexuality. She thinks women have the capacity to be bisexuals. Although sexuality might be fluid, I think parents have a right to socialize their children into appropriate gender roles until it becomes clear whether the children will accept it or reject it since there is variety within stereotypical gender issues. Just as Paglia felt apathy toward dolls as a child, so too will other children with certain preferences outside the norm.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Smart and sassy, but also overly self-centered and riddled with needless tangents. Paglia became a celebrity intellectual of sorts in the 90s for her jeremiads against contemporary feminism and the occupation of the American academy by French quacks (Lacan, Derrida, et al). Polemics can be fun, but in this case sometimes become an excuse for the same lack of rigor Paglia sees in the work of her colleagues. The centerpiece of the collection, "Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders", is worthwhile readi Smart and sassy, but also overly self-centered and riddled with needless tangents. Paglia became a celebrity intellectual of sorts in the 90s for her jeremiads against contemporary feminism and the occupation of the American academy by French quacks (Lacan, Derrida, et al). Polemics can be fun, but in this case sometimes become an excuse for the same lack of rigor Paglia sees in the work of her colleagues. The centerpiece of the collection, "Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders", is worthwhile reading for every humanities student. (Just skip to the last 10 pages if you don't care about Greek sodomy practices or Michel Foucault.)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ollie

    I have very conflicting feelings and views on Camille Paglia. On the one hand, it's blatantly clear that she's an attention-seeking loose cannon who can fit a thousand feet in her mouth; she spends an awful lot of time slagging off people without providing backing evidence; and she places way too much importance on the 60s counter-culture as well as on her own somewhat inflexible views. This compilation of essays and magazine articles would have never seen the light of day if she hadn't become a I have very conflicting feelings and views on Camille Paglia. On the one hand, it's blatantly clear that she's an attention-seeking loose cannon who can fit a thousand feet in her mouth; she spends an awful lot of time slagging off people without providing backing evidence; and she places way too much importance on the 60s counter-culture as well as on her own somewhat inflexible views. This compilation of essays and magazine articles would have never seen the light of day if she hadn't become a household name. On the other hand, I have a soft spot for people who cause trouble and speak their mind, even if their mind is heading in the complete opposite direction to everyone else's. I agree with her views on the importance of history in education (I was educated in a Liberal Arts college just like her, and one of my tutors also did her PhD under Harold Bloom); and I like how she has no problem hopping from ancient Greece to popular culture in one sentence. She's also a great defender of the arts, in particular music genres like punk, and anything really which falls outside "the mainstream". I think she's spot on when she says that academia is in trouble, with far too many people more concerned with their careers than with actually producing decent research. Raise your hand if you know someone who had their research stolen by their supervisor (I know at least two people here in London.) No matter what she says or writes about, I'll always be interested in it, even if I may not agree. She's like an Ann Coulter it's OK to like (and I bet she'd give Coulter a good troucing if they ever found themselves on a fighting rink.)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    I have a love/hate relationship with Miss Paglia. She claims to be a lesbian feminist, but some of her statements....artifice over art. That being said, I enjoyed this book immensely almost 20 years ago, fresh out of college and looking for a fresh perspective on art and culture. Enjoyed it again, after taking it down from my bookshelf recently. Recommend, but with caveat. Take it with a grain of salt. Miss Paglia has been a guest on many cable news shows, when the media tries to get input about I have a love/hate relationship with Miss Paglia. She claims to be a lesbian feminist, but some of her statements....artifice over art. That being said, I enjoyed this book immensely almost 20 years ago, fresh out of college and looking for a fresh perspective on art and culture. Enjoyed it again, after taking it down from my bookshelf recently. Recommend, but with caveat. Take it with a grain of salt. Miss Paglia has been a guest on many cable news shows, when the media tries to get input about heated "socio-cultural" topics, such as gay marriage, abortion, etc....you know, the topic of "The Other". For some reason, she's always happy to sit in front of the mic, and rock it, LOUDLY, whilst pushing as many buttons as possible. Need I say more?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Hubert

    Paglia's more public views and writings, especially her denial of the existence of date rape on college campuses, reads somewhat poorly in the early 21st century. But her plea to think about big ideas, to do the hard work of relating disciplines to one another, to read well, to avoid academic faddishness, and to draw from a long swath of history, anthropology, archaeology, (and science!) is most refreshing. Paglia's more public views and writings, especially her denial of the existence of date rape on college campuses, reads somewhat poorly in the early 21st century. But her plea to think about big ideas, to do the hard work of relating disciplines to one another, to read well, to avoid academic faddishness, and to draw from a long swath of history, anthropology, archaeology, (and science!) is most refreshing.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

    Excellent set of essays - I think the highlight was the M.I.T. Lecture, and this book is worth buying for that speech alone. She writes with amazing clarity and humour, and her incisiveness and ability to put the subconscious and instinctual reactions held by many of us into words is truly eerie. Worth reading for all freethinkers, misfits and renegades who are tired of the stale, politically correct Western culture, and who need sustenance from a truly educated and independent thinker.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kristina

    For most of these essays being over 25 years old, I will look at the relevance to the debate over feminism today. Has it really changed? Are we even more divided than ever? As a woman, I have to be responsible for my own sexuality. No matter if I look like a Helen of Troy prize to ogle over, I have to be actively aware of the signals I send men.

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