Apr 7, 2005

break, blow, burn

Interesting interview with Camille Paglia - "Warrior for the Word". Paglia is an interesting cat. I was lucky enough catch her speaking at my university in grad school. My favorite line from the talk was in regard to Andrea Dworkin. For those that don't know Dworkin is a fire & brimstone feminist; along the lines of 'castrate all men'. Paglia talked a little about her, explaining her views (all done very academically mind you) and then ending with, 'the real issue with Dworkin though is the one she never seems aware of - she is ugly and fat'.

She has been out of view for quite a few years now (at least to my view). So I read the interview with interest. I imagine she's one of the more misunderstood feminists out there. Her personality and her thoughts don't seem to give the same impression. At least that was my sense before I saw her talk. She reinforces that in the interview
And so there was a period there -- when I had three bestselling paperback books from Vintage in a row -- that represented a whole uprising by a very repressed wing of feminism. When my work was criticized, people went: "Oh, she's antifeminist! She's a neocon." For heaven's sakes -- I had just voted for Jesse Jackson in the 1988 primary!
On the outside she's brash and loud and very NY. She screams 'attention-whore'. But thought-wise she is incredibly well-read, well-thought out, and without insecurities. Which means she will say anything and have the data and reasoning to convince you she's right. The fact that feminists and 'anti-feminists' alike don't like her should tell you she's on to something. I agree with a lot of what she espouses. And when I don't agree I listen/read carefully in case I'm missing something. She is very very smart.

Most of all though she is fun. Again because she will say anything. This statement comes from someone who is lesbian and whose partner has a child.
I'm completely against that two fathers, two mothers stuff. I think it's gay activism gone horribly awry -- people making political points without regard for a child's realistic social and developmental needs.
She touches on blogs too.
"The blogs, for example, are becoming so self-referential. If people want to be better writers, they can't just read the blogs! You've got to look at something that's outside this rushing world of evanescent words. Nowhere in blog pages does anyone pay attention to the individual word -- things are moving too fast."
More interesting however is her new book - Break, Blow, Burn. It's a collection of essays on poetry. I don't particularly like poetry, but if there is one thing Paglia is good at, it is interpreting writings and other art. That really is her strength and what made Sexual Personae such an interesting book - it was a history of the arts. It's on my list of things to do.

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