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November 11, 2006

Camille's Girly Side

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Dave Lull points out a sweetheart of an interview with Camille Paglia. I've spoken to Paglia twice, and I was struck both times by how giggly and flirty she was when she was talking off the record. Her famous Warrior Woman routine didn't kick into gear until the tape recorder went on. The Bright Lights Film Journal interview captures some of this softer, less-determinedly-assertive Camille. Me, I dig both Camille-the- Warrior-Woman and Camille- the-girly-girl.

Don't miss the interview with Bruce LaBruce that's linked-to in the Paglia interview either. I'm a Bruce LaBruce fan myself. Amusing, flamboyant, and sensible (in a hyper-perverse kind of way), he's like a Canadian cross between Larry Clark and John Waters. I wrote an appreciation of LaBruce here.



posted by Michael at November 11, 2006


I don't mind the sexual personae of Paglia at all, but I do mind when she leaves plain talk behind to adopt the highbrow literary theorist persona. Not that I like it generally, but she seems particularly lacking in the ability to sell it.

Posted by: J. Goard on November 12, 2006 5:45 AM

Paglia's alright, but she tends toward the pompous. This is especially true of her book on poetry, in which she says ponderous things about fragile modern poems that can barely stand any weight at all, never mind the weight of "deep meaning."

Posted by: ricpic on November 12, 2006 9:27 AM

Camille Paglia usually strikes me (in interviews and articles; I've never quite felt up to tackling her books) as a kind of split personality. She's very good at knocking down poseurs and pretentiousness, and at transcending gay self-imposed stereotypes. Yet in her own way she too seems constantly winking and nudging and showing you how much cleverer she is than the average brainworker.

To wit, from this interview: "I loved Cruising — while everyone else was furiously condemning it." She didn't need to add the second bit; it's just one-upmanship. (Any other commenter would have said "one-up-personship," but you notice how I didn't.)

Paglia sasses the sensitivity-contest adoration of Brokeback Mountain: "I was steadily annoyed by the over-stylish, absurdly clean and unwrinkled clothes of the two leads (they looked like Ralph Lauren catalog models) and by the sexist stereotyping of their betrayed and increasingly unattractive wives." Funny and probably accurate — "probably" because I am among the benighted who chose to avoid the movie.

But then she can turn around and write gender studies twaddle like: "My theory is that gay men, unlike lesbians, have an innate, hyper-acute visual sense. It’s related to what I have speculated to be the genesis of much (but not all) male homosexuality: an artistic gene that ends up isolating sensitive young boys and interfering at a crucial moment with the harsh dynamics of schoolyard male bonding."

I think Paglia wants to have her fun lampooning the Intellectual Pseuds Association, but she's not about to tear up her membership card.

Posted by: Rick Darby on November 14, 2006 4:51 PM

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