This latest interview is classic Camille Paglia - my favorite lesbian left-wing feminist atheist professor.
Of course, I don't agree with everything she believes, and she is capable of some pretty over-the-top stuff, but hey, the world would be terribly boring if everybody simply agreed with me on everything. Dr. Paglia is a thinker, a scrapper, a philosopher, a social and literary critic, pop-culture commentator, and interpreter of art who fearlessly articulates what she believes - with elan and erudition. She is a feminist who outrages nearly every other feminist, a Democrat who praises the Republicans, a "liberal" who was a guest on Rush Limbaugh, an atheist who defends religion and pulls no punches when it comes to the modern atheist elite. She is a true scholar. If you read or listen to her, she will make you think, will challenge your premises, and will give your intellect a workout. And just when you think you might be able to predict which direction she is headed, she will zag back and hit you upside the back of the head with a two-by-four before you can even turn around.
Camille Paglia is fun!
I got to see her lecture at Haverford back in the late 90s when Mrs. H. was a McBride Scholar at Bryn Mawr College. Miss Grace was in the trenches doing battle against irrational and totalitarian Gender Feminism as it was being pushed on hapless students by dour-yet-smirking baby-boom faculty members - who were, by the way, all there when the diminutive lady professor swaggered to the podium like a tigress looking for something to toss to her cubs to play with. It was as though the movie suddenly switched from drab Soviet-style black-and-white to full-blown HD color. Paglia unleashed a mile-a-minute tirade that would not let up - off the cuff, laden with facts and figures, teaming with history and art, pop culture, rock and roll, political philosophy and literary references - all punctuated by quick breaths - a Tommy gunner on espresso. She took fearless aim at every one of the Sacred Cows of Gender Studies.
The smirking guardians of Gender Feminism slinked away licking their wounds as Paglia held the field and held forth for hours. Her talk began at 7:00 pm and she was still fielding questions at 1:00 am. when Mrs. H. and I finally left - toting our Camille Paglia books that we had brought with us to be signed by the author - who spoke with us in person with a humility and kindness that was almost shocking after her overwhelming stage persona.
And yet, it was not just an act. What you see is what you get. She is as real as they come, and doesn't play around trying to fit in or craft an acceptable image. She can fit in with anyone. She can offend anyone.
Here is the final three paragraphs of her interview, strafing such topics as homeschool mothers, the Tea Party, religion, atheism, art, the Democrat and Republican parties, pop culture, the 1960s, and drugs. Take a deep breath, put on your seat-belt, count to ten, and pull the ripcord:
No, the Republican Party has become very provincial in terms of culture. Nelson Rockefeller, in contrast, was a collector of first-rate abstract art! That’s one of the things I’m trying to remedy with my book. One of my target audiences is home-schooling moms — whose powerful voices I heard calling into conservative talk radio at the dawn of the Tea Party. They are formidable and capable personalities whom feminism has foolishly ignored.
I don’t like the situation where the Democratic Party is the party of art and entertainment, the party of culture, while the Republicans have become the party of economics and traditional religion. What that does is weaken both sides. One of the themes in my book is the current impoverishment of the art world because of its knee-jerk hostility to religion, which is everywhere. That kind of sneering at religion that Christopher Hitchens specialized in, despite his total ignorance of religion and his unadmirable lifestyle, was no model for atheism. I think Hitchens was a burden to atheism in terms of his decadent circuit of constant parties and showy blather. He was a sybaritic socialite and roué — not a deep thinker — whose topical, meandering writing will not last. And I’m no fan of Richard Dawkins’ sniping, sniggering style of atheism, either.
A responsible atheist needs to be informed about religion in order to reject it. But the shallow, smirky atheism that’s au courant is simply strengthening the power of the Right. Secular humanism is spiritually hollow right now because art is so weak. If you don’t have art as a replacement for the Bible, then you’ve got nothing that is culturally sustaining. If all you have is “Mad Men” and the Jon Stewart “Daily Show,” then religion is going to win, because people need something as a framework to understand life. Every great religion contains enormous truths about the universe. That’s why my ’60s generation followed the Beat movement toward Zen Buddhism and then opened up that avenue to Hinduism — which is why the Beatles went to India with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Then it all disappeared, when people became disillusioned with gurus. But spiritual quest was one of the great themes of the ’60s that has been lost and forgotten — that reverent embrace of all the world religions. This is why our art has become so narrow and empty. People in the humanities have sunk into this shallow, snobby, liberal style of stereotyping religious believers as ignorant and medieval, which is total nonsense. And meanwhile, the entire professional class in Manhattan and Los Angeles is doping themselves on meds and trying to survive in their manic, anxiety-filled world. And what are they producing that is of the slightest interest? Nothing. Nothing is being produced in movies or the fine arts today (except in architecture) that is not derivative of something else.