Friday, January 4, 2008

Camille Paglia, the Persona

Whenever Camille Paglia's turns out another study of the Western
Culture, she succeeds in aggravating a wide spectrum of intellectuals.

Paglia's discovery that women's reproductive powers naturally bind them to men upsets feminist intellectuals.

She says that Ayn Rand-like capitalism has freed women from bondage to men, and she makes Leftists boil with indignation.

When she associates homosexual aestheticism with some of the
most despotic systems and shows that gay men's love of all things
masculine is idolatry, she is sure to ruin their day.

She crumples the most sacred institutions of Church and State
— because it is a male attempt to smother natural female forces, the
conservatives will grumble.

Paglia's claims that the great world we call Western Culture is
nothing more than social manifestations - through literature, art,
political and religious institutions - of men's phobia of mysteries
that lurk within women's vaginas and, consequently, of women's
emotional attempts to conquer their penises. By conquering nature, men
try to counter-conquer women, sex, and everything that resists being
bottled up by intellect.

Paglia points out that the penis, unlike the vagina, is external,
hence visual; it is linear, it can be measured, compared, formulated.
The vagina, on the other hand, is ambiguous, striking in color,
impossible to quantify or architecturally simulate.

Paglia holds that nature does not conform to the laws of man, of
culture. Man sees uncontainable nature in woman, in the liquids that
flow from her genitalia during sex and menstruation, from her breasts
after childbirth, and he is threatened, even while deeply drawn to that
very object which he lacks and finds fascinating. Man turns toward the
sky, toward Greek gods, and invests his faith in transcendental logic. The
male ego is a sexual persona that replicates itself in phallic
monuments and skyscrapers, stairways to the sky, to the sun, to heaven,
in religious doctrines that designate women as the servants of men, as
shrews are to be tamed. By controlling women, men are attempting to
control nature, the ultimate representation of power. Deep down they
know that, like their own penises that shrivel into a flaccid strands
of flesh once orgasm has been achieved, their own power is fleeting.
Therefore, they fight the futile war and wreck Western Culture further
into spectacular carnage.

Paglia's language is intellectually powerful and colorful, and
together with her uncanny, perfect grasp of art history proudly
saturates the book with all things that are Paglia.