A few days ago Neo-Neocon pondered the enigma that is Camille Paglia.
Paglia is a curious amalgam. She prides herself on being unique and iconoclastic, and she certainly defies categorization. She seems to ally with the right on Obamacare, global warming, and the foolishness of denying the differences between men and women, and she doesn’t pull her punches discussing any of them. But she voted for Obama in 2008.
Camille Paglia is a better art and culture critic than she is a political commentator. If you have a good chunk of time, here’s a great video of Paglia pimping her book Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars at the Chicago Humanities Festival.
The larger context of Paglia’s career is her crusade to drive the now fossilized dinosaurs of postmodernism, poststructuralism and Cultural Studies from the ’80s out of university Humanities departments. The fact that she doesn’t like the Political Correctness, bad scholarship, awful prose, and narrow thinking that these schools produce makes her an ally to conservatives on a handful of issues. She also sympathizes with conservative opinions, which makes her likeable to conservatives.
All that aside, Camille Paglia should not be mistaken as a potential convert to conservatism. She’s just more popular on the Right than she is on the Left because she wants to reform some of the Left’s excesses, many of which are most glaring on college campuses and within feminism and the gay community. This is why it’s easy for her to find an audience on conservative talk shows and editorial pages. In the video above, though, it’s clear that she understands the Left much better than she understands the Right and that her critique is coming from the Left.
Paglia’s art criticism is fun to read, and her lectures verge on performance art. She’s also correct that poststructuralist gobbledygook has created a ghetto of boring and cynical scholarship with a piss-poor understanding of anything other than a handful of French and German theorists. The problem is that when she shows up in the news, it’s usually due to comments she made about something regarding a political issue.
But hey, go read Sex, Art and American Culture. It’s a blast and you’ll feel smarter afterward.
Update: Linked by Wombat-socho at The Other McCain.
Update II: Linked at American Power.