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am 30. März 2000
I don't agree with all she says, but what I really like about her is that she has more chutzpah and speed than a rampaging rhino. To me, that's what academia needs--chutzpah and speed and a kick in the pants or two. The prototypical professor has some kinda "Goodbye Mr. Chips" ivory tower affectation--"airs", they call it--that serves to lose many a bright and promising student. Paglia knows about that, of course, and she speaks about it, but she is a creation beyond mere academia...She kinda reminds me of some of those Professors I had like in Western/Non-Western Civilizations Courses and Comparative Religion Studies when I was a mere embryo in my liberal arts college. These professors made learning interesting because they weren't afraid to go into the trenches, so to speak, to bring home a lesson. I ended up with with professors who did missionary work in apartheid South Africa, who were NASA physical chemists, who were heirs to syrup and condiment dynasties...and they were all very successful in reaching me, a hardheaded, hardboiled kid from the heartlands.
Paglia is one of my favorite professor/writers/pop culture experts. She is usually dead-on those topics she explores and describes. Imagine my thrill, if you will, when I found she had an ongoing column in the netmagazine "Salon" and she is deliciously brazen, bold, informative and Italian about topics ranging from the Oscars--who won and what they were wearing and what she really thinks about, say, Gwenneth Paltrow--to the aforementioned ivory tower madness in most esteemed colleges and universities across the nation--to her ongoing calls for reform in many aspects of the feminist movement. I call her the neo-Renaissancer. Her seminal work, "Sexual Personae", put her on the map, but I have a feeling that even without that, she would have been front and center some cause she is so passionate about, and she would be just as famous.
About the book--they are actually gleanings from her first coupla 4-5 years after she published "Sexual Personae", including the rejected introduction from it. She is a huge Madonna fan so much so that she compares herself to her (and to Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones and to snappy sassy thirties/forties film actresses like Rosalind Russell and Kate Hepburn), and in the article "Venus of The Airwaves" she unknowingly does a companion piece to Madonna's "Immaculate Collection: Videos". The Collection came out after the piece, but she critiques evvy video from "Lucky Star" to "Justify My Love"--one could only imagine what she thinks of Madonna's recent (art as life?) movie or her pop productions with electronica muse Bill Orbit...
Interesting to me in particular is her notes on the lectures she and Lily Yeh did at the Univerisity of the Arts in Philly: "East and West: An Experiment in Multiculturalism". Can you say, "Right down my alley", kiddies? Note: it truly is a ying/yang experience thru Professor P's eyes... She also writes about pagan goddess Liz Taylor, does a sweeping critique of sexuality and the "New Criticism" in "Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders", and transcribes the infamous M.I.T Lecture. And does each with a plunder and aplomb which is pure Paglia. You go, girl.
My opinion--love her, hate her. Utimately, that's up to the individual. To me she is one of the world's greatest teachers and thinkers. To ignore her would be pure heresy.
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am 24. Februar 1999
Paglia writes from a standpoint of anti-PC/anti-postmodernist philosophy. The weakness of her book is that it is dedicated to what John Berger has called 'the instant culture', the culture where postmodernism has cut us off from the past while the media cuts us off daily from the future. For a study of the interaction of the media with the outcast elements of the instant culture from the standpoint of PC/postmodernism see Joshua Gamson's "Freaks Talk Back". Both Paglia and Gamson are TV addicts. Both praise the role of the media in the instant culture. One is Foucauldian, the other is not.
Paglia's intellectual contribution comes from her anti-postpodernism. PC is an instant-practice in postmodernist society that creates/spreads the pseudo-disease called victimization. America has, through PC, become a nation of victims. See also "Dumbing Down our Kids", by Charles J. Sykes, for the role played by schools in creating 'victims'. Paglia's anti-postmodernist essay 'Junk bonds and Corporate Raiders' is worth reading because it's a very effective attack on postmodernism/PC, and predates the Sokal hoax by about five years. Her MIT lecture is also worth reading. The rest of the book, in praise of the instant-culture created by modern capitalism, which has largely destroyed the chance of nontrivial culture within America, includes a lot of horn-tooting for Paglia by Paglia and does not shed light on anything worth knowing. Paglia likes to emphasize her Italian roots, but the stark contrast with John Berger's writing, where peasants do not behave as victims and capitalism is not praised for what it has done, is worth noting.
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am 1. Oktober 1998
The importance of this book will only be of worth to those who think, and are disgusted with the path with which the Baby Boomer's have taken. From the 60's through the early 70's, where sit-in's were popular and people were actually concerned with political leader's and foreign affairs, the American Society looked like they were on the road to ethics which we could feel good about. These very Baby Boomer's wanted to live in a better, less distorted society. Something onlong the course of history changed, and these ideals fell from the minds of the Baby Boomer's. Possibly it had something to do with new considerations (like raising children and making money). De facto or premeditative, the importance of raising kids and education to these very people have not only fallen, but now remain missing. Camille illustrates not only this fact, but also the sheer lack of thinking which now exists in American Society. She also describes perfectly how the Universities are failing at teaching future generations how to think, and failing at giving their students exposure to History in general. She is an American rebel who is willing to go against the tide of the establishment (educational institutions as well as the real world) and stand up for thinking!!! To suggest that Camille is right or wrong is one thing to argue (I believe she is right), but her ability to have the guts to stand up against the majority of those who prefer not to question makes her unquestionably a remarkable women.
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am 27. Mai 1998
After reading through this collection of essays I had to throw it against the wall out of utter frustration. Although Ms. Paglia's neo-feminist approach can be quite refreshing and, yes, amusing at times, it ain't happening here. I don't want to dismiss the points that she attempts to make, but, could she keep her huge ego out of everything? Do I need to be constantly reminded that she is an Italian-American and a scholar? Well, I figured that if she is a professor and has a book of her essays published she must be. So what? The topics are approached with pure subjectivity and lack of depth. It's like suffering through an awful debate where the antagonist uses circular reasoning to prove a point and then pounces with a, "So there!" as you reel in amazement at the actual personification of a closed-minded putz. Here, we have it on paper. Camille, babe, the gay community could care less about your acceptance, and frankly I doubt if Madonna feels any differently. This only pertains to this book. I have seen Paglia and read other essays and think that she has a lot of really good points. So maybe it's the editor's fault. END
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am 28. Mai 1999
While she deserves her fame, there have been two negative effects from it. One is that her immense ego has gotten even bigger. The other is that she now wants us to hear her opinion on every topic under the sun. Compared to the insights of Sexual Personae, this book is fluff. Yes, there are some interesting things here, but nothing like the sustained analysis of her first book. There's a contradiction in her work. While she is always criticizing the semioticians and the post-structuralists, in a sense they made her work possible. Before them, pop culture was not a fit subject for serious intellectual study. You don't see her mentor Harold Bloom talking about the Rolling Stones. She can write intelligently about pop culture when she puts her mind to it, which is what I'm hoping Sexual Personae Volume Two will be about. Unless you're a big fan, skip this book and wait for that one
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am 10. Juni 2000
Art history is boring. Postmodernism is dense and defeatist. Feminists are unglamorous. Camille Paglia's M.I.T. lecture, transcribed in this FABULOUS book, is the most exciting several pages I or anyone else has ever read. Never before has any academic been so honest. Oscar Wilde once said that in being concise, one sacrifices accuracy. This sort of rough, concise prose is what Paglia takes straight from Pater and throws in your face. This book, like "Sexual Personae," draws vast conclusions from little more than Paglia's own erudition, and is often, well....WRONG, but it is nonetheless the best piece of academic work you'll ever read. She'll put everything into perspective for you, and so much more...
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am 1. August 1996
Paglia, as she says herself, has an ego to rival Norman Mailer's. She's also got a brain to rival Einstein's. Not to mention her own brand of originality.
In this collection of essays, Paglia takes on and demolishes post modernism, deconstruction and a forest of Foucaultian foolishness befouling the modern American university.
Paglia does not hesitate to assert that the feminist movement has been taken over by man-haters, bull dykes and the sexually frustrated. Not to mention the terminally stupid.
The book is a great read, but it's really only for those familiar with the debates and debaters she skewers. If you don't know what she's talking about...well, you won't know what she's talking about.
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am 27. Mai 1998
After reading through this collection of essays I had to throw it against the wall out of utter frustration. Although Ms. Paglia's neo-feminist approach can be quite refreshing and, yes, amusing at times it ain't happening here. I don't want to dismiss the points that she attempts to make, but, God, could she keep her huge phallic ego out of everything? Do I need to be constantly reminded that she is an Italian-American and a scholar? Well, I figured that if she is a professor and has a book of her essays published she must be. So what? The topics are purely approached with subjectivity and lack of depth. Not so scholarly.
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am 29. November 1998
What I liked about this book is Prof Paglia makes one relalize that a woman can be esoteric. Lover of men as well as self. Lover of intellect as well as hedonistic elements of life. She actually is very "right on" with her observations of the human condition. Any self secure woman who isn't out to bash men, money and other wonderful life elements will embrace this woman. She is also one of the few True feminists who loves the working class, and those not stuck in lofty academic towers. She remembers her roots.
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am 23. August 1998
This book is not as brilliant as Sexual Personae, but it still offers insights into her view on art,feminism,society and of course sex. It's her most user-friendly book - less academic then Sexual Personae but more serious then the not so hot "vamps and tramps" (no drag queens here..).
Sure, no one can agree with all her views, and sometimes she craves provocation to much, but her wit and originality make this book fun and interesting.
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