“Everything’s Awesome and Camille Paglia is Unhappy!” (plus my own thoughts)

Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie conducted an interview with Camille Paglia:

Honestly, I don’t entirely know what to think of Camille Paglia. My online buddy Wyrd Smythe mentioned her a few years ago, suggesting that I seemed to share some ideas in common with her and should check into her if I wasn’t already familiar. Well, since then I have, and while I can see where our ideas overlap in some areas, it’s also plainly evident how different we are, particularly when it comes to our political stances (she being a Democrat, whereas I lean libertarian). Setting that aside, perhaps it’s partly a generational gap where I struggle to relate with her expressed view of the 1960s-1980s and the pop culture icons she esteemed. And also her conversational style strikes me as a bit overwhelming and tricky to follow, though admittedly I too can get fired up and hyper-talkative at times.

Her emphasis on all that is political kinda turns me off as well, as one out here belonging to the tail-end of Generation X who’s come to see the U.S. political game (particularly the major two parties dominating the scene) as a farce and a display of puppetry where members of the public are relentlessly encouraged to keep our eyes on various balls that, more often that not, just wind up proving to be relatively trivial distractions from focusing on the bigger picture. Dedicatedly keeping up with the tits and tats of it all gets to feeling like another form of inanity after a few years — like, what good does it really do to continuously keep up on these chess moves when it appears there isn’t much that can be done by individuals (particularly we outside of the duopoly political camps) to alter the game?

While I do agree that a lot of academics don’t seem to have much direct experience with the working-class life, I’m not entirely convinced that the “Leftists of the ’60s” in fact did. If she’s terribly concerned about the working class, I wonder why she then remains so opposed to many who happen to vote Republican, seeing as how there’s a huge voter base at the bottom there who remain working/service class. I’ll assume the reason for this is she detests their “traditional” attitudes and beliefs (though she also expresses disdain for what’s become of secularism), based on what I’ve listened to from her in various interviews thus far, but she has to realize that many who become cosmopolitan and leave small-town America have a tendency to become more liberal-minded and therefore become much more likely to leave behind the gender norms and religious attitudes that have historically aided working-class and agrarian people and the communities they belong(ed) to.

Kind of like me. I can speak from the blue-collar working-class perspective only so far, because I moved on and relocated to the North to large cities where I’ve encountered a sea of strangers along with much greater diversity, all of which has expanded my way of viewing life and people and the choices available to us. And I, just like her, do not work in a factory and never have, even though my Grandma did. But unlike Camille Paglia, I did not rise further than completing a Bachelor’s degree in college and returned to service work that is not terribly unlike what my Grandma and aunt and mother all continue to work at. The blending of the service economy with working-class professions has created a bunch of blurred lines that complicate what’s under discussion here. And while some may consider working as a professor in academe to be a type of service job, I’d argue that’s why these matters can’t help but be so hazy to try to make sense out of. Where’s the cut off between the working class and the middle class? Where are the distinctions drawn anymore? And how much does this even matter now as we embark on the 21st century? Relics of history, in a real sense. Plenty of us were indeed impacted by these shifts from the old ways of working and living, if only through observing those most impacted, but do most of us not live entirely different lifestyles now, by comparison? So what are we trying to stand up for here? People not born with trust funds and silver spoons in their mouths? If that’s the case, then yeah, she and I are coming from a similar place in that regard.

Does a president (or that office, particularly) automatically deserve our respect? Hmmm…  I can’t say “yes” there. But are people behaving like snarky brats demeaning that position rather than attacking the real issues at hand? Sure, I’d agree with that much. Goes back to people giving up on politics and seeing it as little more than a tit-for-tat game to applaud or hiss at from the sidelines. The attitudes have shifted among the younger crowds, and it looks to me like Camille Paglia is having trouble accepting and coming to terms with that. She seems to want us to react like people of the ’60s did, but it won’t happen. Too many people have burnt out on this shit. Getting much of anything of real and lasting value done through the legal channels looks more and more like a huge (and expensive) waste of time. So different strategies are being employed now, including some choosing to simply tune out. Which really probably isn’t all that different from what the drug users of the ’60s effectively did as well. The main difference being that we today probably don’t pay as much lip service to utopian ideals while doing so.

That probably sounded more jaded than need be. I’m just trying to say that people of the ’60s didn’t manage to regain hold of the reins of this country either, regardless of how much they claimed to care or how many protests they attended. That strategy failed. How much has it really changed anything for the better?

Good to hear that she doesn’t demonize the Tea Party though. I don’t either, aside from the Koch brothers eventually co-opting it to suit their own purposes.

I’m not a fan of Hillary Clinton either, for a variety of reasons. But I don’t see why it’s such a pressing matter that we have a female elected into that office soon. I’d be cool with anyone, regardless of gender/sex or race or religious background, who has real integrity and stands outside of and opposed to the two-party setup in the country. But that’s admittedly a pipe dream at this point.

This quote lifted from the interview I can get fully behind:

“I do not feel that gender is sufficient to explain all of human life.” … “This gender myopia, this gender monomania, has become a disease. It’s become a substitute for religion. It is impossible that the feminist agenda can ever be the total explanation of human life.”


And while I’ve never traveled outside of the U.S. (aside from that one afternoon in Tijuana, Mexico), I concur with her that this isn’t a bad place to live.

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5 Responses to “Everything’s Awesome and Camille Paglia is Unhappy!” (plus my own thoughts)

  1. Wyrd Smythe says:

    Oh, sure, blame me! XD

    Just to be clear, what I like about Paglia is that, in contrast to many of the power Feminists of the day, she didn’t see women only as victims of a male power structure. She acknowledged that women have their own kind of power to wield (“the power behind the throne” and “behind every good man is a good woman” kind of thing).

    (I never paid much attention to her political leanings.)

    I do like that quote!

    • Byenia says:

      hehehe It’s ALL YOUR FAULT, WYRD! hehe

      I know, just was giving you shit. You just happened to be the major person to tip me off to her. And thanks for that. Has been interesting to learn about her views. 🙂 Doesn’t matter that I don’t agree with all of it.

    • vklaatu says:

      Feminism has always had its share of manipulative harpies. Like Caroline Norton for example, the bimbo that bamboozled Parliament and many other people with the Tender Years Doctrine in the middle of the Nineteenth Century. What a mess that has turned out to be!

      Back to 19th century condom debate… I guess you really don’t give a shit that men used to suffer greatly from syphilis, do you? Condoms were the best way to deal with that, but the feminists and their toadies obviously could have cared less. In the final analysis, they were wrong. Condoms are easily one of the best forms of STD and birth control aside from the pill.

      I think it was even more telling that Emma Goldman avoided the Suffragette harpies like the plague. Now there was a lady for whom liberty and oppression were very far from gendered.

      And as for the second wave harpies, well, you heard Camille… endocrinology was a patriarchal conspiracy among scientists to them. So the hell with the feminists in general , we don’t need them. We need more individualists.

      • Byenia says:

        vklaatu, you said: “I guess you really don’t give a shit that men used to suffer greatly from syphilis, do you?”

        Why would you write that? Nearly all of us out here are glad that condoms exist and consider them a very worthwhile innovation. That has nothing to do with this topic or Camille Paglia, and certainly has nothing to do with anything Wyrd wrote above. I really don’t appreciate how you’re coming across here. So knock it off.

  2. vklaatu says:

    America is a Puritan shit hole compared to the Europe I lived in and loved from ’89 to ’91. As for blue collar folk voting for the Rethuglicans… there are still too many Archie Bunkers out there. I have a few in my family.

    The Tea Party is comprised mostly the petite-bourgeoisie and anti-union working class who have bought the rhetoric of upward mobility. I feel bad for the folks in it who got the shaft, but they’re only voting against their own interests. American blue collar folk can be especially self destructive, and I’m not going to blame it all on the stick and the carrot.

    I share Paglia’s loathing for Post Modernism and the mediocrity it had defended, but I’m not with her on her love of pop culture. There’s something incredibly anti-individualist in popular culture that only folks like Frank Zappa can openly spit on without being labeled pretentious snobs. I have never been able to stomach Madonna. I always preferred Siouxie and the Banshees, but Paglia’s still a Catholic and pagan at heart.

    I had to sort out my bisexuality when I was enlisted, at time when I could have gone to prison for it. What a mess that was. So I can relate to her problems with the 50’s nonsense. There are a few neo-reactionaries like Matt Forney I’d like to get in a boxing ring.

    I grew up very poor, and enlisted for college money and to avoid killing or being killed by one of my mother’s more insane boy friends. I also grew up pro-labor because I was disgusted with the way I saw working class people were treated in the 80’s as I watched middle class kids run in cliques while I danced circles around them intellectually and traded punches with them, too.

    I’ve always been quietly disgusted by American politics even though I’ve volunteered in various causes after I got out of the Air Force… I’m torn. I refuse to belong to any social class no matter how sympathetic or irritated I am with working class folk.

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