Once upon a time, her crazy had more bite.

>> Friday, November 13, 2009

As I'm catching flack from, among others, two of the three co-panelists from my MLA panel on academic blogging concerning the title to my Camille Paglia post, I feel the need to have Molly Ivins clarify it for me (courtesy of Ahistoricality) :

You think perhaps this is a cheap shot, that I have searched her work and caught Ms. Paglia in a rare moment of sweeping generalization, easy to make fun of? Au contraire, as we always say in Amarillo; the sweeping generalization is her signature. In fact, her work consists of damn little else. She is the queen of the categorical statement.
There was a period in which Paglia could be counted on to be write with force and clarity, i.e. before she began writing disorganized columns brimming over with self-aggrandizing allusions and mindless repetitions of right-wing talking-points. In 1991, she even possessed prescience enough to predict her own rightward drift:
[I]f people are trying to critique from within the academic establishment, and they're getting tarred with the word "neoconservative," you keep on doing that long enough, people will get used to hearing it about themselves, and they will become conservative.
Case in point: Camille Paglia. Did her ready-made anti-feminist statements predispose her to drifting so? Without a doubt. Were her arguments about the inability of woman to create truly great art always as absurd as they seem now? Absolutely. However, she would not have become the media sensation she was in the early '90s had she not packaged her faux-feminist critiques in a language understandable to the general intellectual culture. There were (and are) many anti-feminst thinkers who rivaled Paglia in virulence but not prominence, and the point of my title was that she now resembles those muted, vainglorious misogynists more than the contrarian firebrand she once was.


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