Pop-Paganism: 11 Extraordinary Camille Paglia Excerpts

Essential Authors: Camille Paglia

Two years ago, I joined Liberty Island Media, a start-up book publishing company focusing on genre fiction, as their West Coast Editor and began acquiring and editing novels. I also started writing my own novels and helping other writers develop their stories. Now, in this ongoing series at Smash Cut Culture I’m going to start highlighting the authors who I’ve returned to most often in working with writers. As I’ve studied and met both fiction and non-fiction writers over the years these are the ones with the most depth, originality, and humanity. Reading their books and understanding the ideas that matter to them has helped change my life for the better and I hope it can do the same for you.

Camille Paglia should be on you read-everything-she-writes list. #art #culture #pagan #feminism

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On Tuesday Mark Bauerlein at First Things published a thoughtful post on Camille Paglia and the key idea that he sees as distinguishing her from today’s cookie cutter Right/Left ideologues:

She announced it a few months back in an interview with the New York Observer. The very first question asked her about comparisons between President Trump and Adolf Hitler, to which she replied: “‘Presentism’ is a major affliction—an over-absorption in the present or near past, which produces a distortion of perspective and a sky-is-falling Chicken Little hysteria.”

….

Paglia believes there is a causal connection between young Americans’ ignorance of history and their dim view of present conditions. At a conference in Oxford, Paglia stated again, in response to a student who criticized her and others for telling youths not to be so sensitive and snowflaky, “There is much too much focus on the present.” Thanks to the (presumed) sensitivity of modern youth, Paglia says, students have not had a “realistic introduction to the barbarities of human history . . . . Ancient history must be taught . . . . I believe in introducing young people to the disasters of history.” Without that background, she implies, our only standard of appraising current circumstances is current circumstances plus a few utopian dreams. We have so much material prosperity, they think, so why don’t we have more perfect people to enjoy it?

I’ll take Bauererlein’s insight into Paglia’s value as a writer and intellectual a few steps further. Yes, that she analyzes today’s culture through the broad stroke of history, starting in the ancient world gives her arguments greater weight and originality. Where I value her even more though is in the way she connects this grand historical understanding to our everyday pop culture. And what is her key here? It can be summed up in one word: Paganism.

Paglia connects the primitive, religious earth worship of the ancient, pre-modern world, with the secular faiths of today’s postmodern ideologies and celebrity-obsessed culture. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from her book Vamps & Tramps: New Essays, about how what is natural must be overcome and transcended to achieve greatness:

Here are ten more of my favorite Paglia quotes I’ve collected over the years. I hope you’ll find them useful and inspiring. Continue reading “Pop-Paganism: 11 Extraordinary Camille Paglia Excerpts”

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Your Favorite Beatles Album Defines You

So today has been the celebration for the 50th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I admit to not participating in the festivities, even though I remain a Beatle fanatic, having been raised on their music, in their pop culture pagan faith since probably before birth. I don’t particularly need to spell out the album’s inadequacies, numerous “think pieces” already have. Of the album’s 13 tracks, only a handful have become classics of the Beatles’ canon.

But there’s one in particular that I’ll stick my neck out for any day of the week, George Harrison’s contribution:

We were talking
About the love that’s gone so cold
And the people who gain the world
And lose their soul
They don’t know, they can’t see
Are you one of them

When you’ve seen beyond yourself
Then you may find
Peace of mind is waiting there
And the time will come
When you see we’re all one
And life flows on within you and without you

Yes, I admit my biases: I do prefer the Beatles when they’re in mystical mode and of the four George is probably the one I end sympathizing with most. (I used to identify with John Lennon for many years — during my rebellious adolescent period.) But now the artistry and spirituality of George seems a better fit:

I’m more of a White Album Beatles fan. The individualism and experimentalism of the album are still what makes it resonate for me — the way that the songs allowed each member of the band to try innovations and parodies and provocations.

If you’re a Beatles fan which album is your favorite? And how do you see your personality or your own artistic tendencies reflected in it? Which tracks are your favorites?