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On birth certificates and Bill Ayers

Some people think that Camille Paglia has a column at Salon because Paglia has some deeply incriminating photos of David Talbot.  But I think that Camille Paglia has a column at Salon because (a) back in the 1990s, guys like Talbot were charmed by her contrarian contrarianicity and (b) now, everyone else in the English-speaking world truly enjoys watching her make an abject fool of herself.  It’s kind of cruel in a way, and yet I doubt that anyone can say she doesn’t deserve it.

I hear that Slate and Salon might team up to create a whole entire Special Edition Extra Deranged Internet, with Gregg Easterbrook as chief science reporter and Camille Paglia as senior political analyst.  Sort of like Pajamas Media, only without the pajamas.

Posted by on 11/12 at 12:49 PM
  1. Imagine a woman who isn’t that bright but makes up for it in brio and self-confidence.  A woman who covers up her lack of insight with syntactically convoluted “sentences” that defy parsing by all but the most intrepid grammarians.  A woman whose real contributions to her field of work are nebulous at best, yet who clings to them with the tenacity of (dare I say it?) a pitbull, bringing them up in public at the slightest opportunity.  A woman with only a few stock ideas to fall back on, and whose method of communicating relies entirely upon repeating them ad nauseum.  What kind of Vice Presidential pick would such a woman admire?  Narcissus, thy name is Paglia.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  02:07 PM
  2. You betcha.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  02:11 PM
  3. It is difficult for me to believe, yes, very difficult, that that column and the dreck about Palin it contains could possibly be anyone’s actual opinion.

    If I were an observer from Outer Space (and who among you really KNOWS that I am NOT?) I would say, it looks to me like there is money being funnelled, possibly through think-tanks, to incredibly cynical and integrity-less “pundits” and “Columnists”, to blather out talking points like this.

    The comment, “So she doesn’t speak the King’s English—big whoop! There is a powerful clarity of consciousness in her eyes. She uses language with the jumps, breaks and rippling momentum of a be-bop saxophonist.” is as ass-kissing, ridiculous, and navel-gazing...no that’s not strong enough....psychotic as : I can’t find the quote, but it is that one where some asshat is talking about W being an amazing public speaker who never makes mistakes. Give me a second!

    Posted by KMTBERRY  on  11/12  at  02:24 PM
  4. Great, nuttery on a tape delay.

    It’s interesting (in a boring kinda way)—a decade-plus ago, Slate and Salon were these edgy new media ventures.  Salon jumped the shark almost immediately; Slate got too annoying to visit 4-5 years ago though there’s still some talent immured there.  Meanwhile in the last year or so, a lot of old print magazines (Time, Atlantic, V Fair) have done a pretty creditable job of webifying, partly on the strength of blogging.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  02:26 PM
  5. Ah, here it is: It is John Hindraker (dude, change your name!) and the psychotic quote is:

    It must be very strange to be President Bush. A man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius, he can’t get anyone to notice. He is like a great painter or musician who is ahead of his time, and who unveils one masterpiece after another to a reception that, when not bored, is hostile.

    Posted by KMTBERRY  on  11/12  at  02:28 PM
  6. First she impresses you with knowledge you don’t have (because you don’t have it, you have no way of knowing how useful the knowledge actually might be). Then, she adds to the intimidation by playing the bully. Finally, she makes it seem like it’s your fault you don’t “get” her. By the time she’s done, you’re begging her to let you be her sycophant.

    I appreciate her willingness to stray into whatever areas interest her. But when I read her, I never get that feeling of “this is something I hadn’t considered, I look forward to examining it with a fresh eye.” Instead, I get the feeling of “man, am I dumb, Camille’s gonna kick my ass if I don’t shape up and agree with her.”

    Posted by Steven  on  11/12  at  02:29 PM
  7. I think Ms. Paglia has a column because she brings the wicked funny in an unintentionally meta-ironic way:

    News items: My article “Final Cut: The Selection Process for ‘Break, Blow, Burn’” has just been published in the Fall 2008 issue of Arion at Boston University. It is available online at Arion or via that invaluable international site, Arts & Letters Daily. No more Mr. Nice Guy: I’ve taken the gloves off against John Ashbery, Jorie Graham and the rest of that insufferably pretentious crowd. For real English used in a vital, vigorous contemporary way, see the new book of poems by my colleague Jack DeWitt, “Almost Grown,” which deals with cars, gals and brawls—American culture at its finest!

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  02:32 PM
  8. And it’s time for another gratuitous cuttin’ ‘n’ pastin’ of this:

    Her Salon caricature’s eternally arched eyebrow will live on
    You have to hand it to Camille Paglia. Well over a decade after actually mattering, this warrior of the word still maintains the intellectual fortitude to starfuck anyone from Rush Limbaugh to Matt Drudge while protecting the English language from the ravages of her erstwhile creation, the blogosphere, in an interview promoting her “next major work,” a collection of other people’s poems titled - no doubt with some restraint - “Break, Blow, Burn.” The Medium Lobster eagerly awaits her magnum opus, in which Paglia sets herself on fire atop an immense bronze reproduction of her own head, the immolation of which will consume Wotan, Valhalla, and the whole of creation.
    posted by the Medium Lobster at 9:48 AM

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  02:35 PM
  9. wow.  i don’t recall anyone calling for the “long form” of a former candidate’s birth certificate before, so she must be smart. 

    it’s been quite a while since i heard someone ask “who wears the pants” [in a side-figure’s family, no less].  i heard a rumor she considers herself a feminist.  and hey, everyone’s entitled to her own opinion, but res ipsa loquiter and wtf.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  02:35 PM
  10. She uses language with the jumps, breaks and rippling momentum of a be-bop saxophonist.

    WtF? I wonder exactly which saxophonist she had in mind here. Certainly not somebody like Phil Woods or Dexter Gordon...Maybe the sixth-grade kid in her local middle-school Stage Band.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  02:39 PM
  11. sven!  that 6th grader is trying!

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  02:41 PM
  12. oh, well.  you have a point.  sarah p. tried, too.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  02:43 PM
  13. Posted by Michael  on  11/12  at  02:43 PM
  14. I think Camille Paglia has a column at Salon because whenever the column appears, hundreds of letters immediately follow, ensuring lots and lots of the page views and click-throughs that advertisers value. And perhaps because poor hapless Joan Walsh believes that it makes Salon “edgy” or gives it some sort of academic cred. But Michael’s theory is equally plausible, especially part b.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  02:52 PM
  15. I really can’t do any better than the blessed eXile did on Paglia, so I’ll just save myself the trouble and link.

    Posted by Doctor Memory  on  11/12  at  02:54 PM
  16. Paglia who again?

    Sorry, after the election I realized that I had a lot of brain cells cluttered up with old, disused memories that weren’t important any more, and decided to clear them out to make room for new information.  “Paglia” just isn’t ringing a bell.  You’ll have to fill me in on her accomplishments and what makes her an evidently noteworthy and distinguished public intellectual.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  03:03 PM
  17. All day I’ve been wondering whether Michael or Kathy G would be the first to take down the University of the Arts favorite wanker. It’s Michael, but only by a nose!

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  03:15 PM
  18. I think Molly Ivins says it better than I could…

    (from Wikipedia)on Paglia…

    Molly Ivins wrote a scathing review of Sexual Personae in which she accused Paglia of historical inaccuracy, demagoguery of second-wave feminists, egocentrism, and writing in sweeping generalizations.[63] Ivins concluded her polemic against Paglia with this passage: “There is one area in which I think Paglia and I would agree that politically correct feminism has produced a noticeable inequity. Nowadays, when a woman behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, ‘Poor dear, it’s probably PMS.’ Whereas, if a man behaves in a hysterical and disagreeable fashion, we say, ‘What an asshole.’ Let me leap to correct this unfairness by saying of Paglia, Sheesh, what an asshole.”

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  03:33 PM
  19. Ah, with all due respect to the eXile, let me just say how very tired I am of the claim that Paglia’s early work offered a bracing tonic of dissent from stale academic orthodoxies:

    To grasp the beauty of Paglia’s early defiance, one must enter the bizarre world of the American university in the 1980s, when the price of admission to the guild was acceptance of obvious absurdities deemed to be virtuous.

    Ah, not exactly.  Paglia made her name in the 90s by championing a “pro-sex” feminism against the likes of MacKinnon and Dworkin.  Funny thing is, ever since the famous “Pleasure and Danger” conference at Barnard in 1982 —that’s nineteen hundred-and-eighty-fucking-two, people—there already was a “pro-sex” feminism in academe, and it was created by queer-avant-la-lettre theorists like Carole Vance and Pat Califia as well as my favorite democratic socialist ever, Ellen Willis.  In 1986, a bunch of people associated with the Feminist Anticensorship Task Force published this landmark thing, developing a queer/ feminist critique of the antiporn camp as distinct from the civil-libertarian critique.

    So there are really only two options here.  Either Paglia knew the history of feminist and queer debates about pornography and sexuality in the 1980s, but burst onto the scene in 1991 proclaiming herself to the Teh Only Pro-Sex Feminist in Teh World anyway, in which case she was a bit of a fraud.  Or she didn’t know about it, in which case she was a bit of an ignoramus.

    As always, however, I insist that this is not an either-or kind of blog.

    Posted by Michael  on  11/12  at  03:37 PM
  20. Kathy, I know. I was once a sixth-grade bebopper myself. The surviving tape might be called “a tone parallel to Palin’s Couric interview.”
    In this metaphorical space, I’d say W is Boots Randolph and Obama is, I don’t know, maybe Hank Mobley (smooth but not much that’s new). McCain is playing an out-of-tune clarinet.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  03:42 PM
  21. If I finally get around to buying, reading, and then killing myself after reading Sexual Personae, will she stop? My future-ghost wants to know.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  04:03 PM
  22. I will have to admit a kinship with one of the above arguments; i.e. it’s a bit disingenuous for someone to ask “Why does x have a column/popular blog?” while simultaneously providing a popularity-generating link or 12 to the offending column/blog.

    Hit-counters can’t tell whether you disagree with the content or not.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  04:06 PM
  23. In the mid-70s I somehow ran into her thesis on a friend’s bookshelf, thumbed through it, and immediately denounced academia for a life of crime.  It’s just occurred to me that I never sent her a thank you note.

    And Keith Richards is a better lead guitarist than Madonna is a singer.

    Posted by Doghouse Riley  on  11/12  at  04:10 PM
  24. OK, point taken. Don’t click on the link, people!

    Or do click, for the same reason that Sadly, No! needs The Corner:  for the almost-infinite potential for mockery.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  04:10 PM
  25. Shorter Camille: I used to be a completely incoherent yet somewhat provocative fraud, but after Katie Couric interviewed Sarah Palin, I became a completely incoherent yet somewhat provocative fraud who was outraged by Barack Obama’s associations with William “Pussywhipped” Ayers.

    (Someday I’ll stop doing these.)

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  04:25 PM
  26. Oh, I agree it’s symbiosis. But I generally get the point after the 11th or 12th time I see an oxpecker de-tick a rhinoceros; the 2500th time holds less charm.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  04:28 PM
  27. Dear me, what a crock of manure. 

    The birth certificate thing, seriously?  Ayers?  Really?

    Palin as exemplar of the new movement in feminism?  Her pro-life stance being the reason for all the negative coverage?  Riiiiight.

    The scariest thing about Palin is not her incurious anti-intellectualism, or her talent for parrying any question she doesn’t feel like answering, but this:  she wouldn’t even go onstage with a few pro-choice Republicans during the campaign. 

    If you won’t even talk to the opposition, what hope do you have of convincing them to change their minds?

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  06:02 PM
  28. Thanks for the link, Paglia is always good for a bracing laugh or two.  I do find that I am outraged that Paglia claims Sarah Palin’s bizarre, untethered-by-region accent is indistinguishable from a western Canadian accent.  Having lived in Alberta and B.C. where I still have lots of family, I can categorically state that no one there ever talks like they walked off the Fargo movie set, eh?

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  06:10 PM
  29. Well, I’m in the choir here, except for this:
    “But with Paglia, you get this already-toxic combo combined with someone who thinks Judge Dredd is a great movie and Keith Richards is a great lead guitarist.  Oh, and that Sarah Palin is playing bebop.”

    to which my only dissent is that Keith Richards is a great, great, guitarist.  You could argue that he isn’t really a “lead” guitarist if “lead” means wanky solos.  Even a blind pig…

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  06:11 PM
  30. Paglia/Palin: side by side in the “are you sure I have to give a shit?” file.

    But the Ellen Willis namecheck almost makes up for the pain of discovering that phoning it in has become too much work for Paglia. mmmmm Ellen Willis

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  06:12 PM
  31. Keith is indeed a great rhythm guitarist.  But someone like Paglia, who touted herself as the lead guitarist of feminism, really should know the difference.  Still, the real point of her Keith-worship was to let guys know that it was OK with her if they liked the Stones—not like those nasty censorious Stones-hating feminists.

    Posted by Michael  on  11/12  at  06:20 PM
  32. "contrarian contrarianicity”

    This cancels, so I presume you meant counter-contrarian contrariety.

    Posted by Michael Drake  on  11/12  at  06:41 PM
  33. No, I meant that actually Camille is pretty predictable.

    Posted by Michael  on  11/12  at  06:53 PM
  34. Quoth Paglia: “So she doesn’t speak the King’s English—big whoop! There is a powerful clarity of consciousness in her eyes.”

    There’s a thesis about identification lurking somewhere in this quote, if only I could find it. Hmmm.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  07:08 PM
  35. Ah, that clarity of consciousness.  I think this medical expert has a good explanation of that, too.

    Posted by Michael  on  11/12  at  07:22 PM
  36. For what it’s worth, Salon has Glenn Greenwald, Scott Bateman’s videos, and, um, a third thing, maybe.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  07:25 PM
  37. *sigh* I clicked on the link.  I actually heard my brain cells go “pop!” So, the birth certificate.  I breathlessly await Paglia’s upcoming commentary on Whitewater.

    Posted by tikistitch  on  11/12  at  07:29 PM
  38. Salon has Glenn Greenwald, Scott Bateman’s videos, and, um, a third thing, maybe.

    Tom Tomorrow and Ruben Bolling.  Four things!  And I am a charter member of the Heather Havrilesky Fan Club, too.

    Posted by Michael  on  11/12  at  08:08 PM
  39. The Molly Ivins review is one of the many times I swooned for her writing. I wish she was here.

    Keith Richards is a great, great rhythm guitarist, and an even better songwriter. It’s a miracle he’s here.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  08:32 PM
  40. An archconservative nincompoop friend of mine mailed me every Paglia column during the election season.  He said the fact that he agreed sometimes with her was proof that he was a moderate, reasonable person and that I, by the way, was wrong. I found that assertion more dumbfounding than anything I’ve heard in the past six months.  I still can’t cope with it.  I do confess to reading her work on the off chance that it isn’t as stupid as it sounds, and that there is some hidden intelligence or deeply clever reasoning that I’m just missing.  No luck so far.  Now I finally feel I can stop.  Thank you.


    Posted by  on  11/12  at  11:18 PM
  41. The eXile piece was only slightly less boring than reading Paglia herself.

    I’m afraid I’ve never been able to bring myself to laugh at Paglia humiliating herself. Not because I think she doesn’t deserve humiliation (she does, she does), but because I get enough horrific writing in my students’ papers. I like my students, so a part of me can smile at their contorted writing, but Paglia just looks like a horrible person to me.

    Every time I’m tempted to click a link to a Paglia piece I go read Ivins’ take-down. It is the only take-down of Paglia that is really worth reading. More laughs, more fun.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  11:19 PM
  42. One is tempted to give Michael the benefit of the doubt and assume that he is responding here to the self-defeating fatuousness of statements in the article such as, But simple questions about the certificate were never resolved to my satisfaction. However, it is more entertaining (and maybe even truthful) to categorize this as yet another academic having a hissy fit for being so accurately called out in Paglia’s seminal 1991 NYTimes piece, Ninnies, Pedants, Tyrants and Other Academics

    Both undergraduate education and commentary on the arts require teachers and scholars who understand the history of civilization in broad, general terms. Hollywood Bible movies of the 50’s, like “The Ten Commandments” and “Ben-Hur,” with their epic clash of pagan and Judeo-Christian cultures, tell more truth about art and society than the French-infatuated ideologues who have made a travesty of the best American higher education.

    Ball’s in your court, Accent Boy.

    Posted by  on  11/12  at  11:57 PM
  43. Elliot: I loved this from Ivin’s piece:

    “One fashionable line of response to Paglia is to claim that even though she may be fundamentally off-base, she has ``flashes of brilliance.’’ If so, I missed them in her oceans of swill.

    But we don’t have to pay the slightest attention to her ever again, as is true of many many others who have annoyed us over the years.

    Instead we can get down to the business (capcha) of taking back our country.

    Posted by Hattie  on  11/13  at  01:22 AM
  44. Ball’s in your court, Accent Boy.

    JP, I think I’ll turn this one over to JP, because he’s clearly the most French-infatuated ideologue who’s made a travesty of the best American higher education I know.  The way he took down the Marquis de Jacques d’Albert James DeLater a few years back remains one of the highlights of this humble blog’s history of comment-thread trollcatching, and I’m sure that his take on “Ninnies, Pedophiles, Tyrannosauruses Etc.” would be far more entertaining than mine.

    Posted by Michael  on  11/13  at  01:28 AM
  45. 44: Hmmm, as I recall that thread, you were outed as having once traveled to another university during the semester (something like that). You were lucky to have JP that derail line of inquiry. (Actually I think a Camille/Jacques hookup would have some potential for something interesting.)

    Posted by  on  11/13  at  08:20 AM
  46. Okay, I just now actually read this piece of excrement. Let’s just say that the Paglia would serve very well as the unit of Fisk density. Roughly, 1 Paglia = 5 errors per factual claim. How does she do it?

    Posted by Michael Drake  on  11/13  at  11:21 AM
  47. We need some sort of French-infatuated ideologue Batchauve-souris-signal for times like these!

    From the esteemed pen of la Paglia in 1991:

    Elvis Presley, one of the most influential men of the century, broke down racial barriers in the music industry, so that my generation was flooded by the power, passion and emotional truth of African-American experience.

    Another opinion on Elvis, from the mouth of Chuck D, righteous in his Phillies cap in 1989. But maybe he’s a ninny too?

    Posted by John Protevi  on  11/13  at  12:09 PM
  48. On the subject of troll-catching on the old blog, remember when Kirby Olson kept hearing the “hum of the International in your agenda”? You couldn’t make that kind of stuff up if you tried. Well, maybe Chris Clarke could, but I can’t!

    Posted by John Protevi  on  11/13  at  12:27 PM
  49. Oh dear, asb’s comment #1 is so on-point that I keep hearing it in my head recited by Don La Fontaine with the orchestral version of “The Hut of Baba Yaga” in the background.

    As to whether Paglia’s claim to have invented sex-positive feminism is disingenuous, Michael, remember that she also invented blogging and pretty much everything that’s credited to Martha Nussbaum.  We’re talking about what my colleague Steve Newman in his scholarship on Romantic-era balladry calls “endless streams of teh crazy.”

    Posted by  on  11/13  at  04:44 PM
  50. I’ll admit it, I liked Paglia earlier, back when she was a constant voice calling for more classroom rigor and for students to ‘live in the library,’ mercilessly grading people on their intellectual work done.
    This paled in the Bush years, when we were treated to a pillow-handed mental defective who couldn’t play Ski-ball unaided and had fucked up every single endeavor he’d attempted; a big slow pitch over home plate, and Paglia descended into bizarre riffs on his flight suit. Bush was the biggest, fattest target ever for those wanting to take intellectual laziness to task, and Paglia didn’t even swing and whiff, she declined to swing, and not out of declining a target unworthy of her bat.

    And now Palin? Fucking Palin? Fuck having to be a teacher, anyone who’s been thru high school’s seen stoner/too-cool classmates give rambling non-sequitur answers like that, and we knew why then, and we know why now. If I’d compared them, in one of my many creative writing projects, to a be-bop saxophonist, I’d have better couched that in sarcastiquotes, or included a laugh track.

    Yeah, the Third World, their big problem? Not enough pro-life women. I can trace a clear line between those places with strong stances against birth control and abortion, and places with booming economies, and where, mirable dictu, womens’ lots are just fucking ducky.

    Posted by  on  11/13  at  05:29 PM
  51. *winces at old K.O. imitation getting dredged up*

    *thanks stars there’s a double-jeopardy protection plank in the WAAGNFNP(ret.) platform to prevent Show Trial 2*

    *wonders if that plank maybe has a rusty nail in it*

    captcha: turn, as in It’s Protevi’s if you ask me.

    Posted by Chris Clarke  on  11/13  at  08:19 PM
  52. Fuckin’ A,* Kurt.

    * Real American for ‘Fucking A.’

    Posted by Michael Drake  on  11/13  at  09:57 PM
  53. I hear that Slate and Salon might team up to create a whole entire Special Edition Extra Deranged Internet

    That would be grossly unfair to the Corner.

    Am I the only one who think Paglia is the academic version of Anne Coulter?

    Posted by Doctor Science  on  11/14  at  12:07 AM
  54. Gee, Chris, I thought you were spot on with your KO imitation.

    Seriously, though, the end of the Olson affair here was ugly, and I’m sorry to have brought it up.

    Captcha: “support” as in “we got your back.”

    Posted by John Protevi  on  11/14  at  10:03 AM
  55. My take on CP happens each week when i read the Onion; i see that same picture they use, of a woman that looks much like her, saying the stupidest stuff. 

    For what it’s worth, Salon has Glenn Greenwald, Scott Bateman’s videos, and, um, a third thing, maybe for fifth/sixth (chord progression rif on bebog saxaphone/guitar work of Allan Talbert & Johnny Echols)Salon also provide Doonesbury too.

    Posted by  on  11/14  at  05:07 PM
  56. woman that looks much like her, saying the stupidest stuff. 

    For what it’s worth

    Posted by Cheap Evening Dresses  on  04/12  at  08:00 AM





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