Camille Paglia: Hillary and Anthony Wiener

Would you be surprised to know that Camille Paglia is one of my favorite commentators. It’s not that I agree with her all that much, our world view is quite a lot different.

But she’s always honest, interesting, usually a bit provocative and she thinks for herself. I remember the first time I ran across her. It was the interview she did with Playboy (in the 80s, I think), at any rate back there when the articles really were worth reading. What a revelation she was, a strong, passionate feminist, not afraid of pretty much anything. I’ve enjoyed her ever since. This like most things she does, covers a lot of ground, I’ve given you the mostly the politics but at the link there’s more than enough for you to take the time.

Camille Paglia: Camille Paglia (Credit: Michael Lionstar)


The paperback release last week of her book “Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art From Egypt to Star Wars” — which Salon interviewed her about last year, and which is an example of Paglia at her intellectual best and an antidote to her birther moments — is a great excuse to check back in with the so-called bete noire of feminism. I spoke with Paglia by email about contemporary feminism, Anthony Weiner and the “end of men.

In “Glittering Images,” you argue that the avant-garde is dead. Are there any artists — be they painters or pop stars — who are making innovative work right now?

The avant-garde was a magnificent and revolutionary phase in the history of art, but it’s completely over. Artists and galleries must (in Ann Landers’ immortal words) wake up and smell the coffee! The avant-garde, whose roots were in late-18th-century Romanticism, was a reaction against a strong but suffocating classical tradition. The great modernist artists, from Picasso to James Joyce, were trained in that tradition, which gave audacity and power to their subversion of it.

But then modernism began to feed on itself, and it became weaker and weaker. As I argue in “Glittering Images,” there has been nothing genuinely avant-garde since Andy Warhol except for Robert Mapplethorpe’s luminous homoerotic images of the sadomasochistic underground. Everything that calls itself avant-garde today is just a tedious imitation of earlier and far superior modernist art. The art world has become an echo chamber of commercially inflated rhetoric, shallow ironies and monolithic political ideology.


Two words: Anthony Weiner. Your thoughts?

Two words: pathetic dork. How sickeningly debased our politics have become that this jabbering cartoon weasel could be taken seriously for a second as a candidate for mayor of New York. But beyond that, I have been amazed by the almost total absence of psychological critique in news analyses of the silly Weiner saga. For heaven’s sake, Weiner is no randy stud with a sophisticated sex life that we need to respect. The compulsion to exhibit and boast about one’s penis is embarrassingly infantile — the obvious residue of some squalid family psychodrama in childhood that is now being replayed in public.

I assumed at first that Huma Abedin stayed married to Weiner out of noble concern for her unborn child, who deserved a father. But her subsequent behavior as Weiner’s defender and enabler has made me lose respect for her. The Weiners should be permanently bundled off to the luxe Elba of Oscar de la Renta’s villa in the Dominican Republic. I’m sure that Hillary (Huma’s capo) can arrange that.

Any hopes, fears or predictions for the presidential elections in 2016?

As a registered Democrat, I am praying for a credible presidential candidate to emerge from the younger tier of politicians in their late 40s. A governor with executive experience would be ideal. It’s time to put my baby-boom generation out to pasture! We’ve had our day and managed to muck up a hell of a lot. It remains baffling how anyone would think that Hillary Clinton (born the same year as me) is our party’s best chance. She has more sooty baggage than a 90-car freight train. And what exactly has she ever accomplished — beyond bullishly covering for her philandering husband? She’s certainly busy, busy and ever on the move — with the tunnel-vision workaholism of someone trying to blot out uncomfortable private thoughts.

I for one think it was a very big deal that our ambassador was murdered in Benghazi. In saying “I take responsibility” for it as secretary of state, Hillary should have resigned immediately. The weak response by the Obama administration to that tragedy has given a huge opening to Republicans in the next presidential election. The impression has been amply given that Benghazi was treated as a public relations matter to massage rather than as the major and outrageous attack on the U.S. that it was.

Throughout history, ambassadors have always been symbolic incarnations of the sovereignty of their nations and the dignity of their leaders. It’s even a key motif in “King Lear.” As far as I’m concerned, Hillary disqualified herself for the presidency in that fist-pounding moment at a congressional hearing when she said, “What difference does it make what we knew and when we knew it, Senator?” Democrats have got to shake off the Clinton albatross and find new blood. The escalating instability not just in Egypt but throughout the Mideast is very ominous. There is a clash of cultures brewing in the world that may take a century or more to resolve — and there is no guarantee that the secular West will win.

What do you make of contemporary feminism, especially as it’s manifested online?

Oh, feminism is still alive? Thanks for the tip! It sure is invisible, except for the random whine from some maleducated product of the elite schools who’s found a plush berth in glossy magazines. It’s hard to remember those bad old days when paleofeminist pashas ruled the roost. In the late ‘80s, the media would routinely turn to Gloria Steinem or the head of NOW for “the women’s view” on every issue — when of course it was just the Manhattan/D.C. insider’s take, with a Democratic activist spin. Tracy Clark-Flory is a staff writer at Salon.

By all means, do read the rest at Camille Paglia: “It remains baffling how anyone would think that Hillary Clinton is our party’s best chance” –

Are you still with me? Good, I meant this to end here with my usual pithy phrase but in prep I was following the links and I’m going to add part II later this morning.


A Milestone, of Sorts

I seem to have hit a milestone of sorts with this little blog. Last night I had my 1000th view. I have no idea whether that is good or bad as new blogs go, and care very little. No doubt if I tried all the tricks and put half-naked ladies in for no apparent purpose I could increase my readership but, it’s just not how I work. (Not that I object to half-naked ladies, or anything!)

I started this  on 15 July because I was bored (business this summer was very slow) and needed something to blow off steam with the administrations policies and I like to talk about history. Well it has certainly worked for that.

I have a good time writing this, and the research it entails, and I hope it shows. Like I said at the beginning what you are getting is mostly my opinion, I’m not going to spend hours and hours on research but, I do try to be reasonably accurate.

One thing that has pleased me is that those of you who read me are intelligent and sane, and have good vocabularies. You should hear what I tell WordPress’s grammar checker  (actually it’s not fit for tender ears). I (and you) got out of fifth grade a while ago. I try to write as an adult for adults. I’ve also found that I’m maybe a bit better writer than I thought. My TA in English 101 probably wouldn’t agree though. (I still think James Joyce wrote  Ulysses to make money to buy more booze, too.)

So this is a thank you. I’ve enjoyed writing these posts and I hope you have enjoyed reading (and hopefully thinking about) them. I also really enjoy how your comments make me think. What am I going to write about later today (or tomorrow)? I have no idea, that’s part of the fun.

Thanks again.

And because I can’t resist. From

Today is the 231st Anniversary of the Battle of King’s Mountain as well as the 10th Anniversary of the attack on Afghanistan.

In business history Ford’s assembly line began moving today. Within a year it cut assembly time from 12.5 man/hours to 93 man/minutes. This allowed Ford to reduce the price to where almost everyone could afford a car.

And finally, as an old Bears fan:

On October 7, 1984, Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton becomes the NFL’s all-time rushing leader, breaking the record Cleveland’s Jim Brown set in 1965. In front of 53,752 people at Soldier Field, Payton carried the ball 154 yards and finished the game with a new career rushing record–12,400 yards, 88 more than Brown.

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