Click here for the full interview for your reading pleasure this weekend.
Paglia is an essayist, author, and professor of humanities at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she has taught since 1984. She completed her Ph.D. at Yale under the supervision of Harold Bloom, author of The Western Canon. Her first book, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence, from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, was listed by David Bowie as one of “100 books we should all read.”
Her other books include Break, Blow, Burn, a close-reading of 43 classic poems, and Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars. In recent years, her essays have been collected and published in new editions, including Free Women, Free Men: Sex, Gender, and Feminism (February 2018) and Provocations: Collected Essays on Art, Feminism, Politics, Sex, and Education, which was released by Pantheon in October 2018.
“I thought Derrida and DeMan and the rest of that crew were arrant nonsense from the start, a pedantic diversion from direct engagement with art. About the obsequious Yale welcome given to the prattlings of one continental “star” visitor, I acidly remarked to a fellow grad student sitting next to me, “They’re like high priests murmuring to each other.”
“Nevertheless, the poisons of post-structuralism have now spread throughout academe and have done enormous damage to basic scholarly standards and disastrously undermined belief even in the possibility of knowledge. I suspect history will not be kind to the leading professors who appear to have put loyalty to friends and colleagues above defending scholarly values during a chaotic era of overt vandalism that has deprived several generations of students of a profound education in the humanities. The steady decline in humanities majors is an unmistakable signal that this once noble field has become a wasteland.”
Anything focused on real intelligence, literacy, and human beings have been thrown to the wayside. Mediocrity or below rules the day.
“The headlong rush to judgment by so many well-educated, middle-class women in the #MeToo movement has been startling and dismaying. Their elevation of emotion and group solidarity over fact and logic has resurrected damaging stereotypes of women’s irrationality that were once used to deny us the vote. I found the blanket credulity given to women accusers during the recent U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh positively unnerving: it was the first time since college that I truly understood the sexist design of Aeschylus’s Oresteia, whose mob of vengeful Furies is superseded by formal courts of law, where evidence is weighed.”
“What I see spreading among professional middle-class women is a bitter resentment toward men that is in many cases unjust and misplaced. With divorce so easy since the sexual revolution, women find themselves competing with younger women in new and cruel ways. Agrarian women gained power as they aged: young women were brainless pawns whose marriages, pregnancies, childcare, cooking, and other chores were acerbically supervised and controlled by the dictatorial crones (forces of nature whom I fondly remember from childhood).
In short, #MeToo from a historical perspective is a cri de coeur from women who are realizing that the sexual revolution that many of us had once ecstatically embraced has in key ways devalued women, confused their private relationships, and complicated their smooth functioning in the workplace. It’s time for a new map of the gender world.”
She’s speakin’ it. On many points, I agree with her. Crack a book, folks; female and male.