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Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson Paperback – August 20, 1991
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Top Customer Reviews
If you are truly open to ideas and you love art, don't read this book unless you want your life completely changed for better or worse. Almost ten years later I find myself completely intellectually alienated from both peers and most professors in my university English program because I continue to fight UNCOMPROMISINGLY for art and independent thought (not to mention intellectual rigour and standards and good prose!), thanks to Paglia's inspiration.Read more ›
"Sexual Personae" embodies the kind of hard-thinking discussions of art and philosophy so direly needed as the 20th century comes to a close. Paglia forces us to see the embedded truth in old sexual stereotypes, easily cuts through the muddled sentimentalism of current poststructuralist jargon, and implores us to take stock of ourselves in an ascetic, self-responsible and disciplined way using wit, wisdom, and aesthetics as tools of self-knowledge in a turbulent age of decadent Empire.
Paglia sees human history through art with an all-knowing, unapologetic eye to the point of sophisticated fatigue. She revives the ancient Greek concept of the Apollo/Dionysus continuum, she is honest about human social and sexual catharsis, and for all the talk about Paganism these days Paglia forces us to come to terms with the concept in a way that removes its [beautiful and horrifying] dualities from the sterile, solipsistic MickeyMouse playground on which it has been snidely and carelessly tossed by lazy new-age boomer "intellectuals"--so blindly at the expense of the well-being of the next generation of philosophical thinkers.
In many ways, "Sexual Personae" is a kind of intellectual call-to-arms for Generation X. Paglia is brave, shows that she cares, and is willing to take abuse and get tough in order to get the job done. It is the Bible of the 1990's, and an indespensible book for knowing ourselves and our world.
In her analysis of everything (which is essentially what this book is), Camille makes absolutely brilliant links between diverse art & artists. She is at her best when she discusses the Dionysian & Apollonian nature of cultural movements, and her clarification of these duelling forces is incisive and thrilling. You wonder about the intellectual acrobatics she is performing in her scholarship, but you are happily amazed at the conclusion of the performance. It is an appealing notion to explain the world of art & culture in these grand, sweeping terms, and even the most anti-Paglia reader has to give her credit where credit is due for making persuasive arguments.
However, the book is tragically bogged down by Camille's cult-of-personality approach to her subject. Her constant pre-emptve strikes at critics are weak, and her own dubious politics are showcased occasionally, serving only to discredit her. She is also frequently impossible to follow, and when you are done with the book, after you get over the glow of her fabulous intellect, you have to wonder if she is just playing some sort of trick...because you have emerged with enough witty, esoteric cocktail party conversation to fill a lifetime (guaranteed to impress everyone at that alum function at your alma mater!) BUT you are still not quite sure what the point was. Which is a real shame.
Nonetheless, I recommend this highly.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book. Get it on paper so you can cherish it and write in it.Published 1 month ago by R. Gary Diaz
Full of universal truths - the modern continuation of the Bible - should be read like the Bible - sometimes in small sections as each chapter and verse has applicability in... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Victoria Heal
One of the most insightful books I have ever read. So much to learn from this amazing woman.Published 5 months ago by Maria G. Maurer
Sadly, Camille Paglia's own inferiority complex and victim mentality saturate this book. You will find yourself feeling embarrassing for her while reading through the many tenuous... Read morePublished 6 months ago by C James
A powerful work---dense with ideas, perspective and forceful argument.Published 7 months ago by R. McCallister