Customer Review

89 of 111 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I am conflicted in simultaneous love & hate for Camille..., January 12, 2000
This review is from: Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (Paperback)
Camille is brilliant, and this book proves it. But this book also proves that Camille is bombastic, occasionally offensive, and tedious. There are parts of this book which sparkle and excite, but there are parts which make me question my decision to shell out the $$ for it in the first place.
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. It is intellectual aerobics, and it is too easy to criticize Camille without ever reading her work. This remarkable book is something which I will never forget, and I have taken a great number of cohesive thoughts about culture from this text and mulled them over, coming to a personal conclusion of my own. It requires an investment of time & effort to get to know this book, but I do feel that it is worthwhile.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 30, 2009 8:08:26 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 30, 2009 8:08:58 AM PDT
hazeleyes says:
Quote:
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.
Unquote

You don't think Paglia's critics also are cultists-of-personality? I find many of them to be so.
And you are upset by Paglia's "pre-emptive striles" at her critics from her own book, but don't the critics use their books AND the airwaves, and every other possible opportunity, to diss Paglia.
Shame on you for not recognizing hypocrisy.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 22, 2012 12:43:05 AM PDT
C. Albert says:
The reviewer didn't indicate that she was upset by the "pre-emptive strikes", only that she thought them weak and possibly distracting from the project of the text.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2013 9:25:59 PM PDT
Tim Lieder says:
It's not hypocrisy to be annoyed with the strikes at critics. It's simple fact.

Just because the critics are tedious, doesn't mean that answering their criticism is any less tedious.

Paglia is a pretty good literary critic when she's not engaging in the trolling. Sadly, she enjoys the trolling more than she enjoys the criticism.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2014 9:51:19 AM PST
Yeah: this review is prissy, effete, sexless, and suffused with the stink of deracinated narcissism - not Paglia's audience at all.
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