Camille Paglia rattles off as much bullshit as anyone in her campaign against bullshitters. She is living proof that there is such a thing as being too cynical. But there is something about her posture that resonates. Her frustration with and distaste for status quo elitism I get. The spears she hurls at kneejerk liberalism and at epistemological masturbation passing for activism, are well-honed, well-aimed and well-deserved. When she writes about poetry she is insightful and — especially when she's wrong — thought-provokingly funny, evincing dimensions that most academics are afraid to show or lack entirely. In fact she gives the impression of being able to handle many things which others of her profession would react to like a virgin confronted by a man in a dirty raincoat.

I get where her unbleeding heart is at in quite a few ways, actually, and it worries me. It worries me because, a bit like Chris Hitchens, her disgruntlement with the turn the contemporary left has taken easily allows her to slip into the role of guns-a-blazing reactionary. Her discussions of religion are antiquarian mystification sometimes amounting to little more than gauded woo-woo. Her obtuseness about the danger of Trump was, and is, frightening. Her almost paranoid preoccupation with social decadence is alarmingly familiar. Her Freudianism remains garbage no matter how well she recycles it. These things leave an intractably foul taste on the brain. Worse, she seems to find a subtle appeal in Chaos. I remember passages where she seems almost to relish the prospect of atavistic devastation befalling society if it would only toughen us all up. She is an excellent negative example, a cautionary tale of a good mind gone wrong. Contemporary dystopia has fucked her brain and the high horse it rode in on.

I have uttered stinkers and stupidities in my time, to be sure, but I hope at least I never become this much of an intellectual fuck-up.

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