The Search for a Communist Dwight D. Eisenhower
The Quest for a Female Richard Nixon
In Search of a Neo-Nazi Abraham Lincoln
Finding a Gay Harry Truman
The Snowmobile Craze in Death Valley
Seeking Teeny Jumbo Shrimp
Subsidized Snow Cones in Hell
The cultural critic on why ignoring the biological differences between men and women risks undermining Western civilization itself
Bari Weiss writes: ‘What you’re seeing is how a civilization commits suicide,” says Camille Paglia. This self-described “notorious Amazon feminist” isn’t telling anyone to Lean In or asking Why Women Still Can’t Have It All. No, her indictment may be as surprising as it is wide-ranging: The military is out of fashion, Americans undervalue manual labor, schools neuter male students, opinion makers deny the biological differences between men and women, and sexiness is dead. And that’s just 20 minutes of our three-hour conversation.
When Ms. Paglia, now 66, burst onto the national stage in 1990 with the publishing of “Sexual Personae,” she immediately established herself as a feminist who was the scourge of the movement’s establishment, a heretic to its orthodoxy. Pick up the 700-page tome, subtitled “Art and Decadence From Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, ” and it’s easy to see why. “If civilization had been left in female hands,” she wrote, “we would still be living in grass huts.”
The fact that the acclaimed book—the first of six; her latest, “Glittering Images,” is a survey of Western art—was rejected by seven publishers and five agents before being printed by Yale University Press only added to Ms. Paglia’s sense of herself as a provocateur in a class with Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern. But unlike those radio jocks, Ms. Paglia has scholarly chops: Her dissertation adviser at Yale was Harold Bloom, and she is as likely to discuss Freud, Oscar Wilde or early Native American art as to talk about Miley Cyrus.
Ms. Paglia relishes her outsider persona, having previously described herself as an egomaniac and “abrasive, strident and obnoxious.” Talking to her is like a mental CrossFit workout. One moment she’s praising pop star Rihanna (“a true artist”), then blasting ObamaCare (“a monstrosity,” though she voted for the president), global warming (“a religious dogma”), and the idea that all gay people are born gay (“the biggest canard,” yet she herself is a lesbian).
But no subject gets her going more than when I ask if she really sees a connection between society’s attempts to paper over the biological distinction between men and women and the collapse of Western civilization.
He’s bolstering the politics, not the effectiveness, of Obamacare
Kevin D. Williamson writes: Dorothy Parker knew how to give credit where due — in verse, no less: “If, with the literate, I am / Impelled to try an epigram / I never seek to take the credit; / We all assume that Oscar said it.” Hillary Clinton, being Hillary Clinton, once stole a perfectly good line from Oscar Wilde, and, being Hillary Clinton, messed it up: “The market knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.” Wilde’s formulation, in Lady Windermere’s Fan, did not describe “the market” but “a cynic.” No doubt Mrs. Clinton believes the market to be cynical, or the product of cynicism.
The belief that markets are cold and inhumane is one of the great errors of our time, and it leads to a great deal of public stupidity, from British unionist Len McCluskey’s declaration that “there are some things too important to be left to the market” to endless Democratic demands that we put “people over profits.” Mitt Romney was mocked for maintaining that “corporations are people,” but that mockery is only one more piece of evidence that Mr. Romney is a good deal more intelligent than his critics: Of course corporations are people. That is what the word “corporation” means — a group of people acting as one body (corpus) toward some shared end. “Corporation” assumes “people” the way “hive” assumes “bees.” Profits accrue to people. Scratch an evil corporation and a retired teacher bleeds: Government pension and benefits funds such as CalPERS are among the largest shareholders in the United States, and the world. Two-thirds of Chevron shares are held by mutual funds, which are in turn held by what Mr. Romney recognizes, seemingly alone, as people.
Markets are people, too. Prices are not economic abstractions; rather, they are the expressions of real preferences belonging to real people. They are a snapshot of reality at a given moment. Far from being disconnected from human concerns, they are the means by which a great many human concerns are quantified and negotiated. They may not seem rational to some people, but they are. They are the consequence of how people go about rationally pursuing the things that seem good to them. When somebody says that a market is not rational, what he really means is that people are making choices other than the ones he would make for them. It is not irrational that the market for reality television programming is many, many times the size of the market for productions of Shakespeare plays — people preferDuck Dynasty. If the purpose of an economy is to help people get what they want, then the economics of reality television are not irrational. They’re only irrational if you believe that the purpose of an economy is to help people get what you think they should want.
Oscar Wilde abandoned journalism and hated fashion – so why is his essay “The Philosophy of Dress” so important?Posted: October 12, 2013
Nathaniel Popkin writes: Oscar Wilde, says the standard biographical narrative, was trained in classics, won an Oxford award for an early poem in 1878, toured the United States lecturing on the field of Aesthetics, married, had two children, exercised latent homosexuality as he grew tired of the repetition of marriage, and exploded on the literary scene as the author of The Picture of Dorian Gray. “Now that he had accepted the same sex desire that had followed him since youth, Wilde felt liberated, happy to be alive,” writes biographer Barbara Belford in Oscar Wilde: A Certain Genius (Random House, 2000). “He embarked on his most prolific period as a writer.”
“After his marriage to Constance Lloyd in 1884 and the birth of his two sons, Wilde began to make his way into London theater, literary, and homosexual scenes,” says the biographical sketch at the beginning of the 2003 Barnes and Noble Classics edition of Dorian Gray.
Wilde’s second son Vyvyan Holland, born in 1886, in the biographical essay that accompanies the classic 1948 Collins Complete Works of Oscar Wilde (reprinted in 2001): “Upon what, then, does his reputation as an author rest? His early poems were mostly lyrical, and certain of them of will undoubtedly pass the test of time. His true literary life was spread over seven years only, from 1888 until 1894.”
Missing from these admittedly cursory sketches is the middle period of Wilde’s career, from roughly 1882 to 1888, during which he wrote dozens of mostly unsigned pieces of journalism and, for two years, was the editor of the magazineThe Woman’s World. Wilde was, in fact, so prolific a journalist and critic that his magazine and newspaper work fills two volumes, edited by John Stokes and Mark Turner, and published this month in the United States by Oxford University Press, part of the now seven volume Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. Read the rest of this entry »