I’ve been reading short essays by Camille Paglia lately and I’m disturbingly confronted by much of what she says in regards to sexuality, Western intellect, culture, etc. Her brashness is surprisingly refreshing amidst popular liberal thought and her astute, unabashed approach to systems, gender, and sex disenchanted-ly and Oscar Wilde-ly scrutinizes how we have come to believe what we believe…a quote:
(this is in response to the Special Commitee on Human Sexuality of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. release of a 200-page report on Keeping Body and Soul Together–a call for radical change in traditional Christian attitudes toward sexual behavior…)
The committee’s prescription for an enlightened Christianity is “learning from the marginalized.” This new liberal cliche is repreated so often that I began to misread it as “margarinized.” We are told that “those of us with varying degrees of social power and status must now move away from the center, so that other, more marginalized voices..may be heard.” But the report picks and chooses its marginalized outcasts as snobbishly as Proust’s Duchesse de Guermantes. We can move tender, safe, clean, hand-holding gays and lesbians to the center–but not, of course, pederasts, prostitutes, strippers, pornographers, or sadomasochists. And if we’re going to learn from the marginalized, what about drug dealers, moonshiners, Elvis impersonators, string collectors, Mafiosi, foot fetishists, serial murderers, cannibals, Satanists, and the Ku Klux Klan? I’m sure they’ll all have a lot to say. The committee gets real prudish real fast when it has to deal with sexuality outside its feminist frame of reference: “Incest is abhorrent and abhorred,” it flatly declares…the committee members seem to have a foggy idea that all guilt and shame in human life come from either a lack of “loving full of joyful caring” or from cold patriarchal institutions, those uselss, totalitarian structures that we must, as part of a glorious “global struggle,” dismantle as quickly as possible to achieve a blissful “egalitarian” society. To which one must reply: go read King Lear to see the anarchy and wolfishness, the primitive regression that result from a sentimental deconstruction of social institutions. Stormy nature, in our hearts and beyond the gates, is ready to consume us all…life without guilt or shame would be found only in sociopaths and the lobotomized…….we must learn to accept limitation, duality, paradox. The culture has split but not fragmented. In an ideal syncretism, all institutions would be strengthened and honored, from the sex industry, with its pornographic pagan truths, to organized religion, with its auster, enduring legacy…
(Sex, Art, and American Culture, 1992)
Wow. Phewf. I don’t necessarily agree with everything she writes, however she meddles with my facades, shallow assertions, and dogma…and I like that.