Camille Paglia At Arion: Why Break, Blow, Burn Was Successful

Full post here.

A few positives:

—Paglia is intellectually deep, and someone of broad aesthetic understanding and experience.  She also enjoys good poems.  She has tirelessly criticized the professionalization of poetry and its move into academia (largely doing so from outside of academia).  In particular, she’s attacked the effects continental philosophers such as Foucault and Derrida have had on American Universities (though I don’t know how well literateurs ever understand philosophers and I don’t know if I would class Foucault and Derrida entirely as philosophers).

A few negatives:

—Her reasoning is not always sound, and like the metaphysics of the artists she reads closely, many of her ideas are unfounded and logically inconsistent.  Her Nietzschean influence also carries a lot of baggage (often dangerous) with it especially when taken from the aesthetic realm (though like H.L. Mencken demonstrates, that depth can translate into useful, trenchant and wickedly funny social criticism).

All told, I think Break, Blow, Burn rather successfully makes poetry accessible to millions of people to whom it wouldn’t otherwise be.  A lot of this success is acheived by something many other poetry popularizers are currently missing:  the potential of good art to transcend politics and current intellectual trends.

And perhaps more importantly in Paglia’s case:  the potential that good art criticism has to illuminate the many current social, political and intellectual trends that try and hold good art aloft for their own reasons…and maybe Paglia’s reasons as well.

See Also:  A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche ConnectionCamille Paglia Answers Reader Letters: Democratic IdeologyHighbrow TimewasterDinesh D’Souza And Daniel Dennett at Tufts University: Nietzsche’s Prophesy

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