1. Bits and Pieces of Sexual Personae
  2. Extracts from Vamps and Tramps

Bits and Pieces
Camille Paglia's



This is a compilation of my favorite quotations from Camille Paglia's landmark "Sexual Personae." The quotations are occasionally followed by my own comments (in italics) along with quotations from sources which I deem fitting.

Just to explain a few of Paglia's favorite terms:

Dionysian: See "Chthonian" below.

Apollonian: The opposite of Dionysian. Resolved consciousness, form, and order. The immortal.

Chthonian: Of the underworld. The foul bog of the unconscious. Nature in its unresolved and unevolved form. Sexuality. Mortality.

"The last western society to worship female powers was Minoan Crete. And significantly, that fell and did not rise again."
- SP, p8

"The female body is a chthonian machine, indifferent to the spirit who inhabits it." - SP, p10

- "Women are nothing but machines for producing children." - Napoleon Bonaparte

"Every month, it is woman's fate to face the abyss of time and being, the abyss which is herself."
- SP, p11

"Metaphorically, every vagina has secret teeth, for the male exits as less than when he entered."
- SP, p13

- "It takes a woman twenty years to make a man of her son, and another woman twenty minutes to make a fool of him." - Author unknown

"Man is sexually compartmentalized."
- SP, p19

- Otto Weininger says:

"Woman is only sexual, man is partly sexual, and this difference reveals itself in various ways. The parts of the male body by stimulation of which sexuality is excited are limited in area, and are strongly localised, whilst in the case of the woman, they are diffused over her whole body, so that stimulation may take place almost from any part. When in the second chapter of Part I., I explained that sexuality is distributed over the whole body of both sexes, I did not mean that, therefore, the sense organs, through which the definite impulses are stimulated, were equally distributed. There are, certainly, areas of greater excitability, even in the case of the woman, but there is not, as in the man, a sharp division between the sexual areas and the body generally."

"In sex, man is driven into the very abyss which he flees. He makes a voyage to non-being and back."
- SP, p20

- Otto Weininger says:

"Women have no existence and no essence; they are not, they are nothing. Mankind occurs as male or female, as something or nothing. Woman has no share in ontological reality, no relation to the thing-in-itself, which, in the deepest interpretation, is the absolute, is God."

"Kill the imagination, lobotomize the brain, castrate and operate: then the sexes will be the same."
- SP, p23

- This may well happen through the quantity of artificial chemicals being pumped and leaked into the environment (from plastics, etc) that behave like female hormones. Men may yet be chemically castrated and lobotomized.

"Dionysus was identified with liquids - blood, sap, milk, wine. The Dionysian is nature's chthonian fluidity."
- SP, p30

- See The Flowie Page - part of my attempt to get the word "flowie" into common English usage.

"If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts."
- SP, p38

- Rousseau once said "Women, in general, are not attracted to art at all, nor knowledge, and not at all to genius".

"Not a shred of evidence supports the existence of matriarchy anywhere in the world at any time. . . . The matriarchy hypothesis, revived by American feminism, continues to flourish outside the university."
- SP, p42

- A straight-talking Australian author at the turn of the century once said: "Women rarely if ever organize themselves effectively because they are unable to think logically."

"For Harrison, the Olympian gods are patriarchal betrayers of earth-cult and mother nature. The chthonian is her test of authenticity and spiritual value. But I say there is neither person, thought, thing, nor art in the brutal chthonian."
- SP, p73

- This coincides very closely with Rousseau's idea above.

"Artemis is unfeminine because uninfluenced by the environment, which she surmounts."
- SP, p80

- Here in this one sentence is a pretty good definition of both femininity and masculinity.

"For Harrison, Athena's virginity is sterile because unfertile in the chthonian sense. But virginity is perfect autonomy."
- SP, p87

- Otto Weininger took quite a radical stance on this issue:

"It cannot be a moral duty to provide for the continuance of the race. This common argument appears to me to be so extraordinarily false that I am almost ashamed to meet it. Yet at the risk of making myself ridiculous I must ask if any one ever consummated coitus to avoid the great danger of letting the human race die out, if he failed in his duty? And would it not follow that any man who prefers chastity would be open to the charge of immoral conduct? Every form of fecundity is loathsome, and no one who is honest with himself feels bound to provide for the continuity of the human race. And what we do not realise to be a duty, is not a duty."

"The wet dream of Dionysian liquidity takes the hard edges off things. Objects and ideas are fuzzy, misty - that mistiness Johnny Mathis sings of in love."
- SP, p98

- And this mistiness is also what Dave Sim refers to as "The Merged Void".

"The male orientation of classical Athens was inseparable from its genius. Athens became great not despite but because of its misogyny."
- SP, p100

- I really don't know why Paglia isn't more often honoured with the title of "misogynist." Statements such as the above would clearly indicate that she deserves the honour of being mentioned alongside the great misogynists like Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, and Weininger, not because she is of the same moral or intellectual standard as these great men, but purely on the strength of the fact that she is a woman who has some appreciation for them.

"Apollo is the western eye victorious."
- SP, p104

- Fortunately, the East is not entirely devoid of the Apollonian eye. I have spent a good deal of time with Tibetan Buddhist intellectuals during their first real contact with the West. Their long training was extremely Apollonian - though not in a good way, for their training is very similar to the training of our Western academics. Their thinking has become rigid and ritualized, without earnestness. They were all very surprised to find that the kind of mental training techniques that they were taught by their Masters is a standard part of Western education.

"Visionary idealism is a male art form. The lesbian aesthete does not exist. But if there were one, she would have learned from the perverse male mind."
- SP, p117

- All greatness is achieved because of its aesthetic appeal. I am personally attracted to truth because it is more powerful, peaceful and lasting (qualities which are beautiful to me) than untruth. This striving to be something that you are not (ie, to strive to be truthful when one is currently untruthful) is what seems to go against Nature, and is what Paglia here calls "perverse". Striving for such things is not at all perverse from the perspective of the person who is striving, but is perverse from the point of view of the person who is not striving (and who has always been the majority).

"The beautiful boy is without motive force or deed; hence he is not a hero. Because of his emotional detachment, he is not a heroine. He occupies an ideal space between male and female, effect and affect. . . . He is, I suggested, a secular saint."
- SP, p121

- I have never found the "beautiful boy" to be either beautiful or saintly - but then I have never been terribly "secular". Paglia also says that the beautiful boy is "dreamy, remote, autistic, lost in a world of androgynous self-completion." (SP, p121). I personally hold that the beautiful boy, this "secular saint", is in fact a symbol of what every ordinary man would like to become - a nothing - and which he seeks to become through marriage, which is a blending of masculine and feminine, an androgynizing suicide. The beautiful boy is as repulsive to me as is the husband.

Of marriage Kierkegaard says:

"Man is not originally an egotist; not until he is lucky enough to be united with a woman does he become that, and then completely. In contrast to a loose-jointed framework egotism, this union, commonly known as marriage, could be called a stone-wall egotism, egotism's proper enterprise." (Journals & Papers)

This "stone-wall egotism" is exactly the stone-autism of the stone and marble beautiful boys, lost in androgynous self-completion and annihilation.

"Beatrice, after all, was barely eight when Dante fell in love with her in her crimson dress."
- SP, p121

This made me laugh. It's amazing how important a dress is. Judging by the extent of the fashion industry women instinctively know this. It is not by chance that a woman is often referred to as "a piece of skirt".

"With the Hellenistic tilt towards women, prefigured by Euripides, the beautiful boy slides toward the feminine, a symptom of decadence."
- SP, p123

"I accept decadence as a complex historical mode. In late phases, maleness is always in retreat." - SP, p125

"A debater in Lucian declares 'Far better that a woman, in the madness of her lust, should usurp the nature of a man, than that man's noble nature should be so degraded as to play the woman.' Similarly today, lesbian interludes are a staple of heterosexual pornography. Ever since man emerged from the dominance of nature, masculinity has been the most fragile and problematic of psychic states." - SP, p125

- Paglia, like Weininger and all classical misogynists, rather than equating woman with virtue, equates woman with the opposite of virtue - decadence.

"The Great Mother, like Rome herself, is the Whore of Babylon."
- SP, p138

"Like Milton's 'fawning' Satan, the smooth flatterer crawls on his belly, twisting and turning with changing circumstance. He is purely reactive, a parody of femininity, each word and deed a cloying mime of the ruler's desire."
- SP, p143

- I thought I'd include that bit just because it is a clear statement of what Paglia thinks of femininity.

"What is Mona Lisa thinking? Nothing, of course." . . . "Walter Pater is to call her a 'vampire' . . ."
- SP, p154

I must admit that when I first saw the Mona Lisa I couldn't see what was so special about it. I thought "Seventy percent of women are just plain ugly and she could be any one of them." Even after reading the commentaries from the "experts" it's hard to read much more into it.

"The smokiness of
sfumato is Dionysian mistiness, the fog hanging over the chthonian swamp." - SP, p158

- I get the impression that the Italian sfumato is an attempt to capture the meaning of the marvelous English word "flowie", though perhaps with darker connotations.

"Oil painting and color, said Michelangelo, are for 'women and the lazy' . . . This is why Leonardo's sketches and private notebooks, with their Apollonian pen line, are so voluminous."
- SP, p158

- This was in answer to Paglia's question to herself "Why did Leonardo complete so little?" But I think Paglia is being a bit presumptuous in suggesting that Leonardo's sketches were incomplete. Leonardo may not have seen any pressing need to add anything to them, as he was neither a woman nor lazy.

"I cannot be convinced that great artists are moralists. Art is first appearances, then meaning."
- SP, p166

Here again, Paglia is describing essential femininity. The "meaning", which comes from appearances is not real meaning of course, but like its parent is only appearance. Importantly it should be noted that Paglia is here speaking of "great artists." Mediocre and poor artists never reach so far as the appearance of meaning.

"Western greatness is unwise, mad, inhuman."
- SP, p172

- Either western greatness is inhuman or it is in fact human while everything else is inhuman. In this instance Paglia is being conservative, fighting against progress. Nietzsche's work is not one of inhumanity and madness, but is one of infinite wisdom, compassion and sobriety. I can't even think of Oscar Wilde as being all that irresponsible - not when compared to the average person or to academics. Nietzsche is like a breath of fresh air and good sense when compared to 99.9% of literature.

"[Spenser's] 'The Fairie Queene' makes cinema out of the west's primary principle: to see is to know; to know is to control. The Spenserian eye cuts, wounds, rapes."
- SP, p173

- While rad-fem Andrea Dworkin believes that ordinary sex is a form of rape, Paglia goes one step further . . . to look is to rape.

"Bronzino, for example, captures the mannish profile of poetess Laura Battiferri . . ."
- SP, p178

- "Poetess" indeed! And people have the gall to call me a misogynist! I've always used the word "poet" for both male and female poets - especially if they have a "mannish profile". Interestingly, Paglia must have purposely chosen to use the word "poetess", rejecting the recommendations of her proof readers.

"Vulnerability generates its own entrapments, creating a maelstrom of voracity around itself. Nature abhors a vacuum."
- SP, p186

- It seems that, to Paglia, what we call "rape" is merely the natural and gravitational filling of a void.

"Britomart's shiny armour and Belphoebe's Byzantine glitter [in 'The Fairie Queene'] attempts to polish and perfect the eye and keep it free. Spenser longs for an Apollonian woman."
- SP, p193

- Don't we all!

"The genders so indiscriminately mingle in Cleopatra that she makes transexual word errors under stress. Cleopatra has a Dionysian all-inclusiveness. She breaks through social restraints to plunge into the sensual, orgiastic pleasure of pure feeling."
- SP, p219

- Cleopatra is a good example of a false masculine woman. That is, she superficially appears to have some masculine qualities, but upon closer examination these qualities are found to be lacking. In reality Cleopatra is a good example of pure Woman - who imagines herself capable of anything and knows no restraints, having no connection with reality. Wherever pleasure beckons, she goes, even into seemingly masculine behaviour. But this "masculine behaviour" is without roots, so is not true masculinity.

"Romanticism, like the Rousseauist Swinging Sixties, misunderstands the Dionysian as the pleasure principle, when it is in fact the gross continuum of pleasure-pain. Worshipping nature and seeking political and sexual freedom, Romanticism ends in imaginative entrammelment of every kind. Perfect freedom is intolerable and therefore impossible."
- SP, p231

Why does Paglia say that perfect sexual freedom is intolerable? I assume it's because pain and suffering increase at the same rate as that of sexual freedom. For "sexual freedom" is a self-contradiction, because human sexuality is sadomasochistic and sadomasochism is not freedom but slavery.

"Serial or sex murder, like fetishism, is a perversion of male intelligence. It is a criminal abstraction, masculine in its deranged egotism and orderliness. It is the asocial equivalent of philosophy, mathematics, and music. There is no female Mozart because there is no female Jack the Ripper."
- SP, p247

- The link between mathematics and music is an interesting one. For one would normally think of these two disciplines as being largely incompatible - music being flowie and emotional, while mathematics is hard and "inhuman". But I know quite a few people who excel at mathematics and computer programming, at the same time as being good musicians and composers. I don't think it is necessary to have a rational mind to play music, but to be a good composer definitely requires rationality. That's why there has never been a good female composer.

"The Gothic tradition was begun by Ann Radcliffe, a rare example of a woman creating an artistic style"
- SP, p265

- I have since heard that it was actually created by a man. Can anyone confirm this?

"The thrill of terror is passive, masochistic, and implicitly feminine. It is imaginative submission to overwhelming superior force." (p267). "Butchery is not the point of vampirism. Sex - domination and submission - is."
- SP, p268

A few months ago I saw a movie called "Interview with the vampire." In it the two lead vampires made an eleven-year-old girl into a vampire to keep them company, and continued to dress her as an eleven year old even when she was seventy years old (apparently vampires don't grow physically old, but they do mentally).

"Infant Joy", by William Blake ("the English Sade")

I have no name
I am but two days old. -
What shall I call thee?
I happy am
Joy is my name, -
Sweet joy befall thee!

Pretty joy!
Sweet joy but two days old.
Sweet joy I call thee:
Thou dost smile.
I sing the while
Sweet joy befall thee.

"'Infant Joy' has the moral emptiness of Spenser's femininity, a space cleared in nature." (p273) "'Infant Joy' unveils a physiological mystery. We have penetrated into a female realm." - SP, p276

- Women commonly claim to be moral, because they, after all, do not commit the majority of the crimes that are punishable by law. And it is true that men are immoral, but immorality is a lot more moral than amorality.

"The nearness with which Whitman approaches the sleepers is predicated on their unconsciousness. He makes them feminine objects of his godlike delectation. Romantic love - all love - is sex and power. In nearness we enter each other's animal aura. There is magic there, both black and white."
- SP, p274

"Woman's flirtatious arts of self-concealment mean man's approach must take the form of rape."
- SP, p276

- I myself am notoriously unsuccessful with women. I think it's because I'm too moral. I can't bring myself to "rape" a woman when I wouldn't want to be raped myself.

"In 'A Room of One's Own', Virginia Woolf satirically describes her perplexity at the bulging card catalog of the British Museum: why, she asks, are there so many books written by men about women but none by women about men? The answer to her question is that from the beginning of time men have been struggling with the threat of woman's dominance."
- SP, p295

- What men are really struggling with is the dominance of the feminine within themselves, of which external women are only a symbol.

"Reviewing the sexual personae of his collected works, we discover Wordsworth's radical exclusion of one human type: the adult man of active virility. His poems are filled with children, women, old men, and animals. But a stone in the road arouses more fellow-feeling in Wordsworth than does a masculine man. . . . Wordsworth's emotion is never invested in figures of active virility, unless that virility is qualified by suffering or feminine feeling or unless it is seen through the distancing perspective of memory. Since femaleness suffuses the created world, the pure male is cast out. He has no right to life."
- SP, p304/306

- See "Chance Truths" (Valerie Solanas's 'Scum Manifesto').

"Christabel [in Coleridge's 'Christabel'] is Iphigenia meekly awaiting the stroke of the knife. Geraldine is the high priest praying before her bloody task - but she prays to herself, the daemonic will. Murder here is sexual intercourse, for sex is how mother nature kills us, that is, how she enslaves the imagination."
- SP, p335

"Geraldine has had her 'will' of Christabel. This locution belongs exclusively to male experience. It is not used of a woman anywhere else in major literature. The sole analogy I find is in the journal of Victoria Sackville-West, who describes carrying off her love Violet Trefusis to a French hotel two days after the latter's wedding: 'I treated her savagely, I made love to her, I had her, I didn't care.' 'I had her': how strange the language of masculine possession sounds in a female context."
- SP, p337

"The effect on Dorian of Lord Henry's long monologue is immediate:" "'Stop!' faltered Dorian Gray, 'stop! you bewilder me.'" He calls both 'music' and 'words' troubling, 'terrible.' Since words and music are Dionysian phenomena, Dorian experiences them as foreign intrusions. Words mar the Apollonian androgyne's glacial unity with internality."
- SP, p517

- Words are a Dionysian phenomenon when they are not one's own words. For one is the master of one's own words, but one is subject to the words of others.

"Charisma is the radiance produced by the interaction of male and female elements in a gifted personality. The charismatic woman has a masculine force and severity. The charismatic man has an entrancing female beauty. Both are hot and cold, glowing with presexual self-love."
- SP, p521

"Wilde's epigrams, which so obstruct the quickness of Restoration repartee, acquire their substantiveness from Enlightenment generalization. It is his intellectual power of generalization that gives Wilde's writing its permanent distinction. A modern play in the Wildean manner, Noel Cowards 'Private Lives' (1930), has only one true Wildean line: 'Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs.' And even this generalization vulgarizes Wilde, in whom contemplativeness is never distorted by action."
- SP, p545

- Wilde says: "I summed up all systems in a phrase, and all existence in an epigram."

"The reason Wilde did his best work after turning homosexual is that women simply reinforced his own feminine sentimentality."
- SP, p571

The Importance of Being Earnest, the failed poet created a magnificent new poetry, one that even he did not recognize. Wilde's play, after Spenser's 'Faerie Queene' and Shelley's 'Epipsychidion', is the most dazzling burst of Apollonian poetry in English literature. It was made possible by a hermaphroditic transformation, the strangest I have ever studied. The desirable male body was efficacious for Wilde by its fixing of visible limits. Ordinarily, the epicene is synonymous with effeminacy. But the epicene made Wilde more masculine by giving him the aggressive power of Apollonian delimitation, which I found everywhere in the language, manners, and the aristocratic social order of 'The Importance of Being Earnest'. The epicene gave Wilde the discipline of conceptual form that he most lacked as a sentimental lyricist. When, through his own self-thwartings, he was forced by tomblike imprisonment to abandon the amoral Greek worship of the visible world, his sentimentality returned, flooding back into the empathic 'De Profundis' and bringing woman with it." - SP, p571

The Philosophy of Composition, Poe declares, 'The death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world.' This looks like run-of-the-mill nineteenth century sentimentalism. But the glamourous Poe woman is not feminine but masculine. Hence the death of the masculine principle is poetical, because it unites male and female, aggression and passivity, appearance and disappearance. In Poe, as in Coleridge, poetry is a synthesis of contraries." - SP, p579

- This is an interesting point that echoes a view of Kierkegaard's - that women cannot be used in tragedy. Hence if a man wants to use a woman in tragedy he must masculinize her by lending her some of himself. Kierkegaard says:

" . . . Do ye likewise, dear fellow banqueters, and understand your Aristotle aright, now! He observes very correctly that woman cannot be used in tragedy. And very certainly her proper sphere is the pathetic and serious divertissement, the half-hour farce, not the five-act drama. So then she dies. But should she for that reason not be able to love again? Why not? - that is, if it be possible to restore her to life. Now, having been restored to life, she is of course a new being - another person, that is, and begins afresh and falls in love for the first time: nothing remarkable in that! Ah, death, great is thy power; not the most violent emetic and not the most powerful laxative could ever have the same purging effect!"

"Emily Dickinson is the female Sade, and her poems are the prison dreams of a self-incarcerated, sadmomasochistic imaginist. When she is rescued from American Studies departments and juxtaposed with Dante and Baudelaire, her barbarities and diabolical acts of will become glaringly apparent. Dickinson inherits through Blake the rape cycle of 'The Faerie Queene'. Blake and Spenser are her allies in helping pagan Coleridge defeat Protestant Wordsworth."
- SP, p624

A Dickinson poem about picking a flower:

So bashful when I spied her!
So pretty - so ashamed!
So hidden in her leaflets
Lest anybody find -

So breathless till I passed her -
So helpless when I turned
And bore her struggling, blushing,
Her simple haunts beyond!

"Richard Chase declares, 'No great poet has written so much bad verse as Emily Dickinson.' He blames 'the Victorian cult of 'little women'' for the fact that 'two thirds of her work' is seriously flawed: 'Her coy and oddly childish poems of nature and female friendship are products of a time when one of the careers open to women was perpetual childhood.' Dickinson's sentimental feminine poems remain neglected by embarrassed scholars. I would maintain, however, that her poetry is a closed system of sexual reference and that the mawkish poems are designed to dovetail with those of violence and suffering."
- SP, p637

- Paglia has a strong point here. Yet Paglia calls Dickinson "the female Sade" and I can't imagine the Marquis de Sade writing an endless number of mawkishly feminine poems like Dickinson did. I think it is more likely that Dickinson's feminine (ie, bad) poems were simply a welcome relief from her masculine tendencies.

"She [Dickinson] remarked to Higginson, while her mother was still alive: 'I never had a mother. I suppose a mother is one to whom you hurry when you are troubled.' Male Romantic genius crosses the line of gender to create, but his opposite, already female, must divide mind from body to embrace the Muse. Dickinson, following Blake, says to her mother, 'Woman, what have I to do with thee?'"
- SP, p639

- "The Muse" is of course the feminine principle - that which inspires a man to greatness . . . but in the end usually prevents him from attaining it.

In 'The Banquet' Kierkegaard says:

'As I have said, it is through woman that ideality is born into the world and - what were man without her! There is many a man who has become a genius through a woman, many a one a hero, many a one a poet, many a one even a saint; but he did not become a genius through the woman he married, for through her he only became a privy councillor; he did not become a hero through the woman he married, for through her he only became a general; he did not become a poet through the woman he married, for through her he only became a father; he did not become a saint through the woman he married, for he did not marry, and would have married but one - the one whom he did not marry; just as the others became a genius, became a hero, became a poet through the help of the woman they did not marry. If woman's ideality were in itself inspiring, why, then the inspiring woman would be the one to whom a man is united for life. But life tells a different story. It is only by a negative relation to her that man is rendered productive in his ideal endeavors. In this sense she is inspiring; to say that she is inspiring, without qualifying one's statement, is to be guilty of a paralogism which one must be a woman to overlook. Or has anyone ever heard of any man having become a poet through his wife? So long as man does not possess her, she inspires him. It is this truth which gives rise to the illusions entertained in poetry and by women. The fact that he does not possess her signifies, either, that he is still fighting for her - thus has woman inspired many a one and rendered him a knight; but has anyone ever heard of any man having been rendered a knight valiant through his wife? Or, the fact that he does not possess her signifies that he cannot obtain her by any manner of means - thus has woman inspired many a one and roused his ideality; that is, if there is anything in him worth-while. But a wife, who has things ever so much worth-while for her husband, will hardly arouse any ideal strivings in him. Or, again, the fact that he does not possess her signifies that he is pursuing an ideal. Perchance he loves many, but loving many is also a kind of unrequited love; and yet the ideality of his soul is to be seen in this striving and yearning and not in the small bits of lovableness which make up the sum total of the contributions of all those he loves.'

"Women have been discouraged from genres such as sculpture that require studio training or expensive materials. But in philosophy, mathematics, and poetry, the only materials are pen and paper. Male conspiracy cannot explain all female failures. I am convinced that, even without restrictions, there still would have been no female Pascal, Milton, or Kant. Genius is not checked by social obstacles: it will overcome. Men's egotism, so disgusting in the talentless, is the source of their greatness as a sex. . . . Even now, with all vocations open, I marvel at the rarity of the woman driven by artistic or intellectual obsession, that self-mutilating derangement of social relationship which, in its alternate forms of crime and ideation, is the disgrace and glory of the human species."
- SP, p653

"It is no coincidence that while some major female artists have married, very few have borne children. The issue is not conservation of energy but imaginitive integrity. Art is its own self-swelling, proof that the mind is greater than the body."
- SP, p660

- Oscar Wilde once said: "Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals."

"Sappho is a great poet
because she is a lesbian, which gives her erotic access to the Muse. Sappho and the homosexual-tending Emily Dickinson stand alone above women poets, because poetry's mystical energies are ruled by a hierach requiring the sexual subordination of her petitioners. Women have achieved more as novelists than as poets because the social novel operates outside the ancient marriage of myth and eroticism." - SP, p672



from Camille Paglia's

Patriarchy, routinely blamed for everything, produced the birth control pill, which did more to free comtemporary women than feminism itself. (p38)

In the Seventies, women runners, developing amenorrhea and calcium-related shin splints, were the first to realize that nature is hovering over us, ready to shut down our systems if our fetus-feeding fat reserve drops below a certain percentage of body weight. In other words, in nature's eyes we [women] are nothing but milk sacs and fat deposits. (p41)

Much violence against women originates in emotional territory that they already command. By midlife and early old age, as the hormones of both genders change, women are in total, despotic control of their marriages. (p46)

The situation has gotten so out of hand that, in 1993, in one of the first British cases, a plumber was fired for continuing to use the traditional term "ballcock" for the toilet flotation unit, instead of the new politically correct term, sanitized of sexual suggestiveness. This is insane. We are back to the Victorian era, when table legs had to be draped lest they put the thought of ladies' legs into someone's dirty mind. (p50)

Campus speech codes, that folly of the navel-gazing left, have increased the appeal of the right. Ideas must confront ideas. When hurt feelings and bruised egos are more important than the unfettered life of the mind, the universities have committed suicide. (p51)

Woman's sexuality is disruptive of the dully mechanical workaday world, in which efficiency means uniformity. The problems of woman's entrance into the career system spring from more than male chauvinism. She brings nature into the social realm, which may be too small to contain it. (p52)

My prescription for women entering the war zone of the professions: study football. . . . Women who want to remake the future should look for guidance not to substitute parent figures but to the brash assertions of pagan sport. (p56)

The prostitute has come to symbolize for me the ultimate liberated woman, who lives on the edge and whose sexuality belongs to no one. (p58)

This idea is vitually identical to that put forward by Otto Weininger, who divides women into mothers, prostitutes, and all grades inbetween.

Weininger says:

"Although most men are certain that every woman can have her consummation only in motherhood, I must confess that the prostitute - not as a person, but as a phenomenon - is much more estimable in my opinion.

"She lives her own life exactly as she pleases, even although it may bring with it the punishment of exclusion from society. She is not so brave as the mother, it is true, being thoroughly cowardly; but she has the correlative of cowardice, impudence, and she is not ashamed of her shamelessness."


"Those men who are sexually attracted by the mother-type have no desire for mental productivity."


Men, gay or straight, can get beauty and lewdness into one image. Women are forever softening, censoring, politicizing. (p65)

I have found few lesbians with whom I can discourse for more than five minutes without hitting some tiresome barrier of resentment or ideology. (p74)

I want to cry out to these young girls: Stop! Think! . . . For heaven's sake, don't fall down the rabbit hole of the lesbian scene. You will never escape, and your talent will wither on the vine. Your energy will be wasted and absorbed in repitition without progression. Women alone are Spenser's Bower of Bliss, enclosed, comfortable, and dangerous. (p82)

Lesbians, said a lesbian friend wearily to me, are "program heads": "They need the structure. They have all the answers." Hence lesbians' omnipresence in the social-welfare industry. Rejecting the father's competitive system, they substitute another that they imagine is based on female "caring" and "compassion" but is, in dismal effect, repressive, totalitarian, and hostile to art and dissent. The same friend memorably said to me long ago that lesbianism is caused by either "too much tit or not enough." (p85)

All of us emerge from the body of a mystical female giant. Boys are swamped in the female realm. Note how mothers take male children into the women's toilets: the boys are officially neuter and still part of the mother's body. To progress to manhood, boys must leave the women's world behind. In tribal cultures, men may kidnap a boy, slash his body with knives, throw him into a pit, or abandon him in the woods, cruel rites of passage still evident in the brutal, sometimes homicidal hazing of modern fraternities, which flourishes despite every effort to ban it. (p85)

Because boys lack a biological marker like menstruation, to be man is to be not female. Contemporary feminism called this "misogyny," but it was wrong. Masculine identity is embattled and fragile. In the absence of opportunity for heroic physical action, as in the modern office world, women's goodwill is crucial for preserving the male ego, which requires, alas, daily maintenance. It is in the best interests of the human race, and of women themselves, for men to be strong. (p85)

Middle-class men, neutered by office life and daunted by feminist rhetoric, are shrinking. Lesbianism is increasing, since anxious, unmasculine men have little to offer. Women are simply more interesting to them. Male homosexuality is increasing, because masculinity is in crisis and because maternal consciousness, severed from the support network of the extended family, has become a psychotic system, forcing the young to struggle for life against clinging personal fantasy. (p90)

A pagan education would sharpen the mind, steel the will, and seduce the senses. Our philosophy should be both contemplative and pugilistic, admitting aggression (as Christianity does not) as central to our mythology. The beasts of passion must be confronted, and the laws of nature understood. Conflict cannot be avoided, but perhaps it can be confined to a mental theater. (p94)

Is there intellectual life in America? At present, the answer is no. Since the decline of the great era of literary journalism, when Edmund Wilson, the Algonquin wits, and the politically engaged 'Partisan Review' writers were active, America has lacked a general literate culture hospitable to ideas. (p97)

In the summer-camp mentality of American universities, the ferocity of genuine intellectual debate would just seem like spoiling everyone's fun. Ambitious humanities professors go about their business behind a brick wall of "theory," which they imagine is the dernier cri, but which has long been out of fashion, even in Paris. (p101)

My own proposals for reform include the abolition of all literary conferences and the replacement of women's studies with sex studies, based on the rigorous study of world history, anthropology, psychology, and science. Today, in politically correct America, questions of quality, learning, and intellectual distinction are out of style. (p102)

Feminism, for all its boasts, has not found a single major female painter or sculptor to add to the canon. It did revive the reputations of many minor women, like Frida Kahlo or Romaine Brooks. Mary Cassatt, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Helen Frankenthaler were already known and did not need rediscovery. Artemisia Gentileschi was simply a polished, competent painter in a Baroque style created by men. (p115)

As an adolescent in Syracuse, I found a secondhand copy of a book called "The Epigrams of Oscar Wilde". It became my bible. I memorized its phrases and repeated them until they became part of my brain chemistry. (p215)

I believe in telling all, and I don't believe in playing games, and that's one of my problems. I think that sex is a game - and I have a great trouble flirting and playing the game. (p243)

I'm a bisexual lesbian who's also monastic, celibate, pervert, deviant, voyeur. (p245)

If people could see the inside of my brain, I would be in prison! (p247)

I certainly feel at the mercy of my hormones. It's, like, every week, it's something different with me. Some weeks of the month I feel very female, others very male. I feel I have a sex change every month. It's true! I feel it. Sometimes I desire a man, sometimes a woman, you know. It just goes back and forth. I mean, it never is the same with me. Never for a minute. (p247)

The two deepest thinkers on sex in the twentieth century are Sigmund Freud and D.H. Lawrence. Their reputations as radical liberators were so universally acknowledged that brooding images of Freud and Lawrence in poster form adorned the walls of students in the Sixties. Yet the voluminous and complex works of both men were swept away by the current women's movement, when it burst out in the late Sixties and consolidated its ideology in the Seventies. Whatever their motives, the first feminist theorists acted as vandals and Bolsheviks. The damage they did to culture has in the long run damaged the cause of feminism. (p328)

The episode [in Lawrence's 'Women in Love'] in which Gerald, haunted by the ugly death of his ailing father, tramps through muddy fields to invade Gudrun's bed-chamber should be basic reading for every student of sex. Yearning, coercion, and lust intermingle, as in life itself. What do men want from women? It's all here. Gerald's convulsive orgasm exorcises his anguish and tension - but at the cost of infantilization. Ironically, his phallicism makes woman a goddess and him a child. (p335)

Lawrence shows the unstable dynamic in heterosexuality, which swings man from conquerer to slave in the drama of arousal. Satisfied, Gerald sinks into delicious, healing sleep, like an infant 'at it's mothers breast,' but Gudrun 'lay wide awake, destroyed into perfect consciousness' - one of the novel's most terrible moments. . . . Spenser, Blake, and Lawrence all show fallen sexuality as a cruel cycle of dominance and submission, where male power and male neediness are identical and where woman drinks man's energy as he spills it. (p335)

I'm not sure what Paglia means when she says that "fallen" sexuality is a cruel cycle of dominance and submission. I presume she means to say that conscious sexuality is sadomasochistic, but that unconscious, unthinking sexuality escapes being aware of anything, even itself, and so cannot be called sadomasochistic, as sadomasochism normally connotes some kind of conscious or willful behavior.

I call our time decadent - but in 'Sexual Personae' I argued that decadence is a complex historical mode, a thrilling, sensationalistic late phase of culture dominated by themes of sex and violence. In decadence, the major revival is of the primitive, which is juxtaposed with the supersophisticated. We see this pattern in Nero's cruel banquets, in Swinburne's poetry, and in the recent popularity of sadomasochistic regalia and tribal body- piercing. (p343)

Not having a TV is tantamount to saying, 'I know nothing of the time or country in which I live.' Television is America, and year by year it is becoming the world. (p346)

In music and dance, Madonna does her deepest thinking. (p369)

Understatement of the century

From Paglia's advice column:

Dear Camille:

Two buddies of mine who live thousands of miles from each other were unceremoniously dumped a couple of years ago by their girlfriends. Right after chucking their excess baggage, both girls adopted all the significant traits of their former boyfriends. One went from being a pampered trust-fund baby who read Woolf and subscribed to trendy political causes to being an ardent backpacker in love with Conrad. The other changed her major from environmental science to classical anthropology and philosophy and her music from Depeche Mode to Lime Spiders. You get the picture. Why would these women become the men they no longer love?

- Musing in Kankakee

Dear Musing:

I am stunned by this colorful evidence of the ancient principle of female vampirism, recorded everywhere in world mythology. Having sucked men dry, like marrow from a bone, woman calmly sails on to her next adventure. Sublime! (p402)

I would personally say this is a case of "impregnation" rather than female vampirism. The two may be identical. That is, women, being passive and without form, have an insatiable hunger to be psychologically impregnated (with form and identity), here called "vampirism."

Dave Sim, in his writings on "The Merged Void" refers to this phenomenon as "emotional hunger" rather than simply "hunger" to highlight the fact that it is a purely unconscious, animal hunger, rather than the kind of hunger we commonly find in men, which is more willful and consciously directed. - KS

I have been saying my ideas for twenty years. No one listened. I couldn't get published. I couldn't get hired. And suddenly, people are listening and understanding what I'm saying. And it suggests to me that it is a kind of cyclical pattern at work, and we've gone through a full cycle, and we're coming back. (p412)

I see history in huge rhythms, enormously long rhythms. That's why I think most people are just trapped in the present. If you don't understand the whole path, you can't see where you're going, because you don't see where we've been. So I just see these huge rhythms operating, and I see that popular culture has been this enormous transformation that happened. I feel in the 1920s, with the birth of sound pictures. That was the moment when, I think, high art lost its exclusive status, and popular culture took over. And I think we're still in this rhythm, but I believe that we're still in the Romantic rhythm.

My mentor Harold Bloom also believes this, that we're still in the Romantic era. That is, the movement initiated by Rousseau's ideas in 1760. So that's what I see - one long huge pattern. Rock and roll is simply, you know, another eruption of that Romanticism. And I see us still in that. And I think that the next - to predict, all right? (laughs) - I think the next rhythm will be inaugurated by someone from outer space. I mean, when - if - we discover another civilization, another planet, if it turns out there's evidence for that, then that's the beginning of a new phase, I think. (p418)

Whuffle [whine+wheeze+snuff+sniffle]: The annoying, scratchy sound made by weepy feminists as they lament the sufferings of women and, houndlike, sniff out evidence of male oppression in literature, art, and the media. Some compare it to the rustle of Victorian crinoline skirts. Others speak of a badmintonlike spank and whoosh. Still others think of a jumbled feathery flapping, as in the attic torture of Tippi Hedren in "The Birds". Of a feminist theorist: "She whuffled her way to the top." Of a feminist conference: "The room overflowed with whufflers." Of a feminist lecture: "The whuffling was unbearable." (p431)

Germaine Greer says there are no great women because they have mutilated egos. I say great art only comes from mutilated egos. (p434)

Spot on. The truth is, women's egos aren't highly enough evolved to be mutilated. In "The Female Eunuch", alluding to Otto Weininger's belief that the absolute female lacks an ego, Greer exclaims: "If women had no ego, if they had no separation from the rest of the world, no repression and no regression, how nice that would be!"

The Thinking Man's Minefield