Camille Paglia is a philosopher?
Here's a 2005 article by Camille Paglia: "Ten great female philosophers: The thinking woman's women/Radio 4's 'Greatest Philosopher' poll yielded an all-male Top 20. But is philosophy really a female-free zone? On the contrary, insists Camille Paglia - and here are 10 to prove the point." In the note identifying the author, she's listed as a "Professor of Humanities at the University of the Arts, Philadelphia." If she had any claim to being considered a philosopher, I think we'd have seen it there. She said:
I feel women in general are less comfortable than men in inhabiting a highly austere, cold, analytical space, such as the one which philosophy involves. Women as a whole - and there are obvious exceptions - are more drawn to practical, personal matters. It is not that they inherently lack a talent or aptitude for philosophy or higher mathematics, but rather that they are more unwilling than men to devote their lives to a frigid space from which the natural and the human have been eliminated....Paglia loves to personalize things, so you can bet she'd have said but not me! if she could.
A philosopher for me is someone who is removed from everyday concerns and manipulates terms and concepts like counters on a grid or chessboard.Obviously, Paglia does not meet her own definition of philosopher. She likes to talk about ideas in connection with art — high and low art of all kinds.
Both Simone de Beauvoir and Ayn Rand, another favourite of mine, have their own highly influential system of thought, and therefore they belong on any list of great philosophers....But:
The term philosopher is passé, anyhow, and should be abandoned. The thinker of modern times should be partly abstract and partly practical. Karl Marx, the winner of the Radio 4 poll yesterday, was indeed a truly major thinker.A "major thinker" — which is what Paglia probably thinks she is — but not a "philosopher," because:
He was not a captive of abstraction and always kept his eye on society and its evolution...Who wants to be a philosopher anyway? Nobody good, certainly not Paglia:
Philosophy as traditionally practised may be a dead genre.
This is the age of the internet in which we are constantly flooded by information in fragments. Each person at the computer is embarked on a quest for and fabrication of his or her identity.... Philosophy belongs to a vanished age of much slower and rhetorically formal inquiry.Man, I know the feeling! I had to stop at this point and listen to "Life During Wartime":
Why stay in college? Why go to night school?/Gonna be different this time/Can't write a letter, can't send no postcard/I ain't got time for that now... We got computer, we're tapping phone lines/I know that ain't allowed... Burned all my notebooks, what good are notebooks?....
Anyway, back to the I-don't-trust-it Washington Examiner article I've been trying to read as the sun comes up here in Madison, Wisconsin, where nobody I know is manipulating terms and concepts like counters on a grid or chessboard, and I am thrown back to 1979, when I was trying to be a law student and The Talking Heads were distracting me with word of impending chaos and the futility of further education. I was writing in notebooks — what good are notebooks? — and nobody I knew got computer.
But speaking of chess, have you ever seen this picture?
That's "A Jew and a Muslim playing chess in 13th century al-Andalus." I found that in the Wikipedia article "Al-Andalus," which I clicked through to from "Alcázar," which I'd looked up because it was the hardest answer in the Friday NYT crossword.
Change 2 letters in chess, and you get the opposite of chess: Chaos! And chaos is what made me want to blog that Washington Examiner fragment about whatever it was Camille Paglia may have said. The key line for me wasn't Paglia's spurious expressing of hope to vote Democrat, but her assertion about what's going on with the attacks on Trump:
"Democrats are doing this in collusion with the media obviously, because they just want to create chaos... They want to completely obliterate any sense that the Trump administration is making any progress on anything... I am appalled at the behavior of the media... It's the collapse of journalism.... I feel that the media has so utterly lost its credibility that I think people are going to vote against the media again."I wanted to quote that because I agree with it. A partisan plot to cripple the American President, to make it as difficult as possible to accomplish anything? "Chaos" is a fun-loving term compared to "treason," but we don't say "treason" anymore, do we?
In the 1790s, opposition political parties were new and not fully accepted. Government leaders often considered their opponents to be some sort of traitors. Historian Ron Chernow reports that Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and President George Washington "regarded much of the criticism fired at their administration as disloyal, even treasonous, in nature." When an undeclared Quasi-War broke out with France in 1797–98, "Hamilton increasingly mistook dissent for treason and engaged in hyperbole." Furthermore, the Jeffersonian opposition party behaved the same way. After 1801, with a peaceful transition in the political party in power, the rhetoric of "treason" against political opponents diminished.Oh, but these days, part of the chaos-making is calling treason on Trump.