Transcript: Interview: Camille Paglia | Nov 09, 1992

The host and his guest sit at a round table in a studio. The background is dark with three illuminated panels featuring all types of letters in various fonts and colors.

The Host is a man in his late thirties. He has messy brown hair to the shoulders and is clean-shaven. He wears a dark jacket and a black T-shirt.

The Host says LESS THAN TWO
YEARS AGO,
CAMILLE PAGLIA BUSTED ONTO THE
SCENE WITH THE PUBLICATION OF
SEXUAL PERSONAE: ART AND
DECADENCE FROM NEFERTITI
TO EMILY DICKINSON.

A slate on screen features a book covers that reads ‘Sexual Personae: Art and decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson by Camille Paglia.’

The Host continues SINCE THEN,
SHE HAS
ESTABLISHED HERSELF AS A THORN
IN THE SIDE OF ACADEMIA,
FEMINISM, YOU NAME IT.
SHE HAS BEEN CALLED AN
ACADEMIC ROTTWEILER.
AN ITALIAN AMERICAN
JOAN RIVERS.
AND SHE'S HERE TO TALK ABOUT
HER NEW BOOK, A COLLECTION
OF ESSAYS,
SEX, ART,
AND AMERICAN CULTURE.
WELCOME TO
IMPRINT.

Camille is a woman in her fifties. She has grey short hair and wears a red jacket, a black blouse, and rounded earrings.

Camille says THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

The Host says NOW, WHAT'S THIS
BUSINESS OF MADONNA,
THE FUTURE OF FEMINISM?
COME ON.

Camille giggles and responds I'VE BEEN
A GREAT MADONNA FAN
SINCE THE START, YOU SEE,
BACK IN 1983 AND '84.
AND I'VE BEEN DEFENDING HER
FROM THE VERY BEGINNING.
BUT SHE'S KIND OF
MY DOUBLE, YOU KNOW?
WE'RE BOTH THESE ITALIAN
AMERICAN DOMINATRIXES.
WE BOTH IDENTIFY STRONGLY
WITH GAY MEN AND DRAG QUEENS.
AND I THINK WE BOTH HAVE
DISCOVERED THE LATENT PAGANISM
AND PORNOGRAPHY IN
ITALIAN CATHOLICISM.

A slate on screen reads ‘Camille Paglia. Sex, art and American culture.’

The Host says I'M GLAD YOU MENTION
THAT BECAUSE I WAS GOING
TO QUOTE A LITTLE BIT
FROM ONE OF YOUR ESSAYS,
VENUS OF THE RADIO WAVES.
MADONNA'S COMMAND OF MASSIVE
RESONANT BASS LINES,
WHICH YOU HEARD IN THE FUNKY
DANCE CLUBS OF NEW YORK AND
DETROIT, HAS ALWAYS
IMPRESSED ME.
AS AN ITALIAN CATHOLIC,
MADONNA USES THEM LITURGICALLY.
LIKE ME, SHE SENSED THE BURIED
PAGAN RELIGIOSITY IN DISCO.

Camille says YES.
OH, I'VE BEEN FOLLOWING THE
BASS LINE SINCE JAMES BROWN
INVENTED IT.
I'M A GREAT DISCO QUEEN.

The Host says WHAT I'M GETTING AT HERE IS
THAT YOU USE ACADEMIC LANGUAGE
TO EXPLAIN SOMETHING THAT YOU
KNOW PERFECTLY WELL SHE CANNOT.

Camille says YES, YES, I BELIEVE THAT
MADONNA IS AT HER WEAKEST WHEN
SHE TRIES TO EXPLAIN
HERSELF IN WORDS.

The Host says IN FACT, YOU GO SO
FAR AS TO
SAY SEVERAL TIMES, REFERRING
TO AN INTERVIEW WITH HER
ON MTV, WRONG ANSWER.
YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE
HER SPOKESPERSON, YES?

Camille says YES, BECAUSE I THINK
SHE DOES
HER DEEPEST THINKING, AS I
SAY, IN AN UPCOMING REVIEW OF
HER RATHER SHODDY NEW BOOK,
SHE DOES HER DEEPEST
THINKING IN MUSIC AND DANCE.
I THINK MUSIC AND DANCE ARE
THE OLDEST KIND OF THINKING.
THINKING THROUGH THE BODY,
THROUGH THE SENSORY LANGUAGE
OF THE BODY.
I THINK, YOU KNOW, THE WORD
OBSESSION OF CURRENT FEMINISM
OR OF CURRENT ACADEME IS PART OF
THE PROBLEM WE'RE IN RIGHT NOW.

The Host says BUT YOU ARE VERY
BIG ABOUT WORDS.
YOU CERTAINLY PUT A LOT OF
VALUE ON WORDS BECAUSE YOU ARE
ALWAYS TALKING ABOUT HOW, FOR
EXAMPLE, MODERN FEMINISTS ARE
SIMPLY NOT EDUCATED ENOUGH.
THEY HAVEN'T READ THE
DEAD BORING WHITE MALES.
THEY HAVEN'T GOT ENOUGH
COMMAND OF THE WORDS.

Camille says THAT'S RIGHT.
THE SAME TIME I SEEM
TO BE A WORD FANATIC.
I'M HIGHLY VERBAL, AS YOU CAN
SEE, I STILL, I BELIEVE ALL
MY DEEPEST IDEAS, MY MOST
ORIGINAL THINKING IS COMING
FROM A LEVEL BENEATH
THE LEVEL OF WORDS.
WHAT I'M DOING IS SIMPLY
TRANSLATING INTO WORDS MY
ACTUAL SENSORY IMPRESSIONS.

The Host says THIS IS YOUR ID TALKING.

Camille continues THE ID, YES.
BUT THE LANGUAGE OF THE BODY.
IT'S LIKE FREUD'S IDEA OF
POLYMORPHOUS PERVERSITY.

The Host says OKAY, WHORE
OF BABYLON.
IS MADONNA OUR
WHORE OF BABYLON?

Camille says OH, SHE IS.
AND I LOVE IT.

The Host says WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Camille says WELL, YOU SEE,
THIS IS REALLY
THE GREAT GODDESS FIGURE OF
ANTIQUITY THAT St. AUGUSTINE
BANISHED, WHICH JUDEO
CHRISTIANITY THOUGHT
WAS BURIED FOREVER.
BUT, YOU SEE, I BELIEVE
PAGANISM HAS ERUPTED THREE
TIMES SINCE THE DARK AGES.
I THINK IT WAS AT THE
RENAISSANCE, AT ROMANTICISM,
AND NOW WITH POPULAR CULTURE.
I VIEW POPULAR CULTURE WITH
ALL ITS MOST UNPALATABLE
ASPECTS, AS AN
ERUPTION OF PAGANISM.

The Host says YOU MUST HAVE
LOVED SOME OF
THOSE SCENES IN
THE DOORS
MOVIE BY OLIVER STONE.
DID YOU SEE IT?
SUCH PURE DIONYSIAN
PAGAN RITUAL.

Camille says THERE WERE SOME
WONDERFUL SCENES THERE.
I PARTICULARLY LIKED THE
BODY LANGUAGE, OKAY, OF
VAL KILMER, BUT I DEPLORE, AS A
DOORS FAN, THE WAY THE OTHER
MEMBERS OF THE DOORS WERE
TREATED AS IF THEY WERE MERE
ANCILLARIES TO JIM MORRISON.
I ADORED JIM MORRISON.
HE WAS EXTRAORDINARILY
INFLUENTIAL ON ME IN COLLEGE,
BUT THOSE MUSICIANS IN
THE DOORS, EVERY MEMBER,
A VIRTUOSO MUSICIAN.
OH, MY GOD.

The Host says WHAT I WAS REALLY
REFERRING
TO WAS OF COURSE THE CONCERT
SEQUENCES WHICH WERE TREATED
LIKE SO MANY PAGAN BONFIRE
BURNING FESTIVALS.

Camille says TRUE.
I THINK A LITTLE BIT OF THE
AUDIENCE SEEMED MORE LIKE
LED ZEPPELIN '70s,
RATHER THAN LIKE --

The Host says WHAT'S WRONG
WITH THAT?

Camille continues THAT'S FINE.
BUT I'M SAYING THE AUDIENCE
CERTAINLY CHANGED.
WE ALL KNOW LED ZEPPELIN WAS
A PIVOTAL MOMENT WHEN THE
AUDIENCE SUDDENLY, FOR
HEAVY METAL, BECAME MALE.
AND YOU GOT A FRAGMENTATION
OF THE ROCK AUDIENCE.
I'M VERY NOSTALGIC FOR THAT
MOMENT IN THE '60s WHEN
EVERYONE WAS LISTENING TO THE
SAME ALBUMS MONTH AFTER MONTH
AFTER MONTH.

The Host says TELL ME ABOUT YOUR
IDENTIFICATION WITH
ROCK AND ROLL.
WHY IS IT SO EXCITING?
YOU SAID SOMETHING, OBVIOUSLY,
ABOUT THE PHYSICAL,
THE DARK PHYSICAL
ATTRACTION AND SO ON.

Camille says I BELIEVE I'M THE FIRST
ROCK AND ROLL INTELLECTUAL.
I THINK THE PEOPLE WHO LIKE MY
WRITING HEAR IN IT THE HARD
HAMMERING RHYTHMS OF ROCK.
PEOPLE WHO DISLIKE ME ARE
FOLLOWERS OF SUZANNE VEGA OR
SINEAD O'CONNOR, AND SO ON.

The Host says YOU JUST DON'T LIKE
THAT SHE
TORE UP A PICTURE OF THE POPE?

Camille says OH, NO.
SINEAD O'CONNOR IS
COMPLETELY A ROBOT BRAIN.
SHE HAS MESSAGES.
SHE'S LIKE A VICTORIAN.
SHE HAS MESSAGES THAT SHE
SLAPS ONTO ART LIKE LABELS.
SHE IS THE OPPOSITE
OF MADONNA.

The Host says OH, UNLIKE YOU.

Camille continues NO, NO BECAUSE
ACTUALLY,
I'M VERY DRIVEN BY INSTINCT
AND BY INTUITION.
YOU KNOW, I BELIEVE
IN ASTROLOGY AND ESP,
AND ALL KINDS OF
MAD CAP THINGS.

The Host says OKAY.
LET ME TALK A LITTLE BIT MORE
ABOUT, ONE OF THE THINGS YOU
LOATHE IS POST STRUCTURALISM.
YOU TALK ABOUT POST MODERNIST
ACADEMICS WHO YOU BELIEVE HAVE
CONTRIBUTED -- FROM FRANCE,
IMPORTED TO AMERICA, DESTROYED.

Camille says PARASITES, PARASITES.

The Host continues ONE OF THE
THINGS WE'VE
FOUND ON THIS SHOW.
WE'VE HAD A NUMBER OF
THESE POST STRUCTURALISTS.
AND WE FOUND THEM SOMETIMES TO
BE GARBLED, SOMETIMES THEIR
LANGUAGE IS IMPENETRABLE, YES.
BUT THEIR FASCINATION WITH POP
CULTURE IS NOT UNLIKE YOUR OWN.
THEY TOTALLY IDENTIFY
WITH POP CULTURE.
I HAVE LEARNED MORE ABOUT WHY
ROCK AND ROLL CAN BE IMPORTANT,
WHY SHOPPING MALLS ARE
INTERESTING PLACES TO BE,
WHY ADVERTISING IS THE
LOCUST FOR THE MODERN.

Camille says THEY SLAP ABSTRACTIONS
ON TOP OF EXPERIENCE.
WE DO NOT NEED PARIS TO EXPLAIN
A NORTH AMERICAN PHENOMENON.
OH, PLEASE.
THEY'RE ALL POSERS.
I'M GOING TO DRIVE
THEM INTO THE SEA.

The Host says YOU DON'T LIKE
JACQUES DERRIDA.

Camille says I DESPISE HIM AND
ALL HIS FOLLOWERS.

The Host continues TELL ME SOMETHING,
FOR FOLKS
WHO STILL, I THINK, AFTER ALL
THIS TIME ARE CONFUSED BY WHAT
POST STRUCTURALISM REALLY IS.
IN ITS SIMPLEST TERMS, HOW DO
YOU SEE IT, AND WHY HAS IT
DONE DAMAGE TO OUR
UNDERSTANDING OF LITERATURE
AND ACADEMIC STUDIES?

The Host says WHAT'S HAPPENED,
BASICALLY,
YOU SEE, I FEEL THAT MY ENTIRE
GENERATION OF THE '60s, THE
GENERATION MOST INFLUENCED BY
POP CULTURE, DID NOT GO ON
IN THE GRADUATE SCHOOLS.
AND WHAT YOU HAD WERE THESE
'50s PEOPLE OBSESSED WITH WORDS,
WHO FELL COMPLETELY UNDER THE
SWAY OF THE SCHOOL OF SAUSSURE.
THEY NEED DERRIDA TO EXPLODE
THEIR OWN WORD FETISHISM.
WELL, WE DON'T
NEED THAT, OKAY?
WE, WHO GREW UP LISTENING TO
JIMI HENDRIX AND WATCHING
FOREIGN FILMS, WATCHING
ANTONIONI, AND SO ON,
WE DID NOT NEED DERRIDA.
THE MOST HILARIOUS THING NOW,
THE NEW FOUCAULT BIOGRAPHY.
IT'S HILARIOUS, OKAY, HOW
FOUCAULT WENT TO CALIFORNIA,
AND HAD LSD ON THE
EDGE OF A CLIFF.
AND WENT TO THE S and M
BARS IN SAN FRANCISCO.
ISN'T HE OPEN?
ISN'T HE WONDERFUL?
WELL, THIS JUST
PROVES MY POINT, OKAY?
THE AMERICAN '60s HAD IT ALL.
AND THOSE PEOPLE IN FRANCE,
YOU KNOW, THEY HAD TO COME
TO US ON THEIR KNEES.

The Host says I WISH YOU COULD
GIVE ME
ANOTHER SPECIFIC EXAMPLE SO
PEOPLE CAN UNDERSTAND.
WHAT HAS IT DONE
TO LITERATURE?

Camille says ABSOLUTELY APPALLING.
ABSOLUTELY APPALLING.
BECAUSE WHAT IT'S DONE IS MADE
PEOPLE COOL, IRONIC, CYNICAL,
HANGING BACK, AND ROOTING
EVERYTHING IN ART THROUGH
A PRIORI ABSTRACTIONS.
I HATE THAT.
THE WHOLE REVOLUTION OF THE
'60s WAS ABOUT BREAKING THROUGH.
BREAKING THROUGH ALL FALSE
ABSTRACTION AND BRINGING ART
TOGETHER WITH EMOTION.
THAT'S WHAT I'M ABOUT.
THAT'S WHAT I'M DOING.
THERE'S NO ONE AS EMOTIONAL AS
I AM AMONG THE LEADING CRITICS.
I'M ITALIAN.

The Host giggles and says SELF-EVIDENT.
THERE WAS AN ARTICLE IN
HARPER'S MAGAZINE
RECENTLY.
YOU AND NEIL POSTMAN, A
FAMOUS CRITIC OF TELEVISION,
TELEVISION CULTURE, AND
SO ON, GOING AT ALL.
YOU BELIEVE, OF COURSE, THAT
TELEVISION IS THE FUTURE.
BUT THERE'S ANOTHER
POSSIBLE CONTRADICTION,
PERHAPS YOU COULD
EXPLAIN IT.
YOU DEMAND THAT WE KNOW A
GREAT DEAL ABOUT WORD-BASE
CULTURE, YET YOU CELEBRATE
TELEVISION IN THE FACE OF ALL
THE EVIDENCE THAT SHOWS US
THAT YOUNG PEOPLE'S ATTENTION
SPANS ARE BEING DESTROYED.
YOU WATCH A KID AFTER
TWO HOURS OF TELEVISION,
THEY ARE IN THIS
ZOMBIE ALPHA STATE.
THEY ARE IN NO CONDITION TO
READ THE GREAT CLASSICS THAT YOU
SAY SHOULD PROVIDE A FOUNDATION
FOR INTELLIGENT LIVING.
HOW CAN YOU DO BOTH?

Camille says THIS IS WHY I BELIEVE
THAT THE SCHOOLS HAVE
TO REMAIN LOGOCENTRIC.
THEY HAVE TO
REMAIN WORD-BASED.
WE NEED THE KIND OF SCHOOLS,
TRAINING THAT I HAD.
WHEN MY MOTHER CAME OVER FROM
ITALY TO AMERICA AT AGE SIX,
SHE DIDN'T KNOW A
WORD OF ENGLISH.
AND SHE HAD, FOR A HUNDRED
YEARS, THE SCHOOLS THAT WERE
KEYED TO AMERICANIZE
THE IMMIGRANTS.
AND THEY WERE, IT
WAS BASIC EDUCATION.
AND I THINK THAT'S ABSOLUTELY
NECESSARY TO RETAIN THAT.
ONE-HALF OF OUR BRAIN
IS THE LOGOCENTRIC SIDE.
THE OTHER HALF IS THE SIDE
THAT IS OPEN TOWARD TELEVISION
AND TOWARD ROCK MUSIC.
AND I AM UNUSUAL IN MY ABILITY
TO SEE THERE ARE DIFFERENT
PARTS OF THE BRAIN.
BOTH NEED DEVELOPMENT.
IT'S APOLLO AND DIONYSUS.
BOTH GODS MUST BE HONOURED.

The Host says AT THE SAME TIME?

Camille continues I'M OPPOSED TO TAKING
TELEVISION INTO THE SCHOOLS.
WE DON'T NEED THAT.
IT'S OBSCENE.
OUR ENTIRE GENERATION NOW
IS PRODUCED BY TELEVISION.
WE ARE NOT GOING TO TEACH
TELEVISION TO THOSE
WHO ALREADY KNOW
TELEVISION, RIGHT?
WE MUST TEACH THE PAST.
I ABSOLUTELY BELIEVE IN
TEACHING HISTORY, ARCHEOLOGY,
COMPARATIVE RELIGION.

The Host says THIS IS HERESY,
YOU REALIZE,
BECAUSE THIS STATION PRODUCES
A GREAT DEAL OF EDUCATIONAL
MATERIAL ON TELEVISION,
THAT GOES RIGHT INTO
THE CLASSROOMS.
IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE
DOING A LOT OF GOOD.

Camille says I DON'T THINK
IT'S A GOOD IDEA.
NO, I DON'T THINK
IT'S A GOOD IDEA.
I REALLY DON'T.
I THINK WE SHOULD USE
THE SCHOOL TIME FOR THE
OLD-FASHIONED KIND OF
BOOK-BASED EDUCATION.
BECAUSE I THINK THAT ALLOWS
ME TO BE SO ORIGINAL.
IT ALLOWS ME TO HAVE SO MUCH
CREATIVE FREE PLAY, TO BE ABLE
TO GO BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN
THE OLD AND THE NEW.
I THINK IT IS THE FUTURE.
TELEVISION IS THE FUTURE.
UNIVERSAL REALITY OF THE
FUTURE WILL BE TELEVISION,
LIKE
STAR TREK.

The Host says WELL, IT CERTAINLY
ALLOWS
YOU TO DRAW FROM VARIOUS
REFERENCES, ENORMOUS AMOUNTS
OF REFERENCES BEYOND
MURPHY BROWN.

Camille says NO, IT'S NOT JUST THAT.
IT'S DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE
BRAIN ARE BEING DEVELOPED.
I SAY THAT THE '60s WERE
ALL ABOUT EXPANDING YOUR
CONSCIOUSNESS TO THE FULLEST.
I BELIEVE THERE ARE ALL KINDS
OF UNCHARTED AREAS OF THE
BRAIN WHICH MY GENERATION
FALSELY USED DRUGS TO GET TO.
I THINK YOU CAN USE ROCK MUSIC
AND TELEVISION TO EXPAND THE
BRAIN WITHOUT DRUGS.

The Host says I WONDER IF IT'S TRUE.
I WORRY ABOUT KIDS WHO
WATCH TOO MANY HOURS
OF TELEVISION TODAY.
AND YOU CAN'T STOP
THEM, IT SEEMS.
YOU DIDN'T GROW
UP ON TELEVISION.
YOU WEREN'T WEANED
ON THE GLASS TEET.

Camille says NO, ABSOLUTELY.
BUT YOU SEE THE THING IS THEY
HAVE A SENSE OF COMMUNITY,
ALL RIGHT?
THEY REALLY DO.
THEY HAVE AN INTERNATIONAL
PERSPECTIVE NOW.
AND THEY HAVE A KIND OF
SOPHISTICATION THAT IS QUITE
BETTER THAN THE PAROCHIALISM
OF THE PRETELEVISION ERA.

The Host says ONE OF THE THINGS
THAT HAS
REALLY GOTTEN YOU INTO THE
HOTTEST POSSIBLE WATER
HAS BEEN YOUR ATTACKS ON
CONTEMPORARY IDEAS
ABOUT SEXUALITY
AND HOW MEN AND WOMEN SHOULD
BE TREATING ONE ANOTHER.

Camille says CORRECT.

The Host continues I WANT TO GO BACK,
LET'S SAY A
CENTURY, CENTURY AND A HALF.
WHEN WE'RE TALKING
SEXUAL PERSONAE, MUCH OF THE
ARGUMENT, WE'RE GOING TO TRY
TO CONDENSE 500 PAGES INTO
HOWEVER MANY MINUTES IT TAKES.
YOU SAY, FOR EXAMPLE, THE
MARQUIS DE SADE IS THE
LEAST READ IMPORTANT MAJOR
WESTERN WRITER IN THE CANON,
IF HE'S EVEN IN THE
ACADEMIC CANON.
WHY IS THAT?
WHY IS HE IMPORTANT?
WHY SHOULD WE PAY
ATTENTION TO DE SADE?

Camille says WHAT I'M SAYING IS THAT
WE ARE STILL IN THE AGE
OF ROMANTICISM.
AND THAT FOR EVERY IDEALISM,
YOU NEED THE OPPOSING VOICE TO
PUNCTURE THE FALSE
HOPES, RIGHT?

The Host says TELL ME ABOUT
ROUSSEAU
AND ROMANTICISM.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Camille continues ROUSSEAU
BELIEVES THAT
WE ARE BORN GOOD, RIGHT?
HE IS GOING AGAINST
CHRISTIANITY HERE,
WHICH BELIEVES WE ARE BORN
WITH A PROPENSITY TOWARD EVIL,
ALL RIGHT?
SO ANYTHING BAD IN US, FOR
ROUSSEAU, IS COMING FROM
CORRUPT SOCIETY.
WE HAVE TO GET BACK TO NATURE.
NOW, I'M SAYING HE WAS
ANSWERED IN FRANCE BY SADE,
WHO SHOWED THAT, YES,
LET'S GET BACK TO NATURE.
BUT NATURE IS FILLED WITH
AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE, RIGHT?
SO THE SAME THING, I THINK,
HAPPENED IN ENGLISH LITERATURE.
THAT IS, WORDSWORTH FOLLOWED
ROUSSEAU, NATURE IS GOOD.
WE ARE ALL BORN BENEVOLENT,
BENEVOLENT CREATURES.
AND HE'S ANSWERED BY COLERIDGE
IN HIS VAMPIRE TALES, AND SO
ON, OR IN
THE RHYME OF THE
ANCIENT MARINER
WHERE YOU SEE
ALL THESE SLIMEY THINGS
COMING OUT OF THE SEA,
WHICH SHOWS THE
REALITY OF NATURE.
SO I THINK WE ARE STILL
IN THIS, 200 YEARS LATER.
FEMINISM IS GOING OFF
TOWARDS THE ROUSSEAUIST OR
WORDSWORTHIAN VIEW THAT WE'RE
BORN GOOD, AND SEX IS THIS
WONDERFUL THING OVER HERE, AND
AGGRESSION IS SOMETHING OVER
THERE THAT'S NASTY.
THEREFORE ANYTHING LIKE RAPE,
AND BATTERING, THOSE THINGS
ARE COMING FROM THE
PATRIARCHY, LIKE THAT.
IT'S ABSURD.
I'M SAYING THAT SEX AND
AGGRESSION ARE FUSED.
WE'RE VERY COMPLEX CREATURES.
AND SEXUALITY IS A DARK
POWER THAT FEMINISM IS BEING
TOTALLY SIMPLISTIC ABOUT.

The Host says SO YOU SAY THAT
THE FEMINISTS
BLAME THE PATRIARCHY.

Camille says YES, PATRIARCHY.
MEANINGLESS WORD.
BIG, FAT, MEANINGLESS
WORD -- PATRIARCHY.
IT ONLY APPLIES TO REPUBLICAN
ROME, AND THAT'S IT.

The Host says I'M A BIT CONFUSED
ABOUT THE SYSTEM.
WHO'S BLAMING THE SYSTEM HERE,
AND WHAT USE IS THE SYSTEM?

Camille says ALL AMERICAN FEMINISM
BLAMES
THE SYSTEM FOR EVERYTHING, OKAY?
IT'S IN A PASSIVE,
WHINING MODE.
I'M A '60s SOCIAL ACTIVIST.
I BELIEVE WHEN THERE IS
INJUSTICE, WE MUST REMEDY IT.
WE MUST TAKE ACTION.
BUT WE ARE NOT GOING TO SOLVE
ALL OF THE PROBLEMS BETWEEN
THE SEXES BY PASSING MORE
RULES AND REGULATIONS.
AND I'M A RADICAL LIBERTARIAN.
I BELIEVE WE HAVE NO BUSINESS
GETTING INTO THE DATING GAME.
NO AUTHORITY FIGURES SHOULD BE
QUESTIONING PEOPLE ABOUT WHAT
HAPPENED ON A DATE.
FEMINISM IS BEING UTTERLY
REACTIONARY AND PURITANICAL.
NO ALWAYS MEANS NO.
NONSENSE!

The Host says I'M GOING TO GET
TO NO MEANS
NO IN A SECOND, BUT FIRST OF
ALL, YOU SAY YOU'RE A
LOGOCENTRIC PERSON.
YOU ENJOY WORDS.
YOU UNDERSTAND THE POWER --

Camille says HALF MY BRAIN IS
LOGOCENTRIC.

The Host continues A LOT OF THE
FEMINIST DRIVE
HAS BEEN TO TRY TO MAKE
LANGUAGE POSSIBLY
MORE EGALITARIAN.

Camille exclaims OH!

The Host says NO, DON'T DO THAT.
DON'T DO THAT.

Camille says STALINISM.

The Host continues THERE ARE VERY
GOOD ARGUMENTS
TO SAY THAT THE WORD CHAIRMAN
FIXES IN A YOUNG PERSON'S
MIND THE IDEA OF A CHAIRMAN,
NOT A CHAIR WOMAN.

Camille says IT COMES FROM AN
IGNORANCE OF ETYMOLOGY.

The Host says YOU WANT TO TALK
ABOUT THAT
OR THE WORD Ms. OR THE ENTIRE
PANOPLY OF SUGGESTIONS THAT
THE POLITICALLY CORRECT HAVE
COME UP WITH.

Camille says Ms. WAS GOOD,
Ms. WAS GOOD.
BUT NOT CHAIRPERSON.

The Host says PUT THAT ON THE RECORD.
Ms. WAS GOOD.

Camille continues Ms. WAS GOOD
BECAUSE, YOU
SEE, IN ITALY YOU'RE CALLED
SIGNORA IF YOU'RE AN
OLDER WOMAN, OR MADAME,
IN FRANCE AND SO ON.
WE DID NEED SOMETHING THAT
DIDN'T MAKE REFERENCE TO A
MARRIED STATE IN ENGLISH.
WE HAVE THAT.
THAT'S IT.
I ABSOLUTELY THINK CHAIRPERSON
IS UGLY AND HIDEOUS.
MAN IS A GENERIC TERM
REFERRING TO BOTH SEXES.
IT'S IGNORANCE OF ETYMOLOGY.

The Host says LANGUAGE CHANGES.
ETYMOLOGY IS VALID.
I THINK WE SHOULD ALL
STUDY LATIN AND GREEK.
BUT THINGS DO EVOLVE.

Camille says I AM PART OF THAT.
I HAVE CREATED MANY,
MANY NEW WORDS AND TERMS.
I'M PART OF THE
REVOLUTION OF LANGUAGE.
BUT I HATE STALINISM WHEN
APPLIED TO LANGUAGE.
I HATE THESE HARRIDANS,
HUMOURLESS, GOING OVER EVERY
PART OF OUR LIFE WITH THEIR
NOTEPADS AND SO ON AND SO FORTH.
AND MY FEMINISM
PREDATES THEIRS, OKAY?
I'M ON THE RECORD AS A
FEMINIST WHEN I WAS A CHILD
IN AMERICA IN THE 1950s, OKAY?
SO I HAVE GOOD CREDENTIALS
FOR DEPLORING THE EXCESSES
OF CURRENT FEMINISM.

The Host says ONE OF THE THINGS
AT WORK HERE
IS THAT A LOT OF PEOPLE DON'T
THINK THE STRUGGLE, THE
FEMINIST STRUGGLE IS FUN.
AND THEY WANT TO BE SERIOUS
ABOUT IT BECAUSE IT'S A
SERIOUS MATTER.

Camille says THESE ARE PEOPLE,
OKAY, WHO
ARE SEEKING A RELIGION, OKAY?
BECAUSE SEXUAL RELATIONS
ARE BASICALLY A COMEDY,
NOT A TRAGEDY.
I THINK IT IS ABSOLUTELY
DEPLORABLE TO GIVE YOUNG WOMEN
THE SENSE THAT THEIR HERITAGE
IS NOTHING BUT VICTIMIZATION.
WE CAN'T GO ON LIKE THIS.
THIS ENDLESS RECITATION OF
ATROCITIES AND HORRORS THAT
FEMINISM HAS BECOME.

The Host says TELL ME SOMETHING
ABOUT THE
PAGAN ROOTS OF CATHOLICISM.
YOUR WRITING IS, I WOULD
SAY, OBSESSED WITH
THE THRILL OF PAGANISM.
WHAT IS IT?

Camille giggles and says YES.

The Host continues LET ME GET TO,
YOU CELEBRATE
IT FOR ITS DIONYSIAN
CONTINUUM OF PLEASURE PAIN.
SO YOU LOVE ROBERT
MAPPLETHORPE, FOR EXAMPLE,
WHO YOU THOUGHT BROUGHT THAT
OUT IN HIS PHOTOGRAPHS.
ITS PAN SEXUALITY, AND SO ON.
SO I DO ENVISAGE THIS SCENE
OUT OF
THE DOORS
MOVIE,
OR EVERYBODY NAKED
AROUND THE BONFIRE.

Camille says OH, NO, NO, NO, NO.
THAT'S A MISUNDERSTANDING.
I'M SAYING, I'M SAYING ON THE
CONTRARY, PAGANISM IS MUCH
MORE ACCURATE ABOUT NATURE.
THAT IT IS NOT
DIONYSIAN FUN AND GAMES.
MY FAMOUS PHRASE, THE
DIONYSIA IS NO PICNIC.
THIS IS WHAT I SAY.
I THINK I'M ONE OF THE FIRST
TO SAY THE ROMAN CATHOLIC
CHURCH IS, INDEED, MORE
PAGAN THAN CHRISTIAN.
AND THAT MARTIN LUTHER WAS
CORRECT IN SEEING A DRIFT AWAY
FROM PRIMITIVE CHRISTIANITY
IN THE MEDIEVAL CHURCH.
SO I'M SAYING, I MEAN, I KNOW
WHEN I WAS A TINY CHILD IN
THE ITALIAN CHURCH, I DIDN'T
IDENTIFY AT ALL WITH JESUS,
AND St. JOSEPH, AND ALL
THOSE MILD MANNERED PEOPLE.
THE CRECHE SCENE.
I THOUGHT, WHAT IS THIS WITH
THE STRAW AND THE ANIMALS?
NOW, I IDENTIFY
WITH THE MAGI, OKAY?
THE MULTIRACIAL MAGI WITH
THEIR BEAUTIFUL COSTUMES.
IT WAS ONLY LATER I REALIZED
THEY WERE PAGAN ASTROLOGERS.
AND ALREADY, EARLY ON, I
WAS PICKING UP THE RESIDUAL
PAGANISM IN THE ROMAN CHURCH.
St. SEBASTIAN, THE
BEAUTIFUL BOY WITH ARROWS.
I MEAN, THIS WAS
MY OBSESSION.
I WAS A TINY CHILD STARING.
I NEVER LOOKED AT JESUS.
JESUS NEVER INTERESTED
ME WHATEVER.

The Host says BUT HAVING SAID THAT,
YOU WERE
ATTRACTED TO THE MARTYROLOGY,
THE BLOOD, THE SEX, WHO WAS
THE MARTYR WHOSE BREASTS WERE
SERVED UP ON A PLATTER?

Camille says St. AGATHA.

The Host continues ZURBARAN
MADE A
MAGNIFICENT PORTRAIT.

Camille continues AND St. LUCY
WITH HER
EYEBALLS ON A PLATTER.
I WAS LOOKING AT THIS
FROM EARLIEST CHILDHOOD.

The Host says WHAT DOES IT
MEAN TO
BE ATTRACTED TO THAT?
WE'RE ALL ATTRACTED TO IT
BECAUSE THAT IS A RECOGNITION
OF THE DARK SIDE?

Camille says YES.
THE FACT THAT OUR PHYSICAL
EXPERIENCE IS THIS CONTINUUM
OF PLEASURE PAIN, THAT IT'S
NOT POSSIBLE ONCE YOU OPEN THE
DOOR TOWARDS SEX, AS MY
GENERATION IN THE '60s DID,
YOU ARE LETTING IN ALL
OF THE STORM OF NATURE.
IT IS EXTREMELY TURBULENT.
I'M SAYING PART OF THIS FETISH
THAT CURRENT FEMINISM HAS
WITH RULES AND REGULATION,
IT'S A VAIN ATTEMPT TO STEM
THE STORM OF NATURE.
AND WE CAN STUDY NATURE
BETTER, WHAT IT REALLY IS BY
STUDYING BLAKE, BY STUDYING
THE ROMANTIC WRITERS.
FOR 200 YEARS WE'VE BEEN
TRYING TO COME TO TERMS
WITH NATURE.
IT'S VERY COMPLEX.

The Host says INDEED, IT IS
COMPLEX.

Camille continues AND SEX AND
NATURE ARE
COMPLETELY INTERTWINED
IN EACH OTHER.
YOU CANNOT UNDERSTAND
ANYTHING ABOUT SEX
UNTIL YOU STUDY NATURE.
BUT YOU SEE, FEMINISM OF THE
LAST 20 YEARS IS OBSESSED WITH
SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIONISM.
EVERYTHING THAT WE ARE
SEXUALLY IS COMING FROM
ENVIRONMENTAL PRESSURES.
IT'S UTTERLY NAIVE.

The Host says WHICH BRINGS US
BACK TO SINEAD
O'CONNOR WHOSE BIG THEME IS
CHILD ABUSE.

Camille says IN THE CASE OF
SINEAD O'CONNOR,
CHILD ABUSE WAS JUSTIFIED!

The Host says BUT, LOOK, THIS IS VERY
IMPORTANT BECAUSE YOU ARE
A BULLISH, TALKATIVE, YOU
KNOW, YOU'RE AGGRESSIVE.
NOT EVERYBODY CAN BE THAT WAY.

Camille says AND I'M A GOOD ROLE
MODEL FOR THAT REASON.

The Host continues VERY GOOD.
SO YOU ANSWER THE
QUESTION OF SELF-ESTEEM.

Camille says OH, I CERTAINLY DO.
THERE'S NO SELF-ESTEEM
PROBLEM HERE.
HERE IT IS.

The Host says BUT IS IT NOT UNREAL, AND
A LITTLE CRUEL TO EXPECT
EVERYBODY TO BE AS YOU.
IS THIS NOT -- BECAUSE
YOU ARE THE UNIVERSE,
ACCORDING TO YOUR THEORIES.

Camille says NO, NO, NO, I'M A TEACHER.
NO, NO, NO.
I'M SORRY, I'M A
TEACHER FOR 22 YEARS.
I'M A WONDERFUL ROLE
MODEL FOR YOUNG WOMEN.
I HAVE INSPIRED TWO WHOLE
GENERATIONS OF YOUNG WOMEN.
I'M OUT THERE ACTIVELY.
I CAN SEE WHAT THEY
NEED, THE YOUNG WOMEN.
AND THEY CERTAINLY DON'T
NEED MORE COMPLAINING.
AND NOT MORE SERMONIZING OF
THE SINEAD O'CONNOR KIND.
OH, MY GOD.
I HATE THIS.
I HATE THIS LIFE.
CARRYING ON, CARRYING ON, THIS
HUMOURLESSNESS LIKE A ROBOT.
OH, I DESPISE HER.

The Host says I THINK YOU ARE VERY
FUNNY WHEN YOU SAY THIS,
BUT I THINK THERE'S A
SERIOUS SIDE TO IT, TOO.
BUT THERE IS A MISSING
LINK, AND IT HAS TO DO
WITH TENDERNESS.
IT HAS TO DO WITH
UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE --

Camille says I'M AN ARIES.
I'M AN ARIES WOMAN.

The Host says THERE ARE 12 SIGNS
IN THE ZODIAC.
(laughs)

Camille says I'M AT WAR.
YOU UNDERSTAND, FEMINISM
IS AT WAR RIGHT NOW.
TENDERNESS IS FOR LATER.

The Host says HERE'S A PICTURE, A
DOORWAY FROM POMPEII.

The Host shows an open book with two black pictures. To the left, there’s a sculpture. To the right, there’s an antique doorway with a phallus shape. It reads ‘Hic habitat felicitas.’

Camille says OH, YES.

The Host continues MARVELLOUS
PICTURE.
I'M TRYING TO FIND
THE CAMERA, SORRY.

Camille says MY PEOPLE.

The Host continues YOUR PEOPLE.
THIS IS A PANEL OF A
TRAVERTINE FROM POMPEII CARVED
FOR GOOD LUCK WITH A PHALLUS,
AND A PHRASE HIC HABITAT
FELICITAS, WHICH MEANS?

Camille giggles and says HERE LIVES
HAPPINESS.

The Host says THERE YOU GO.
IS THIS THE WAY YOU SEE
SPIEL BURBIA TRANSFORMING?
IS THAT HOW YOU'D
LIKE TO SEE IT?
THAT WE HAVE A BOLD
ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF SEX
ON A DAILY BASIS?

Camille says YOU SEE, THESE FERTILITY
IMAGES HAD A CONNECTION WITH
THE COUNTRYSIDE.
ONCE WE WERE LIVING
CLOSER TO NATURE.
THE PROBLEMS WE ARE SUFFERING
FROM NOW IN EUROPE AND
NORTH AMERICA ARE THAT WE ARE
INDUSTRIALIZED, AND WE'VE
DRIFTED FROM OUR CONTACT WITH
ANIMAL LIFE, WITH MATING
BEHAVIOUR IN THE
BARNYARD, AND SO ON.
AND WITH THE SEASONS.
WE'RE COMPLETELY
CUT OFF FROM NATURE.
THE '60s WERE ALL ABOUT
TRYING TO GET BACK TO NATURE.
THESE IMAGES YOU SEE, WHICH
OBVIOUSLY THE CONVENTIONAL
FEMINISTS WOULD SEE AS
PHALLO CENTRIC, IT'S ABSURD.
IT HAS TO DO, ACTUALLY, WITH
THE ENERGY AND THE DYNAMISM
OF NATURE.
AND I'M SIMPLY TRYING TO BRING
MY WORK BACK A CONSIDERATION.
ACTUALLY, I'VE BEEN INFLUENCED
BY HINDUISM VERY STRONGLY
FROM THE '60s.

The Host giggles and says WHEW.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS.
ALL I CAN SAY TO VIEWERS IS
YOU'VE GOT TO READ MORE.
READ MORE OF EVERYTHING.
THANKS VERY MUCH.

Camille says WELL, THANK YOU.

The Host concludes SEX, ART AND
AMERICAN
CULTURE, BY CAMILLE PAGLIA, IS
AVAILABLE FROM
RANDOM HOUSE CANADA.

Watch: Interview: Camille Paglia