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Provocations: Collected Essays on Art, Feminism, Politics, Sex, and Education

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One of the Best Books of the Year: Kirkus Reviews A timely and lavishly comprehensive collection from the inimitable critical firebrand--hailed as "a fearless public intellectual and more necessary than ever" (The New York Times)--tackling sex, art, feminism, politics, and education, and covering the full span of her wide-ranging and important career. Much has One of the Best Books of the Year: Kirkus Reviews A timely and lavishly comprehensive collection from the inimitable critical firebrand--hailed as "a fearless public intellectual and more necessary than ever" (The New York Times)--tackling sex, art, feminism, politics, and education, and covering the full span of her wide-ranging and important career. Much has changed since Camille Paglia first burst onto the scene with her groundbreaking Sexual Personae, but the laser-sharp insights of this major American thinker continue to be ahead of the curve--not only capturing the tone of the mo-ment but also often anticipating it. Opening with a blazing manifesto of an introduction in which Paglia outlines the bedrock beliefs that inform her writing--freedom of speech, the necessity of fearless inquiry, and a deep respect for all art, both erudite and popular--Provocations gathers together a rich, varied body of work that illumi-nates everything from the Odyssey to the Oscars, from punk rock to presidents past and present. Whatever your political inclination or liter-ary and artistic touchstones, Paglia's takes are compulsively readable, thought provoking, gal-vanizing, and an essential part of our cultural dialogue, invariably giving voice to what most needs to be said.


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One of the Best Books of the Year: Kirkus Reviews A timely and lavishly comprehensive collection from the inimitable critical firebrand--hailed as "a fearless public intellectual and more necessary than ever" (The New York Times)--tackling sex, art, feminism, politics, and education, and covering the full span of her wide-ranging and important career. Much has One of the Best Books of the Year: Kirkus Reviews A timely and lavishly comprehensive collection from the inimitable critical firebrand--hailed as "a fearless public intellectual and more necessary than ever" (The New York Times)--tackling sex, art, feminism, politics, and education, and covering the full span of her wide-ranging and important career. Much has changed since Camille Paglia first burst onto the scene with her groundbreaking Sexual Personae, but the laser-sharp insights of this major American thinker continue to be ahead of the curve--not only capturing the tone of the mo-ment but also often anticipating it. Opening with a blazing manifesto of an introduction in which Paglia outlines the bedrock beliefs that inform her writing--freedom of speech, the necessity of fearless inquiry, and a deep respect for all art, both erudite and popular--Provocations gathers together a rich, varied body of work that illumi-nates everything from the Odyssey to the Oscars, from punk rock to presidents past and present. Whatever your political inclination or liter-ary and artistic touchstones, Paglia's takes are compulsively readable, thought provoking, gal-vanizing, and an essential part of our cultural dialogue, invariably giving voice to what most needs to be said.

30 review for Provocations: Collected Essays on Art, Feminism, Politics, Sex, and Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    Christopher McQuain

    This compilation recalled my recent experience with another one, by Paglia pal and mutual admirer Greil Marcus. As in Marcus's REAL-LIFE ROCK collection, the odds 'n sods of PROVOCATIONS that might have sparkled on their own, in their original context, circumscribed one-offs in periodicals or on websites, start to seem repetitive and blurry when squished together like this, exhaustively and (by necessity) rather shapelessly, despite the attempt to order the various interviews, essays, and blog p This compilation recalled my recent experience with another one, by Paglia pal and mutual admirer Greil Marcus. As in Marcus's REAL-LIFE ROCK collection, the odds 'n sods of PROVOCATIONS that might have sparkled on their own, in their original context, circumscribed one-offs in periodicals or on websites, start to seem repetitive and blurry when squished together like this, exhaustively and (by necessity) rather shapelessly, despite the attempt to order the various interviews, essays, and blog posts by theme. Like Greil, Camille is an idiosyncratic '60s holdout/dissenter who's a bit of a crank but good at what she's good at: However disagreeable or self-righteous her tone, however diluted with clearly personal hangups based on her own academic and libertarian-political traumas, Paglia is sharp and accurate on, for example, the across-the-board corporatization of the American university, the pitfalls of mediocre bourgeois feminism, and the devaluation of art. If her diagnoses are sometimes compelling, however, her stabs at pathology are less so; her libertarian bent is, of course, problematic, and what a tortuous path to take to the difference-splitting middle of the road, politically speaking. But whatever makes your ultimately murky centrism feel special.... One continual source of unintentional humor in Paglia also resembles same in Marcus's book: Her delirious, relentless obsession with her perennial scourge, the ultra-villainous trio of Jacques Lacan, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault, guarantees that their names appear on virtually every page, in much the same way that Marcus hates Lucinda Williams so much, for some reason, that he can never avoid finding a route, no matter how circuitous, to bringing her up.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Doni Parnell

    A really good book, I didn’t agree with many of her viewpoints, but it is so worth reading them.

  3. 4 out of 5

    John

    Her best essays are those on art, literature, and teaching (including the teaching of literature). Lively writing and strong opinions from a former student of Harold Bloom. Her deep knowledge of classical literature provides a foundation of insight that few modern essayists have today.

  4. 5 out of 5

    C. Drying

    WHY DID YOU READ THIS BOOK? A long time ago, a few years after Susan Sontag died, I came across an old (1990s) video of Camille Paglia ardently deriding Sontag. I was immediately repelled and distinctly remember saying aloud, “yuk!” After many years of glimpses of video clips and reading brief quotes by Paglia, I felt Provocations would be the ideal read for me to finally give her her due. WHAT DID YOU LIKE ABOUT IT? Paglia is pithy. No sentence runs slack, which means the text is dense, and it con WHY DID YOU READ THIS BOOK? A long time ago, a few years after Susan Sontag died, I came across an old (1990s) video of Camille Paglia ardently deriding Sontag. I was immediately repelled and distinctly remember saying aloud, “yuk!” After many years of glimpses of video clips and reading brief quotes by Paglia, I felt Provocations would be the ideal read for me to finally give her her due. WHAT DID YOU LIKE ABOUT IT? Paglia is pithy. No sentence runs slack, which means the text is dense, and it consequently forced me to pause to look up the meaning of words or research historical figures and events. So, I felt like I was getting that Ivy League education I had always wanted. Also, her relentless railing against post-structuralism finally caused me to set aside Provocations to read an introductory book on post-structuralism, which “woke” me a little, probably not what Paglia intended, but I still have much more studying to do and am feeling intellectually reinvigorated. Too, I liked that I naturally align with many of Paglia’s opinions about feminism and thus appreciate her numerous remarks on the matter. Here’s an example: As a dissident feminist, I have been arguing . . . that young American women aspiring to political power should be studying military history rather than taking women’s studies courses with their rote agenda of never-ending grievances. I so agree with Paglia here, but I’d also like to mention that during the 2016 presidential campaign, Carly Fiorina sounded quite knowledgeable about the military and foreign affairs, and I believe she never griped about her personal disadvantages of being a woman other than to highlight her ability to have had transcended them. Nevertheless, there was something distinctly female about her that was off putting, or, perhaps I am or was conflating my bias against what I perceived her policy as (a continuation of U.S. expansionism) with her fierce female persona. Here’s another remark I especially agree with: For women to leave a lasting mark on culture, they need to cut down on the socializing and focus like a laser on their own creative gifts. It’s easy for me to relate to this since I’m an introvert and abhor the small-talk socializing that I’ve had to endure to act like I “fit in” with the woman at work. There are so many other quotes that I like and can present here on not only feminism but on pedagogy as well as other topics, but brevity is desirous at the moment. WHAT DIDN’T YOU LIKE ABOUT IT? First and foremost Paglia is an art critic, which is why she seems hyper critical, and she’s also well read, super intelligent, and highly educated, so she is entitled to her opinions, and we’re fortunate to receive them. However, Paglia is not a scientist, so when she makes statements, she should temper them with qualifying subjunctive-like phrases such as “seems like” or “could be,” which she would probably consider very weak prose, but nevertheless it would show an earnestness for accuracy. Also, I was a little bothered by the media-chronicle appendix. I don’t understand the reason it was included, and since it makes up 15% of the book, perhaps a little preface explaining it would have helped. As it is, it seems thrown together like senseless filler, which certainly isn’t necessary since the preceding essays are chock full of pithy dense text. DO YOU RECOMMEND THIS BOOK TO OTHERS? Hell-yeah! I think artists and educators would benefit immensely from reading this collection of essays. Artists need to know that art is boring to many of us right now, and educators need to know that their pedagogy may have been subsumed by post-structuralism, so it’s worth understanding this philosophy and recognizing Paglia’s disagreements with it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Greg Atkin

    Pure pleasure.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Richard S

    It was right when I graduated from college in 1987 that Paglia's "Sexual Personae" was released, which was read by most people in my literary crowd at the time. I remember enjoying its overwrought and occasionally overblown language, mostly for its entertainment value, quite a bit, but it was the sections on Emily Dickenson which were most impressive from a literary perspective. Emily Dickenson was the poet Paglia had studied at Yale and written her dissertation on, so that was not a surprise. "P It was right when I graduated from college in 1987 that Paglia's "Sexual Personae" was released, which was read by most people in my literary crowd at the time. I remember enjoying its overwrought and occasionally overblown language, mostly for its entertainment value, quite a bit, but it was the sections on Emily Dickenson which were most impressive from a literary perspective. Emily Dickenson was the poet Paglia had studied at Yale and written her dissertation on, so that was not a surprise. "Provocations" is Paglia 30 years later, and surprisingly not much has changed in her style or attitude. I've followed her over the years and read her columns from time to time, and have always found them entertaining and informative, even enlightening. In particular, I greatly enjoyed "Break, Burn, Blow", a fabulous collection of poetry with commentary that she put together, and a small pamphlet she wrote on "The Birds". I've been far less interested in her books on popular culture, mostly because I can't relate to artists like David Bowie and Andy Warhol. "Provocations" is a collection of various items, short pieces, long essays, speeches, interviews, a comic, and a "good stuff" list of rock music. When Paglia is great, it is pretty much always when she is discussing literature directly. The best piece in the collection was her essay on the poems that didn't make it into Break, Blow, Burn. She has an incredible eye for literature, love and appreciation. The essays in the literature section were all of tremendous value. The book is worth getting just for that. All of this so greatly overwhelms her many shortcomings: in fact, I would say about 70% of the time I disagree with her, but 90% of what she writes is worth reading. I'm going to list my perceived failures in order of importance. First, and most disappointing, she says that basically nothing of any literary value has been written since WWII (except for Auntie Mame?) She ignores so much great writing, particularly works that I think she would enjoy. How could she not love Anne Carson's "Autobiography in Red," or William Gaddis "J.R."? These are masterpieces that seem to fit exactly into her description of what she likes in literature. Maybe early Pynchon is too much for her, and I doubt one could get her to read Wolfe's "New Sun" (although how could she not like it?), but her complaints about modern literature, which I largely share, do not apply to everything that is out there. Second, her trashing of deconstructuralism, the Frankfurt School, etc. is directly on point, but the three great American critics she feels should be the ones focused on, Neumann, McLuhan and Brown, are pretty badly dated and I fear would be viewed as irrelevant by students. She needs to find relatable contemporaries, or be one herself. Also, her idea of making comparative religion the basis for education is interesting, but to me seems like just a part, almost a sideshow of what needs to be done. Plus I wish she would in her laundry lists of great books include some Rabelais and Sterne, books which strongly appeal to men instead of women and are being lost in the canon as a result. Third, she just cares too much - in that, yes the humanities are in terrible decline in this country, and so much contemporary literature and art is complete and utter garbage, but the history of the West includes long, very long periods of complete sterility and cultural decline similar to the present. The creation of great art is separate from culture, and the art always wins in the end. She should push the art and not worry about the culture. She does more in Break, Blow, Burn than in her other books. I hope she does a "Paglia top 50 Novels" - that would be tremendous - with the same dedication, that would do more for her cause than pushing these faded luminaries. Look to the future, not back to the past, and be herself the guide to a better appreciation of humanities. The rest of it - the comments on music, politics, women, gays, art, are all very good, some better than others, some not worth reading. It would take a lot to convince me that David Bowie is a worthwhile musician that will still be listened to 20 years from now, and she doesn't do it. However her list of favorite rock songs with its Bangles (Hazy Shade of Winter) and Pretenders (Middle of the Road) songs was great. Some of her writing is amazing, including a lot of comments on art - her comments on the bust of Nefertiti at the beginning of Sexual Personae were famous, and does the same here with the Picasso painting with the reflection of a woman. It is all energetic and full of insight. She's not afraid to take risks or make grandiose statements - it's not posturing, and it's not just for effect; she really does feel this way. She is an honest critic. You don't need to read the whole thing, and I don't recommend that you do. However, I can recommend this book to anyone with any sort of interest in culture and art. She has a great understanding of America too as opposed to Europe, and I particularly recommend it to non-Americans seeking to understand our unique culture. She represents, in my view, the best of this country and its principles of free speech and free thought. The passion of her prose style and her intense and unique world view distinctively transmit a exuberant energy which will make your own mind percolate with thought.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anna Keating

    Paglia is zany and sometimes nuts and always fun to read because she's a contrarian like me. I especially appreciate her perspective as an atheist on the importance of teaching comparative religion (she thinks it should be the core of humanities programs) and argues that the study of religion is essential to understanding a culture/ society, it's art, it's history, etc. etc. She's right about that but I think. Paglia is zany and sometimes nuts and always fun to read because she's a contrarian like me. I especially appreciate her perspective as an atheist on the importance of teaching comparative religion (she thinks it should be the core of humanities programs) and argues that the study of religion is essential to understanding a culture/ society, it's art, it's history, etc. etc. She's right about that but I think.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    Consider me disappointed. I was looking forward to reading this because of a refreshing interview Camille Paglia gave on the excesses of the #MeToo movement. But this is a surprisingly surface-level collection from such a purportedly intelligent person. Paglia is most interesting on the topics of sex and politics, which get scant, shallow attention in this large book, and least interesting on pop culture and art, on which she sounds like a broken record recounting her love for libertinism, Andy Consider me disappointed. I was looking forward to reading this because of a refreshing interview Camille Paglia gave on the excesses of the #MeToo movement. But this is a surprisingly surface-level collection from such a purportedly intelligent person. Paglia is most interesting on the topics of sex and politics, which get scant, shallow attention in this large book, and least interesting on pop culture and art, on which she sounds like a broken record recounting her love for libertinism, Andy Warhol, and Joan Rivers, and her utter disdain for Lacan, Derrida, and Foucault. She is very invested in her identity as a provocateur and often cites herself to back up her own arguments (so many of these haphazard “essays” find her quoting herself and praising her own shocking brilliance in Sexual Personae). I don’t take issue with her point of view, for the most part; I think she is a breath of fresh air on many subjects. But I wasn’t expecting to find her thinking and writing so… trivial.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Carl Rollyson

    Camille Paglia calls herself a Democratic libertarian (more about that anon), but she might be more properly called a public encyclopedian, judging by her book’s Table of Contents: Popular Culture; Film; Sex, Gender, Women; Literature; Art; Education; Politics; Religion. One category is missing: Science. But even that subject receives some attention in her skeptical view of climate change—which is occurring, she realizes, but for reasons that nature alone truly understands. Climate change has be Camille Paglia calls herself a Democratic libertarian (more about that anon), but she might be more properly called a public encyclopedian, judging by her book’s Table of Contents: Popular Culture; Film; Sex, Gender, Women; Literature; Art; Education; Politics; Religion. One category is missing: Science. But even that subject receives some attention in her skeptical view of climate change—which is occurring, she realizes, but for reasons that nature alone truly understands. Climate change has been politicized, she argues, and made into an argument that obscures a deeper truth: We cannot control nature and do not yet fully comprehend its ways or what we can do about natural forces. Here religion plays a vital role in her thinking. She is a declared atheist, but she advocates the study of the great religions for their symbolic explorations of mysteries that we still see darkly. Paglia writes as a university professor and intellectual (the terms are not synonymous to her) who decries the segregation of knowledge into academic disciplines. To teach, say, literature and not also deal with the history of religion, art, popular culture and the other categories in her Table of Contents, is to indulge in the solipsism of academic specialization that she abhors. For her the point of education is to open up subjects and then world to students—not to make them adepts in the arcana of their major. Even those who profess to attack the conservative canon have made the university curriculum a mess, littered with programs in Gay and Lesbian Studies, Women Studies, and the like. Such programs or departments should not exist, she contends. Paglia believes in the Enlightenment project devoted to in depth scholarly research across disciplines and periods of time. Paglia, in short, would abolish the superstructure of academic life, an administrative corporate mentality, that has buried beneath it true learning—as have the deconstructionists like Foucault and Derrida who drive her mad. Their scholarship, she never tires of saying, is superficial and also leads to same depressing and nugatory conclusion: the indeterminacy of the text. And outside the text, deconstruction is even less useful in assessing the arts. Paglia treats herself as a one-off, shunned by feminist groups, sometimes favored by Conservatives, although many of her positions veer way to the left. In practice, she is somewhat like Rebecca West, who does not fit esthetic and political slots, although, curiously, West—as wide ranging as Paglia and a more important writer—is never mentioned. Instead, Paglia lists as her inspiration literary scholars like Leslie Fiedler and Marshall McLuhan. They brought vigor and an encyclopedic understanding of modern media that helped her build her own platform, which she launched beyond the page into web venues like Salon, where she has taken her Table of Contents on line, commenting on everything from the Clintons and the ancient Greeks to the latest fashions on Oscar night. Paglia has a position, it seems, on everything. Some of the photographs of her in leather are reminiscent of Marlon Brando in The Wild One. When asked what he is rebelling against, he says, “What have you got?” This is the libertarian strain that seeks to unfetter society. And in Paglia’s case, Democratic libertarianism means she voted twice for Bill Clinton, who disappointed her by not pursuing policies that liberated men and women to compete fairly without government interference. In retrospect, she declares him a corrupt president who should have been removed from office as the result of impeachment. Hillary Clinton does not fare much better, regarded by Paglia as mainly a grim careerist, abetted by ugh Feminists like Gloria Steinem, who in Paglia’s book, has not supported but deprived women of their strength to be themselves. Instead in the Steinem version of feminism women are whiners, waiting for the government and the law to help them out. Paglia is fearless and not afraid of appearing foolish—of going too far in her arguments. Better to provoke than to make peace, and reach a disingenuous consensus. She comes from tough Italian immigrant roots, she likes to tell you, and can take care of herself and wishes more women felt the same way. And this is where we sometimes stray into silliness. Paglia recounts the story of Antoinette Cannuli, who ran the Cannuli House of Pork in Philadelphia’s Italian Market. A newspaper article described her as the boss, more macho than any man. During the Depression a male customer refused to pay full price for his purchase and told her what she could do with it. She took a leg of lamb and right over the counter bopped the brute, drawing blood. “You touch me again and I’ll poke your eyes out!” Annette told him. Paglia extols the “energy and ferocity of Italian women.” Well, it was a different time then, and do we really settle matters this way in a civil society. Is the answer to one person’s incivility a corresponding incivility? Very satisfying to some, I’m sure. But is this is what Paglia advocates in order to rouse women out of what she sees as their passivity and dependency on big government remedies? How do we get to someone like Paglia? Blaming or praising Leslie Fiedler and Marshal McLuhan will not do. Paglia’s more problematic guide has been Susan Sontag, who once upon a time combined deep learning and a commitment to the high arts with a celebratory interest in popular culture. The two did not have to be in conflict, Sontag argued—until, suddenly, the culture adopted her position. What was so distinctive about Sontag in the 1960s no longer obtained by the 1980s. And that upset Sontag who saw herself as singular as Paglia deems her own catholicity now. There is one argument that Paglia, so eager to argue, never directly attacks. It is an old one dating back to Dwight Macdonald—like West, a no show in Provocations. In “A Theory of Mass Culture,” Macdonald, drawing on the work of art historian Clement Greenberg, warned that mass culture “threatens High Culture by its sheer pervasiveness, its brutal, overwhelming quantity.” Early Sontag convinced Paglia the threat did not exist any more or was not worth worrying about . Then when Sontag returned to the Greenberg/Macdonald orbit, largely restricting herself to praising great works of art, Paglia launched an all out attack on Sontag the Apostate. There is a muddle here that Paglia never quite recognizes. She attacks Conservatives for supporting government interference in women’s reproductive rights, and for a less than robust support of the arts (she singles out The New Criterion as honorable exception). Liberals are no better, deferring to government action for protections that individuals ought to defend on their own. She stands alone, but where she stands, in the end, is hard to say. Paglia’s provocations are well worth pondering as a rebuke to complacency,but where her convictions lead is hard to say.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Vlad Gorski

    Camille Paglia, a Centrist Goddess-Mom From a reader's perspective, collections and anthologies sometimes do an ill service to the author - gags turn to stale jokes; what was illustrious becomes repetitive. It's not the Paglia's case, however; repeating the same points for decades has always been one of her strongest traits. The book is structured thematically, with the first chapters dealing with popular culture and film. This part of the 'Provocations' is actually pretty smooth - nothing, er, 'p Camille Paglia, a Centrist Goddess-Mom From a reader's perspective, collections and anthologies sometimes do an ill service to the author - gags turn to stale jokes; what was illustrious becomes repetitive. It's not the Paglia's case, however; repeating the same points for decades has always been one of her strongest traits. The book is structured thematically, with the first chapters dealing with popular culture and film. This part of the 'Provocations' is actually pretty smooth - nothing, er, 'provoking' here. Paglia's articles on Rihanna and Prince are cute enough, and her Bowie essay, while portraying him as cross-dressing social climber, is passionate and resourceful. Things take darker turn in the next part, 'Sex, Gender and Women', where Ayn Rand, Helen Gurley Brown, Princess Diana and Margaret Thatcher are hailed as role models, bold thinkers and feminists. There is also an interview on transgenderism, with Paglia boldly quoting Germaine Greer on SRS surgery, while calling herself a trangender (she was wearing Napoleon costumes as a child, see). It ends with the admission of a need to defend the integrity of English language from state coercion on behalf of transgenders. As it turns out, good 'provocations' are the ones coming from you; bad provocations are always towards yourself by the others. The ensuing parts on 'Education' and 'Politics' are a mess. The Columbine massacre column laments some mysterious 'bourgeois niceness' of school life, ignoring the fact that Klebold and Harris were literally terrorized by jocks. 'Free Speech and the Modern Campus', a protracted 2016 lecture, is centered around some 1991 anecdote, while condemning 'safe spaces' and job recession in 70s academe due to influx of post-structuralism. None of the above has anything to do with the freedom of speech; nothing could stop Paglia from mentioning post-structuralism or Foucault or French in every other essay of hers. Another lecture, 'The North American Intellectual Tradition', were it not for space limitations, is probably worth quoting in full; never before have I read anything remotely provincial and envious of French/German intellectual culture. Then 'No to the Invasion of Iraq', where Paglia critises Rumsfeld but '... loves to see France put in its place'. Seriously? Perhaps there should have been some kind of conclusion, summarizing the effect of all 74 texts in the book. But there's none; instead, one only feels embarrassed for them boomer critics. They've spent the last half a century psychologically compensating for that great 1960s youthquake, trying to appease the Uncle Sam, trying to be 'balanced' - patriotic while intellectual, religious and free-minded, bourgeois yet progressive. Unfortunately, as the more recent chapters in the book show, contradictions of today's economic order render such balancing not only impossible, but utterly repulsive.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey

    I first picked up "Sex, Art and American Culture" at a used bookstore when I was in high school, and still credit it with instilling in me a more skeptical and critical attitude towards political and social agendas. I've followed Paglia's career and writing ever since, and went to see her in LA during the "Glittering Images" tour. I still enjoyed these essays, but they would not be my recommendation as an introduction to Paglia. They seemed pretty random, and I don't understand how they were cho I first picked up "Sex, Art and American Culture" at a used bookstore when I was in high school, and still credit it with instilling in me a more skeptical and critical attitude towards political and social agendas. I've followed Paglia's career and writing ever since, and went to see her in LA during the "Glittering Images" tour. I still enjoyed these essays, but they would not be my recommendation as an introduction to Paglia. They seemed pretty random, and I don't understand how they were chosen or compiled. The Goodreads description of this book calls the essays "timely," but it seems most of the pieces were published between 1998-2002. Yes, a lot of her opinions are prescient (school shootings, political correctness), but when essays start with sentences like "If the Democratic party is to recover from its cataclysmic defeat in the November 1994 election..." you can't help but wish there was a more current take on our political climate. Provocations was published in 2018 after all. There are eight sections: Popular Culture; Film; Sex, Gender, Women; Literature; Art; Education; Politics; and Religion. I recommend Religion in its entirety, as this has her longest essays where you will actually learn some history. There are also some gems in Education as well as Sex, Gender, Women, but you can get better versions of similar essays in her previous books. The Religion section is what differentiates this collection the most. The longest essay in the book by far, "Cults and Cosmic Consciousness: Religious Vision in the American 1960s," makes this book worth the price of admission on its own. The Politics essays on the Iraq War are relevant again, unfortunately, as Trump is escalating with Iran as I type this. I must say I disagreed with Paglia in this collection more that I have in the past and thought there were some weird contradictions. She calls global warming "a sentimental myth unsupported by evidence" but then advocates for scientific studies into telepathy. Still, Paglia is always engaging, even when she's a bit out there.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Corinne Wasilewski

    Camille Paglia knows it all. That's my impression after reading Provocations, the second tome of her work I've read start to finish. I love the way she grounds her essays in history, science, culture, literature, politics etc. It makes for such a credible and satisfying experience for a big picture thinker like me. Her arguments are of the highest caliber and her writing is so flamboyant, it's a real pleasure to read. I also value her transparency. She's absolutely clear about who she is and wha Camille Paglia knows it all. That's my impression after reading Provocations, the second tome of her work I've read start to finish. I love the way she grounds her essays in history, science, culture, literature, politics etc. It makes for such a credible and satisfying experience for a big picture thinker like me. Her arguments are of the highest caliber and her writing is so flamboyant, it's a real pleasure to read. I also value her transparency. She's absolutely clear about who she is and what she stands for ie. atheist, transgender, libertarian, equality feminist who embraces free speech. There are no secrets with Camille Paglia, no hidden agenda. Everything is wide open.

  13. 4 out of 5

    David Walters

    Provocations: Collected Essays is Camille Paglia's latest essay collection. I've enjoyed reading Paglia, without always agreeing with her, for a long time, and I liked this latest collection as well, for its wide range of topics, its willingness to address very controversial issues in a direct and unapologetic manner, and its exuberant use of language. Paglia has a wonderful vocabulary, and this makes the book a pleasure to read - although some readers may find it helpful to read it with a dicti Provocations: Collected Essays is Camille Paglia's latest essay collection. I've enjoyed reading Paglia, without always agreeing with her, for a long time, and I liked this latest collection as well, for its wide range of topics, its willingness to address very controversial issues in a direct and unapologetic manner, and its exuberant use of language. Paglia has a wonderful vocabulary, and this makes the book a pleasure to read - although some readers may find it helpful to read it with a dictionary at their side, as they may not immediately recognize all of the terms she uses (I didn't). The pieces included come from a wide range of sources, including Paglia's column for Salon.com. They are of varying length. Some admittedly feel a little thin and insubstantial; however, there are also many longer and more substantive articles. The pieces I appreciated most included those on David Bowie, cinematic adaptations of Homer, Tom of Finland, "Feminism and Transgenderism" (in which she criticizes transgender activism, despite her own gender non-conformity), the articles on Shakespeare, "The Magic of Images" (which covers topics ranging from the effects of the Internet on the minds of young Americans, to cave art, to Christian iconography, Picasso, and those fascinating, but presumably fake, "crystal skulls" that were alleged to be pre-Columbian), "The North American Intellectual Tradition" (about thinkers such as Marshall McLuhan, Leslie Fiedler, and Norman O. Brown), and "Cults and Cosmic Consciousness", which brings an interesting perspective to bear on cultural trends of the 1960s and a wide range of religious movements. I have seen some of these pieces before, but it is still good to have them collected together. I encountered "The North American Intellectual Tradition" before in an abbreviated form, which left me perplexed about some of Paglia's views; the version included in Provocations is not abbreviated and makes better sense. The other pieces I most enjoyed are "Jesus and the Bible", and the pieces, including "Gay Ideology in public schools", where Paglia expresses her disdain for current gay activism in the United States, exposing its sentimentality and dishonesty. She comments that sexual orientation "certainly is not inborn, as was claimed by several small, flawed studies of the early 1990s." I happen to think that Paglia is right that the "born that way" view of homosexuality is rubbish, and I like her willingness to speak out on this issue.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Glenda

    I read this book because I wanted to get out of the box and read something I knew little about. Although some essays on criticism were above my head, I enjoyed the essays that paralleled my life from the forties to the present. I also enjoyed this book because it is interdisciplinary. Paglia thinks like a many-armed octopus with one arm dipped in the arts, one from literature, one from the film, one from pop art, one from history, one from archeology and anthropology and on and on. As Andra Lord I read this book because I wanted to get out of the box and read something I knew little about. Although some essays on criticism were above my head, I enjoyed the essays that paralleled my life from the forties to the present. I also enjoyed this book because it is interdisciplinary. Paglia thinks like a many-armed octopus with one arm dipped in the arts, one from literature, one from the film, one from pop art, one from history, one from archeology and anthropology and on and on. As Andra Lorde said " we don't lead single-issue lives " so why should our books be about single issues. I recommend that if you can't read straight through, then skip essays that you are struggling with or dislike, but try all of them. Some of the best ones to my mind are at the end of the book. Paglia has broadened my conception of the arts and the impact on our lives. I admire Paglia's broad knowledge and ability to weave it into an interest stories

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brendan McWalters

    I can't get into the author's writing style and did not finish the book. The book begins with narcissistic self indulgent essays on pop culture. These were intolerable. To give her a fair shot, I jumped around in the book to see if it was better reading with more substantive material. And it was, but only slightly. One of the core problems I have with the author is her value estimation of religion as an essential cultural pillar, but a refusal to maintain any coherent practice, opting instead of I can't get into the author's writing style and did not finish the book. The book begins with narcissistic self indulgent essays on pop culture. These were intolerable. To give her a fair shot, I jumped around in the book to see if it was better reading with more substantive material. And it was, but only slightly. One of the core problems I have with the author is her value estimation of religion as an essential cultural pillar, but a refusal to maintain any coherent practice, opting instead of new age vagueness, which has none of the values which she ascribes to traditional religions. A hypocritical parasite, taking the bounty of other's faith and works without putting in the labor to further the same tradition. Pick a side. Anywho, this isn't a completely fair assessment as I didn't complete the book. My only suggestion is that if you're having trouble with some of the chapters, just skip them and move on. There are some few interesting ideas being presented.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jose Villouta

    Este libro es exquisito. Está lleno de sutilezas y hoy el mundo está demasiado crudo como para entenderlas. Si leo lo que dicen de esta votante de Bernie Sanders y activista por ampliar las artes en la educación. generalmente me encuentro con que la entienden al revés o malinterpretan lo que dice. Un éxtasis sus ensayos de cine, música, arte y fotografía. Además, está cancelada, igual que yo 😍Si Margaret Atwood es mi abuela materna y Susan Sontag mi abuela paterna, Cams Pags, es mi Chanquete.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Harrison Gourlay

    This was a fantastic experience. Highly recommend to all looking for a new perspective, or those just interested in learning about one likely differing from their own. Even though not everything she said was agreeable or even factual, I still enjoyed this slice of an interesting life and mind. 5/5 stars.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jacky

    3.5 stars Confession: Didn't finish the entire monster of a collection. But the chapters I did, enjoyed reading the author's views. If I can go go through more than a few chapters, this really isn't as "dry" as it may seem to be if you aren't usually inclined to read "such serious topics". If only it weren't so bulky. A good read to have on you in between appointments. 3.5 stars Confession: Didn't finish the entire monster of a collection. But the chapters I did, enjoyed reading the author's views. If I can go go through more than a few chapters, this really isn't as "dry" as it may seem to be if you aren't usually inclined to read "such serious topics". If only it weren't so bulky. A good read to have on you in between appointments.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Aladdin Aldair

    The bitch is crazed, better than some of her other shit. She is a guilty pleasure, I admit. Read to aquaint yourself with a bumptious writing style, and to succumb yourself to an endless bombardment of pop culture references that you have to look up on the internet, but are ultimately enriching. The ideas are hit or miss.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Barry Medwid

    Camille Paglia delivers on the book title by being provocative in her insights and opinions throughout the book. Initially gave a 3 star review due to many of the essays and interviews being dated due to the fact they were written or given 10-20 years ago. I updated to 4 starts after reading the media chronicle chapter in appendices which was filled with more recent topics. Well written.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Douglas

    One think Ms Paglia and I have in common is our love of movie soundtracks. I like to play them full blast and imagine that my life is a big screen, epic quest. This collection is a mixed bag of years of columns, etc. Not as great as her single topic books.

  22. 4 out of 5

    William

    I really enjoy Paglia. But this collection is a bit slower and less interesting.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Eileen Sheats

    if I read this book before college I would have written way better essays

  24. 4 out of 5

    Greg Worswick

    Beyond

  25. 5 out of 5

    John Dickinson

    A difficult read. But a well worth it read. The magnitude of her intellectualism will just blow your mind.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Phillip

    I would have rated this higher, but there were too many articles and sections that did not interest me; however, I see myself referencing several passages in the future.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aryna Livadari

    Fuck yeah, a must-read for all college freshmen.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kimron

    No thanks Repetitive, uninteresting, out of touch, critical of all things beneath the age of 50, flotzit

  29. 4 out of 5

    Corey Wozniak

    Dipped back in to read “Cults and Cosmic Consciousness: Religious Vision in the American 1960s”— a sprawling, 50-page essay— to see if I might steal some insights to take to my Comparative Religions class. Thought the students might enjoy the fact of Hindu influence on the Beatles— tidbits like that. Really enjoyable essay for me. Didn’t initially plan to, but also read: “Resolved: Religion Belongs in the Curriculum.” Skimmed a couple other essays on Education I’d already read a few years ago. Nex Dipped back in to read “Cults and Cosmic Consciousness: Religious Vision in the American 1960s”— a sprawling, 50-page essay— to see if I might steal some insights to take to my Comparative Religions class. Thought the students might enjoy the fact of Hindu influence on the Beatles— tidbits like that. Really enjoyable essay for me. Didn’t initially plan to, but also read: “Resolved: Religion Belongs in the Curriculum.” Skimmed a couple other essays on Education I’d already read a few years ago. Next time I dip back in I’ll read the rather long essay “Religion and the Arts in America.” Paglia is Queen. 👑

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Novotny

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