Monday, December 5, 2005

Oh, Camille. It's been three or so years since you left Salon and yet, not much has changed. She has a new piece of criticism up on Salon, critiquing the new Madonna album, and while it is always, at the least, entertaining to read her, it is now past the point where I would become frustrated with her, past the even earlier point when I used to adore her at 18 and 19, looking forward to her columns in Salon every month, revering her as an academic idol, to now where I can't even muster the will to care, to be frustrated by her broad generalizations, polemical dismissals of everything, self-promoting, telling us again and again how she was ahead of the curve and did this in 1990, her almost parody of Harold Bloom academic speak (her mentor), play the Camille drinking game for every time she says "dionysian" and be totally wasted [Bonnie pointed out how much she uses this word to me last night], her shrillness - now I just roll my eyes and say Oh, Camille.

She is worth reading, even if she is absurd to the nth degree, if not just for that reason and it was when she left Salon that the publication started to really go downhill, when my daily checking of it turned into weekly, turned into monthly, and now, this is probably the first time I have been back to the site in close to a year - maybe she will revive some of the steam, readership, and writing Salon used to have back in those heady days before we all stopped reading long form pieces on the internet, and instead just read the blogs summarizing those pieces: Gawker, Bookslut, Maud Newton, Wonkette.

Despite her flawed history of the current and past music scene, her reading of current cultural trends, of pop culture is still amazing, something that doesn't get done enough - intelligent readings of these pop trends. The only other commentator who I think is as astute and fun to read is no longer writing in a regular forum, Richard Goldstein. He may still be writing, but I have not come across it since his dismissal from The Village Voice, and in amazing news, more reason to think low of how that publication is being run besides their poor treatment of its writers, its disputes with the paper's union, and its recent merger, are that Goldstein is suing the publication for sexual harrassment and you can read his detailed claim on The Smoking Gun.

And actually, there is one other source that I think still produces amazing commentary every now and then in the guise of a record review, and this isn't me being an indie snot, but Pitchfork quite often has words of wisdom about current cultural trends, as I was forced to admit last week in their excellent review of Music from the O.C., Mix 5.

When I roll my eyes at Camille Paglia, I am also rolling my eyes at aspects of my own personality that I am now able to recognize and no longer like as much. Obviously, my early adoration of her in those important years had at least some influence on my own rhetorical style, a smug self-righteousness that I try to couch in references to works of art, a high minded appreciation of pop products, a tendency to dismiss things vehemently that disagree with my own thoughts, and a habit of theatrically overstating things. Despite it all, I am glad she is back on the scene.

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