*Glittering Images*, the new Camille Paglia book

by on October 18, 2012 at 6:52 am in Books, History, The Arts | Permalink

The subtitle is A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars and according to Paglia “The format of the book is based on Catholic breviaries of devotional images, like Mass cards of the saints.”

It presents powerful works of art and tells the reader to submit to them; for that alone it is better than most other books.  The influence of Harold Bloom, Paglia’s earlier teacher, is strong throughout.  The interpretations seem unsure as to whether they are summaries or revelations, bold challenges to orthodoxy or obvious truths.  I am glad I bought the book but still my itch for the Paglia of Sexual Personae — say the Edmund Spenser chapter (the book’s highlight in my view) — remains unscratched.

Here is Paglia on George Lucas, an excerpt from the latter part of the book.  I do not feel the need to criticize her main claim (Lucas is the greatest artist of our time), still her obsession with mythology and cinematographic technique to me misses the import of Lucas’s saga of glorious collapse, discussed only briefly, though I do like this bit: “Lucas crosscuts to the delirious destruction on Coruscant of the Great Rotunda of the Galactic Senate, with its thousand round balconies in cool tonalities of gray and black. This twinned ruination of industrial and political architecture is an epic Romantic spectacle…”

Recommended, but we are still waiting for the last three installments of Camille’s ouevre.

1 Anon. October 18, 2012 at 7:23 am

I wonder if Paglia has seen the Plinkett reviews…

2 JL October 18, 2012 at 8:23 am

Yes, the Plinkett reviews of the Star Wars prequels are great, both hilarious and perceptive. See here.

3 Andrew' October 18, 2012 at 8:39 am

The Prequels were George Lucas’s visual representation of the theme that “what you do best is what gets you in trouble.”

4 Andrew' October 18, 2012 at 7:58 am

Not to mention he single-handedly staved off TGS in the film industry for decades. I marvel at the perfection of the Star Wars mythos. I was surprised to find that Empire ranks highly on many movie rankings (e.g. Empire). When I was a tot I didn’t realize I had such impeccable taste, and now I consider it to be only surpassed by The Dark Knight (if you must, just wait a few decades and you will agree). He’s like a sculptor who picked the perfect stone. The end result has many mislaid blows, but noone has come close to taking such a vision to fruition.

5 Benny Lava October 18, 2012 at 8:52 am

This is some next level trolling. The Star Wars prequels as high art? Lolz!

6 Nikki October 18, 2012 at 9:47 am

The culture that is the U.S.

7 Adrian Ratnapala October 18, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I do not feel the need to criticize her main claim (Lucas is the greatest artist of our time), still her obsession with mythology and cinematographic technique to me misses the import of Lucas’s saga of glorious collapse, …

I’m with Paglia on this. Lucas is no Gibbon. That theme is indeed grand; but “theme” exists cantilevered between “plot” and “philosophy” which are both weak in Star Wars. Whereas the cinematic details are a genuine strength.

As for mythology, let’s put it this way: in the year 3000, the word “Ulysses” will refer much more often Homer than Joyce. But it could just happen that those fans of ancient myths who know that name also know “Skywalker”. Other (weaker) candidates for that honour are “Baggins”, “Bugs Bunny” and “James Kirk”.

8 IVV October 18, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I’m thinking about movies from 1984. I would be hard pressed to remember distinctly one scene from Gandhi, but we all now know what to answer if someone asks if you are a god.

9 Brett October 18, 2012 at 12:14 pm

The story of the downfall of the Republic in the Prequels makes up for any flaws that they have. Particularly in Phantom Menace, when you realize what Palpatine is doing and how skilled he is as a politician – he’s the biggest “winner” in that story, despite losing Darth Maul.

10 Careless October 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Correction: despite sending Darth maul off to get killed for absolutely no reason. (OK, I haven’t seen it since it came out, but I’m pretty sure there was no reason for that fight)

11 Brett October 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm

I think he was supposed to kill Padme, but the Jedi were in the way.

12 Andrew' October 18, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Sith apprentice = grad student

Make sense now?

13 Steve Sailer October 18, 2012 at 5:21 pm

Reading Paglia’s chapter on “The Importance of Being Earnest” in “Sexual Personae” is more laugh-out-loud funny than seeing the play.

14 Morgan Warstler October 18, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Steve Sailer is a horrible racist. Rational free thinking people should starve him out. We can’t truly grasp small government, until we end him on our own.

15 Bryan October 19, 2012 at 1:12 am

Thanks for telling everyone what “free thinking” people should do.

16 Morgan Warstler October 20, 2012 at 1:20 am

The premise of minimal govt. is that social and economic ostracization will be used to modify bad apple behavior.

We can’t make a legitimate claim on this ability unless Steve Sailer is unable to work to feed his family… he’s easily broken, thats who he is.

17 Morgan Warstler October 18, 2012 at 10:33 pm

As a young man I left many desperate messages for CP to let me sit at her feet. The offer still stands!

18 Miner October 29, 2012 at 4:38 am


Paglia interview with Glen Reynolds – worth a look right to the end.

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