Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Close Reading of Sadomasochistic Poets

I just started reading Break, Blow, Burn by Camille Paglia, and I am already in love with it. Paglia is just one of those personalities that you love and hate, like the smart and pretty best friend who gets all the attention, and you want to just despise her, but you can't. Because she's pretty and brilliant. Whenever I read Paglia's prose, I'm prone to fits of envy and laughing.

Here are two examples.

From the introduction: "During the past quarter century, humanistic principles and honest practical criticism could reliably more be found among low-paid adjuncts faithfully teaching service courses at community colleges than among the vain, showy professoriat of the elite schools."

As a former adjunct wage slave and someone who probably will never rise to the level of professoriat... Amen!

And from her explication of "Daddy," which I flipped to first, naturally: "If Plath has no literary successors, she certainly has her peers -- but they are in popular music. I nominate Sylvia Plath as the first female rocker. ... The nihilistic wipeout of the last line of "Daddy" is also in the fractious rock spirit: it parallels the smashing or burning of guitars by the Yardbirds, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, the peak of expressiveness being a destruction of the instrument -- in the case of the poet herself."

I mean, can't you imagine it? Plath on a stage, burning her guitar? I'm sure I'll be quoting liberally from this book in the next few weeks. So, if I start mentioning Freudian phallic imagery and sadomasochism, you know now why.

Post Script: I typed in Google Images "Rockstar Poet" to find a picture to go along with this, and found this website. I also found this site, when typing in Camille Paglia.

I give up. No pictures for this post.

1 Comment:

Aaron M. Wilson said...

I love you. You're so smart & pretty.