Tuesday, 10 November 2009

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Once upon a time Camille Paglia could be counted on to write with force and clarity. That time has passed:The solipsistic members of Congress want us peons to be ground up in the communal machine, while they themselves gambol on in the flowering meadow of their own lavish federal health plan.Jack London would have looked at that sentence and deemed it overwrought. Then he would've reconsidered, thrown in a few King James-quoting cavemen and declared it a masterpiece. But Jack London was not a serious scholar like Paglia, who proves her seriousness by paraphrasing Palin: The brutal abandonment of the elderly here is unconscionable.Death panels! Her keen attention to the language of a bill that, at the time, did not yet exist served her well. But if there's one thing we can count on from Paglia, it's that she pays attention to her prose: One would have expected a Democratic proposal to include an expansion of Medicare, certainly not its gutting. The passive acquiescence of liberal commentators to this vandalism simply demonstrates how partisan ideology ultimately desensitizes the mind.If "gutting" is the new "vandalism," does that mean taggers are now murdering or murderers are now tagging? I only ask because a scholar of Paglia's self-professed stature would never mix a metaphor or lazily appropriate the language of someone whose partisan ideology ultimately desensitized his mind? Obama has dithered for months about a strategy for Afghanistan.Dick Cheney? Really? Besides, weren't we talking about health care? On other matters, I was recently flicking my car radio dial and heard an affected British voice tinkling out on NPR.Apparently not. On science, Dawkins was spot on—lively and nimble. But on religion, his voice went "Psycho" weird—as if he was channeling some old woman with whom he was in love-hate combat.That metaphor doesn't even deserve to be called mixed. I'm sure it makes sense to her and would to us, had she be bothered to explain it. But that would require her to remain on topic for more than a few sentences: Continuing on the theme of overrated male writers, I was appalled at the sentimental rubbish filling the air about Claude Lévi-Strauss after his death was announced last weekI always tell my students that if you begin too many paragraphs with some variation on "another example of," you're either proving something you've already proven or are trying to slap a signpost on a non sequitur, and that in either case, you're not developing an argument. Paglia might benefit from sitting in on my class: Now on, with relief, to pop!Non-ironic exclamation points! They are signs of a great writer! By "pop," I'm sure she means "current popular culture" and not "a reference to Madonna to prove beyond all doubt that this column is an exercise in unwitting self-parody." Now, come on, people, do you really believe that Lady Gaga is 23 years old?Praise Jesus, she at least avoided— And now Madonna is trying to resuscitate herself, body and mind, by taking transfusions from Brazil!You have got to be kid— Is it true, according to press rumors, that Madonna is vacationing...

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