Our readers may not be especially familiar with or interested in the works of feminist author Camilla Paglia, but a recent interview she gave to America magazine is relevant to some of our concerns:
Identifying yourself as a “dissident feminist,” you often seem more at home with classical Greek and Roman paganism than with postmodern academia. How has this reality affected your public and professional relationships?
I feel lucky to have taught primarily at art schools, where the faculty are active practitioners of the arts and crafts. I have very little contact with American academics, who are pitifully trapped in a sterile career system that has become paralyzed by political correctness. University faculties nationwide have lost power to an ever-expanding bureaucracy of administrators, whose primary concern is the institution’s contractual relationship with tuition-paying parents. You can cut the demoralized faculty atmosphere with a knife when you step foot on any elite campus. With a few stellar exceptions, the only substantive discourse that I ever have these days is with academics, intellectuals, and journalists abroad.
This sort of thing has an impact on the ID controversy because the mood has seeped beyond “sociology of grievance” studies and “found” art and literature—into the sciences. For example, a full professor now claims to not even know what evidence is. Such people tend to know what they don’t believe, however, even if they don’t know what evidence is. More Paglia:
Briefly put, what is post-structuralism and what is your opinion of it?
Post-structuralism is a system of literary and social analysis that flared up and vanished in France in the 1960s but that became anachronistically entrenched in British and American academe from the 1970s on. Based on the outmoded linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and promoted by the idolized Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, and Michel Foucault, it absurdly asserts that we experience or process reality only through language and that, because language is inherently unstable, nothing can be known. By undermining meaning, history and personal will, post-structuralism has done incalculable damage to education and contemporary thought. It is a laborious, circuitously self-referential gimmick that always ends up with the same monotonous result. I spent six months writing a long attack on academic post-structuralism for the classics journal Arion in 1991, “Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders: Academe in the Hour of the Wolf” (reprinted in my first essay collection, Sex, Art, and American Culture). Post-structuralism has destroyed two generations of graduate students, who were forced to mouth its ugly jargon and empty platitudes for their foolish faculty elders. And the end result is that humanities departments everywhere, having abandoned their proper mission of defending and celebrating art, have become humiliatingly marginalized in both reputation and impact.
Added: That was the principle reason O’Leary for News left the academic world for media; it was already beginning to happen in the 1970s. Turned out, there was no classical culture to hand on , and no reason why anyone should wish to hand it on. Transgressivism ruled where there was nothing to transgress anyway.
And the results will be as devastating to science as they were to the arts.
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