Nick Gillespie of Reason Magazine interviewed Camille Paglia, wherein Paglia voiced some provocative words about the American university: “Everything’s Awesome and Camille Paglia Is Unhappy!” Paglia states:
Paglia: I am an equal opportunity feminist. I believe that all barriers to women’s advancement in the social and political realm must be removed. However, I don’t feel that gender is sufficient to explain all of human life. This gender myopia has become a disease, a substitute for a religion, this whole cosmic view. It’s impossible that the feminist agenda can ever be the total explanation for human life. Our problem now is that this monomania—the identity politics of the 1970s, so people see everything through the lens of race, gender, or class-this is an absolute madness, and in fact, it’s a distortion of the ‘60s. I feel that the ‘60s had a vision, a large cosmic perspective that was absolutely lost in this degeneration, in this splintering of the 1970s into these identity politics.
reason: Was it just that the revolution eats its own? Or is it that there’s a shrinking economic pie, so people started grabbing for whatever they could before the Titanic goes down? What explains that narrowing?
Paglia: I actually wrote an entire essay about the religious vision of America in the 1960s in “Cults and Cosmic Consciousness.” I feel that the real visionary thinkers of my generation destroyed their brains on drugs. LSD just leveled all the truly talented people of my generation.
reason: I have to say that this conversation is over! So who were the people who destroyed themselves on drugs?
Paglia: My classmates. The authentic imaginations, the really innovative people of my generation, the most daring of my generation took the drug. Now I, for some reason, felt that the LSD was untested, and I did not want to experiment with it. But I was very interested in it. I was interested in all types of vision quests at the time. I went up with fellow students [from SUNY-Binghamton] to see Timothy Leary speak at Cornell. I saw him, and it made me uneasy that here was the guru with such a crowd around him, but his face was already twitching. I could see that this was not going to end well, and it did not.
So when I got to graduate school in 1968, I can attest to the fact that no authentically radical student of the 1960s ever went to graduate school. So all that were left were the time-servers, who parasitically [lived] on the achievements of the 1960s, for heaven’s sake. Any authentic leftist who had a job at a university in the 1970s or ‘80s or ‘90s should have been opposing the entire evolution of the university-that is, toward this administrative bureaucracy that has totally robbed power from the faculty. The total speciousness and fraud of academic leftism is proven by the passivity of these people in every department of the university to that power play that happened.
Re-read that last paragraph, and re-read it, again. Then, sputter a series of expletives and amens. But is she right? I don’t know, but it makes me wonder.