I await the publication of a new essay or book by Camille Paglia the way I used to count the days until new albums would be released by my favorite musicians back in the 70s and 80s. David Bowie, Joni Mitchell — artists of that caliber.
That’s rare for me now, as far as music goes. Save for Radiohead and a couple of other bands or artists, there aren’t that many recording stars that have staying power, that hunker down and work hard to create something original, of importance — not just to meet their personal standards but to move the culture as a whole.
There are many reasons for this and I won’t highlight those now. But my point is that quality product comes from ass-busting and not an aim for fame: the chance to have narcissistic needs fulfilled. The artistic temperament is multi-faceted, filled with peculiarities and foibles, but common is a primary force to share, to impact, to energize the dialogue about what it means to be human and possess a creative impetus.
I mention this last point because Paglia strikes me as a writer imbued with a love for inquiry, understanding and sharing; mirroring back for us her ardor and passion for what moves her. Too, this is the mark of a great teacher or critic — to pass along and transmit one’s appreciation and excitement about a work of art to those attempting to also understand and find meaning in the markers that point the way to beauty. It’s a generosity born of the appreciation for what is worthwhile about living and wanting to impart that sense to others.