September 4th, 2006


Those Dutchmen had hardly any imagination or fantasy, but their good taste and their scientific knowledge of composition were enormous.

A good picture is equivalent to a good deed.

An artist needn't be a clergyman or a churchwarden, but he certainly must have a warm heart for his fellow men.

It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to. . . . The feeling for the things themselves, for reality, is more important than the feeling for pictures.

There is but one Paris and however hard living may be here, and if it became worse and harder even- the French air clears up the brain and does good- a world of good.
-----Vincent Van Gogh (1853-90), Dutch painter. Letter, Summer 1886, to an English artist considering a move to Paris (published in The Complete Letters of Vincent Van Gogh, vol. 2, 1958). Van Gogh adds, "What is to be gained is progress and what[ever] the deuce that is, it is to be found here.


Elizabeth Taylor is pre-feminist woman. This is the source of her continuing greatness and relevance. She wields the sexual power that feminism cannot explain and has tried to destroy. Through stars like Taylor, we sense the world-disordering impact of legendary women like Delilah, Salome, and Helen of Troy. Feminism has tried to dismiss the femme fatale as a misogynist libel, a hoary cliché. But the femme fatale expresses women's ancient and eternal control of the sexual realm. The specter of the femme fatale stalks all men's relations with women.

American universities are organized on the principle of the nuclear rather than the extended family. Graduate students are grimly trained to be technicians rather than connoisseurs. The old German style of universal scholarship has gone.

Woman is the dominant sex. Men have to do all sorts of stuff to prove that they are worthy of woman's attention.
Women's sexual powers are enormous. All cultures have seen it. Men know it. Women know it. The only people who don't know it are feminists. Desensualized, desexualized, neurotic women.

French rhetorical models are too narrow for the English tradition. Most pernicious of French imports is the notion that there is no person behind a text. Is there anything more affected, aggressive, and relentlessly concrete than a Parisan intellectual behind his/her turgid text? The Parisian is a provincial when he pretends to speak for the universe.
-----Camille Paglia (b. 1947), U.S. author, critic, educator. Sexual Personae, ch. 1 (1990). In her Introduction to Sex, Art, and American Culture (1992), Paglia writes scathingly of "French post-structuralism, whose pedantic jargon, clumsy convolutions, prissy abstractions have spread throughout academe and the arts and are now blighting the most promising minds of the next generation."