Category Archives: Camille Paglia

First Sentences, Then Paragraphs

If someone were to ask me what the secret of my writing is, I would say, first I write sentences, then I write paragraphs. I view nonfiction as an art form, which too many U.S. authors treat carelessly. My books take a very long time to write precisely because of my concern with the clarity and flow of my prose. I do an enormous amount of preparation for each chapter in any of my books – voluminous notes, followed by notes upon those notes and so on. Construction of the argument takes forever, but once it is in place, that’s it. In my entire career, I have probably changed a paragraph position not more than three or four times. Once a chapter is written, I go over and over it again innumerable times, tweaking the wording and adding color and momentum.

Camille Paglia


An Extra-Sensory, Pagan Phenomenon

Elizabeth Taylor is, in my opinion, the greatest actress in film history. She instinctively understands the camera and its nonverbal intimacies. Opening her violet eyes, she takes us into the liquid realm of emotion, which she inhabits by Pisces intuition. Richard Burton said that Taylor showed him how to act for the camera. Economy and understatement are essential. At her best, Elizabeth Taylor simply is. An electric, erotic charge vibrates the space between her face and the lens. It is an extra-sensory, pagan phenomenon.

—Camille Paglia, 1992

Academic Conferences

The conferences are oppressive bourgeois forms that enforce a style of affected patter and smarmy whimsy in the speaker and polite chuckles and iron-butt torpor in the audience. Success at the conferences requires a certain kind of physically inert personality, superficially cordial but emotionally dissociated. It’s the genteel high Protestant style of the country clubs and corporate boardrooms, with their financial reports and marketing presentations.

—Camille Paglia

Psychological Issues that Demand Psychological Responses?

“I identify strongly with the transgendered. Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I felt as if I were the wrong sex. If the current trend had been operative when I was in high school or college, I would certainly have been experimenting with male hormones. But I think that would have been a terrible mistake. Instead of modifying my body to conform to my male spirit, I put all my bottled-up energy into ambition and creativity. I worry that too many young lesbians believe that infusions of male hormones will remedy their sense of isolation and alienation. But perhaps those are psychological issues that demand psychological responses – new tracks of spiritual self-development and achievement. Many transgendered individuals do ‘pass’ in general society, but many others, after their surgical modifications, may be confining themselves forever to the margins, to the supportive burrow of a ghettoed world from which they fear to stray.”

Camille Paglia