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August 2007
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Syndication

Since the publication of the book that made her a celebrity intelllectual, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (1990), Camille Paglia has been focusing attention on connections within the fabric of Western culture that are often ignored or denied. This has earned her a bundle of suspicion from across the political and ideological spectrum. So, for example, when she writes that "the route to a renaissance of the American fine arts lies through religion," she will no doubt frighten leaders in the arts while flummoxing many American religious leaders, who can't imagine why we ought to bother reviving the fine arts.

Paglia's assertion launched an article in the Spring/Summer 2007 issue of the journal Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics (published at Boston University). The bulk of the article is a whirlwind survey of the history of the contentious if sometimes fertile relationship between religion (mostly Christianity) and the arts in America since the Puritans, with sections on literature, the visual arts, and music. Noting that the art world and the Church world virtually ignored each other for most of the twentieth century, she then discusses the "culture wars" episodes of conflict in the 1980s and 90s (the Mapplethorpe controversy, etc.), most of which were about morality, not art or religion. . . .

Read more about this article on the MARS HILL AUDIO website.

Category:Further reading -- posted at: 8:03 PM

Many of our listeners to the MARS HILL AUDIO Journal were intrigued about the features on volume 82 about Philip Rieff. Anyone interested in knowing more about Rieff before committing to the diffficult task of reading him will be assisted by a pithy summary of Rieff's ideas written by critic George Scialabba, which appeared in a recent issue of the Boston Review.

The occasion for Scialabba's article is the posthumous book by Rieff called Charisma: The Gift of Grace and How It Has Been Taken Away from Us. Rieff draws on (and disputes) Max Weber's idea of charisma, which was in Weber's formulation a form of authority. Rieff insists that there can be no charisma in Weber's sense apart from some sense of sacred order; "no charisma without creed" is how Rieff summarizes his view.

Philip Rieff always maintained that the point of culture was to provide authority, to set limits against which individuals could come to understand the world and their place in it. But the crisis of modernity is specifically the loss of the plausibility of any authority. . . .

Read all of this brief essay by MARS HILL AUDIO host and producer Ken Myers.

Category:Further reading -- posted at: 7:32 PM