Camille Paglia on Homonationalism

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The time has come to offer a more cohesive theory of  “homonationalism”.  This, I think, can be achieved with the help of Camille Paglia’s landmark work of social criticism, Sexual Personae. Paglia’s book offers a theory of “homonationalism ” (my word, not hers) which is part and parcel of a broader, sweeping, theory of the continuity of Western Civilization. Ultimately, Paglia’s theory offers a convincing explanation for why homosexual men constitute a cast of elite, “cultural shaman” whose contributions to the history of the West have been tremendous.  From this, I will make the case for the unique role of homosexuals in the current state of Pro-Western nationalism.

Paglia asserts in the opening chapter of Sexual Personae that western civilization started, and persists, as a “[swerve] from  femaleness:” a rejection of the fetishization of female, reproductive nature characteristic of so much primitive spirituality, in favor of the male, cerebral nature valorized by western, “sky-cult” religions (Hellenistic and Egyptian Paganism, later Christianity).

She writes:

“Men, bonding together, invented culture as a defense against female nature. Sky-cult was the most sophisticated step in this process, for its switch of the creative locus from earth to sky is a shift from belly-magic to head-magic. And from this defensive head-magic has come the spectacular glory of male civilization, which has lifted woman with it.” (Sexual Personae, 9)

To illustrate this birth of Western Civilization aesthetically, Paglia notes in her next chapter the contrast between the paleolithic Venus of Willendorf (30,000 BC) and the Ancient Egyptian Bust of Nefertiti (1345 B.C.). The fetishization of fertile breasts, stomach, and hips of the first figure, is replaced by Nefertiti’s accentuated forehead in the second, representing a new emphasis on abstract thought and imagination: the true driving forces of civilization as such, and an advancement past a mere emphasis on reproduction.

 

The through-line Paglia ultimately traces from the Nefertiti bust through the whole of the history of Western Civilization, up to the fetishized commodities of modern, capitalist society–is that of “apollonian thing making”. In her view to “thing-make” is to achieve a focused control over the flux of  nature–to augment or alter reality–and this process she genders unequivocally male.      vaporwave-car-landscape-mountain-digital-art-ferrari-27027-resized.jpg

But what is so male about thing-making? Paglia’s theory of this derives from her basic and controversial theory of sexual differentiation.

Femaleness, in Paglia’s view, derives from her relative closeness to nature. Her body,  subject to its reproductive abilities and their dictates, is bound to the earth, and the cycle of life, in a way far greater than man’s. Paglia follows Freud in asserting that the vagina, and woman’s vaginal nature, represent to men a sort of “black maw that had spat him forth and would devour him anew” (9), and suggests that this perceived dual power of creation and destruction is responsible for primitive man’s simultaneous revulsion and reverence for femaleness.

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Maleness, too, in Paglia’s view,  derives from  his physiology– from his penis. “[M]an’s cultural  achievements….” Paglia argues “…follow so directly from his singular anatomy.” It is best to let Paglia explain herself on this one:

“The male genital metaphor is concentration and projection. Nature gives concentration to man to help him overcome his fear. Man approaches woman in bursts of spasmodic concentration. This gives him the delusion of temporary control of the archetypal mysteries that brought him forth” (19).

And further:

“Through concentration to projection into the beyond. The male projection of erection and ejaculation is the paradigm  for all cultural projection and conceptualization– from art and philosophy to fantasy, hallucination, and obsession” (20).

In other words, the physiology of man’s penis and sexual arousal are the starting point of what represent the whole of his unique abilities contraposed to women. Man’s penis is his defense against women, and his defense against nature. It is his position as the phallus-bearer that enables him to take a degree of control over nature, and use it for his purposes. When he succeeds it is a victory of Apollo over Dionysus, and a victory of rationality over nature. This mode extends to his cultural productions.

 

 

Another way to understand this is that Paglia is describing  man’s ability (far greater than that of women) to objectify. This ability is what lies behind both the horror that men are capable of committing, and their greatest cultural achievements. As one of Paglia’s great one-liners goes: “There is no female Mozart because there is no female Jack the Ripper”(247).

Paglia’s theory works first and foremost as an explanation for why men are more conservative than women, that is, why men have a much greater reverence for hierarchy, institutions, and tradition than do women. Men inherently understand the important role such things play in keeping the chaos of nature at bay,  while women are at best much less dependent on these things to formulate meaning and identity, and at worst come to resent and hate the “patriarchy” inherent to them. Perhaps the most important insight of Paglia’s theory is into the role of fraternity and male-bonding in the creation and preservation of culture. But it also tells us something singularly interesting about homosexuals.

Where does the homossexual fit into Paglia’s picture? In his absolutism. In his impermeability.

She writes:

“Male homosexuality may be the most valorous of attempts to evade the femme fatale and to defeat nature. By turning away from the Medusan mother, whether in honor or detestation of her, the male homosexual is one of the great forgers of absolutist western identity…” ( 14-15).

acfd72e7ad2cb5a42bd2865b7775e52bWhile it is the condition of the heterosexual man  to swerve from femininity but literally dip back into it with some kind of frequency, the homosexual,  by very definition is immune from this. While the heterosexual is sexually compelled to seek female validation and therefore ultimately curbs his behavior so as to appeal to women, the homosexual goes unchecked. Even if he takes his performative femininity to an extreme by dressing in drag, the cold, hard, fact of his sexuality is that he does not commune with femaleness as such.

Taking the masculine process of Apollonian thing-making as the birthplace of culture, I think the above serves as the groundwork for a biological explanation of why homosexuals represent a natural cultural and aesthetic elite. Not only are they free of the need to seek the sexual validation of women, but also the ultimate product of this validation: children. The homosexual’s status as an outsider to this natural, normative process of sex and birth, according to Paglia, is both a gift and a curse. While it precludes him from being ‘normal’, he can devote more time, and be more fully, existentially devoted to the fruits of his mind. One would expect his role in the history of the West to be of the highest cultural prestige, and Paglia notes that sure enough “Major peaks of western culture have been accompanied by a high incidence of male homosexuality—in classical Athens and Renaissance Florence and London”(22).

But the perennial bachelorhood of the homosexual is not the only pertinent result of his Apollonian absolutism. Apollonian absolutism also translates directly into his aesthetics, as the basis of his”queer eye“. On a micro-scale we recognize the queer eye as that which makes the homosexual such a savant of fashion and style, but it has an authoritarian element as well. The homosexual is devoted to beauty, and beauty is nothing if not hierarchical. To call something beautiful carries an implicit judgement that some things are finer and nobler than others. Even today, amongst ostensibly liberal gays, Paglia asserts later in her book: “Male homosexuals have an instinct for hierarchy unparalleled in contemporary culture, outside of Roman Catholicism”(516).

The queer eye demands that reality conform to its rigorous standards of beauty, brutally reducing it and reshaping it into culture. One of Paglia’s most illustrative examples of the way such queerness has contributed to the development of Western civilization and aesthetics is her description of the ancient Greek, homoerotic, “cult of the beautiful boy”. She describes this aesthetic episode as the first great victory of the western eye:

“The Athenian turn away from women toward boys was a brilliant act of conceptualization…. a crucial movement in the formation of western culture and identity. The Greek beautiful boy, as I remarked earlier, is one of the west’s great sexual personae….His cult returns whenever Apollonianism rebounds, as in Italian Renaissance art. The beautiful boy is an androgyne, luminously masculine and feminine. He has male muscle structure but a dewy girlishness. In Greece he inhabited the world of hard masculine action. His body was on view, striving nude in the palestra. Greek athletics, like Greek law, were theater, a public agon. They imposed mathematics on nature: how fast? how far? how strong? The beautiful boy was the focus of Apollonian space. All eyes were on him. His broad-shouldered, narrow-waisted body was a masterwork of Apollonian articulation, every muscle group edged and contoured. There was even a ropy new muscle, looping the hips and genitals. Classic Athens found the fatty female body unbeautiful, because it was not a visible instrument of action. The beautiful boy is Adonis, the Great Mother’s son-lover, now removed from nature and cleansed of the chthonian. Like Athena, he is reborn through males and clad in the Apollonian armour of his own hard body” (110).

 

In other words, Paglia argues that the Greek “beautiful boy” exemplifies an even bolder move than Nefertiti in the imposition of cerebral maleness onto nature and femininity, and therefore represents an even more decisive step in the development of Western Civilization.

Rigorous aesthetic considerations that seem trivial and “gay” in the realm of fashion and style become much more serious when applied to the forging and defense of cultural identity. In contemporary society, of course, most gays are liberal and tend to keep their queer eye fixed on the more trivial side of things, but history is filled with gays who have become nationalist’s or otherwise conservative, and vigorously defended their vision as an aesthetic. Yukio Mishima and Evelyn Waugh come to mind. A more recent example is Jack Donavan.

In sum, Paglia argues that homosexuals obtain a higher degree of civilization by eschewing women and their reproductive processes. This is what we mean when we say homosexuality is “unnatural,” or even “a rebellion against nature”. Nature should be rebelled against, Paglia argues. It is from the rebellion against nature that we got civilization. While heterosexuality binds even the most civilized of men to nature by drawing them into the reproductive cycle, homosexuals stand as a cast of absolutist, cultural shaman.

 

I view homonationalism in the current state of politics, as a Pro-Western cult within higher culture, and the neurotribes of the internet. Homosexuals are uniquely disposed to preserve Westernism as an aesthetic. Nationalism needs at least two aspects of operation, after all: one which concerns itself with population dynamics (the biological life-force of a nation or body), and one which concerns itself with aesthetics and symbols, (the spiritual life-force of a nation or body). Homonationalism belongs squarely in the latter category.

The premise of homonationalism is not that homosexuals are ‘normal’ and therefore should be accepted as part of normative society, but that they are ‘abnormal’ in a way that can benefit that society, if properly channeled. We can define normative society, very broadly, as society oriented toward the unperverted life-force: that is, toward the process of heterosexual intercourse, reproduction and family life. The homosexual is an outsider to this–the homosexual is a pervert–and yet in his outsiderness, with the gift of his queer eye, and if given the proper space and outlets, he can be of great benefit to normative society. The relationship between normies and queers will always be tenuous, but, I argue: homosexuals make better friends than enemies, and this is especially true during times, such as ours, in which heterosexuality is in disharmony

The Milo Yiannopoulos moment is illustrative of the sort of role I imagine homosexuals having in the current political landscape. The argument that the eschewal of woman bolsters absolute Western Identity seems strange in face of the fact that most gays in contemporary society are liberal, but if you contrast the cool, self-composure of an even slightly based gay guy like Yiannopoulos with the cuckoldry of your average, center-left, heterosexual man, the point shines through.

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During a cultural moment in which heterosexual men had been whipped into passive submission–petrified of saying something that might draw the ire of the increasingly radical women from whom their sexuality imprisoned them to seek validation– in came Milo: an anti-feminist deity of sorts, freely giving voice to sentiments which, as a flamboyantly gay man, he could never truly be degraded or shunned for expressing.

The degree to which romantic and sexual considerations determine people’s professed political positions should not be underestimated, nor should the relevance of the fact that there exists a group of men who are not conditioned to seek the approval of a sex that in the West is perhaps the most significant driving force of liberalism. One crass way of formulating the basic premise of homonationalism is that the homosexual is constitutionally immune from a pandemic of cuckoldry.

Tradition has ways of dealing with the battle between men and women. One way to understand Christian society, is that it is an ingenious resolve of the primordial battle-of-the sexes. Within the ancient wisdom of Christianity, gender-roles are defined, and mutual benefit is assured and catered to. It is harder to find happier more stable marriages than proper Christian marriages. But: Christianity and traditionalism  have been resoundingly defeated in the culture war. The homonationalist’s  hour dawns when the masculine order he loves falls under threat by chaotic, chthonic powers, such as is happening now.

download.jpg Unfortunately, Milo’s queerness eventually caught up with him, when apparently pro-pederasty comments surfaced. Milo has argued that his comments were misconstrued, but the damage by queer association was done. This is the tragic condition of the queer: his contributions to normative society are often valued  highly, but just as often, normative society turns on him in the end. Something similar would probably happen to Greg Johnson were his vision of the alt-right to eventually become a more serious social movement, I am sad to say. The role of the homonationalist is often that of martyr. This is the instinct of Evelyn Waugh embracing a traditional Catholicism, despite his homosexual proclivities, and Yukio Mishima cutting his stomach open in honor of the traditional Japanese State, despite understanding himself to be an eternal, queer, outsider.

As more and more men are drawn into the mire of communing with feminist women, and feminized society– as the Western world accelerates toward ugliness and third-worldism–I predict that homosexuals will flock together, as they always have, as a last bastion of defense for masculinism and Western beauty. As an aesthetic cult on the internet and in high-culture, they will stand as a final holdout, untouched by the implicitly female drive to destroy civilization. Their queer touch has already left its mark on the alt-right, visible in such oddities as the groups embrace of faggy vaporwave aesthetics. I believe the emergence of this cult– a return to aspirational standards of beauty– is totally inevitable, and of the highest value to anyone who is pro-Western, and seeks to keep a pro-Western spirit alive.

It would be wise for us all to get rainbow-pilled on the question of queers in the far-right: the gays should come out of the closet, and the rest of us should let them thrive in their proper place.

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