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坎普风/Notes On "Camp" by Susan Sontag 1964.

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发表于 2022-5-14 21:30:49 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
本帖最后由 Reader86 于 2022-5-14 09:42 PM 编辑

坎普风(Camp)是一种将使观者感到荒谬滑稽作为作品迷人与否评判标准的艺术感受。“Camp”一词来源于法语中的俚语“se camper”,意为“以夸张的方式展现”。1909年,“Camp”第一次出现在印刷品中,并在《牛津英语词典》中被定义为“豪华铺张的、夸张的、装模作样的、戏剧化的、不真实的”同时,该词也有“带有女性气息或同性恋色彩的”的含义。20世纪70年代中期,该词的含义则被定义为“过度陈腐、平庸、狡诈和铺张以至于产生了反常而复杂的吸引力”[1]。

坎普的起源与发展

若要追溯坎普的历史,最早可以回到十六世纪文艺复兴时期的意大利及当时的手法主义画家罗梭、卡拉瓦乔等人。1527年罗马城遭到洗劫,文艺复兴全盛期不复。在此后的半个多世纪,手法主义艺术兴起。其特征便是脱离了文艺复兴的和谐之美,其强调构思上的复杂,重视技术上的质量,是坎普风格的早期体现,也是文艺复兴与稍后的经典坎普艺术——洛可可风格之间的桥梁。不过坎普最为可靠的起始点还是在十七和十八世纪之交。当时有着空前的对技巧、手法的执着追求,催生了对惟妙惟肖的绘画精神的极大鉴赏,同时善于表现人物转瞬即逝的性格与表情。这一时期的代表人物有威廉·康格里夫、沃尔浦尔等;代表建筑风格是洛可可,代表音乐有莫扎特的诸多作品。

起先,坎普和自然的关系与后来不尽相同。在十八世纪,有闲情雅致的人总是喜欢与自然沾边,甚至想要扑捉自然,将其重新塑造,成为人工的艺术品。而当今的坎普已经难觅自然的影子,甚至已经和自然决裂,与其格格不入。

在上述时期,坎普普遍植根于高级文化领域和艺术领域。直到十九世纪,这一趋势被打破。本来的执着的艺术追求蒙上了灰色的趣味,变得艰涩、反常。以英国为例,坎普在十九世纪游走于唯美主义间(代表人物奥斯卡·王尔德),而唯美主义的一大特点便是风气颓废。十九世纪后期,随着唯美主义旗下的视觉艺术运动的兴起,坎普迎来了另一个艺术高峰。当时提倡艺术的使命在于为人类提供感官上的愉悦,而非传递道德或情感上的信息。

作为一个美学名称,坎普风从二十世纪60年代开始逐渐为人所知,当时它也是对流行文化的反学术防卫的一部分。而在80年代,坎普则因艺术和文化中的后现代主义被广泛接受而成为美学的普遍视角之一。其实,原先这种特殊趣味的倡导者大多数来自同性恋人群。[2]尽管不应该将坎普与同性恋之间划等号,但无疑这两者之间存在着特殊的契合。并非所有的同性恋者都推崇坎普风格,但总的说来,同性恋者构成了坎普的先锋。他们不去纠结自身与社会的矛盾,关注坎普风格的艺术鉴赏。坎普恰好充当了调剂的角色,它中和了负面激进的道德立场,提倡游戏精神。当然坎普不局限于同性恋文化。坎普提倡的把生活看做戏剧的理念,给了同性恋者一定的庇护,也契合他们的社会处境,因而显得十分得当。

在美国,Thomas Hine认为,1954-64是全国坎普最为风靡的时代;在英国,坎普则被用来形容女性化的男同性恋者,尤其是那些极力炫耀自己同性恋者身份的人;在澳大利亚,著名的歌剧导演Barrie Kosky擅长于使用坎普的手法再现西方经典,同时有效地讥讽了澳大利亚郊区中产阶层人们的自负做作与文化空虚;在欧洲,坎普的技巧被歌唱比赛的选手用来赢取更多投票,在这个本该以演唱技巧为评判标准的真人秀中,选手们更倾向于挖空心思在其他方向做出夺人眼球的举动。
坎普的特点

坎普强调风格以至于可以忽略内容。“坎普是在引号里理解文化” [3]。坎普以内容为代价来衬托作者的风格和作者创作时的感性因素。重视视觉效果及装饰效果的艺术形式,例如服饰、家具,是坎普风格的重要组成部分。坎普在努力营造单调的内容与吸引人的形式之间的鲜明对比。因此有时,一种艺术形式可以整个地归类于坎普,例如歌剧、电影等。坎普风格的作品通常是一种表达,对作者人生观、世界观、价值观的表达。这种风格狂热于以夸张来表现自己的思想,这种夸张是让事物脱离于自己本身性质的夸张。这种坎普风格的创作在现代社会中有许多体现,例如冰屋样式的旅店、刻画着蛇形状的灯具。一个著名的例子就是赫克特·基玛在十九世纪九十年代曾把巴黎地铁的入口设计成铁柱兰花柄的形状。 坎普也同样热衷于是表现有与自身性别不相符特质的人物形象。其中以男性化的女子或女性化的男子为重要标志。新艺术在招贴画、灯具上纤弱人体的描绘、拉斐尔前派作品中描绘的缺乏性感的人体形象,格丽泰·嘉宝充分的女性魅力背后的那份男性慵懒的气质[4]。新艺术的这一系列形象展现了坎普的热衷,展现了人与其异于其本质的特质的融合。这种融合将表面看起来截然相反的两种特质统一结合,在同一个人身上体现。有代表性的电影明星有:维克多·马修尔,弗吉尼亚·梅约、简纳·曼斯菲尔德、吉娜·洛罗布里基达、简·拉萨尔等。

坎普的初衷是严肃的,但任何蓄意追求坎普的行为反而会无法真正达成坎普的风格。“坎普倾向于反应一种主观的过程”。[5] “第四十二街”、“一九三三年的淘金者”这些在三十年代早期巴斯比·贝克利为华纳兄弟影业公司音乐剧设计的数字标题,都是以严肃和认真为初衷的,并不是以逗乐为目的的。诺尔·柯沃德以情节荒诞出名的剧作,也是在作者严肃的创作态度下形成的。相反的,刻意去追随坎普会适得其反的。坎普的经典电影如《电影风波》和《马耳他之鹰》之所以成为坎普的经典电影,是因为作者在创作时并没有把坎普当做创作的目标。但同时一些自称有坎普风格的电影,例如《前夜》和《难倒魔鬼》,作者将坎普作为目标,使用过度的技术上的处理,反而使作品丧失了坎普的特点。因此,无意而为是坎普的精髓。当人们以坎普为目标而创作有坎普风格的东西的时候,他们反而离坎普越来越远。如《救生船》中梅·韦斯特、比·利莉的表演以及贝蒂·戴维斯在《前夜》中的情形。

铺张也是坎普的一大特点。例如,卡罗·克里维利的绘画,他在画中缀上了真正的珠宝,与砖石结构相得益彰,同时他又画有栩栩如生的昆虫和裂缝。这种铺张和宏大不仅体现在坎普的作品的风格上,也体现在作品的主旨,或者是创作者的意图上。例如高迪在巴塞罗那的绚丽的建筑之所以为坎普建筑,不仅因为它外表的宏大,更因为它代表了宏大的教堂创造者的意向。

坎普同时也意味着尝试不同的事。不同的事更多的是指不平凡的、对人有诱惑力的事。里普利《信不信由你》中的两个脑袋的公鸡、十字架形状的茄子等形象的创作,因其本就是基于现实而没有创作性和创新性,而不能归类于坎普。同时,电影《在海边》和小说《丧钟为谁而鸣》由于其想象的成分不充足,也不能作为坎普。但作品例如《浪子》、《参孙与大利拉》等虽然在写作和技巧上略显不够精雕细琢,但在想象上更为创新,所以可以归入坎普之列。
坎普在不同领域中的表现
电影电视

二十世纪六十年代早期,电视机由黑白向彩色的转变,使得电视节目开始向突出色彩、追求时尚的方向发展。其中虽不乏一些刻意取悦观众的节目,但仍有许多优秀的坎普风格作品。如BBC第四频道的电视节目《Eurotrash》 ,便通过模仿地区口音、夸大地区特性的方法,戳穿被访者严肃庄重的伪装,挖掘节目的内在笑点,成为坎普风的一次成功运用。

而电影方面,随着坎普风格的电视节目大量改编成电影,坎普风更是逐渐成为电影常用的手段。有些电影本意严肃,却因在不经意间流露出坎普的气质,成为坎普风电影的经典代表作。如《Valley of the Dolls, Burlesque, Showgirls》和《Mommie Dearest》,几部影片中主角过分夸张的表演让原本严肃的主题增添了许多乐趣。而有些电影即为坎普而生,如英国的《Carry On》系列,即用夸张的手法表现社会现象。
音乐表演

Dusty Springfield,罗文,泽田研二,David Bowie是坎普风歌手的典型代表。[6]他们以浓重的妆容、出位的装扮以及情感丰沛的演唱风格,成为坎普风的标志,同时也在同性恋人群中赢得了很高的人气。[7]而进入二十一世纪,乐坛坎普风依旧不减,Lady Gaga在流行音乐中以华丽且特立独行的形象知名,并贯彻在自己的日常穿着与表演融入到音乐录像带中,成为坎普风的又一个标志。而近期迅速走红网络的韩国歌手Psy浮夸的表演也被认为是坎普风的承续。
服装业

坎普风在时装上的应用十分广泛。它似乎很东方,造型中包括层层叠叠图案异常丰富,有大片的花纹或局部的印花,而人物的妆容甚至会有点“艺妓”的感觉。对它嗤之以鼻的人们,会认为这是种混搭出来的高级乞丐裝,是由一堆元素堆砌出来的华丽浮夸。但是,这都不能阻止坎普风在各个大牌中蔓延。

2011年大牌以坎普之名牵起华丽浮夸风,设计师Marc Jacobs在谈到LV新作的创作灵感时就这样说:“坎普品味只会在富裕的社会、良好教养的环境以及了解富人生活圈子的思维中产生。”因此LV与以往表达的优雅成熟女性气质迥然不同,呈现出颓靡、精致的华丽风格,在巴黎春夏时装周上更以裸身彩绘斑马纹引人注目,一身夺目色彩与闪烁材质的时装,手持蕾丝折扇与华丽手包身处耀眼夺目的上世纪70年代的模特,营造出令人神魂颠倒的独特影像。[8]
坎普的影响

作为一种对传统文化的挑战,当一小部分人嘲弄占主导地位人群的形象的时候,坎普也被赋予了政治的意义。直接的例子就是多元文化主义和新左派的思想。最典型的例子则是同性恋解放运动。该运动用坎普对抗现代社会。《来自坎普的男人》是第一部正面描写同性恋的作品。在作品中,同性恋提倡者虽然柔软却身体强壮。有坎普风格的女性演员,像朱迪·加兰、梅·蕙丝等,对女权意识的发展有重要影响。通过对一些老套的女性特征的夸张,例如脆弱、易被感动和忧郁,她们尝试着去削弱这些先入之见的可靠性。

坎普通过技术上、文体上现代却又过时的方法,重新定义文化的意义。一些事物可能因为曾经流行而现在不了而成为坎普。跟迎合低级趣味的作品不同,坎普用讽刺的方式阐释社会文化,然而低级趣味的作品却是极其真诚的。那些将事物定义成坎普的人是为了纪念“可以在不显著的事物中发现意外的价值”的过程[9]。

坎普的反讽效果是充满问题的。在这个范围内,重新定义文化的渠道通常是被上层阶级和中层阶级运用的。这些人能“承担将物质富裕的生活重新定义成精神贫困生活的工作”[10]坎普风的表演能通过将偏见用讽刺遮盖使这些偏见成为永恒。一些女权主义的批评家认为穿着女人衣服的男演员是厌恶女人的,因为这些男演员让女人看起来很可笑并且让那些有害的偏见成为永恒的。还有一些批评人文坎普的喜剧演员像拉里格莱森等将对同性恋的偏见变成了永久的。这种在文化中的不平等地位让低层阶级不能对文化进行任何重新定义,因此,低层阶级被降低到了一个静止的地位,在这个地位中,低层的人只有拥有了财富才能得到地位的提升。

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 楼主| 发表于 2022-5-14 21:33:17 | 显示全部楼层
Camp (style)
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"Campy" redirects here. For other uses, see Campy (disambiguation).

Camp is an aesthetic style and sensibility that regards something as appealing because of its bad taste and ironic value.[1] Camp aesthetics disrupt many of modernism's notions of what art is and what can be classified as high art by inverting aesthetic attributes such as beauty, value, and taste through an invitation of a different kind of apprehension and consumption.[2]

Camp can also be a social practice and function as a style and performance identity for several types of entertainment including film, cabaret, and pantomime. Where high art necessarily incorporates beauty and value, camp necessarily needs to be lively, audacious and dynamic. "Camp aesthetics delights in impertinence." Camp opposes satisfaction and seeks to challenge.[2] The visual style is closely associated with gay culture.

Camp art is related to—and often confused with—kitsch, and things with camp appeal may also be described as "cheesy". When the usage appeared in 1909, it denoted "ostentatious, exaggerated, affected, theatrical; effeminate or homosexual" behavior, and by the middle of the 1970s, camp was defined by the college edition of Webster's New World Dictionary as "banality, mediocrity, artifice, [and] ostentation ... so extreme as to amuse or have a perversely sophisticated appeal".[3] The American writer Susan Sontag's essay Notes on "Camp" (1964) emphasized its key elements as: "artifice, frivolity, naïve middle-class pretentiousness, and shocking excess".[4]

Origins and development

In 1870, in a letter produced in evidence at his examination before a magistrate at Bow-street, London, on suspicion of illegal homosexual acts, crossdresser Frederick Park referred to his "campish undertakings"; but the letter does not make clear what these were.[5] In 1909, the Oxford English Dictionary gave the first print citation of camp as

    ostentatious, exaggerated, affected, theatrical; . So as a noun, 'camp' behaviour, mannerisms, et cetera. (cf. quot. 1909); a man exhibiting such behaviour.

Carmen Miranda in the trailer for The Gang's All Here (1943)

According to the dictionary, this sense is "etymologically obscure". Camp in this sense has been suggested to have possibly derived from the French term se camper, meaning "to pose in an exaggerated fashion".[6][7] Later, it evolved into a general description of the aesthetic choices and behavior of working-class gay men.[8] The concept of camp was described by Christopher Isherwood in 1954 in his novel The World in the Evening, and then in 1964 by Susan Sontag in her essay and book Notes on "Camp".[9]

The rise of post-modernism made camp a common perspective on aesthetics, which was not identified with any specific group. The attitude was originally a distinctive factor in pre-Stonewall gay male communities, where it was the dominant cultural pattern. It originated from the understanding of gayness as effeminacy.[8] Two key components of camp were originally feminine performances: swish and drag. With swish featuring extensive use of superlatives, and drag being exaggerated female impersonation, camp became extended to all things "over the top", including women posing as female impersonators (faux queens), as in the exaggerated Hollywood version of Carmen Miranda. It was this version of the concept that was adopted by literary and art critics and became a part of the conceptual array of 1960s culture. Moe Meyer still defines camp as "queer parody".[10][11]
Contemporary culture
Television

The Comedy Central television show Strangers with Candy (1999–2000), starring comedian Amy Sedaris, was a camp spoof of the ABC Afterschool Special genre.[12][13][14] Inspired by the work of George Kuchar and his brother Mike Kuchar, ASS Studios, launched in 2011 by Courtney Fathom Sell and Jen Miller, began making a series of short, no-budget camp films. Their feature film Satan, Hold My Hand (2013) features many elements recognized in camp pictures.[15][16]
Film

Famous representatives of camp films are, for example, John Waters (Pink Flamingos, 1972) and Rosa von Praunheim (The Bed Sausage, 1971), who mainly used this style in the 1970s experimented and thus created films that are still considered cult films today.[17][18]
Music
Cher performing during her Living Proof: The Farewell Tour
Madonna in 1987 during the Who's That Girl World Tour dressing an "exaggerated" costume

In music, there exists numerous performers as examples. American singer and actress Cher is one of the artists that received the tag of "Queen of Camp" because of her outrageous fashion and live performances.[19] She gained that status in the 1970s when she launched her variety shows in collaboration with the costume designer Bob Mackie and became a constant presence on American prime time television.[20][21] Madonna is another example of camp and according to educator Carol Queen, her "whole career up to and including Sex has depended heavily on camp imagery and camp understadings of gender and sex".[22] By some point of her career, Madonna was also named "Queen of Camp".[23]

Dusty Springfield is a camp icon.[24] In public and on stage, Springfield developed a joyful image supported by her peroxide blonde beehive hairstyle, evening gowns, and heavy make-up that included her much-copied "panda eye" mascara.[24][25][26][27][28] Springfield borrowed elements of her look from blonde glamour queens of the 1950s, such as Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve, and pasted them together according to her own taste.[29][30] Her ultra-glamorous look made her a camp icon and this, combined with her emotive vocal performances, won her a powerful and enduring following in the gay community.[28][30] Besides the prototypical female drag queen, she was presented in the roles of the "Great White Lady" of pop and soul and the "Queen of Mods".[26][31] South Korean rapper Psy, known for his viral internet music videos full of flamboyant dance and visuals, has come to be seen as a 21st-century incarnation of camp style.[32][33] Geri Halliwell is recognised as a camp icon for her high camp aesthetics, performance style and kinship with the gay community during her time as a solo artist.[34][35]

Lady Gaga, a contemporary exemplar of camp, uses musical expression and the body motions of dance to make social commentary on pop culture, as in the Judas video. Her clothes, makeup, and accessories, created by high-end fashion designers, are integral to the narrative structure of her performances.[36] Katy Perry, is another example of camp, and some outlets have described her as the "Queen of Camp".[37]
Fashion
Camp: Notes on Fashion exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2019

The theme for the 2019 Met Gala was Camp: Notes on Fashion, which referenced Susan Sontag's 1964 essay, Notes on "Camp".[38]
Distinguishing between kitsch and camp

The words "camp" and "kitsch" are often used interchangeably; both may relate to art, literature, music, or any object that carries an aesthetic value. However, "kitsch" refers specifically to the work itself, whereas "camp" is a mode of performance. Thus, a person may consume kitsch intentionally or unintentionally. Camp, as Susan Sontag observed, is always a way of consuming or performing culture "in quotation marks".[39]

Sontag also distinguishes between "naive" and "deliberate" camp,[40] and examines Christopher Isherwood's distinction between low camp, which he associated with cross-dressing practices and drag performances, and high camp, which he considered as part of a cultural heritage that included "the whole emotional basis of the Ballet, for example, and of course of Baroque art".[41]
Around the world

Gay comedian Kenneth Williams wrote in a diary entry for 1 January 1947: "Went to Singapore with Stan—very camp evening, was followed, but tatty types so didn't bother to make overtures."[42] Although it applies to gay men, it is a specific adjective used to describe a man that openly promotes the fact that he is gay by being outwardly garish or eccentric, for example, the character Daffyd Thomas in the English comedy skit show Little Britain. "Camp" forms a strong element in UK culture, and many so-called gay-icons and objects are chosen as such because they are camp. People like Elton John[43] Kylie Minogue, John Inman, Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen, Lulu, Graham Norton, Mika, Lesley Joseph, Ruby Wax, Dale Winton, Cilla Black, and the music hall tradition of the pantomime are camp elements in popular culture.[citation needed] The British tradition of the "Last Night of the Proms" has been said to glory in nostalgia, camp, and pastiche.[44] Thomas Dworzak published a collection of portrait photographs of Taliban soldiers, found in Kabul photo studios. The Taliban[45][46] book shows a campy esthetics, quite close to the gay movement in California or a Peter Greenaway film.[47]

The Australian theatre and opera director Barrie Kosky is renowned for his use of camp in interpreting the works of the Western canon including Shakespeare, Wagner, Molière, Seneca, Kafka and his 2006 eight-hour production for the Sydney Theatre Company The Lost Echo, based on Ovid's Metamorphoses and Euripides' The Bacchae. In the first act ("The Song of Phaeton"), for instance, the goddess Juno takes the form of a highly stylized Marlene Dietrich, and the musical arrangements feature Noël Coward and Cole Porter. Kosky's use of camp is also effectively employed to satirize the pretensions, manners, and cultural vacuity of Australia's suburban middle class, which is suggestive of the style of Dame Edna Everage. For example, in The Lost Echo Kosky employs a chorus of high school girls and boys: one girl in the chorus takes leave from the goddess Diana, and begins to rehearse a dance routine, muttering to herself in a broad Australian accent, "Mum says I have to practice if I want to be on Australian Idol." See also the works of Australian writer/director Baz Luhrmann, in particular "Strictly Ballroom".[citation needed]

Since 2000, the Eurovision Song Contest, an annually televised competition of song performers from different countries, has shown an increased element of camp—since the contest has shown an increasing attraction within the gay communities—in their stage performances, especially during the televised finale, which is screened live across Europe. As it is a visual show, many Eurovision performances attempt to attract the attention of the voters through means other than the music, which sometimes leads to bizarre onstage gimmicks, and what some critics have called "the Eurovision kitsch drive", with almost cartoonish novelty acts performing.[citation needed]
Literature

The first post-World War II use of the word in print, marginally mentioned in the Sontag essay, may be Christopher Isherwood's 1954 novel The World in the Evening, where he comments: "You can't camp about something you don't take seriously. You're not making fun of it; you're making fun out of it. You're expressing what's basically serious to you in terms of fun and artifice and elegance." In the American writer Susan Sontag's 1964 essay Notes on "Camp", Sontag emphasized artifice, frivolity, naïve middle-class pretentiousness, and shocking excess as key elements of camp. Examples cited by Sontag included Tiffany lamps, the drawings of Aubrey Beardsley, Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake, and Japanese science fiction films such as Rodan, and The Mysterians of the 1950s.[citation needed]

In Mark Booth's 1983 book Camp he defines camp as "to present oneself as being committed to the marginal with a commitment greater than the marginal merits". He carefully discerns the distinction between genuine camp, and camp fads and fancies, things that are not intrinsically camp, but display artificiality, stylization, theatricality, naivety, sexual ambiguity, tackiness, poor taste, stylishness, or portray camp people, and thus appeal to them. He considers Sontag's definition problematical because it lacks this distinction.[citation needed]
Analysis

According to sociologist Andrew Ross, camp combines outmoded and contemporary forms of style, fashion, and technology. Often characterized by the reappropriation of a "throwaway Pop aesthetic", camp works to intermingle the categories of "high" and "low" culture.[48] Objects may become camp objects because of their historical association with a power now in decline. As opposed to kitsch, camp reappropriates culture in an ironic fashion, whereas kitsch is indelibly sincere. Additionally, kitsch may be seen as a quality of an object, while camp, "tends to refer to a subjective process".[49] Those who identify objects as "camp" commemorate the distance mirrored in the process through which, "unexpected value can be located in some obscure or exorbitant object."[50] The effect of camp's irony is problematic, insofar as the agents of cultural redefinition are often of upper- or middle-class standing who could, "afford, literally, to redefine the life of consumerism and material affluence as a life of spiritual poverty".[51]

In Ross's analysis, camp aesthetics became the site of personal liberation from the stranglehold of the corporate, capitalist state.[52] Within the capitalist environment of constant consumption, camp rediscovers history's waste, bringing back objects thought of as refuse or of bad taste. Camp liberates objects from the landfills of history and reinvokes them with a new charisma. In doing so camp creates an economy separate from that of the state. In Ross's words, camp "is the re-creation of surplus value from forgotten forms of labor".[53]

Ross suggests that camp often faces criticism from other political and aesthetic perspectives. For example, the most obvious argument is that camp is just an excuse for poor quality work and allows the tacky and vulgar to be recognized as valid art. In doing so, camp celebrates the trivial and superficial and form over content. The power of the camp object may be found in its ability to induce this reaction. In a sense objects that fill their beholders with disgust fulfill Sontag's definition of the ultimate camp statement, "it's good because it's awful."[54] From flea markets to thrift stores, the 'bad taste' of camp has been increasingly reinculcated with the cultural capital that it had intended to break away from. In an attempt to "present a challenge to the mechanisms of control and containment that operate in the name of good taste", the camp aesthetic has been appropriated by artists.[55] Their fame is only enjoyed at the expense of others, as Ross writes, "it [the pleasure of camp] is the result of the (hard) work of a producer of taste and 'taste' is only possible through exclusion and depreciation."[55]
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 楼主| 发表于 2022-5-14 21:39:23 | 显示全部楼层
Notes On "Camp"
by Susan Sontag

Published in 1964.

    Wikipedia says that this essay: "was published in 1964 and was the author's first contribution to the Partisan Review. The essay created a literary sensation and brought Sontag her first brush with intellectual notoriety. It was published in 1966 in book form in Sontag's debut collection of essays, Against Interpretation.

    I have here a copy of the text that I found somewhere on the net and mean to share with a few friends. It is not at all an official authoritative version-- if it's like other online texts, it probably missing some sentences or paragraphs, has things out of order, lacks helpful formatting, etc. Call it an extended preview of the text-- read, then go get the real book.

Many things in the world have not been named; and many things, even if they have been named, have never been described. One of these is the sensibility -- unmistakably modern, a variant of sophistication but hardly identical with it -- that goes by the cult name of "Camp."

A sensibility (as distinct from an idea) is one of the hardest things to talk about; but there are special reasons why Camp, in particular, has never been discussed. It is not a natural mode of sensibility, if there be any such. Indeed the essence of Camp is its love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration. And Camp is esoteric -- something of a private code, a badge of identity even, among small urban cliques. Apart from a lazy two-page sketch in Christopher Isherwood's novel The World in the Evening (1954), it has hardly broken into print. To talk about Camp is therefore to betray it. If the betrayal can be defended, it will be for the edification it provides, or the dignity of the conflict it resolves. For myself, I plead the goal of self-edification, and the goad of a sharp conflict in my own sensibility. I am strongly drawn to Camp, and almost as strongly offended by it. That is why I want to talk about it, and why I can. For no one who wholeheartedly shares in a given sensibility can analyze it; he can only, whatever his intention, exhibit it. To name a sensibility, to draw its contours and to recount its history, requires a deep sympathy modified by revulsion.

Though I am speaking about sensibility only -- and about a sensibility that, among other things, converts the serious into the frivolous -- these are grave matters. Most people think of sensibility or taste as the realm of purely subjective preferences, those mysterious attractions, mainly sensual, that have not been brought under the sovereignty of reason. They allow that considerations of taste play a part in their reactions to people and to works of art. But this attitude is naïve. And even worse. To patronize the faculty of taste is to patronize oneself. For taste governs every free -- as opposed to rote -- human response. Nothing is more decisive. There is taste in people, visual taste, taste in emotion - and there is taste in acts, taste in morality. Intelligence, as well, is really a kind of taste: taste in ideas. (One of the facts to be reckoned with is that taste tends to develop very unevenly. It's rare that the same person has good visual taste and good taste in people and taste in ideas.)

Taste has no system and no proofs. But there is something like a logic of taste: the consistent sensibility which underlies and gives rise to a certain taste. A sensibility is almost, but not quite, ineffable. Any sensibility which can be crammed into the mold of a system, or handled with the rough tools of proof, is no longer a sensibility at all. It has hardened into an idea . . .

To snare a sensibility in words, especially one that is alive and powerful,1 one must be tentative and nimble. The form of jottings, rather than an essay (with its claim to a linear, consecutive argument), seemed more appropriate for getting down something of this particular fugitive sensibility. It's embarrassing to be solemn and treatise-like about Camp. One runs the risk of having, oneself, produced a very inferior piece of Camp.

These notes are for Oscar Wilde.

"One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art."
- Phrases & Philosophies for the Use of the Young

1. To start very generally: Camp is a certain mode of aestheticism. It is one way of seeing the world as an aesthetic phenomenon. That way, the way of Camp, is not in terms of beauty, but in terms of the degree of artifice, of stylization.

2. To emphasize style is to slight content, or to introduce an attitude which is neutral with respect to content. It goes without saying that the Camp sensibility is disengaged, depoliticized -- or at least apolitical.

3. Not only is there a Camp vision, a Camp way of looking at things. Camp is as well a quality discoverable in objects and the behavior of persons. There are "campy" movies, clothes, furniture, popular songs, novels, people, buildings. . . . This distinction is important. True, the Camp eye has the power to transform experience. But not everything can be seen as Camp. It's not all in the eye of the beholder.

4. Random examples of items which are part of the canon of Camp:

    Zuleika Dobson
    Tiffany lamps
    Scopitone films
    The Brown Derby restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in LA
    The Enquirer, headlines and stories
    Aubrey Beardsley drawings
    Swan Lake
    Bellini's operas
    Visconti's direction of Salome and 'Tis Pity She's a Whore
    certain turn-of-the-century picture postcards
    Schoedsack's King Kong
    the Cuban pop singer La Lupe
    Lynn Ward's novel in woodcuts, God's Man
    the old Flash Gordon comics
    women's clothes of the twenties (feather boas, fringed and beaded dresses, etc.)
    the novels of Ronald Firbank and Ivy Compton-Burnett
    stag movies seen without lust

5. Camp taste has an affinity for certain arts rather than others. Clothes, furniture, all the elements of visual décor, for instance, make up a large part of Camp. For Camp art is often decorative art, emphasizing texture, sensuous surface, and style at the expense of content. Concert music, though, because it is contentless, is rarely Camp. It offers no opportunity, say, for a contrast between silly or extravagant content and rich form. . . . Sometimes whole art forms become saturated with Camp. Classical ballet, opera, movies have seemed so for a long time. In the last two years, popular music (post rock-'n'-roll, what the French call yé yé) has been annexed. And movie criticism (like lists of "The 10 Best Bad Movies I Have Seen") is probably the greatest popularizer of Camp taste today, because most people still go to the movies in a high-spirited and unpretentious way.

6. There is a sense in which it is correct to say: "It's too good to be Camp." Or "too important," not marginal enough. (More on this later.) Thus, the personality and many of the works of Jean Cocteau are Camp, but not those of André Gide; the operas of Richard Strauss, but not those of Wagner; concoctions of Tin Pan Alley and Liverpool, but not jazz. Many examples of Camp are things which, from a "serious" point of view, are either bad art or kitsch. Not all, though. Not only is Camp not necessarily bad art, but some art which can be approached as Camp (example: the major films of Louis Feuillade) merits the most serious admiration and study.

"The more we study Art, the less we care for Nature."
- The Decay of Lying

7. All Camp objects, and persons, contain a large element of artifice. Nothing in nature can be campy . . . Rural Camp is still man-made, and most campy objects are urban. (Yet, they often have a serenity -- or a naïveté -- which is the equivalent of pastoral. A great deal of Camp suggests Empson's phrase, "urban pastoral.")

8. Camp is a vision of the world in terms of style -- but a particular kind of style. It is the love of the exaggerated, the "off," of things-being-what-they-are-not. The best example is in Art Nouveau, the most typical and fully developed Camp style. Art Nouveau objects, typically, convert one thing into something else: the lighting fixtures in the form of flowering plants, the living room which is really a grotto. A remarkable example: the Paris Métro entrances designed by Hector Guimard in the late 1890s in the shape of cast-iron orchid stalks.

9. As a taste in persons, Camp responds particularly to the markedly attenuated and to the strongly exaggerated. The androgyne is certainly one of the great images of Camp sensibility. Examples: the swooning, slim, sinuous figures of pre-Raphaelite painting and poetry; the thin, flowing, sexless bodies in Art Nouveau prints and posters, presented in relief on lamps and ashtrays; the haunting androgynous vacancy behind the perfect beauty of Greta Garbo. Here, Camp taste draws on a mostly unacknowledged truth of taste: the most refined form of sexual attractiveness (as well as the most refined form of sexual pleasure) consists in going against the grain of one's sex. What is most beautiful in virile men is something feminine; what is most beautiful in feminine women is something masculine. . . . Allied to the Camp taste for the androgynous is something that seems quite different but isn't: a relish for the exaggeration of sexual characteristics and personality mannerisms. For obvious reasons, the best examples that can be cited are movie stars. The corny flamboyant female-ness of Jayne Mansfield, Gina Lollobrigida, Jane Russell, Virginia Mayo; the exaggerated he-man-ness of Steve Reeves, Victor Mature. The great stylists of temperament and mannerism, like Bette Davis, Barbara Stanwyck, Tallulah Bankhead, Edwige Feuillière.

10. Camp sees everything in quotation marks. It's not a lamp, but a "lamp"; not a woman, but a "woman." To perceive Camp in objects and persons is to understand Being-as-Playing-a-Role. It is the farthest extension, in sensibility, of the metaphor of life as theater.

11. Camp is the triumph of the epicene style. (The convertibility of "man" and "woman," "person" and "thing.") But all style, that is, artifice, is, ultimately, epicene. Life is not stylish. Neither is nature.

12. The question isn't, "Why travesty, impersonation, theatricality?" The question is, rather, "When does travesty, impersonation, theatricality acquire the special flavor of Camp?" Why is the atmosphere of Shakespeare's comedies (As You Like It, etc.) not epicene, while that of Der Rosenkavalier is?

13. The dividing line seems to fall in the 18th century; there the origins of Camp taste are to be found (Gothic novels, Chinoiserie, caricature, artificial ruins, and so forth.) But the relation to nature was quite different then. In the 18th century, people of taste either patronized nature (Strawberry Hill) or attempted to remake it into something artificial (Versailles). They also indefatigably patronized the past. Today's Camp taste effaces nature, or else contradicts it outright. And the relation of Camp taste to the past is extremely sentimental.

14. A pocket history of Camp might, of course, begin farther back -- with the mannerist artists like Pontormo, Rosso, and Caravaggio, or the extraordinarily theatrical painting of Georges de La Tour, or Euphuism (Lyly, etc.) in literature. Still, the soundest starting point seems to be the late 17th and early 18th century, because of that period's extraordinary feeling for artifice, for surface, for symmetry; its taste for the picturesque and the thrilling, its elegant conventions for representing instant feeling and the total presence of character -- the epigram and the rhymed couplet (in words), the flourish (in gesture and in music). The late 17th and early 18th century is the great period of Camp: Pope, Congreve, Walpole, etc, but not Swift; les précieux in France; the rococo churches of Munich; Pergolesi. Somewhat later: much of Mozart. But in the 19th century, what had been distributed throughout all of high culture now becomes a special taste; it takes on overtones of the acute, the esoteric, the perverse. Confining the story to England alone, we see Camp continuing wanly through 19th century aestheticism (Bume-Jones, Pater, Ruskin, Tennyson), emerging full-blown with the Art Nouveau movement in the visual and decorative arts, and finding its conscious ideologists in such "wits" as Wilde and Firbank.

15. Of course, to say all these things are Camp is not to argue they are simply that. A full analysis of Art Nouveau, for instance, would scarcely equate it with Camp. But such an analysis cannot ignore what in Art Nouveau allows it to be experienced as Camp. Art Nouveau is full of "content," even of a political-moral sort; it was a revolutionary movement in the arts, spurred on by a Utopian vision (somewhere between William Morris and the Bauhaus group) of an organic politics and taste. Yet there is also a feature of the Art Nouveau objects which suggests a disengaged, unserious, "aesthete's" vision. This tells us something important about Art Nouveau -- and about what the lens of Camp, which blocks out content, is.

16. Thus, the Camp sensibility is one that is alive to a double sense in which some things can be taken. But this is not the familiar split-level construction of a literal meaning, on the one hand, and a symbolic meaning, on the other. It is the difference, rather, between the thing as meaning something, anything, and the thing as pure artifice.

17. This comes out clearly in the vulgar use of the word Camp as a verb, "to camp," something that people do. To camp is a mode of seduction -- one which employs flamboyant mannerisms susceptible of a double interpretation; gestures full of duplicity, with a witty meaning for cognoscenti and another, more impersonal, for outsiders. Equally and by extension, when the word becomes a noun, when a person or a thing is "a camp," a duplicity is involved. Behind the "straight" public sense in which something can be taken, one has found a private zany experience of the thing.

"To be natural is such a very difficult pose to keep up."
- An Ideal Husband

18. One must distinguish between naïve and deliberate Camp. Pure Camp is always naïve. Camp which knows itself to be Camp ("camping") is usually less satisfying.

19. The pure examples of Camp are unintentional; they are dead serious. The Art Nouveau craftsman who makes a lamp with a snake coiled around it is not kidding, nor is he trying to be charming. He is saying, in all earnestness: Voilà! the Orient! Genuine Camp -- for instance, the numbers devised for the Warner Brothers musicals of the early thirties (42nd Street; The Golddiggers of 1933; ... of 1935; ... of 1937; etc.) by Busby Berkeley -- does not mean to be funny. Camping -- say, the plays of Noel Coward -- does. It seems unlikely that much of the traditional opera repertoire could be such satisfying Camp if the melodramatic absurdities of most opera plots had not been taken seriously by their composers. One doesn't need to know the artist's private intentions. The work tells all. (Compare a typical 19th century opera with Samuel Barber's Vanessa, a piece of manufactured, calculated Camp, and the difference is clear.)

20. Probably, intending to be campy is always harmful. The perfection of Trouble in Paradise and The Maltese Falcon, among the greatest Camp movies ever made, comes from the effortless smooth way in which tone is maintained. This is not so with such famous would-be Camp films of the fifties as All About Eve and Beat the Devil. These more recent movies have their fine moments, but the first is so slick and the second so hysterical; they want so badly to be campy that they're continually losing the beat. . . . Perhaps, though, it is not so much a question of the unintended effect versus the conscious intention, as of the delicate relation between parody and self-parody in Camp. The films of Hitchcock are a showcase for this problem. When self-parody lacks ebullience but instead reveals (even sporadically) a contempt for one's themes and one's materials - as in To Catch a Thief, Rear Window, North by Northwest -- the results are forced and heavy-handed, rarely Camp. Successful Camp -- a movie like Carné's Drôle de Drame; the film performances of Mae West and Edward Everett Horton; portions of the Goon Show -- even when it reveals self-parody, reeks of self-love.
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 楼主| 发表于 2022-5-14 21:40:16 | 显示全部楼层
21. So, again, Camp rests on innocence. That means Camp discloses innocence, but also, when it can, corrupts it. Objects, being objects, don't change when they are singled out by the Camp vision. Persons, however, respond to their audiences. Persons begin "camping": Mae West, Bea Lillie, La Lupe, Tallulah Bankhead in Lifeboat, Bette Davis in All About Eve. (Persons can even be induced to camp without their knowing it. Consider the way Fellini got Anita Ekberg to parody herself in La Dolce Vita.)

22. Considered a little less strictly, Camp is either completely naïve or else wholly conscious (when one plays at being campy). An example of the latter: Wilde's epigrams themselves.

"It's absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious."
- Lady Windemere's Fan

23. In naïve, or pure, Camp, the essential element is seriousness, a seriousness that fails. Of course, not all seriousness that fails can be redeemed as Camp. Only that which has the proper mixture of the exaggerated, the fantastic, the passionate, and the naïve.

24. When something is just bad (rather than Camp), it's often because it is too mediocre in its ambition. The artist hasn't attempted to do anything really outlandish. ("It's too much," "It's too fantastic," "It's not to be believed," are standard phrases of Camp enthusiasm.)

25. The hallmark of Camp is the spirit of extravagance. Camp is a woman walking around in a dress made of three million feathers. Camp is the paintings of Carlo Crivelli, with their real jewels and trompe-l'oeil insects and cracks in the masonry. Camp is the outrageous aestheticism of Steinberg's six American movies with Dietrich, all six, but especially the last, The Devil Is a Woman. . . . In Camp there is often something démesuré in the quality of the ambition, not only in the style of the work itself. Gaudí's lurid and beautiful buildings in Barcelona are Camp not only because of their style but because they reveal -- most notably in the Cathedral of the Sagrada Familia -- the ambition on the part of one man to do what it takes a generation, a whole culture to accomplish.

26. Camp is art that proposes itself seriously, but cannot be taken altogether seriously because it is "too much." Titus Andronicus and Strange Interlude are almost Camp, or could be played as Camp. The public manner and rhetoric of de Gaulle, often, are pure Camp.

27. A work can come close to Camp, but not make it, because it succeeds. Eisenstein's films are seldom Camp because, despite all exaggeration, they do succeed (dramatically) without surplus. If they were a little more "off," they could be great Camp - particularly Ivan the Terrible I & II. The same for Blake's drawings and paintings, weird and mannered as they are. They aren't Camp; though Art Nouveau, influenced by Blake, is.

What is extravagant in an inconsistent or an unpassionate way is not Camp. Neither can anything be Camp that does not seem to spring from an irrepressible, a virtually uncontrolled sensibility. Without passion, one gets pseudo-Camp -- what is merely decorative, safe, in a word, chic. On the barren edge of Camp lie a number of attractive things: the sleek fantasies of Dali, the haute couture preciosity of Albicocco's The Girl with the Golden Eyes. But the two things - Camp and preciosity - must not be confused.

28. Again, Camp is the attempt to do something extraordinary. But extraordinary in the sense, often, of being special, glamorous. (The curved line, the extravagant gesture.) Not extraordinary merely in the sense of effort. Ripley's Believe-It-Or-Not items are rarely campy. These items, either natural oddities (the two-headed rooster, the eggplant in the shape of a cross) or else the products of immense labor (the man who walked from here to China on his hands, the woman who engraved the New Testament on the head of a pin), lack the visual reward - the glamour, the theatricality - that marks off certain extravagances as Camp.

29. The reason a movie like On the Beach, books like Winesburg, Ohio and For Whom the Bell Tolls are bad to the point of being laughable, but not bad to the point of being enjoyable, is that they are too dogged and pretentious. They lack fantasy. There is Camp in such bad movies as The Prodigal and Samson and Delilah, the series of Italian color spectacles featuring the super-hero Maciste, numerous Japanese science fiction films (Rodan, The Mysterians, The H-Man) because, in their relative unpretentiousness and vulgarity, they are more extreme and irresponsible in their fantasy - and therefore touching and quite enjoyable.

30. Of course, the canon of Camp can change. Time has a great deal to do with it. Time may enhance what seems simply dogged or lacking in fantasy now because we are too close to it, because it resembles too closely our own everyday fantasies, the fantastic nature of which we don't perceive. We are better able to enjoy a fantasy as fantasy when it is not our own.

31. This is why so many of the objects prized by Camp taste are old-fashioned, out-of-date, démodé. It's not a love of the old as such. It's simply that the process of aging or deterioration provides the necessary detachment -- or arouses a necessary sympathy. When the theme is important, and contemporary, the failure of a work of art may make us indignant. Time can change that. Time liberates the work of art from moral relevance, delivering it over to the Camp sensibility. . . . Another effect: time contracts the sphere of banality. (Banality is, strictly speaking, always a category of the contemporary.) What was banal can, with the passage of time, become fantastic. Many people who listen with delight to the style of Rudy Vallee revived by the English pop group, The Temperance Seven, would have been driven up the wall by Rudy Vallee in his heyday.

Thus, things are campy, not when they become old - but when we become less involved in them, and can enjoy, instead of be frustrated by, the failure of the attempt. But the effect of time is unpredictable. Maybe Method acting (James Dean, Rod Steiger, Warren Beatty) will seem as Camp some day as Ruby Keeler's does now - or as Sarah Bernhardt's does, in the films she made at the end of her career. And maybe not.

32. Camp is the glorification of "character." The statement is of no importance - except, of course, to the person (Loie Fuller, Gaudí, Cecil B. De Mille, Crivelli, de Gaulle, etc.) who makes it. What the Camp eye appreciates is the unity, the force of the person. In every move the aging Martha Graham makes she's being Martha Graham, etc., etc. . . . This is clear in the case of the great serious idol of Camp taste, Greta Garbo. Garbo's incompetence (at the least, lack of depth) as an actress enhances her beauty. She's always herself.

33. What Camp taste responds to is "instant character" (this is, of course, very 18th century); and, conversely, what it is not stirred by is the sense of the development of character. Character is understood as a state of continual incandescence - a person being one, very intense thing. This attitude toward character is a key element of the theatricalization of experience embodied in the Camp sensibility. And it helps account for the fact that opera and ballet are experienced as such rich treasures of Camp, for neither of these forms can easily do justice to the complexity of human nature. Wherever there is development of character, Camp is reduced. Among operas, for example, La Traviata (which has some small development of character) is less campy than Il Trovatore (which has none).

"Life is too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it."
- Vera, or The Nihilists

34. Camp taste turns its back on the good-bad axis of ordinary aesthetic judgment. Camp doesn't reverse things. It doesn't argue that the good is bad, or the bad is good. What it does is to offer for art (and life) a different -- a supplementary -- set of standards.

35. Ordinarily we value a work of art because of the seriousness and dignity of what it achieves. We value it because it succeeds - in being what it is and, presumably, in fulfilling the intention that lies behind it. We assume a proper, that is to say, straightforward relation between intention and performance. By such standards, we appraise The Iliad, Aristophanes' plays, The Art of the Fugue, Middlemarch, the paintings of Rembrandt, Chartres, the poetry of Donne, The Divine Comedy, Beethoven's quartets, and - among people - Socrates, Jesus, St. Francis, Napoleon, Savonarola. In short, the pantheon of high culture: truth, beauty, and seriousness.

36. But there are other creative sensibilities besides the seriousness (both tragic and comic) of high culture and of the high style of evaluating people. And one cheats oneself, as a human being, if one has respect only for the style of high culture, whatever else one may do or feel on the sly.

For instance, there is the kind of seriousness whose trademark is anguish, cruelty, derangement. Here we do accept a disparity between intention and result. I am speaking, obviously, of a style of personal existence as well as of a style in art; but the examples had best come from art. Think of Bosch, Sade, Rimbaud, Jarry, Kafka, Artaud, think of most of the important works of art of the 20th century, that is, art whose goal is not that of creating harmonies but of overstraining the medium and introducing more and more violent, and unresolvable, subject-matter. This sensibility also insists on the principle that an oeuvre in the old sense (again, in art, but also in life) is not possible. Only "fragments" are possible. . . . Clearly, different standards apply here than to traditional high culture. Something is good not because it is achieved, but because another kind of truth about the human situation, another experience of what it is to be human - in short, another valid sensibility -- is being revealed.

And third among the great creative sensibilities is Camp: the sensibility of failed seriousness, of the theatricalization of experience. Camp refuses both the harmonies of traditional seriousness, and the risks of fully identifying with extreme states of feeling.

37. The first sensibility, that of high culture, is basically moralistic. The second sensibility, that of extreme states of feeling, represented in much contemporary "avant-garde" art, gains power by a tension between moral and aesthetic passion. The third, Camp, is wholly aesthetic.

38. Camp is the consistently aesthetic experience of the world. It incarnates a victory of "style" over "content," "aesthetics" over "morality," of irony over tragedy.

39. Camp and tragedy are antitheses. There is seriousness in Camp (seriousness in the degree of the artist's involvement) and, often, pathos. The excruciating is also one of the tonalities of Camp; it is the quality of excruciation in much of Henry James (for instance, The Europeans, The Awkward Age, The Wings of the Dove) that is responsible for the large element of Camp in his writings. But there is never, never tragedy.

40. Style is everything. Genet's ideas, for instance, are very Camp. Genet's statement that "the only criterion of an act is its elegance"2 is virtually interchangeable, as a statement, with Wilde's "in matters of great importance, the vital element is not sincerity, but style." But what counts, finally, is the style in which ideas are held. The ideas about morality and politics in, say, Lady Windemere's Fan and in Major Barbara are Camp, but not just because of the nature of the ideas themselves. It is those ideas, held in a special playful way. The Camp ideas in Our Lady of the Flowers are maintained too grimly, and the writing itself is too successfully elevated and serious, for Genet's books to be Camp.

41. The whole point of Camp is to dethrone the serious. Camp is playful, anti-serious. More precisely, Camp involves a new, more complex relation to "the serious." One can be serious about the frivolous, frivolous about the serious.

42. One is drawn to Camp when one realizes that "sincerity" is not enough. Sincerity can be simple philistinism, intellectual narrowness.

43. The traditional means for going beyond straight seriousness - irony, satire - seem feeble today, inadequate to the culturally oversaturated medium in which contemporary sensibility is schooled. Camp introduces a new standard: artifice as an ideal, theatricality.

44. Camp proposes a comic vision of the world. But not a bitter or polemical comedy. If tragedy is an experience of hyperinvolvement, comedy is an experience of underinvolvement, of detachment.

"I adore simple pleasures, they are the last refuge of the complex."
- A Woman of No Importance

45. Detachment is the prerogative of an elite; and as the dandy is the 19th century's surrogate for the aristocrat in matters of culture, so Camp is the modern dandyism. Camp is the answer to the problem: how to be a dandy in the age of mass culture.

46. The dandy was overbred. His posture was disdain, or else ennui. He sought rare sensations, undefiled by mass appreciation. (Models: Des Esseintes in Huysmans' À Rebours, Marius the Epicurean, Valéry's Monsieur Teste.) He was dedicated to "good taste."

The connoisseur of Camp has found more ingenious pleasures. Not in Latin poetry and rare wines and velvet jackets, but in the coarsest, commonest pleasures, in the arts of the masses. Mere use does not defile the objects of his pleasure, since he learns to possess them in a rare way. Camp -- Dandyism in the age of mass culture -- makes no distinction between the unique object and the mass-produced object. Camp taste transcends the nausea of the replica.

47. Wilde himself is a transitional figure. The man who, when he first came to London, sported a velvet beret, lace shirts, velveteen knee-breeches and black silk stockings, could never depart too far in his life from the pleasures of the old-style dandy; this conservatism is reflected in The Picture of Dorian Gray. But many of his attitudes suggest something more modern. It was Wilde who formulated an important element of the Camp sensibility -- the equivalence of all objects -- when he announced his intention of "living up" to his blue-and-white china, or declared that a doorknob could be as admirable as a painting. When he proclaimed the importance of the necktie, the boutonniere, the chair, Wilde was anticipating the democratic esprit of Camp.

48. The old-style dandy hated vulgarity. The new-style dandy, the lover of Camp, appreciates vulgarity. Where the dandy would be continually offended or bored, the connoisseur of Camp is continually amused, delighted. The dandy held a perfumed handkerchief to his nostrils and was liable to swoon; the connoisseur of Camp sniffs the stink and prides himself on his strong nerves.

49. It is a feat, of course. A feat goaded on, in the last analysis, by the threat of boredom. The relation between boredom and Camp taste cannot be overestimated. Camp taste is by its nature possible only in affluent societies, in societies or circles capable of experiencing the psychopathology of affluence.

"What is abnormal in Life stands in normal relations to Art. It is the only thing in Life that stands in normal relations to Art."
- A Few Maxims for the Instruction of the Over-Educated

50. Aristocracy is a position vis-à-vis culture (as well as vis-à-vis power), and the history of Camp taste is part of the history of snob taste. But since no authentic aristocrats in the old sense exist today to sponsor special tastes, who is the bearer of this taste? Answer: an improvised self-elected class, mainly homosexuals, who constitute themselves as aristocrats of taste.

51. The peculiar relation between Camp taste and homosexuality has to be explained. While it's not true that Camp taste is homosexual taste, there is no doubt a peculiar affinity and overlap. Not all liberals are Jews, but Jews have shown a peculiar affinity for liberal and reformist causes. So, not all homosexuals have Camp taste. But homosexuals, by and large, constitute the vanguard -- and the most articulate audience -- of Camp. (The analogy is not frivolously chosen. Jews and homosexuals are the outstanding creative minorities in contemporary urban culture. Creative, that is, in the truest sense: they are creators of sensibilities. The two pioneering forces of modern sensibility are Jewish moral seriousness and homosexual aestheticism and irony.)

52. The reason for the flourishing of the aristocratic posture among homosexuals also seems to parallel the Jewish case. For every sensibility is self-serving to the group that promotes it. Jewish liberalism is a gesture of self-legitimization. So is Camp taste, which definitely has something propagandistic about it. Needless to say, the propaganda operates in exactly the opposite direction. The Jews pinned their hopes for integrating into modern society on promoting the moral sense. Homosexuals have pinned their integration into society on promoting the aesthetic sense. Camp is a solvent of morality. It neutralizes moral indignation, sponsors playfulness.

53. Nevertheless, even though homosexuals have been its vanguard, Camp taste is much more than homosexual taste. Obviously, its metaphor of life as theater is peculiarly suited as a justification and projection of a certain aspect of the situation of homosexuals. (The Camp insistence on not being "serious," on playing, also connects with the homosexual's desire to remain youthful.) Yet one feels that if homosexuals hadn't more or less invented Camp, someone else would. For the aristocratic posture with relation to culture cannot die, though it may persist only in increasingly arbitrary and ingenious ways. Camp is (to repeat) the relation to style in a time in which the adoption of style -- as such -- has become altogether questionable. (In the modem era, each new style, unless frankly anachronistic, has come on the scene as an anti-style.)

"One must have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing."
- In conversation

54. The experiences of Camp are based on the great discovery that the sensibility of high culture has no monopoly upon refinement. Camp asserts that good taste is not simply good taste; that there exists, indeed, a good taste of bad taste. (Genet talks about this in Our Lady of the Flowers.) The discovery of the good taste of bad taste can be very liberating. The man who insists on high and serious pleasures is depriving himself of pleasure; he continually restricts what he can enjoy; in the constant exercise of his good taste he will eventually price himself out of the market, so to speak. Here Camp taste supervenes upon good taste as a daring and witty hedonism. It makes the man of good taste cheerful, where before he ran the risk of being chronically frustrated. It is good for the digestion.

55. Camp taste is, above all, a mode of enjoyment, of appreciation - not judgment. Camp is generous. It wants to enjoy. It only seems like malice, cynicism. (Or, if it is cynicism, it's not a ruthless but a sweet cynicism.) Camp taste doesn't propose that it is in bad taste to be serious; it doesn't sneer at someone who succeeds in being seriously dramatic. What it does is to find the success in certain passionate failures.

56. Camp taste is a kind of love, love for human nature. It relishes, rather than judges, the little triumphs and awkward intensities of "character." . . . Camp taste identifies with what it is enjoying. People who share this sensibility are not laughing at the thing they label as "a camp," they're enjoying it. Camp is a tender feeling.

(Here, one may compare Camp with much of Pop Art, which -- when it is not just Camp -- embodies an attitude that is related, but still very different. Pop Art is more flat and more dry, more serious, more detached, ultimately nihilistic.)

57. Camp taste nourishes itself on the love that has gone into certain objects and personal styles. The absence of this love is the reason why such kitsch items as Peyton Place (the book) and the Tishman Building aren't Camp.

58. The ultimate Camp statement: it's good because it's awful . . . Of course, one can't always say that. Only under certain conditions, those which I've tried to sketch in these notes.

1 The sensibility of an era is not only its most decisive, but also its most perishable, aspect. One may capture the ideas (intellectual history) and the behavior (social history) of an epoch without ever touching upon the sensibility or taste which informed those ideas, that behavior. Rare are those historical studies -- like Huizinga on the late Middle Ages, Febvre on 16th century France -- which do tell us something about the sensibility of the period.

2 Sartre's gloss on this in Saint Genet is: "Elegance is the quality of conduct which transforms the greatest amount of being into appearing."
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