Paglia -- who took over my mind around the same time and stubbornly refuses to leave -- defined for our culture the difference in terms we could understand: Dionysian and Apollonian. Art, she says, is an attempt by the Apollonian to define and describe the Dionysian. Perversity in art, then, is simply a self-knowing action of Apollonian artifice to reveal its own roots in the Dionysian. For me the best example for this is Emily Dickinson, who seems about as vanilla as can be, until you actually look at the words and images in her poems:
...I got so I could walk across
That Angle in the floor,
Where he turned so, and I turned -- how --
And all our Sinew tore --
I got so I could stir the Box --
In which his letters grew
Without that forcing, in my breath --
As Staples -- driven through --
That's just ... wicked gross. If you imagine for a moment writing those words with your own hand, it becomes an experience completely unlike that of reading an Emily Dickinson poem. She's like the Lovecraft of love. She touches God in the dark places.
Point being, when Maryann says the words "culture" or "civilization" she means "Apollo," His creed and His magic, His music and art, His worship, which to her are translations, mimesis, of the infinite to which Dionysus promises direct contact. That's why she keeps calling it "fake," because to her that's bullshit. I don't agree, because I like art and I love Apollo, but the whole point of art is to be an artifice of something ineffable, which is to say artificial, and that's a whole other thing you have to make peace with.
To say it another way: Dionysus says "Eat and drink and fuck," Apollo says, "...And hit that motherfucking gym when you're done, or nobody will fuck you." The healthy body is nothing but artifice: our culture puts us at desks for forty hours a week and then demands that our bodies present the exact opposite image, of having run through the forest throwing spears and dodging mastodons and rocking the Olympics. What are the words we use for those bodies we want? "Sculpted," "chiseled." Art.
And please don't think I'm speaking for that sad politicized fat-acceptance victim card: I love art. It's not a bad thing, because health is not a bad thing; it's just not the whole thing. Feminism is more than a list of grievances, and the beauty myth is just that: The Dionysian body is Jane Bodehouse and Mike Spencer, nymph and satyr, sated having supped, full bellies and pendulous breasts. Think about Fat Lee Adama, when he forgot to be Apollo. And then think about our vampire friends, the most Apollonian of all creatures on God's earth: lines and curves in perfect proportion. Both are crucial, because without either, the other becomes moot.