“[Hilton] Kramer was repulsed by the increasing number of leftists who had become apologists for the Soviet Union, which he saw as a clear and present danger to the United States and to free societies around the world. At the same time, he was among the first to recognize that a larger “cultural revolution” (headquartered in the academy) was taking shape, replacing the tradition of Western humanism with the reductivist ideologies of race, class, and gender…

Kramer brings these commitments to bear on Susan Sontag in one of the best essays in the collection. In an unsparing dissection of Sontag’s famous 1964 essay “On Camp,” Kramer sees this “pasionaria of style” to be the herald of our postmodern malaise. Sontag’s celebration of camp, with its fundamentally amoral vision (“the victory of ‘style’ over ‘content,’ ‘aesthetics’ over ‘morality,’ ‘irony’ over ‘tragedy’”), has gone hand-in-hand with the triumph of pop culture, the decay of standards, and the sort of blithe nihilism that dominates much of academia today.

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