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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.
"The more we study Art, the less we care for Nature." - The Decay of Lying 7. (Yet, they often have a serenity -- or a naivet -- which is the equivalent of pastoral.
All Camp objects, and persons, contain a large element of artifice. A great deal of Camp suggests Empson's phrase, "urban pastoral.") 8.
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.
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.
It goes without saying that the Camp sensibility is disengaged, depoliticized -- or at least apolitical. Not only is there a Camp vision, a Camp way of looking at things. For Camp art is often decorative art, emphasizing texture, sensuous surface, and style at the expense of content. Sometimes whole art forms become saturated with Camp.
Camp is as well a quality discoverable in objects and the behavior of persons. Concert music, though, because it is contentless, is rarely Camp. Classical ballet, opera, movies have seemed so for a long time.
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.