Correspondence with James Chance

Assembled by John "Birdman" Bryant

Like most hostile correspondents, James thought he was going to show up the Birdman as an ignorant redneck.
As it turned out, James got some rather large and unpleasant surprises. But Birdman got a surprise, too -- by the end, James had become almost friendly.


James Chance <> writes to Birdman:

Dear Mr. Bryant,

Somehow I stumbled on your website, and I have a few off the cuff comments.

The facts that you consider literature to be mere "entertainment"; that you consider Shakespeare to be a "hack" comparable to Harold Robbins; that you dismiss Cervantes as "irrelevant" to "anything in the present day"; that you don't see any reason to read works of philosophy and literature written before the mid-19th century; that you consider such works to have been "superceded"; that you, while acknowledging Kant's "important distinction" between analytic and synthetic judgments (which, even considered as the academic "problem" you envision, would be inconsequential apart from Kant's propositions regarding synthetic a priori judgments) actually is trivial apart from his views on "the darker races" -- all of this only demonstrates that you don't know anything about literature or philosophy; hence, your views on these subjects, not being the views of a serious person, are irrelevant.

More importantly, however, it demonstrates that you don't know anything about what you purport to "defend," namely, "western civilization." This view is confirmed by your attempt to define "western civilization"; after stupidly remarking that "art, literature and language" are "nonessential," you advance the proposition that "the core" of "western civilization" consists in the fact that "the white race" "built" it -- a proposition that is circular and therefore meaningless as most grade schoolers would readily discern.

You can't very well defend "western civilization" when you don't know what western civilization means, which explains, in part (there are many other reasons) why your entire effort is wasted.

It also explains why people who actually care about western civilization (as distinguished from insipid racist nabobs who go around "defending" western civilization) will go on reading and studying the work of writers like Shakespeare, Kant, Cervantes, etc., while your influence will be limited to a few dozen semi-literate social misfits, neo-nazis, klansmen and other two-legged cockroaches.



[Birdman replies:]

Well, James, I see that you have gotten your dandruff up and that you have put on your war paint, but really, except for a little war dance around the dying embers of your fuliginous fire, you failed to mount an attack, and I am afraid I shall just have to lie back and yawn.

But for all your silliness, your letter does make me realize that there is an important matter which I failed to address in my discussion of Western civilization. While there is no standard name for it, we might characterize it as excessive reverence for the past. This has been particularly characteristic of British education, where students have, until recently, studied Euclid's Geometry as opposed to more modern texts, and where a reverence for 'the classics' made Greek and Latin a part of the curriculum in virtually every British school. Against such reverence for the past we have what might be called the 'modernists', who have no interest in the past, who seem to think that ancient history is what happened in the 60s, and who say, "Let the dead past bury its dead' (Longfellow). For myself, I am a Moderate -- I think that the present must be seen as continuous with the past, and that the past must be allowed to illuminate the present -- as an old Jewish proverb says, "Learn from others' mistakes -- you don't have time to make them all yourself." But I am not wedded to the Ancients -- Twain rightly remarked that classics are books that people praise but don't read, and THAT for a very good reason -- not that they are out of date, but rather that they are out of GAS, and the praise is merely a tip of the hat to the now-rather-elderly Mrs Grundy (If they didn't praise them, "What would Mrs Grundy say?" (Thomas Morton)) But the battle between Ancients and Moderns has been going on for a long time -- vide, for example, Jonathan Swift's Battle of the Books (you are familiar with that, are you not?), and the safest position in this battle is the Moderate one, which is the one I take.

But if you wish to insist against all odds that there is substantial matter in the Ancients that we are neglecting, then 'bring it on'. If you think the importance of Cervantes is something other than the dead issue of knocking Romanticism and Chivalry, let's hear it. If you think that Kant, with his nonsensical Categorical Imperative and Critique of No Good Reason, has relevance to modern philosophy, let's hear it. And if you can read my Better Than Shakespeare and say with a straight face that I do not have a hell of a good reason for saying that Shakespeare was a hack, then let's hear it. But you won't, because you can't (Kant?).

Western ciivilization is far more important as a process than an achievement. Its dynamic is that it evolves, not that it preserves. We are right to revere the Ancients, not because they should be studied, but because they helped to give us a fingerhold upon the future. And if we slip back to barbarism -- as we are doing by following the Modernist light of Political Correctness which happens to illume your particular tunnel vision, it will not be because we failed to study their lucubrations, but because we failed to recognize that social evolution is as important as biological evolution, and that nature did not create xenophobia, patriotism, racial pride and similar currently-unfashionable emotions for no reason, but rather because they have worked for long and long (Whitman) and have thus passed the ultimate test -- survival of the fittest (Spencer). You and your liberal friends, of course, want to impose upon us a different 'ethic', namely, survival of the shittiest; and I can assure you it will not work. I don't wish to deny you your right to live in your own coprophilial dungheap; I just don't want you and your liberal friends pulling the rest of us off the ladder of the Struggle Upward, and down to the level of what you so despise, but what you will inevitably become if your philosophy of equalitarianism and racial unawareness prevails -- cockroaches.

But if it is clear that I have a considerably better grasp of Western civilization than you do, and that I revere it in a way that you cannot even imagine, it should be equally clear that you do not even have a good grasp of what I say. Your silly characterization of my defense of Western civilization as circular, or your impossibly stupid misunderstanding of why I say that literature is 'nonessential', show you to be not merely superficial, but a typical liberal who has a mind that is 'open at both ends and contains nothing' (Howard Scott).

You, like so many liberal ignorants, are good for little more than setting a bad example. I suppose we should, in a somewhat perverse but Westernly civilized way, be grateful for that.


[James responds:]

Hello John, and thanks for your thoughtful response to my comments.

One of the miracles of the internet is that in one fell swoop every unhinged narcissistic social misfit in the world suddenly has a forum in which to proclaim to the entire world the fact of his unprecedented genius, and at the same time to blame the world for not listening, like this:

“Here you will find a complete list of the Birdman's 40 books, which represent a lifetime of accumulated wisdom, and which can become your key to understanding the world as no one -- repeat, no one -- has ever understood it before. It is not by accident that Mr Bryant has received the praise of Nobel prizewinners and many other distinguished men and women from widely diverse fields (see book reviews); and the fact that he is not celebrated in Establishment publications is only because that very Establishment fears Mr Bryant's ideas and knows that its only defense against them is to ignore him and shut him out, as they have consistently done since he began publishing his books some 13 years ago, even to the extent of refusing paid advertisements for his books.”

It is characteristic of this type of misunderstood and under-appreciated genius to speak of himself in the third person (“Terrell Owens is the best wide receiver the NFL has ever seen!”) and to invent new religions:

“Beyond this, Bryant has set out in detail his plans for creating an entirely new form of non-theological church which serves the same spiritual and social needs as conventional churches, but far more efficiently (See the applicable essay in Explosive Revolutionary Ideas...). His overall approach to philosophy is set forth in his masterwork, Systems Theory & Scientific Philosophy, which presents a totally new and revolutionary approach to the "big questions" of philosophy via the science of cybernetics/systems theory.”

Since your masterwork is not available on, I guess I’ll have to stick to Kant, Wittgenstein and Heidegger when I am in the mood for the “big questions” of philosophy.

Back to the topic:

Your attempt to force your summary dismissal of all but a handful of the most influential works of literature and philosophy written before the mid-19th century into frame of the 18th century “quarrel between the Ancients and the Modern” is unhelpful and anachronistic, to say the least. It’s not only people with a fetish for the “Ancient” who find value in, say, Montaigne, Pascal, Goethe, Augustine, Descartes and yes, Kant, but also people who care about their culture as Europeans or Americans. Most people whose opinions on these things matter would say that Western Civilization means western culture, and that someone who doesn’t care about the defining literary and philosophical achievements of western culture doesn’t care much about Western Civilization. What they mean is that “Western Civilization” consists of (although not exclusively) those achievements, such that “defending” western civilization involves demonstrating (via teaching, criticizing or creating new works within a tradition) their value for the next generation.

What struck me about your website was the irony of someone who defines his mission as “defending Western Civilization” (“While the bulk of the selections on this webpage center around race, liberalism and political correctness, this is not a reflection of Mr Bryant's wide intellectual scope, but rather his concern that various retrograde forces -- particularly those of establishment Jewry and its bastard child liberalism -- are crushing Western civilization and its best and brightest beacon of human freedom and enlightenment, America, and that it will not be long before the people who created that civilization -- the white race -- are submerged in the gene pool of a rising tide of Turd World immigration….”) at the same time dismissing the most influential works of Western Civilization as “entertainment,” “superceded,” and so on. “Influential” is a criterion here because western culture (like other cultures) is – essentially is – a tradition, a discernable set of norms that change over time, but in ways that are intelligible only with reference to the past.

My quick conclusion, not altered by your response to my email, was that (1) you can’t effectively defend something of which you are ignorant; or (2) you probably aren’t sincere about defending something you don’t really care about.

Now you can say that Shakespeare was a hack, and there’s nothing of value in Kant, but few if any people who are interested in literature or philosophy (as I am) will take your judgment seriously. Rather, it appears to me that you are either unable to appreciate the importance of these authors, or you haven’t tried. Either way, your views on Shakespeare and Kant are as interesting to me as that of the bag lady who hangs out in front of my house saying that Mozart was a third rate composer, or Rembrandt didn’t know how to paint.

To put it another way, if asked to compare the hack’s words:

“Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.”

….with the genius’:

“The liberals, too, just love the Plan, they'll stamp out guns and hate,
Raise up minorities and let the whole world immigrate!
Conservatives or liberals, why, what difference does it make?
They want to stamp out freedom and increase the taxman's take,
As does the Jew's Establishment, whose overblown Six Million
And non-existent 'gassings' have been worth two hundred billion!
The time is coming shortly when the Powers make their play --
A time when there is little doubt that they can have their way:
They'll stampede us into their trap like good old FDR:
Make others hate America so much they'll start a war.”

…I would have to confess to being a philistine and preferring the hack over the genius.

Similarly, if Kant is for you “irrelevant to modern philosophy,” then your judgment is less important to me than that my own (derived from studying the most important philosophers of the 20th century), which is that Kant, being the first to base an interpretation of human being on the notion of finitude, established the framework within which modern philosophy was born and exists.

Last remarks: Your hysterical attempts to insult me by calling me a "liberal" is not only misplaced (insofar as I have not discussed my political views) but reminiscent of Rush Limbaugh. Surely you have high standards? Your assertions that you have a "considerably better grasp of Western civilization" than I do, and that I cannot even imagine how you "revere" it, would amount to more than a fart in the wind if you were to actually demonstrate it. Finally, my "impossibly stupid misunderstanding" of why you say that literature (along with art and language) is "nonessential" (a misunderstanding based on your characterizations of the acknowledged masterworks of western literature as "entertainment") might not have occurred had you bothered to explain it, but you didn't and don't.

Best wishes, James

[Birdman replies:]

For someone like myself whose assertions are, according to you, nothing more than a 'fart in the wind' etc etc etc, I seem to have been worthy of a considerable amount of your time and effort in composing an answer to me. As one discovers in life, actions speak much louder than words, and it is the act of your 'hysterical' attempt to counter the letter I wrote you by employing an outpouring of pseudo-argument and unconvincing hot air which makes it clear that you have met your match and indeed, have fallen into a cesspool of your own device, where you have nearly drowned on the piss and turds that have been pouring so liberally from the arsehole you call your mouth. It is particularly amusing that you quote my virtues as if they were vices (eg, "Mr Bryant has received the praise of >Nobel prizewinners and many other distinguished men and women from widely >diverse fields"); but then these virtues genuinely ARE vices to YOU, so it is possible to understand your upset, and thus to understand why I hear the words of Kipling echoed in your efforts ("If you can stand to hear the words you've spoken/Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools"). It is even amusing to see the desperation in your REPEATING your observation of a typo ('supercede') -- surely something which was in irrelevant bad taste the first time, but, in being repeated, 'rings the alarum bell' (Shakespeare) of your arrogant impotency and indeed, your 'tilting after windmills' (Cervantes). In short, I have made my point against you, and you have answered me, so to speak, by making it again. Thank you.

[James responds:]

Rather than eviscerate you with my words, I'll let you do the job yourself:

“If there is anything closer to fraud in the literary world than the celebration of Shakespeare, I haven't heard about it. In Shakespeare's favor it may be said that he had a few good lines, but that is about it….But my gripe with Shakespeare is not that he was a hack -- hell, Harold Robbins probably made money hand over fist, and who can knock the green stuff? -- but rather that people actually study his writing and think of it as 'literature'.”

“I always wanted to be America's Poet Laureate……”

With verse like this, you'll be America's Poet Laureate the day after tomorrow (i.e., after you win the Nobel Prize for your your work in philosophy):

I don't really mind Young Blackie
Tho pants turned around seems tacky
And his doggie dangling is a bit extreme;
But when bullets start a-flying
'Lectric chairs should start a-frying
So that God might chance such black souls to redeem.

“After reading this book, the reader will be left with absolutely no doubt that not only is Shakespeare vastly overrated, but that Bryant, in rewriting the Shakespearian sonnets, has produced a body of work which is truly deserving of the praise that has been traditionally given to Shakespeare.”

Indeed. The following demonstrates why you deserve the praise traditionally given to Shakespeare:

I would like to judge on merit,
But when Darks do not inherit
Quite the same brains as their smarter, whiter kin,
One is often more efficient
If one counts Darks as deficient
Even tho this is a Horrid Racist Sin.
But the thing that really rankles
Is the chain around my ankles
Known as taxes which enslaves me to the black...

If Shakespeare’s work is an exotic orchid, your is a three day old dogturd clinging to its stench for companionship.

Seriously, Birdbrain, you put words together as if you were laying bricks; your attempts at artistic creation are every bit as pitiful as your "scholarship." Then again, you can appear brilliant in the company of your peers, who happen to be semi-retarded, barely literate neo-nazis and klansmen, like a 350 lbs girl who likes to be photographed next to 400 lbs manatees. This is probably one reason why you chose racism as a career, the other being that it appeals to your narcissistic sense of entitlement based not on accomplishments -- of which you have none -- but on your gene pool...or puddle.

Sincerely, James

[Birdman replies:]

I see you have made yet another pitiful attempt to turn my virtues into vices, combined with an inability to recognize that -- to do a take-off on Dr Johnson's famous remark -- insult is the last refuge of the out-argued. All this combined with yet another Herculean effort to 'prove' that I am not worth even a small effort.

James, you are a self-parody if there ever were one. Feel free to write again whenever you need another spanking. My readers love this sort of thing.


PS: In reflecting on our correspondence, I realize that I should have explained something which, while intuitively obvious to most readers (and to me -- which is why I skipped over it), is not at all obvious to you. This is the fact that, as one is usually taught from early childhood, one cannot compare horses to marbles. What this means in the present context is that your comparison of my humorous-cum-serious racial poetry to Shakespeare's love poetry is invalid -- indeed, it is comparable to what Aristotle referred to as a 'category mistake' (I'll let you look that one up). The point is that you cannot in any valid sense say that Shakespeare's love poetry is 'better' than my racial poetry any more than you can say that horses are 'better' than marbles.

But if you are serious in wanting to make a comparison of my poetry to Shakespeare's, then below you will find Sonnet 18 from which you quote, both Shakespeare's version and my own, as found in my book Better Than Shakespeare. I have no doubt that most people would say that my version is better by a country mile, just as I have no doubt that you will dishonestly say that Shakespeare's is better. But since this letter is written to you only pro forma, and is in reality intended for posting on my website, I offer the two versions so that my website readership may see for themselves that I am not just blowing smoke by saying that I am the better poet. Indeed, the fact that I have improved in a major way on a poem which is recognized as one of Shakespeare's best is even stronger testament to my claim to be better than Shakespeare, however egotistical or preposterous such a claim may seem at first. In fact, the comparison goes even further and justifies my claim that Shakespeare is a hack; for as you will notice, Shakespeare proffers the rime of 'temperate' and 'date' (lines 2 and 4), a rime which can only pass muster for those with tin ears. It would be nice, of course, if you were honest enuf to acknowledge that I am right; and indeed this is a test of your honesty. But there is little doubt that you will fail that test, and in failing, will carry with you for the rest of your life the knowledge that you have lied, and lied publicly, and furthermore have tried to wound someone who is not merely one of the most vigorous defenders of the Western culture which you presume to value, but also someone who is a distinguished contributor to that culture. You will not apologize to me today; but on some tomorrow, if you have the least iota of sensitivity and conscience, I think you will wish you had.

Sonnet 18 (Bryantian Version): Summer's Day

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
A field of loveliness in blossoms covered;
A rill that babbles softly on its way;
A sky of pillared clouds that o'er us hovered?
Thou art a goddess underneath the Sun
That winks his eye as clouds retreat and pass:
He knows as well as I what Nature's done
In moulding such a stunning comely lass!
But thy eternal summer shall not fade --
Thy bloom will not be lost to coming years --
If but we consummate the love we've made --
If we eternal love deny arrears.

So pay thy debt to love, and pay it well,
As we ascend to Heaven, mocking Hell.

Sonnet 18 (Shakespearian Version)

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.


[After a delay of several days, James responds:]

Hello Bryant. I see that you have published my private emails to you on your public website, which constitutes a breach of law, but more importantly, of good manners. However, I will forgive you (meaning, I won't sue you, at least not yet) as a credit to your willingness to take a public flogging. For a narcissist like you, there is no such thing as bad publicity. So you may publish this as well, if you dare.

Your latest email seems little more than a squalid attempt to scurry away from your own words, which I will accordingly use to skewer you like the stuck pig you are and always have been, as follows:

I do not agree with your variation of Dr. Johnson: insult is not necessarily the last refuge of the out-argued because some intellectual postures are not worthy of refutation (which would grant the poser at least the presumption of seriousness) and for such posturing, ridicule is the only appropriate response.

Your laughable stabs at self-glorification -- "a better poet than Shakespeare," "defending Western Civilization," etc. -- are such postures, and ridicule is my response, Dr. Johnson's apes notwithstanding.

By the way, your narcissism probably blinds you to (among myriad other obvious truths) the delicious irony of assertions like this:

"James, you are a self-parody if there ever were one."

This coming from the author of the following quote probably lifted from an obscure Three Stooges film:

"Bryant is the world’s wittiest, most penetrating and most quotable author. He isn’t merely better than such luminaries as La Rochefoucauld, Oscar Wilde, Ambrose Bierce, and HL Mencken — he leaves these folks in the dust."

Indeed. If you weren't the wittiest author in the history of the world, I'd quote Wilde:

"A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal."

RIP, Birdbrain.

Stumbling forward, or more accurately, sideways, you allege that I have made a "category mistake" in taking your at your word, which was that your are a better "poet" than Shakespeare, who was a "hack." You didn't say that you are better at writing racist poetry than Shakespeare, and if you did, it wouldn't mean anything because Shakespeare (like other worthwhile poets) didn't waste his time writing racist you do.

However, I could have made exactly the same point (namely, that while Shakespeare was a defining genius of the English language, you are a clumsy oaf with no talent) by quoting any number of Shakespeare's work that aren't "love poems," for example, from the tragedies, and comparing that to your crude grade school rhyming grunts. Same result.

In short, the category for comparison was selected by you, not me, and that category was, "poetry;" Shakespeare was a poet, and you aren't. It's really that simple, simpleton!

Onward and downward, as they say, Tally Ho! --

"But if you are serious in wanting to make a comparison of my poetry to Shakespeare's, then below you will find Sonnet 18 from which you quote, both Shakespeare's version and my own, as found in my book Better Than Shakespeare. I have no doubt that most people would say that my version is better by a country mile, just as I have no doubt that you will dishonestly say that Shakespeare's is better."

Here's a quick remedial course in Western culture:

Writing a poem, at least in the western pre-post-modern tradition, does not consist in of cutting and pasting someone else's poem with the help of a thesaurus, changing a word here or there, and calling the result "your own" poem and a better poem at that.

Rather, we call that, "plagerism." Apparently one aspect of Western civilization you aren't interested in preserving is creativity, originality and so on, which have supplied the supreme value in western aesthetics since the late 18th century at least -- a historical fact that probably explains why you don't know anything about it, having occurred before the mid-19th century, and thus lacking "relevance" according to you.

In short, the fact that you can "re-write" a Shakespeare sonnet and produce a "better" version (assuming that to be true, which it isn't) no more evidence of your "superiority" as a poet over Shakespeare than my changing a few sentences in Ulysses proves that I am a better writer than James Joyce. In fact, it doesn't even prove that you can write a poem at all.

But you CAN write poetry, like this:

"But do the liberals love so much the Turd World garbage pile
To let it wash up on our shores, our nation to defile?
To toss into the mem'ry hole the jewel of the West,
And pull us into some Black Hole, its shining to protest?
No, liberals do not love the low -- they hate the good instead,
But most of all they hate themselves, the mark of men brain-dead."

Would it be another "category mistake" to compare the above with this?

"This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeit of our own behaviour, we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical pre-dominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforc'd obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on. An admirable evasion of whore-master man, to lay his goatish disposition to the charge of a star!" (King Lear, 1.2)

Birdbrain says:

"The point is that you cannot in any valid sense say that Shakespeare's love poetry is 'better' than my racial poetry any more than you can say that horses are 'better' than marbles."

I don't need to say that Shakespeare's poetry -- love poetry and all his other poetry -- is "better" than your "racial poetry," because anyone reading the two selection quoted above would say it for me -- anyone except you, that is, and your opinion on literature, being that of an unsophisticated clodhopper with comic delusions of grandeur, doesn't really matter, except, perhaps, to your pet pigeons and your unfortunate wife.

In conclusion, I return to my original point: for you, "saving Western civilization" is pure cant (not Kant, dolt!), specifically, the cant (not can't, dullard!) of a typical toothless primitive hillbilly looking for a fancy costume (while the SS uniform is at the dry cleaners) in which to dress up his gutteral loathing for anyone who isn't also a toothless primitive hillbilly racist -- which means, most of the rest of the world, including Western Civilization.

Yours, James

[Birdman responds:]

Again, James, you prove to be your own worst enemy.

* Having failed to muster any significant argument against me, you descend into insult, and again illustrate the fact that insult is the last refuge of the out-argued.

* On top of this, you threaten a lawsuit, without having read -- as explicitly stated in the Introductory Section -- that all letters to this website are subject to publication. Your threat, of course, is another admission of defeat; for you would have been delighted to have your letters published if they made you look good, and are complaining about their publication only because they make you look bad.

* As a further indication of your ignominious defeat, you make your reply to me several days after my last letter, clearly indicating that what I said left you pretty well floored, whereas my replies always come to you within a few hours of receiving your own.

* And of course you again refute your own thesis by spending a large amount of time 'refuting' me when, according to you, I am nothing more than 'a fart in the wind', etc, etc, etc, thus demonstrating how important it is to you to make that 'refutation', and thus showing how much more than 'a fart in the wind' I am to you and -- by implication -- to others.

* And to all this, you add your dishonesty of failing to acknowledge the superiority of my Sonnet 18 version over that of Shakespeare, and compounding this dishonesty by characterizing my version as 'changing a few words' when in fact it is quite clearly a different poem, proceeding only from the same 'point of departure' as Shakespeare.

Who are you trying to fool, James? Sure doesn't look like you are fooling anyone except yourself.

Come back for another butt-kicking any old time.

PS: If you are going to accuse me of plagiarism, you really ought to learn how to spell it. Dare I say that your misspelling strongly suggests that you don't know what you are talking about?


[James responds:]

Hello John, good to hear from you.

I notice that you haven't updated your "Hell's Lettre" containing our exchange, and leaving the reader with the misimpression that I "didn't respond." Perhaps don't wish to make your humiliation a public event. I can appreciate that.

If I don't respond immediately, that only means that I have a life apart from my computer, especially on weekends, which are devoted to my lovely wife.

It's hard not to notice how, as our exchange proceeds, the substance that occupied most of your first email, has been gradually ebbing away, only to be replaced by various "procedural" objections to the timing and manner of my missives, almost as if you were at a loss for words -- a possibility, but unlikely, given that you are a flatulent gasbag whose central preoccupation in life is filling the empty space around you with an endless stream of words, words and more words (always building new and more elevated verbal shelves on which to place your miniature paper mache Birdman Bryant shrine), even if, as is mostly the case, no one is listening.

Be that as it may, I'll contribute what I can to the long overdue puncturing of your inexplicably ballooned ego by pointing out that one reason -- among many, too numerous to enumerate given the byte limitations of my hotmail account -- why you are unable to scribble anything that resembles "poetry" in the Shakespearean sense is that you are extraordinarily literal minded, or, to use an aural metaphor, tin-eared, as evinced by your inability to discern that my parenthetic remark about sueing you for copyright infringement was in jest. Given that you evidently don't get the big joke that you yourself have constructed, the one called "Birdman Bryant," it's nor surprising that my own little quip flew right through the empty space between your ears.

No, your "version" of Shakespeare's sonnet is not superior to the original, mostly because originality (along with an unparalleled facility with the English language) is what makes Shakespeare's work superior to all imitations, including yours.

If you're a great poet, write your own poems, like Shakespeare did. From scratch.

I have seen a few samples of your original poems, and they aren't good. In fact, they aren't even bad poems because they are grotesque infantile expressions of frustration, envy and impotent rage, rather like "gangsta" rap music.

So, you can go on deluding yourself that you are "better than Shakespeare," but that won't change the reality, which is that you aren't better than Shakespeare. In fact, you aren't even in the same universe.

Moreover, you aren't better than John Donne, John Milton, Dante, Ronsard, Mallarme, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Baudelaire, Whitman, Stevens, Ashberry, Gluck, and Ammons, because they were (are) all poets who knew that the world exists apart from themselves, and found beauty's integrity in that fact, whereas you are a petty little crank engaged in a third rate marketing campaign designed to promote a product that nobody wants -- yourself.

Sincerely, James


[Birdman replies:]

Since your latest 'response' to me is, as usual, to mostly ignore what I say while saying nothing of substance and, in addition, spewing epithets to again confirm that insult is the last refuge of the out-argued, there is really nothing much I can say. I will, however, make the following points:

* Your concern that the continuation of our correspondence has not been posted reveals either that (1) I have wiped the floor with you, but you (mistakenly) think the opposite, and are thus eager to have people see what a bright boy you (think you) are; or (2) you are a masochistic exhibitionist who loves to be taken down in public. In either case, the result is not pretty.

* While you are evidently unaware of it, it is proverbial that there is no argument about taste (In the original Latin, that is rendered 'De gustibus non est disputandum', and I am sure it is much older than that, but then you have already made plain your ignorance of Western civ...) This means that your 'explanation' of why I am supposedly not better than Shakespeare amounts to so much silliness. It also means that the test of whether I am better than Shakespeare cannot be objective in this sense, and perhaps you really do believe that I am not better, tho I rather suspect that you are lying thru your teeth. But there does happen to be an objective sense in which I am better, which is that the weight of opinion is in my favor, ie, the world against you and perhaps a few other ignorants and barbarians.

* You claim that I have an 'inflated ego', but no one to whom that description applies would allow insulting letters such as your own to be displayed on his website.

* Is it really true, as you claim, that 'no one is listening to me'? Last time I checked, I had 11,000 unique visitors per month, and a very substantial Alexa rating. So were you lying, or just ignorant?

* And speaking of ignorance, you claim that the mark of a poet is originality, implying that this is why my revision of Shakespeare is not good poetry. Well, besides the fact that I have a book of 'original' poetry for sale, where will you find anyone ELSE who has been original enuf to revise Shakespeare?

* You claim to have 'a life away from your computer' which supposedly explains why it takes you so long to respond to what I write, but the explanation is more likely found in the effort which you must put into your responses, in contrast to my own, which are quick and easy for me, since little effort is needed to brush away a fly.

* Beyond the fact that insult is the last refuge of the out-argued, I do not respond to your insults by insulting you because I am, above all, a civilized person who is defending his civilization against someone -- yourself -- who claims to be more civilized, but whose insulting behavior, if nothing else, shows him to be exactly the opposite, and indeed, the worst sort of barbarian.

* I have displayed -- and will display -- your letters on my website for a reason which is evidently beyond your comprehension, namely, that they are such good confirmation of my point that my enemies are barbarians. If you care to continue making this point, come back for more any time. People will no doubt wonder how long it will take for you to recognize how miserably you have been beaten.

PS: If you must speak about suing, perhaps you should learn to spell it. Or is that beyond the ken of a barbarian?

[Second PS (Added a few hours later):]

There is another reason why I do -- and will -- display your letters on my website, namely, to demonstrate that I am strong enuf to take criticism, and that I am good to my word when I say that I welcome it. This is an important point because it is a fact that most people do not tolerate criticism well, to say nothing of insults, and would never welcome a public airing of such material. In fact, I am pretty sure that you will have great difficulty finding anyone anywhere who will do this like I do -- to regularly take letters of extreme hostility and reply to them courteously and completely, with full publication of all exchanges. You yourself certainly do not have the strength, either emotional or intellectual, to take such criticism, as is made clear from the fact that you proceeded from courtesy and confidence in your first letter to throwing epithets and hissy fits in all of the subsequent ones. Indeed, your threat to sue me was yet another attempt to strike out at me, and when you found that such a threat did not succeed, as you had hoped, in 'pushing my buttons', you then retreated to describing your act as a 'joke' as a way of defending your ugly little manoeuvre, and of attempting yet again to strike out at me for my 'inability' to see your 'humor'. Sorry, James -- your little trick didn't work.

But that is not all on the matter of strength, for I am both strong enuf and honest enuf to acknowledge that your criticism of some of my self-description as overblown is not without merit; and indeed I should have made this acknowledgement earlier. In particular, I should probably revise some of this material, written 4 years ago, if for no other reason than to foreclose future criticisms of the kind you have made. But if this is my acknowledgement that part of what you say is true, it not only demonstrates my strength and self-confidence in the face of hostile criticism, but also your weakness for your inability to acknowledge even an iota of the truth contained in the responses which I have made to you.

You can't win for losing, James, and as -- I have just illustrated -- you even lose when you win.

Come back for more any time.


[James replies:]


Just to clarify a matter of tone that is often difficult to convey via the written word:

It is not my intention to make you feel bad, or to offend you in any deep way. I disagree with a lot of what I read on your website, and I personally find that mixing principled argument with a few insults adds a kind of spice to the dialogue, provided that the insults are well done, meaning, done with some wit and not in such a way as to disrupt the flow of ideas too much. I assume from reading your stuff that you enjoy the same sort of exchange, although I could be wrong. After all, literary history contains a long and interesting record of this sort of thing -- read Poe's exchanges with the Transcendentalists, for instance.

If I didn't find at least some of your stuff interesting and worthwhile, I wouldn't have bothered to comment in the first place, nor would I have pursued this correspondence. You are interested in ideas, and so am I. So no hard feelings, please.



[Birdman replies:]


I wanted to say thanks -- in my uniquely-civilized way, of course -- for your act of unbending a bit, even if only in response to my doing the same.

I expected to let the correspondence drop at this point, but my subconscious dredged up a poem of mine which I thought I really must quote to you in view of your citing Pope's correspondence as a justification for your own 'style', and which constitutes a disagreement between ourselves even on this somewhat esoteric subject. Here is the poem, from my book Bryant's Law:

Alexander Pope: A Reply in Kind

He is the Pope of Poets, living Muse,
Who turns mere words into a verbal song;
And yet this God cohabits with the Deuce:
Tho ears are charmed, the heart reels from the wrong.

A man by turns a genius and a fool:
Uplifting, wise -- or petty, mean and cruel;
A dwarf in stature, often dwarfed in mind,
Who thinks much less with brain than with behind;
A man who counts a friend a mortal foe
If less than fulsome praise he dare bestow;
A man who dips his pen in muck and slime
Whene'er it suits his mood -- or suits his rime;
A man who sets a standard few can keep,
But stoops so low as makes the Godhead weep.
A man whose verse is lovely to behold
When not befouled with offal, scum or mold.

He is the Pope of Poets, standing tall;
And yet the dungheap round him makes him small.





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