RARA-AVIS: Back by Popular Demand

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 29 Nov 2007

That's not altogether an exaggeration. Since I dropped off the list, I've had nearly 20 messages from Rare Birds asking me to come back. And that's not counting Mario's who, as Listmaster, was sort of obliged to make the effort, whether or not he wanted to (though I flatter myself that he did want to).

I did not leave in anger or bitterness, but because I thought that, unintentionally, I had become the cause of anger and bitterness.

What finally convinced me to return was a recent message a correspondent sent me in which he reproduced a recent, rather heated thread between two members, in which, as near as I could tell, the dispute boiled down to whether or not ERB's John Carter of Mars novels were ever officially referred to as "Martian Chronicles."

That persuaded me that I should't feel responsible if a small number of people on the list have skins that are a trifle too thin. That, in fact, maybe I was being just a tad arrogant by assuming that it was all me.

I know that some of you probably assumed I'd be back eventually, and, certainly, I didn't wish to leave. I thought that, by leaving, I'd be helping the list, and that's the only reason I went. And, firm in the coviction that I was inadvertently causing anger in others, I intended to stay away.

But, generally unaffected by flattery though I am, I'm not immune to the blandishments of my legions of fans who requested, nay demanded, my immediate return.

For the record, then, so there are no future misunderstandings:

1) I have very firm opinions that, when challenged, I defend with a tenacity that some find annoying. If you're one of those who find it annoying, then the obvious solution is don't challenge my opinions. It happens that I enjoy a hard-fought debate and am usually ready to jump in with both rhetorical fists swinging at the merest sign of disagreement. If that's not your style, that's fine, but don't blame me if it's mine.

That said, I have occasionally had my opinions changed by a well-made argument. So if rough-and-ready debate IS your style, there's always the chance, albeit a small one, that you might just get me to concede.

2) The more over-the-top my message, the more likely I am to be kidding. Hence, I don't really despise all academics (just most of 'em), don't actually believe that it's my God-given duty to persuade the entire world that I'm right about absolutely everything (even though I AM right about absolutely everything), and don't truly think that I'm as infallible as the Pope
(I'm MORE infallible; he's only infallible about faith and morality, and only when he speaks EX CATHEDRA).

Get the idea?

Having been forewarned, if you find an obvious attempt at humor offensive, then, as another of my correspondents put it, "Juck 'em if they can't fake a toke." You don't have to find it funny. Humor, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. But don't look for deliberately hurtful insults where none are intended, 'cause I'm no longer going to take responsibility for the anger of others.

3) I really DO know a lot about this stuff. That doesn't necessarily make my OPINIONS about this stuff absolutely correct, but it DOES make them well-informed. If my being more widely read in the field than you intimidates you, or seems to you like showing off, then, once more, I'm not going to take responsibility for that.

That said, I HAVE been wrong on factual issues, and have admitted it, with what I hope was gracious acknowledgement, when it's been pointed out to me. If you think I'm wrong, and you can back it up, don't be afraid to point it out. I'm not afraid to 'fess up if I'm caught in an error.

4) Finally, for those of you who took the time to write and ask me back, thank you very much. We all like to feel wanted, and that's how you made me feel.


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