Saturday, July 15, 2006

Fax War

The following link is an apparently verbatim fax exchange between Julie Birchill and Camille Paglia which took place in the early 1990s. The two decided to engage in a "fax war" after Birchill gave an unfavourable review to one of Paglia's books. And it very quickly descends into a level of hilariously catty spite. Birchill does the debating equivalent of taking her bra off and wrestling in a tub of mud, telling Paglia she has a "wop name", calling her a "GIRL" and saying that academia is a "fate worse than death" (I suppose it makes a change from the usual "I've been to the university of life" cliche that most people with chips on the shoulder who haven't been to university come out with.)

Paglia, on the other hand, tries to take the "higher ground", but ends up coming across like an insane arch-villain of James Bond proportions, utterly taken with her own supposed "stature", warning Burchill that the bad review was a pivotal point in her career, she's turned down a chance to make an "important alliance" and that Julie's "spluttering hostility proves [she] has made serious inroads into terrority [you] once ruled alone". Ruled alone? Ooh get her! Both women have such bigged-up egos that it's hilarious when Paglia boasts that she is "read and translated from Japan to South America" (how lovely for her) or when Julie lies that she was asked to do the documentary about Lady Di first, but passed up on it, being glad to pass some work to Camille. Miaow!

But the two do score a couple of good hits. Paglia describes Julie's writing as "alcoholic prose" and tells her to "blow your dusty proletarian tuba" but the truth is she's a "sheltered, pampered sultan". Too right - Julie might go on about how much she loves "chavs" and really is one herself, but her nice house in Hove tells a different story. But saying that, Birchill's final missive "fuck off you crazy old dyke" can't really be topped.

The whole thing was published in The Modern Review, which somehow spoils its authenticity. Shame. Still, I got my fella to read out the whole exchange to me yesterday - he is a great mimic and can do Julie's Minnie Mouse Bristol burr to a tee. We weren't sure what Camille sounds like - despite the fact she is so famous, we don't recall seeing her on tv or hearing her on the radio, so he simply used an imitation of the bitchy middle-aged American gay men we have met and that worked just as well.

Speaking of bitchy, this blog could teach the girls a thing or too if either of them fancy a rematch.

Currently listening to The Days of Pearly Spencer

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. Sounded like you're the third participant.