I was amused by this caricature of academic debates and the fascination they engender. I also wondered if I’m not attending the wrong conferences.
Intellectual controversies tend to be like dog fights without the teeth, in which the barking not the biting does the damage. In the case of Rotkopf and Urquiza, however, according to the report in The Gold-Bug, they had very nearly come to bites. So much so that Oliver Johnson had to break off his discussion of Poe’s influence on Lovecraft…and leave the stage, with Rotkopf congratulating him, saying that every time an imbecile stopped talking, the intellectual climate on Earth improved slightly. Oliver Johnson had sworn to kill Joachim Rotkopf one day, and Rotkopf and Urquiza had continued their argument in the pages of The Gold-Bug, in a series of increasingly vitriolic articles, which I had followed with fascination, never dreaming that I would one day hear those magnificent, erudite dogs trading insults for real. (from Borges and the Eternal Orangutans, by Luís Fernando Veríssimo, tr by Margaret Jull Costa, p16-17)