Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown

Discussion in 'H P Lovecraft' started by j d worthington, Dec 14, 2009.

  1. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    I finally received my copy of this documentary on DVD late last week. While it could have been a good deal longer (and thus had more time to explore things properly), nonetheless it is a fine documentary, and brings out what a complex individual HPL really was. It doesn't shy away from his "racism" (or, more properly, ethnophobia), but it doesn't explore it in as much depth as it perhaps deserves, from the standpoint of its effect on his writing. Nor does it avoid his major failing as a husband. Nonetheless, it does show him as a fascinating, often quirky, very intelligent and often charming individual as well as a writer fully deserving of his growing reputation.

    Overall, I was quite favorably impressed. Not often you get such a documentary on a writer that is of this high a quality, unless it is one of the major canonical figures.

    Has anyone else here seen this documentary and, if so, what are your thoughts....?
  2. Fried Egg

    Fried Egg New Member

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    That looks really interesting. I'd like to see it but I'm not sure when it'll be released over here...
  3. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    There is another documentary out there worth a peek: The Eldritch Influence: The Life, Vision, and Phenomemon of H. P. Lovecraft. The only real flaws with this one are inclusion of a supposed professor at Miskatonic U. and a fake Cthulhu cult. The former, while nonsense, is at least an amusing nod to the way some people take his work so seriously, while the latter is just tosh, plain and simple. It doesn't even work as an example of people taking it literally.... Otherwise, though, this is also a good attempt at covering a truly difficult subject (for film, at any rate). (Heck, even Joshi's massive biography had to be sketchy in many parts. Lovecraft was an exceptionally complex individual....)
  4. Moonbat

    Moonbat Luna tick

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    I've got my fingers crossed that I get some Lovecraft book/s for Chrimbo. Not read any yet and am looking forward to it

    :)
  5. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    If you do... I look forward to seeing your thoughts....:)
  6. Jon Sprunk

    Jon Sprunk Author

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    A fascinating person and one of my favorite authors despite his personal failings. I'll start looking for this dvd.
  7. nigourath

    nigourath New Member

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    This dvd looks interesting.I hope, it focuses on the transcented individual that Lovecraft was ,giving less attention to any of his eccentricities-if they can be called as such...Glad to read about this distinction, that j.d made here-ethnobobia is more acurate than racism ,as a standpoint for Lovecraft.Although, it is a term that is used in parallel with racism, by some,or considered a precursor to racism by others.I dont want to play with words, as the gentleman from Providence did so often, but i directly dissaprove this characterization "racism" for Lovecraft.

    Ofcourse ,i am not able-to my argument or not-draw any info on this from his correspondence ,that others have based upon.Yet, i believe that the term Ethnobobia is more deserved here than "racism".I have come come across many "ethnic" remarks from Lovecraft ,in instances like "the terror in Red Hook' or "the Road" and others.In '"the road", i think Lovecraft
    gives away a better accuracy on this perspective of his,where he says that special places have souls, that are
    somehow in the course of history and events being "corrupted".Here ,he blames not the "people of other races",but everyone that contributes with his actions at that "corruption"......being white,black,red-of european origin or not ....Lovecraft was born ofcourse in a conservative "new english" environment and that influenced him alot ,like everyone of us is influenced by his origin,consciously or not.

    Ethnofobia is not racism-i believe racism is more of a psyco-sociopathological entity and that has progressively been supported by a large "wing" of psychologists and sosiologists.When you "have racism", you are being repulsed by the differences of the other ,disliking any part of him ,that is different and hating -fearing at the same time anything, that this person contributes to your environment considering him or his action of a de-facto inferior quality.There can be no racism ,without underestimation of that indididuality of his.Racism is an attack primarily against the individuality and his every personal trait...Ethnofobia is not racism as the word suggets ,strictly translated it is the "fear of other nations" and has nothing to do with the rejection of a person"s individuality-and i am sure that others here will verify ,that the old gentleman was not one ,that would ignore personal qualities of the other.In fact the opposite stands true, since a lot of his partnerships and friends were not of the "new english vein",which he also respected and helped a lot.

    On the ethnofobia part -and not "xenophobia", as many times lovecraft codemns even his fellow countrymen....-i have to say this:that we must look at the age that lovecraft lived and also his personal biomes to unserstand t,as it is a very natural reaction of his ,against the rapid changes of his world....I dont see anything wrong in wanting your world and environment to remain unchanged ,and everyone who condemns these people, who prefer this kind of stability around them to me are the real racists-because they attack their very individuality...There must exist a mutual respect----in which i have no doubt that Lovecraft possesed at the ultimate level.....The allegation of "racism" is also one very unjust weapon at the hands of the enemys of lovecraft and his literature who dislike it for many other -shady sometimes...- reasons and it will be the primary counter-argument against its ever expansive popularity, that its gonna meet in the coming years and decades in my opinion....
  8. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    I wouldn't go defending HPL too staunchly on this matter, as he did indeed sometimes say some very hateful things. That letter to Frank Belknap Long about his trip to the East Side of New York practically seethes with ethnic prejudice and a distinct contempt and feeling of the inferiority of the people he is commenting on. This is among the worst passages in all Lovecraft, and is guaranteed to make one wince.

    At the same time, you do have a point: Lovecraft had a tendency, even with those of ethnic groups he in general despised, to find that with individuals he not only got along with them, but most often came to like and respect them. And, yes, even his harshest prejudices showed at least some signs of moderation in his later life (though these never got past a decided paternalism in nature).

    Quite frankly, much of what Lovecraft said on such matters is simply indefensible. It is arrant nonsense, backed by pseudoscience (at best) or simple ignorance and blind prejudice (at worst), with a corresponding pigheadedness when it came to evidence which challenged his views. Which is especially a pity, as this is the only place where he was unwilling (or unable) to take in contrary evidence and assimilate it to reach a more reasoned, mature view. And I think this is what tends to gall even those who admire him when it comes to this matter: he refused to accept such evidence, yet assumed an air of scientific authority when holding forth on the subject. And that is simply not worthy of the man he was overall: a kind, charming, generous, inquisitive, imaginative, analytical, and multifariously complex individual quite worthy of respect and admiration.

    However, it does no good to scold a man who is nearly 75 years dead for holding views which were becoming outmoded even in his own day. Rather, they should be taken into account and given their proper weight, no more, no less. Which, to return to the documentary which is the subject of this thread, is very much what it largely succeeds in doing. It does not shy away from or try to whitewash this aspect of Lovecraft's character, any more than it does his various other failings. But it does not beat him over the head with it, either. It attempts -- and, again, succeeds to a surprising degree, given the short time with such a complex subject -- to see him as a whole, a rounded person with quirks, weaknesses, faults, and foibles; but also with great strengths, courage, and intelligence, a genuinely good human being and a talented artist. And I don't think that even his greatest partisans, if they are to be honest, can expect anything more just or fair than that....
  9. GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    We have a shop in town that stocks a lot of Horror DVD classics/lesser known works and documentaries on various figures including HPL, so I'm going to check that title out on Saturday to see if they have it in stock.

    Off-topic:
    I may even PM you on some of the other titles they have to see if you think they're worth purchasing or not.
  10. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    Feel free; though I'm not sure how much use I'll be. However, I will say that, if they have any of the DVDs from Lurker films, especially those of the HPL Collection (and even more especially vols. 1-3 of that set), I would strongly recommend those....
  11. GOLLUM

    GOLLUM Moderator Staff Member

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    HMMM...and here I was thinking you knew something about Lovecraft and more broadly the Horror Genre.....:rolleyes:

    Due to the last vagaries of Summer, it's too hot to visit town's bookshops this weekend, so I'll be making my weekly pilgrimage during next week instead and will PM you then.

    When I do go, I'll make sure to take special note of the DVDs from Lurker films, especially those of the HPL Collection (incl. vols. 1-3 of that set) if they stock them.
  12. nigourath

    nigourath New Member

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    It wasn"t in my intentions to justify or defend Lovecraft and that is anyway very difficult, as it is to criticize him as well...First of all,these kind of views werent at all outdated at his time since, before the second world war ,there were many sympathizers of hitler"s regime in the US, as there were antifascist organizations as well.The white house at the time never intervened ,never hailed or discredit the happenings on europe -concerning its ideological direction except ofcourse essr ,till active involvement on the war.....There were even hidden sympathizers towards the german regime -inside the US government i mean..-which in another turn of events maybe they would have exhibited themeselves more openly....Yes ,these views were pretty strong even in the us at that time... I believe the opposite -that even today these views of racism and ethnobobia -are not entirely wiped out and outdated at the present time in the US!!!...(ofcourse the two tower incident was helpfull towards that direction)..Obama would have never been elected president of the US,If Both of his parents were black(and you know it ,too..).

    Back on our issue,about the indefensibility of Lovecraft"s views, since
    they were very exposing and straightforward at the least(and ofcourse i agree with you, that they were) on the account of the jews involvement in the american society or his work about the "origin of the nigger" and many more:I have personally based these certainly underrating views towards a more cultural background of causality.Lovecraft discredited the mixture of various different cultural influences ,especially those that stood farther from the "new english" cultural background.In my opinion it is possible ,that he discredited every chaotic compination of civilizations disregarding every blind incorporation of alien elements into every society -and not just towards the new english environment!!...I think he rather believed in the evolution of certain cultural groups without interconnecting and ofcourse i have no clear supporting evidence of that..!!That"s how i have explained his love for lost archaic civilizations and his curiosity about past ethnic cultures....

    Moreover,on his negative views about the immigrants i believe he feared more the cultural impact on a given environment than the fact of their lower quality as a biological existence.Thus, i dont believe there was any empathy on him ,regarding their organised activities in a society except those that undermined its core character and inhibiting its natural traditional behaviour.I think ,he observed such elements ,that made him so suspicious about them,that"s just my opinion...On the way he justified these points -you mention "pseudoscience"-you probably mean darwinism-related views ,that he refused to question their verity.Well ,i have to say that even today"s science as long as it speaks theoretically about the man"s origin and evolution it remains a Pseudoscience even today!!!!Some new scientific views about the prehistoric man are seing the light -i dont remember them exactly now sry -but still as long as our knowledge progresses we remain ignorant.Saying that ,i dont agree with Lovecraft"s views on the matter, i just believe they were stubborn
    as much as todays views are ......For example the theory that came out recently ,that the moon was part of the earth before it became its satellite ,would be incomprehensible only 2 decades go...Still would we consider it a pseudoscientific view??I dont know....


    Your hint here i think is Lovecraft"s denial towards anything ,that could prove the equality of others races or nations, even if they were absolutely and scientifically proven,meaning ofcourse ,that he had a clear inclination towards racism.Well ,i cant speak with such certainty about that and i think neither would ....only the writer himself could and ofcourse in the face of irrefutible evidence, after carefull decoding of the role of every gene or dna sequence,which today we are approaching ,with our technological advancement...

    Finally, i have to make a correction .I mentioned his story "the road",which ofcourse was "The street" in my last post.Sorry for that mix up ,but i read the translated version of that story -i usually read in english, but that caused to give it the wrong title.Thanks for the hearing and all be well!!
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  13. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    nigourath: As always, your post is interesting, though I'm afraid I'm having some trouble following you here on some points -- the language barrier, I think. There are, however, some points which (if I've understood them correctly) I'd like to address:

    While Lovecraft was a follower of Darwin, his views on race were informed by a pseudoscientific view of Darwinian evolution; they were views which were already becoming quite outmoded in science by the time he wrote most of these screeds. As noted, the problem I have with this is that this is the one area where he simply refused to consider contrary evidence -- and there was a lot of it about and seeing popular exposure -- at precisely the time he was was issuing his rants (and yes, that is, unfortunately, what many of them are). For someone who prided himself on his scientific awareness and willingness to change views based on current evidence, in this case HPL failed to apply that considerable intelligence, based entirely on irrational prejudice -- a thing which he himself often criticized. Furthermore, when questioned he attempted to defend these views using such outmoded science, turning to scorn and ridicule when his opponents (apparently, from what evidence there is) used the sounder findings of the time. This, too, is failing on his part to follow his own stated guidelines, and it does him no credit.

    I don't refer to his support of Hitler -- many people in many countries felt much as he did until (as in his case), the truth about what was going on in Germany concerning the Jews began to come out. Then he was horrified as (despite his verbal outpourings) at the core he was a deeply humane man. And his change on this issue came about long before our (open) involvement in the European situation came about.

    As for the currency of such views -- yes, many people still hold them, to one degree or another. This does not excuse them nor make them any more palatable, any more than is the case with those who still believe it is good and proper to kill those one suspects of being a witch.

    (Incidentally... I don't quite follow you on the entire "Darwinian" point... while classical Darwinian evolution has been superceded, the core of Darwin's work remains solid, and much of it remains at the core of our understanding of how evolution has progressed and continues to work; it has merely (as with all scientific knowledge) been refined and modified, not discarded. The more we learn, the more we learn that Darwin was onto something here, and that he very much deserves his place of recognition, rather than otherwise....

    On the idea that HPL "discredited the mixture of various cultural different cultural influences, especially those that stood farther from the "New English" cultural background"... well, there is a certain truth to that, but it is limited. In fact, in many of his letters, some of his essays, and even (occasionally) in his fiction, he would address this topic. He was quite knowledgeable about history, and knew well the importance of such cross-cultural influence (read his "The Literature of Rome", for instance, which addresses both the pros and cons of the influence of Greek culture on Roman; and keep in mind that, while he very much favored Rome, he was also wont to note that we shouldn't be surprised at any of the amazing things the Greeks managed to do, as they were "a super-race"... even though he also felt they were decadent and morally corrupt). He tended to simply have irrational prejudices on the matter of which cultures were superior and which were inferior, and bolstered these with (again) pseudoscientific babble at times. In many cases, he did seriously modify these views in later life, but it took him an awful long time. However, he never left behind the idea that the cultures as they stood at his favorite period were at their height, and that such influence needed to be carefully regulated, his ideal being that "the Germans be more German; the French be more French", etc., by largely keeping the cultures separate being, of course, a wish to simply halt the very forces which produced those cultures as he thought of them in the first place. Again, with this, there's nothing particularly wrong with such a preference, but to defend it as scientific was disingenuous, to say the least.

    With some, this is more true than is the case with others. With certain immigrants, however (especially those of Jewish, black, Indian, etc., origins), he genuinely did feel they were biologically inferior and would inevitably corrupt the biological stock of the other races. Blacks he simply saw as much closer to the ape than most other races; the same went for the Australian aborigines; and his thoughts on the populace of India were scarcely any better. Again, though, these ideas were abstract rather than personal -- which doesn't make them any less wrong-headed or ugly, it simply denotes that, when push came to shove, he could be (and was) as kind to members of these ethnoi as he was to any... and that is saying considerable.

    The view that the moon was wrenched from the earth has been fairly common off and on (the general area chosen is the Pacific, iirc). Lunar theory -- that is, the origins of the moon -- continue to be debated as the evidence favors one aspect or another....

    I do not mean "equality"... that is a meaningless term in most senses regarding this sort of thing. But the idea that an entire "race" or ethnos is "inferior" or "superior" has been very much blown to smithereens. There is simply no evidence to support such a claim; and even in his day, as I noted earlier, biology had mounted enough evidence to seriously challenge such a view... and Lovecraft chose to simply ignore it. Not refute it, but ignore it, as it if didn't even exist. That is a classic example of denial; hence I think my statement stands.

    One other thing... please refrain from using the "n" word -- even though I realize you are using it in the context of Lovecraft's own thinking -- as this is a very sensitive topic, and the word itself is loaded with very hurtful negative connotations for most....
  14. nigourath

    nigourath New Member

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    J.D , i will try to be as more specific ,as i can.First of all,the lunar theory is an old one ,dating back even to the time ,that the moon was dubbed a satellite planetary body.I was referring to the recent scientific data, about its geological consistence ,that are pretty similar to the earth"s -"refreshing the interest" to the theory of its origin from earth....

    When i referred to the pre-world war 2 era ,i wasn"t trying to interconnect it with Lovecraft"s personal views ,but rather to place them in that environment -his age was a rather turbulent one with "racist" and nationalist views, being a routine act of temperament....even in the US as i said.Not at all outmoded ,since ,there was a world-wide political deputation of different variations of those views,and widely supported by a large percentage of the populace.I can"t imagine Lovecraft supporting any of the european regimes -..including the "n"word-,since i deeply believe, that the man was simply ..not a racist.. and furthermore, from what i know he was rather the "non-coloured" type and of a deep neutral political temperament,during the course of his writing career.....I really dont think ,he ever had a sincere interest, about the political views of his age,and nobody can really extract such a conclusion ,from his activities at the time.It would certainly, require a great deal of imagination ,in my opinion(at the least...).That doesn"t mean, he was completely out of his environment and insensitive about the changes occuring at his time...

    Now ,about the pseudoscience part and his denial of important certain scientific data,despite the fact, being a person well-delved into various scientific fields(and he was..).My opinion, is that these scientific data were not of a very decisive nature.First of all,certainly i may agree that darwinism is a core element of todays anthropological science(did i give the wrong impression?).More specifically, the current basic evolutional theory, has two widely accepted variables:the naturalistic one (darwin) and the genetical-biochemical one(mendel laws) ,and current scientific views are building upon those two in different variations.About his refusal of certain scientific facts, already present at his age and insisting at "his darwinism":possibly ,here the hint is about the mendelovian components, that already were given a great deal of validity,even from the start of 20nd century.
    Especially ,the "key term" of random genetic recombination, during the production of cell dna and the allele genes(producing the phenotype) contradicts -at first glance...-the classic darwin views.A random genotype that creates a random phenotype, doesnt exactly enforce the darwinian theories,but it doesnt escape them either.That"s why today"s science interconnects and combines these two elements,creating the modern theory, with further inspecting the role of enviromental factors in the creation of certain gene mutations(dna translocations ,deletions and such).This is today an ongoing effort of the scientific community, to explain the appearance and dissapearance of certain genes ,the mechanisms that turned them predominant or recessive and how was that related to the surrounding environment and the role of the chemical groups involved(for examble ,the role of free radicals produced in the nucleus environment,is still under primary inspection) ......

    Also ,except the already well-known mendel laws ,at the time (twenty-thirties)arose certain new phycological -behavioral models from certain scientific groups ,"treating" the brain as an organ with universal physiology and common neuron mechanisms (and despite the limited technological support).Some of that data ,although certainly forward at the time, are certainly being looked upon as naive from today"s scientific communion(although a necessary primitive start).Today"s trend in neurology and phychiatry is towards the so-called psycho-somatic diseases, like organic psychosis for example and drugs aimed to the chemical receptor level(an effort aimed at giving certain disorders a more organic aspect ....although some at least trully deserve this).Even at the time though, we are at the very beginning of understanding for example the neuron degeneration mechanisms or the exact role of heredity in certain others.Well,in either case i couldn"t expect or demand from Lovecraft at the thirties-and especially him...-to definitively accept or adopt any of these ongoing scientific explanations and especially at his time ,since even today they are considered at an"embryonic" level of progression.Some of the scientific views of his time ,considered modern then ,are considered very out-moded now.I realy cant blame the man for his stubborness and i wouldn't call it a stance of pseudoscience,since that is the very evolution of science itself....And that"s why i wouldn"t be too certain for his so called denial of scientific facts with his age"s technological limited means and still not sure if he would deny them today or give faith to them .I think if he existed today he would certainly consider the very solid at least scientific facts ,that were simply incomprehensible back then...That"s just my opinion.

    Finally,about the superiority and inferiority of races regarding them in association to Lovecraft"s views(equality is a term used by many to describe the common biological and physiological processes while i believe they are not given a great respect ,even today ,from even highly progressed nations...for various reasons):Lovecraft maybe believed in the inferiority of certain races or ethnic groups -i dont doubt that-but that doesn"t mean he believed that the other were the superior ones......Explaining this immediately...:Lovecraft truly believed that humanity as a whole was pretty incapable and defective as to understand the deepest truths of the universe.He was pretty convinced ,that humanity had very limited possibilities -mental or physical-to progress as it is .A man like that believed that they were all races incapacitated:blacks,Whites yes ,Reds,Yellows,English,Americans,Africans ,Europeans with little important difference between them.So ...you understand that he wasn"t to the least extend a racist and you get the picture why....Furthermore ,in his Carter protagonist books-somehow autobiographical too-he clearly states his point of view:At every time and age there are certain individuals and very few that are different than the others .These individuals regardless of sex or race possess that very sensitivity and perceptibillity,that others cannot even fathom that allows them to take at least a glimpse of the deeper mysteries and truths of universe,that ofcourse changes them forever.In this story ,Carter returns to earth as a person of presumably indian origin...Thank you for the time.
  15. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    And thank you for the very interesting response. This has turned into quite an interesting debate on the topic, and I very much appreciate your input.

    Even though we are drifting somewhat off-topic from the documentary itself, this is an aspect that was discussed (though it didn't take up that much of the film), so we are still dealing with related matters... hence, a few things I'd like to address:

    Lovecraft himself -- one gets the impression from the context that it was rather cockily -- noted in an early letter to Rheinhart Kleiner that he was an anti-Semite and known as such in high school. Of course, his biting references to the Jews occurred throughout his life, though they did become somewhat less frequent, and never seemed to interfere with his having quite a few friends who were themselves Jews (as well as marrying one). Nor did his stated feelings about blacks prevent him from corresponding with William Stanley Braithwaite, the noted black poet and critic. So obviously his brand of racism wasn't quite the naïve sort one usually associates with racists these days. It was, to some extent, informed by earlier writers, as well as his family and social milieu, yet this does not alter the fact that, as an intellectual who prided himself on his acceptance of scientific evidence regardless of how it agreed with his emotional biases, in this one area he let the latter override the former on numerous occasions. That, frankly, is the very definition of prejudice. As for whether or not his views on race were outmoded... while the populace at large continued to hold such views, they had already been largely (though not entirely) discarded by the leading thinkers on the subject, scientifically speaking; and it was to this I referred.

    On his evolutionary views: I am rather doubtful that he ever actually read Darwin's works themselves, though he certainly read many of his popularizers and followers, such as Haeckel. Nonetheless, he knew enough about the subject to hold forth on it fairly well in conversations with various correspondents, and much of his writing on the subject is quite interesting.

    As for his not being political... that view has held the stage for a very long time, but the evidence points to something a good deal less neutral. While not himself engaging in politics, he did strongly support the more conservative views of the time -- the father of his boyhood friend Chester Pierce Munroe (himself an alderman) has remarked on the fact that even as a young lad, Lovecraft was amazingly knowledgeable about the various bills before the Rhode Island Senate, often more so than the people voting on those bills themselves. His amateur journal was itself called The Conservative, and his various pieces in there held forth quite strong political views. And, of course, when he became a New Dealer (actually, even before Roosevelt's New Deal began to be put into effect), he was writing a considerable amount about politics, as can be seen from the last two volumes of the Selected Letters; in his writings in the amateur press (as well as some essays which never saw print until many years later) he dealt with a considerable number of rather abstruse (as well as practical) political issues, including many of the major issues of the day. Most of these can be found in the fifth volume of his Collected Essays, though some of his comments on these subjects are scattered throughout his other writings as well. So I don't think it can be said he was politically neutral at all. He had very strong views, and expressed them loudly and frequently. His pro-militarist stance (as well as his Anglophilia), for instance, led him to volunteering for the military as soon as it was apparent the U.S. would become involved in the Great War -- and he had been lambasting Wilson for years before this for his "supine neutrality". In fact, S. T. Joshi has dealt with this aspect of his personality at some length both in his biography and in his book H. P. Lovecraft: The Decline of the West, which deals with Lovecraft's philosophy in its various aspects.

    The danger here, I think, is in not being aware of the man's own statements on these subjects, as well as many of the comments of those who knew him. While there is a good deal which may be gathered (albeit with strong reservations) from his fiction and verse, a true understanding of his views on these matters requires a reading of his letters and essays as well.
  16. nigourath

    nigourath New Member

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    I will try finding this letter content ,since one cannot ignore ,how the man ,himself, presented his thoughts and problematism and as i said in my first post, my leading source of information was his literature and i admit..i had no idea,that he had expressed ,publicly, any political views.(although, i knew of his so called "conservatism" and new-english adherence at a private life level,and for which ,i don"t blame him at all -as i said).

    I am alot surprised, about this public display of his views-something, i didn"t know or expect.I can"t argue, that ,this shows a definite degree of "active" involvement ,at least, with what little resources were available to him.Still,i have got an "itching" feeling -which i also ..can"t ignore-that ,in front of us we have a man ,who often ,"contradicted" himself-at least, that way it seemed to people ,who weren"t well acquainted with him or his ways.That said ,i really don"t know how much, he was an "easy to understand-comprehend " personality ,even from people standing closely enough ,as an environment.All information ,of-course, are well respected and for a good reason ,well sought-out.

    There are some "contradictory facts",that lead me to the speculation ,that he was a constantly "ever-shaping" personality ,much like "the shoggoth" ,he wrought about.He was very fond of approaching those "things that should not be" ,irrelevently of what they were made of(historical facts,scientific data,ideological upheavals,or even various ways to augment or modulate his own so-called "conservatism"...or even cancel it at times...).He was a very "hard to get" indivindual and -personally-i will be very hesitant, as to be trully convinced about his so-called "racist inclinations" ,while i believe he was "prejudiced" enough towards things ,that were very estranged themselves -in their turn...- to him!! He was the ...exact unique person-to my understanding-that could provoke eternal debates ,about his true intentions ,as a writer or not and yet still to those, that can feel his presence and personal "touch" to seem quite clear.....
  17. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, HPL himself used the phrase "biologically inferior scum of southern Europe and Western Asia", while the following comes from his essay "Bolshevism" (The Conservative, July 1919):

    -- Collected Essays 5: Philosophy, Autobiography & Miscellany, p. 37​

    However, you also raise an interesting point about his being an "'ever-shaping' personality" (nice phrase, that)... this is something which appears to be one of the themes of a book I've just started reading: Robert H. Waugh's The Monster in the Mirror: Looking for H. P. Lovecraft. It's a book I've been meaning to get around to for some time, but only now have managed to dip into. At any rate, among the man other things which this rather large book (302 pp. of small print, including bibliography and index) of Lovecraftian criticism deals with, this idea of Lovecraft's contradicting himself and his not necessarily being consistent is one -- though at the same time, Waugh notes his anti-Semitism:

    -- The Monster in the Mirror, p. 9​

    So far, it is a fascinating and quite challenging work -- something I've come to expect from Waugh's essays that I've read -- and I would recommend it to anyone interested in a deeper look into Lovecraft's fiction.

    At any rate, these things are worth investigating, as they give fascinating insights into a very fascinating, complex man. And (to return to the topic of the thread) while such a short documentary cannot possibly do such a subject justice, given the constraints the filmmakers were working under, they did a remarkable job. For those who are interested in Lovecraft the man (including the origins and background behind some of his works), but who lack the inclination or resources to seek out all these other source materials, I definitely recommend this effort. It doesn't flinch from the negative aspects of Lovecraft's personality, but neither does it overstress them, and the result is a balanced and enoyable look at a man who, as I have noted elsewhere, Colin Wilson once called "one of the most interesting minds of his generation".

    (And, should anyone be interested, here is a review from Amazon on the book mentioned above):

    http://www.amazon.com/Monster-Mirro...dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1
  18. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Member

    Joined:
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    I've yet to get the DVD. I saw the film on the huge screen at ye HPLFF, and it was great. I love these kinds of documentaries, because Lovecraft was such a fascinating human being. S. T. Joshi is playing with the idea of writing a biographical novel on Lovecraft, which would be fascinating and "factual."

    I enjoy'd The Eldritch Influence -- but it shocked me in revealing how utterly pretentious Neil Gaiman comes across when yakking about Lovecraft. He is such a fine writer, but his explanation that Lovecraft is so popular because he is "...rock and roll..." or his glib dismissal of "The Call of Cthulhu" as a "crap story" really shocked me.

    I love hearing writers and scholars talk about Lovecraft. One of the finest features of the first few DVD sets in the H. P. Lovecraft Collection from Lurker Films were the interviews with Joshi that were an added bonus. And I could listen to the delightful and intelligent Ramsey Campbell speak about Lovecraft forever, he is utterly captivating! One of my fondest memories is listening to Ramsey reading "The Outsider" at The H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival.

    I wish someone would film a lengthy documentary called something like Lovecraft's Providence, which fully explores those houses where he lived, the burying grounds he haunted, &c &c &c. There have been some few attempts, but nothing really satisfying.
  19. j d worthington

    j d worthington Moderator Staff Member

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    This is almost certainly a foolish question, but... I take it you have read Peter Cannon's Pulptime, Screams for Jeeves, and The Lovecraft Chronicles? And if so, what did you think of those?

    I do think, however, that Gaiman qualified that with his comment about it being "a really good something", though not being quite able to pin down what he thought that something was. I've run into others who felt (as HPL himself apparently did) that it is a cumbrous tale in structure -- an opinion with which I cannot at all agree. I have read that particular tale so many times over the years that I honestly have no idea what the number is... well over 50, I am sure, and the tale still keeps growing....

    Yes, Campbell is someone I would really like to sit down and have a talk with at some point... or, rather, sit and listen to him expound on such matters. He is a very intelligent and insightful man, very subtle; withal very kind (it seems to me), even generous. I have heard part of a recording of him reading "The Outsider", but the sound quality was so poor that parts of it were almost impossible to decipher... a pity, as the reading itself seemed to be very good indeed.

    Yes, that could be an absolutely fascinating piece, if done properly. I have never had an opportunity to make it to Providence, or New England for the matter of that; something I very much hope to rectify within the next few years... only I would like to spend a considerable amount of time exploring these sites, soaking up the atmosphere, and just enjoying the beauty and feeling of history of these places....
  20. w h pugmire esq

    w h pugmire esq Member

    Joined:
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    The Lovecraft Chronicles was wonderful, but its portrayal of F. B. Long really depressed me. Peter was one of those New York Lovecraftians who befriended Long in his last years, and some aspects of the portrait painted of him saddens me. Today's post brought the edition of the Arkham House book, Hounds of Tindalos, that I recently ordered. I am happy to see that Centipede will soon publish (if they haven't already) their deluxe edition of Long's weird fiction. I haven't read Pulptime since its initial publication. I loved Screams for Jeeves because it succeeds so well as humor. People trying to write humorous Lovecraftian tales usually come off as merely "cute" or boring. (I've been disturbed to see William Browning Spencer's tendency to write more and more Lovecraftian "humor" pieces.) When I finally met Peter in Manhattan, I tried to encourage him to return to writing, as I did with a wee segment in "The Saprophytic Fungi" addressed to him. He is a remarkable and excellent writer.

    "The Call of Cthulhu" is superbly structured! I can't recall HPL calling it cumbrous. He often seems to downgrade his finest work. When we visited Providence in October of 2007, some friends who worked at the Providence Art Club let us inside the Fleur-de-Lys Building, and as I stood in one of the main studios I read portions of "The Call of Cthulhu" aloud, from the Penguin Classics edition.

    The Monster in the Mirror is my all-time favorite book of Lovecraftian criticism. I was transfixed when I read some of those essays in Lovecraft Studies, and I nearly fainted with delirious joy when I knew they would be published in book form. They are a real challenge to one as non-intellectual and uneducated as myself -- yet they hypnotize me with their ideas, and the way in which those ideas are expressed.

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