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Old 09-02-2014   #11
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by Hell-Ghost View Post
Whilst skimming thro' S.T. Joshi's Blog
A Week ago or so
I was quite surpris'd to find
That one Daniel Jose Older
has launch'd a Petition to
Replace the Bust of Lovecraft
For the World Fantasy Award
With that of Octavia E. Butler.
This, I say, is a maddening outrage!
The obvious solution would be to create an awards statue that includes both Lovecraft and Butler, possibly embracing each other, possibly with Cthulhu mediating, or present as a child figure. I think Butler would have approved of this, seeing as her Xenogenesis series explicitly deals with understanding and integrating and even reproducing with threatening Others (racists, bigots, actual inhuman extraterrestrial beings, etc.) rather than calling them names and casting them out. This kind of statue would also probably piss everyone on both sides off, which I think Butler would have appreciated as well. She was always much too intelligent to ever fall for simplistic identity politics.
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Old 09-03-2014   #12
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by Druidic View Post
I believe Mark Samuels once pointed out that Lovecraft's views on race were really not out of synch with the science of his time. That's certainly correct. {Even today you have a minority of scientists like James Watson, co-discoverer of DNA structure, putting forth views that most would probably label racist.} Lovecraft's racism adds, for me, a certain authenticity to the few stories in which it really appears (like ramonoski, I don't care to hear anyone insisting "Shadow Over Innsmouth" is just Lovecraft railing against the immigrants!). We cannot and should not pretend that Institutionalized racism wasn't once a force in this country. That's not a history lesson we should forget. And you can't blame Lovecraft for it. Other writers of the time, Jack London for instance, had views pretty much identical to Lovecraft's. Some people think they are making amends for the past when, in fact, they are trying to rewrite it.
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Old 09-03-2014   #13
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

She's a very cool writer, too. This Older clown is giving her a posthumous bad name by even whispering hers.
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Old 09-03-2014   #14
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by hopfrog View Post
We chatted of this at S. T.'s cook-out this past Sunday, where I defended China, a writer I keenly admire. We are all getting rather weary of people attacking Lovecraft for his racism. Ugly as it is (I speak as one of Jewish heritage), HPL's racism is eclipsed by everything that was admirable about him. The attacks calling Lovecraft a hack and a bad writer are too absurd, and I have been stupid enough to comment on them in various blogs, a behavior I nigh try to stop. Lovecraft doesn't need his obsess'd fanboy defending him, and no one takes me seriously so it doesn't help. Instead, I've been discussing why I so admire his work on my own blog, and continue writing book after book that pays aesthetic homage to Lovecraft's weird fiction. Just got a new book deal with Hippocampus Press this week and will spend ye rest of this year writing ye new material for that as yet unnameable tome.
I think everyone takes you, quite seriously, Wm! I do anyway--it's the only sensible thing.
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Old 09-03-2014   #15
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Regarding China Mieville, I think his view of Lovecraft is much more nuanced than the quote people are using of him on Lovecraft would leave you to believe. For example, take his view of "The Horror at Red Hook Inn":

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Old 09-03-2014   #16
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

I've always regarded "The Horror at Red Hook" as a major Lovecraft work. So did many anthologists until the 70's. The opening paragraphs are written with a beautiful precision and the description of an agoraphobic anxiety attack is extremely well done. Compare it to the conclusion of "The Other Gods" which also seems agoraphobic in nature, fear of falling upwards into boundless space.
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Old 09-03-2014   #17
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Hmmm, may I respectfully suggest that people here are being far too pusillanimous. Lovecraft was by today's standards a racist. What of it? I assume 90% of people read him for the pleasure derived form his fiction, another 5% love his philosophy and 18th century gentleman persona, maybe 5% or less read him for his political and racial views. Why should admirers of Lovecraft apologise? When I meet a fan of Wagner I do not expect them to 'explain away' his anti-semitism, nor do I inspect that person for traces of anti-semitism. I read Celine for his fiction and do not care about his Fascist phase. As a friend of mine said to me recently, it is highly ironic that today's literary commentators, most of whom are fervent atheists and secularists, are engaged in a witchhunt of Inquisition like dimensions when they examine figures from the past, always looking for putative 'sinning' against today's moral prejudices, which are, of course, deemed to be infallible and the peak of ethical perfection. I say, Let us stand up to the Thought Police!
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Old 09-03-2014   #18
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by Druidic View Post
I've always regarded "The Horror at Red Hook" as a major Lovecraft work. So did many anthologists until the 70's. The opening paragraphs are written with a beautiful precision and the description of an agoraphobic anxiety attack is extremely well done. Compare it to the conclusion of "The Other Gods" which also seems agoraphobic in nature, fear of falling upwards into boundless space.
I was surprised when I reread this one the other day and really enjoyed it and found a lot to admire in it. I don't think it's one of his best stories, mind you, but it certainly isn't one of his worst.

"...the uncanny is to me the defining trait of this strange and terrible world and our strange and terrible minds." --Thomas Ligotti
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Old 09-03-2014   #19
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

I can't speak for others, but my defensiveness about Lovecraft's racism comes from reading so many of his letters over the years. I feel like I know the guy, and thus when he's reduced to being merely "a racist," there's a real need to explain and contextualize his racism as well as point out the complexities (e.g. his marriage to a Jewish woman; his many friendships with tolerant progressives and his evolution from hardcore conservative to moderate socialist).

I don't apologize for the many racist things HPL wrote and likely said in his lifetime. But it's hard for me to swallow an assessment of him as a mere racist without wanting to give a detailed response to the charge.

That stated, Malone, I agree that in the context of HPL's work, whether he was a racist or not is immaterial. His stories either are effective and worthy of merit or they're not. And I believe many--even most of them--are. And some of them like "The Music of Erich Zann," "The Rats in the Walls," and "The Haunter of the Dark" are weird tale masterworks.

"...the uncanny is to me the defining trait of this strange and terrible world and our strange and terrible minds." --Thomas Ligotti
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Old 09-03-2014   #20
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

My conclusion is that I don't trust ideologues when it comes to Art.

Mark S.

"You have no idea how much nastier I'd be if I were not a Catholic. Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being." Evelyn Waugh
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