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Old 04-25-2017   #331
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by Arthur Staaz View Post
It can be an overused term, but might there be an element of "virtue signalling" in all this anti-Lovecraft talk?
I get what you're saying, but it seems to be not especially relevant. The motivations for expressing a point of view do not necessarily speak to the legitimacy of that view. It may be true that some people who speak out against HPL do so out of some performative motivation, but pointing this out doesn't address the merit of the underlying criticism.

And, I think it's pretty hard to argue against the fact HPL held some pretty ugly views; ugly even for his time. I suppose the question of what constitutes reasonable or unreasonable emotions is up for debate, as Speaking Mute mentions, but good luck reaching some consensus. In the mean time, the fact remains that there are people who are sincerely bothered by aspects of HPL's personality and, by extension, the way it sometimes manifests in his writing.
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Old 04-25-2017   #332
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by Ucasuni View Post
And, I think it's pretty hard to argue against the fact HPL held some pretty ugly views; ugly even for his time.
I hear this a lot. I do not think it is an accurate statement. I say that not in any way to apologize for Lovecraft or to downplay his racism, but I think folks that make the assertion that Lovecraft's racism is particularly virulent even by the standards of his lifetime (1890-1937) are not familiar with the depth and pervasiveness of racism even among Lovecraft's immediate friends, family, and peers, or of the nature of his beliefs and the background that went into them.

Lovecraft was racist. There is probably no point after the age of four years old where you could say Lovecraft was not racist, by our contemporary standards. But the whole "racist Olympics" thing where you try to say that this guy is more racist than that guy... racism isn't something you score on a rubric. It's a spectrum of prejudice, ignorance, and behaviors. There are a lot of things Lovecraft did and said that were racist; there are a lot of racist things that Lovecraft did not say and do. He was never a member of the KKK, he voiced general disapproval to Nazi anti-Semitic policies, he never participated in a lynching or racially-motivated violence (as far as we know). He did not campaign against equal rights on the political scene, but he didn't crusade for civil rights either. He avoided some racist tropes and ideas in his fiction and used others.

Which is a long way to say...I don't think Lovecraft's racism was particularly exceptional for the period. What is exceptional is that we have such a record of it, through his letters and fiction, and that because he was in contact (and argument) with much more liberal and progressive and less racially prejudiced friends like Robert Bloch, J. Vernon Shea, and James F. Morton, he was forced to state, restate, and defend his prejudices in much greater detail than other people; Robert E. Howard in his letters, for example, never goes into the subject of race in anything like the depth or detail that Lovecraft does - but then Bob Howard never had to. His friends, for the most part, did not challenge him to state and defend his views in writing in that fashion. They didn't need to.

So we have a fairly substantial record of Lovecraft's prejudice - and I know this because I've been going through it for the past year - and it does not make pleasant reading, but it does show someone whose ideas are all, generally, traceable back to relatively common and accepted beliefs at the time. Lovecraft doesn't spend page after page ranting against black people or planning out detailed genocidal plans or anything like that. It's not a high mark - but I think in the context of his life and times, Lovecraft really isn't exceptional in that regard, except for leaving a paper trail.

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Old 04-25-2017   #333
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

I think some might be saying he was particularly racist by the standards of intellectuals back then? Do you think he was unusually racist for an intellectual of the time?

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Old 04-25-2017   #334
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Robert Bloch at Typewriter | Photograph | Wisconsin Historical Society


Always been impressed by the photo of young Robert Bloch. Could be a still from a horror or noir film.

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Old 04-25-2017   #335
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by Ancient History View Post
[...]he was in contact (and argument) with much more liberal and progressive and less racially prejudiced friends like Robert Bloch, J. Vernon Shea, and James F. Morton [...]
I wasn't trying to suggest that he wins the racism olympics, but you do make it clear in your response that there is a spectrum and he falls on the less progressive end of it. Additionally, as evidenced in your response, his racism was not casually common among those of his social and intellectual class.

I'm not trying to paint him as some kind of monster, but i also think its unfair to dismiss it as the historical equivalent of "kids will be kids".
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Old 04-25-2017   #336
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by Ucasuni View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Ancient History View Post
[...]he was in contact (and argument) with much more liberal and progressive and less racially prejudiced friends like Robert Bloch, J. Vernon Shea, and James F. Morton [...]
I wasn't trying to suggest that he wins the racism olympics, but you do make it clear in your response that there is a spectrum and he falls on the less progressive end of it. Additionally, as evidenced in your response, his racism was not casually common among those of his social and intellectual class.
Except it was. Robert E. Howard made statements about Jews, African-Americans, and immigrants; August Derleth and Clark Ashton Smith both made anti-Semitic comments in their letters; they all included racial stereotypes and concepts in their fiction, and that was true for Robert Bloch's early fiction and Henry S. Whitehead...not to mention bigger names like Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Lovecraft had some peers that were less prejudiced in some respects on some issues or with respect to certain groups, but none of them was "free" from prejudice, and some of his peers certainly evinced sentiments in their letters and fiction as severe as anything Lovecraft wrote.

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Old 04-25-2017   #337
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by Robert Adam Gilmour View Post
Always been impressed by the photo of young Robert Bloch. Could be a still from a horror or noir film.
Is there a trope for a fanatically dedicated writer or journalist (similar to the mad scientist one)? Because he certainly looks like one.

Hm, were hardcover books more common in the past?
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Old 04-25-2017   #338
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

It could be that I've only been exposed to the worst of Lovecraft's personal remarks, but from what I've read his racism was morbidly visceral. Whereas he wasn't alone - and still isn't - in espousing WASP superiority, the near panic attack level of disgust he expressed is unusual to say the least. I'm not sympathetic to interpretations that reduce his fiction to racism and/or pathology, but I can see the starting point here.

I'm not sure about virtue signalling either - I think there is a bandwagon effect, but this doesn't preclude sincerity.

...also, whereas I'm sure this was posted on TLO before, now that the thread is alive again I'm curious about what people think about the Alt-Right jumping on the controversy:

https://www.counter-currents.com/201...or-literature/
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Old 04-25-2017   #339
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by Ancient History View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Ucasuni View Post
Quote Originally Posted by Ancient History View Post
[...]he was in contact (and argument) with much more liberal and progressive and less racially prejudiced friends like Robert Bloch, J. Vernon Shea, and James F. Morton [...]
I wasn't trying to suggest that he wins the racism olympics, but you do make it clear in your response that there is a spectrum and he falls on the less progressive end of it. Additionally, as evidenced in your response, his racism was not casually common among those of his social and intellectual class.
Except it was. Robert E. Howard made statements about Jews, African-Americans, and immigrants; August Derleth and Clark Ashton Smith both made anti-Semitic comments in their letters; they all included racial stereotypes and concepts in their fiction, and that was true for Robert Bloch's early fiction and Henry S. Whitehead...not to mention bigger names like Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Lovecraft had some peers that were less prejudiced in some respects on some issues or with respect to certain groups, but none of them was "free" from prejudice, and some of his peers certainly evinced sentiments in their letters and fiction as severe as anything Lovecraft wrote.
The sad thing is that many people around the surrounding area where Howard grew up still harbor some of the same prejudices. I know because I live less than two hours from Cross Plains, TX. Coleman, the place my parents and grandparents grew up, is less than 30 minutes from Cross Plains. I still have yet to visit the little museum they have devoted to him there. I suppose I didn't care when I was young. I just remember being told by my grandfather that there was a man who lived not far from Coleman who wrote stories about Conan and shot himself at an early age.

While I certainly understand that some are perhaps using the issue to participate in virtue-signalling, it's important to acknowledge that Lovecraft and Howard's racism is not a thing of the past. But do I think a traditional award should be changed because one of the most important "founders" of weird fiction was a racist? No, I don't. If we wanted to extinguish every award modelled after a human being, there would be no such awards in existence. As a matter of fact, perhaps we should eliminate everything, not just awards, tainted with whatever foul thing you can think of. I'm up for it as long as it includes absolutely everything in existence.

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

~ Clark Ashton Smith, "The Devotee of Evil"
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Old 04-25-2017   #340
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by Speaking Mute View Post
It could be that I've only been exposed to the worst of Lovecraft's personal remarks, but from what I've read his racism was morbidly visceral.
I kinda doubt it. Most folks like to quote him out of context, but the majority of his comments and writing on race are in the more recently published volumes of his letters, not the Selected Letters.

Quote
...also, whereas I'm sure this was posted on TLO before, now that the thread is alive again I'm curious about what people think about the Alt-Right jumping on the controversy:

https://www.counter-currents.com/201...or-literature/
Cockroaches. Only fit for stomping on.

Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Veech
The sad thing is that many people around the surrounding area where Howard grew up still harbor some of the same prejudices. I know because I live less than two hours from Cross Plains, TX. Coleman, the place my parents and grandparents grew up, is less than 30 minutes from Cross Plains. I still have yet to visit the little museum they have devoted to him there. I suppose I didn't care when I was young. I just remember being told by my grandfather that there was a man who lived not far from Coleman who wrote stories about Conan and shot himself at an early age.
You ought to come out to Howard Days this year.

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