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Old 09-05-2014   #41
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

The Providence Titan--I like that. He is indeed a titan, a classic of American Literature. I have been rereading "Facts Concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family," and enjoying it as never before. What an amazing writer. His prose is near-perfection, and his stories flow beautifully. Yet they are also filled with exquisite ingots of slight reference, hints, allusions, and it sometimes takes many re-readings before I notice moft of them. I am nigh on page 351 of S. T.'s magnificent LOVECRAFT AND A WORLD IN TRANSITION, and this outstanding compilation of all of S. T.'s essays on Lovecraft is as entertaining as it is elucidating. The fiction takes on more meaning for me as I study intelligent and original studies of the Work, where intuitive scholars who understand good writing discuss the genius of H. P. Lovecraft and shew the workings of that brilliant mind. And now--next month!--we will have the stunning new hardcover edition of THE NEW ANNOTATED H. P. LOVECRAFT. I was sent the ARC of this book and read half of it--but I wanted to wait and read ye other half in the actual hardcover edition. Some bloke shew'd photos of ye hardcover edition (his friend works for Norton and got him a review copy of the publish'd book) on Facebook, and it looks absolutely gorgeous! Oh, what an excellent era for Lovecraftians!!!!

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Old 09-05-2014   #42
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

My personal feeling is that Lovecraft's prose is weak, but I would say the same of Camus. That people are so fond of Lovecraft is something that continues to baffle me. But I am also baffled by why people go into a place like Starbucks and pay good money for undrinkable coffee. To quote Shantideva (forgive me for using your writings in this context), but to quote him: "Since both excrement and saliva arise solely from food, why do I dislike excrement and find joy in saliva?"
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Old 09-05-2014   #43
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

I agree with Hopfrog. Read the opening pages of Red Hook or Charles Ward and tell me what contemporary writer has that precision of language and command of structure. It's all a matter of taste to an extent but not completely. I find writers like King, Barron et al to be boring with their verbosity. I don't need a detailed description of the uninteresting lives of uninteresting characters--just too painfully obvious and mostly padding. Lovecraft's fiction has an authenticity to it, an aesthetic distance and objectivity that most contemporary writers lack. They try for authenticity with boring and tedious descriptions of the mundane, overdone and unconvincing characterization, all shoved in the reader's face...

I really don't want to know about Wilbur Whateley's sexual preferences (assuming he had any) or what traumatic incident befell Henry Armitage when he was twelve. I've lived a varied life; I find such attempts at 'realism' in stories so predictable as to diminish any effectiveness the story might otherwise have. Human beings are not complex creatures; desires are all the same and only the way these desires are satisfied presents any novelty. But that, too, is usually predictable...and uninteresting,

Lovecraft's power as a regional writer is also a huge thing that attracted me to his fiction. When your young, stories like "The Lurking Fear" and "The Hound" draw you; but stories like "The Colour out of Space" and "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward" make you stay.

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Old 09-05-2014   #44
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Well, I agree that Lovecraft is better on a word level than King or Barron, from what I have read of the latter two. Quentin S. Crisp, Justin Isis, and many, many, many others however are better writers than Lovecraft, and more precise. Lovecraft is just a weak stylist. But, everyone is free to have their own tastes. But because someone likes a writer it doesn't make it factual that they are a good stylist. If popularity were the same as quality...
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Old 09-05-2014   #45
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Aside from that, I think the main reason to get rid of Lovecraft has never been about how terrible of a writer he is, but about him being a racist. And that seems a good reason. It after all isn't like the Goncourt award something that he himself started.
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Old 09-05-2014   #46
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Frankly, I don’t give a damn about any awards. Period. Lovecraft’s racism never bothers me. Why? Xenophobia is, I believe, an evolutionary trait, originally an aid in the fight to survive. Xenophobia--fear of the stranger--is in our DNA. Look at the South American Indians. Look at the Aztecs. Not peaceful, hardly. But there were relatively peaceful tribes…and they were slaughtered or conquered by the more aggressive warlike Empire. It’s a story that happens all through history.

I don’t believe racism is learned. Just the opposite. Xenophobia comes all too easily. Good parents teach tolerance. Children aren’t good or evil; but you can see how young children have a natural tendency to single out the child who is different for cruel abuse. They have to be taught tolerance. And if you look at it that way, the most tolerant soul on earth today is just a 'rehabilitated' xenophobe...

What are the advantages to a small gene pool? Xenophobia would of necessity have caused a limited gene pool at times in the far past. Gregory Benford pointed out an example that goes something like this: A tribe has 50 good rock throwers. They help defend the tribe from enemies. By keeping the gene pool small, the tribe produces more and more of these excellent throwers which is a plus for their survival. Eventually the gene pool widens as the most warlike tribes take women from their enemies. Hey, we're talking Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal here.



Racism is something that will be overcome by knowledge and time. It does nothing for survival today. It wasn't a creation of evil men though a man is certainly evil if he acts on racist impulses. (I'm not interested in joining the Thought Police). Racism may be an inevitable by-product of our biological fear of those who are Different from us.

You can blame evolution for it, as far as I'm concerned.

The horror story often runs on high octane fuel. Explosive stuff. Read Leiber's "Why I Love Monsters." It's quite good.

As always, just my take on it. If I were a Supreme Being I'd ask you to believe everything Druidic says. Fat chance of that.

And it should be pointed out that Lovecraft never intended those letters for publication. It should also be noted that racist rants, as far as I know, did not fill his letters to Hoffman Price or Derleth or Robert Bloch. He never took part in an act expressing his racial opinions. That would have been criminal. Was it Mark Twain who said your right to your opinion ends where my nose begins? Like I said, I'm not a member of the Revisionist Thought Police. And, better still, like my Mother always said: Everyone is entitled to their own lousy opinion.

It's called free speech.

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Old 09-06-2014   #47
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

My life would certainly be easier had Lovecraft not been a racist... bad enough I already have to defend him to some of my friends who attack his work on the basis of his prose style (a style that I adore, naturally... I wouldn't change it for a thing).

I've said it before and I'll say it again, but my book collection would be a lot smaller if I only read writers who catered to my moderate liberal worldview. Hell, one of my favorite writers is J.K. Huysmans, and unlike Lovecraft he was very public about his bigotry, attacking everyone from women, to the Jews, to the Freemasons.
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Old 09-06-2014   #48
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

"An analysis of Lovecraft's approach shows that he was a consummate stylist who penned some of the most successful prose in the history of weird fiction." --Steven J. Mariconda

"I believe it is now sufficiently well established that Lovecraft was in fact one of the great prose stylists of the English language." --S. T. Joshi

I've just written a new blog entry concerning "The Hound," shewing why I feel the story is a serious attempt by E'ch-Pi-El at writing moody Gothic horror; thus disagreeing with S. T. and others who feel that the story is Lovecraft's self-parody of his early style. I have a fever building for the actual hardcover edition of THE NEW ANNOTATED H. P. LOVECRAFT, as I want to drink in its handsome design as I return again to the superb ecstasy that comes only from reading Lovecraft's excellent fiction in a new edition. To-night, I read "The Hound" slowly, cautiously--and with deep admiration. The narrative style is perfect inits portrayal of the emotional/mental state of the doomed soul who expresses the story. There are moments of gorgeous poetry in the style--but it is as a tale of Gothic horror that the story works absolutely. It is a perfect example of what we now call "Lovecraftian horror," express'd only as Lovecraft cou'd have express'd it, utterly hypnotic in effect and execution. I love the story so much that I cou'd not resist writing my own sequel to it--and my sequel is read, beautiful, by MorganScorpion in audio files available her at TLO.

"We work in the dark -- we do what we can -- we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art."
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Old 09-06-2014   #49
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Lovecraft didn't live in the distant past. He lived in modern times. I mean, he was a prick. Reading his comments on Jews and blacks just shows what a base fellow he was. I should say that Huysmans, though also a racist, was a MUCH better writer. He also never said things like Lovecraft did. He would have, I can guarantee it, found Lovecraft's writing juvenile. "I believe it is now sufficiently well established that Lovecraft was in fact one of the great prose stylists of the English language." --S. T. Joshi Oh, Joshi said it, so it must be true. Jesus. Or "Steven J. Mariconda"---whoever that is. I hate to say it chaps, but anyone who really believes this stuff is reading in a very narrow spectrum of literature. Does Lovecraft also say "shew" instead of "show"? To quote Eunapius, "His style of eloquence in his declamations was altogether feeble, lifeless, and uninspired, and it is very evident that he had not had the advantage of a teacher; indeed he was ignorant of most of the ordinary rules of declamation, things that even a schoolboy knows."
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Old 09-06-2014   #50
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

If you gestalt-analyse the fiction of great writers like Lovecraft, Thomas Mann, Ligotti, JC Powys, Connell etc ... you can find all sorts of magic, much of which doesn't depend on style.
As to these authors outside their fiction - I'd appeal to Wimsatt's Intentional Fallacy.

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