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Old 09-16-2014   #191
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Wilhelm Reich called the communists "Red Fascists". It was a good and accurate description.
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Old 09-16-2014   #192
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

For those of us who live in the States and particularly those living in states governed by the hard political right, talk of liberals (i.e., "the Left") stripping away our civil rights (specifically freedom of expression) is backwards to say the least.

I grew up in Alabama, a state in a region of my country justly known for its intolerance of non-conformity, its historical and present-day misogyny, its endemic prejudice against racial/cultural minorities, and its rage against the idea of public education and affordable healthcare. At least in my personal experience, the voices and actions of the hard right are far more destructive than any rhetoric I've heard or policies I've seen from the far left.

"...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 09-16-2014   #193
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

I think Crisp was generally talking about people who refuse to read writers or enjoy things by artists/entertainers who have views or committed actions that are considered unacceptable today. Pretty sure it was nothing to do with the members of this forum.

I feel weird slightly defending Glenn Beck but according to Penn (the magician atheist guy), Beck actually is kinda friends (not close but friendly enough) with some of his ideological opponents and even promotes their books to his own followers.

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Old 09-16-2014   #194
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

I'm afraid I can't agree, Dr. Locrian. The Right has very little influence these days. I don't lament that, I find many of them clowns at best. But the liberal dream of the perfectibility of man is an insidious one. Whenpeople won't do what's perceived to be in their best interests, laws are passed to make sure they do. Bogus science (smoking in open air stadiums as a threat to non-smokers, trans fats as the Devil Incarnate, the list is too long, tedious and absurd) has been employed regularly by the liberal media for various reasons and agendas.

August Derleth once joked in a letter to me from the late 60's about a library attempting to ban the Tarzan books. Why? Because Jane and Tarzan weren't legally married and were living in sin.

That kind of clumsy attempt at censorship can be seen for what it is by most intelligent people. It's typical of the Right.

But it wasn't the Right that wanted to pull Mark Twain from libraries because of unpleasant racial elements in his novels. That was a far more subtle and dangerous attempt at censorship, although no less absurd. Still some supposedly intelligent people actually considered and debated over such an action.

In the 60's the liberals may have worn the white hats. But in the 80's things began to change.

A short while back Arianna Huffington, admittedly a real airhead, claimed the Religious Right was the greatest danger facing America today. Right. I see them strapping on explosives and beheading those who disagree with them all the time.

R. D. Laing's work has been largely discredited but he was right about "the mystification of Experience." I never tell people how they feel or how they should feel. I'll explain my position and that's that. Mystification of Experience is what the Thought Police are all about. And while both sides employ such a repugnant technique, I must say the Left is much, much better at it. They make it seem so darn friendly, it's all for your benefit, Big Brother Loves You...

A few years back, a black city employee in San Francisco lost his job because he used the word "niggardly" during a conference. Despite the word having nothing to do with race, he was punished for not showing "expected sensitivity." If you want to know what I mean by Thought Police, I couldn't find a better example.

Please don't mistake me for a conservative. But don't call me a liberal either.

And since TLO is not a political forum--thank God!--this will conclude my time on the soap box. Thanks for your indulgence.

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Old 09-16-2014   #195
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Locrian View Post
For those of us who live in the States and particularly those living in states governed by the hard political right, talk of liberals (i.e., "the Left") stripping away our civil rights (specifically freedom of expression) is backwards to say the least.

I grew up in Alabama, a state in a region of my country justly known for its intolerance of non-conformity, its historical and present-day misogyny, its endemic prejudice against racial/cultural minorities, and its rage against the idea of public education and affordable healthcare. At least in my personal experience, the voices and actions of the hard right are far more destructive than any rhetoric I've heard or policies I've seen from the far left.
There may be an Atlantic divide; in a lot of European contexts, the word liberal does not signify non-conformity or equality, but quite the opposite.
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Old 09-16-2014   #196
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by mark_samuels View Post
I've long held the view that where art serves politics it rapidly starts going off the rails.
Hear hear.

Going back to Lovecraft, and the OP, I immediately switch off when people or groups with an agenda which has NO relevance to the artwork itself try to compartmentalise according to their politics, political correctness or whatever.

Mark S says "All I want is to be left alone".

I agree with this fine sentiment. This will probably be written on my tombstone - "He wanted to be left alone". It doesn't mean literally - individual people and loved ones I've got time for, but as far as human society as a whole I plan my life to have as minimal interaction with it as possible.
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Old 09-16-2014   #197
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

My post on "social justice warriors" was not aimed at anyone on this site. I can't speak for qcrisp, but I didn't think his post was aimed at anyone here either. The award controversy obviously originated outside of TLO, and so did the ideological currents that fed into it. I too wish that political terms hadn't been confused and degraded over time. It's partly due to historical changes and differing contexts, but it's also due to cant and sheer ignorance.

I think the SJW phenomenon -- tides of shallow, copycat outrage, sometimes targeted with unconcealed bloodlust -- is real based on too many hours of my life observing it. I would be dumbfounded if anyone who has spent much time on the internet doesn't recognize it, but maybe you're avoiding the baser precincts, in which case I envy and wish to emulate you. Of course there is also a right-wing counterpart to this foaming tide and bloodlust -- surely also familiar to anyone who's spent much time on the internet -- and I hope I'm being thoughtful enough to avoid contributing to it.

Actually, whether I could be considered conservative or liberal depends on social context. I live in the midwest, and people here invariably consider me liberal, which I am compared to most of them. But in literary circles I often feel like some kind of paleocon reactionary. Anyway, political scenes are full of zealots. I'd rather not have a political identity that I have to try to play up to.

For the record, I found scrypt's earlier post about literature and politics to be interesting and valuable. I mostly agree with it, although I am somewhat susceptible to Eliot's "gauze and effect" (not his religious beliefs or ethnic disdain), and I've never been able to appreciate Pound. I enjoy reading Hugh Kenner's criticism and explication of Pound, but I still can't get much out of Pound himself. No doubt this is due to my own limitations.

I especially agree with the following from scrypt's earlier post:

Quote Originally Posted by scrypt View Post
Either/or tough-offs between the reps of dissimilar writers (how is Butler remotely like Lovecraft? Why should they be pitted against each other?) are so beside the point that the entire debate could be replaced with an image of a broken compass.
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Old 09-17-2014   #198
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by gveranon View Post
My post on "social justice warriors" was not aimed at anyone on this site. I can't speak for qcrisp, but I didn't think his post was aimed at anyone here either. . . . I too wish that political terms hadn't been confused and degraded over time. It's partly due to historical changes and differing contexts, but it's also due to cant and sheer ignorance.
If my response seemed a tad intense, it was because I felt so disappointed to see this conversation on TLO. If I happen to visit Facebook, then I expect people to flaunt their politics along with their selfies, children, friends, and hivemind conflations of familiarity with rightness. It's an environment in which the cologne of self-preoccupation wafts into the space of anyone who visits. Commodified individuality is the aether and sustenance of its microcosm of collective narcissism.

Based on my limited interactions here, I've come to view TLO as a blessed/damned haven for nomads whose worldview is suffused with their morbidity, aesthetics and imaginative thought. I'd come to expect (and hope) that we would never fling the slime of politics -- let alone ascribe political beliefs to types in a kind of phrenological categorization of ideologies.

Quote
I think the SJW phenomenon -- tides of shallow, copycat outrage, sometimes targeted with unconcealed bloodlust -- is real based on too many hours of my life observing it.
The freer of charted political positions your SJW type remains, the more resonant it becomes. The positions that we hold as individuals represent freedom to us because they seem as uncomplicated as intuition, but people with antipodal positions have the same feeling. That's why I prefer closely observed individuals to types, and why archetypes become more applicable when they aren't overly identified with restrictive agendas. At his most effective, Lovecraft understood this.

Quote
Actually, whether I could be considered conservative or liberal depends on social context.
In a literary context, why should it matter whether you're conservative, liberal or something else?

I happen to be a fan of Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut and of Schnitzler's Traumnovelle. I remember being disappointed when people complained that Tom Cruise was insufficiently Jewish to be the protagonist, and that Kubrick generalized New York into a kind of Everycity instead of adding closely observed details. What annoyed me about that discussion was that people seemed not to understand that Schnitzler removed all of those elements because he wanted to create an allegory that wasn't specifically about antisemitism. Schnitzler was an anti-Zionist who tended to be allergic to obvious causes and his story is all the more resonant because of that. Kubrick was true to that idea, but critics seemed to want something else: The regurgitation of the familiar and the sentimental. Rather than an oneiromantic city in which hypnogogic consciousness, secrecy and cruel behavior alone were brutally vivid, people wanted what they knew: A locally accurate environment in which the screenwriter explored a socially acceptable cause.

A carefully researched potato farm in Idaho, perhaps, where a lovable Jewish elf appears on the tip of a giant sprout in order to teach a cynical crop duster about the joys of spontaneity (and organic pesticides) before being hunted down by an anti-Zionist goat farmer -- leaving the crop duster to weep while repeating the phrase, "I could haff done more!"

When Flaubert explores the politics of characters, what he's really doing is mining their consciousness. We've seen from his drafts that he often began with contempt for his characters until negative capability brought him close enough to their thought to transcend ideological contempt. He's been called a proto-feminist, but if that is true, then it is the side effect of his attempt to enter the minds of female characters, which is an act of transvestism for a male writer: One can't simply imagine a woman; one must become her.

If politics exist in my fiction and criticism, then I hope they're either multilaterally destructive or completely absorbed by allegory. Everything erodes, disintegrates and suicides or feeds on itself because that's what existence represents to me: Matter impaled on sentience, born of conceptual violence and writhing toward release.

I've often thought something similar about Lovecraft: That his prejudices were a kind of allegory of paranoia, and that the same phobias and foreboding that fueled his interpretation of existence led to his petty prejudices. My question is whether the realms he created are sufficiently independent of such flaws or whether we effectively edit the flaws out whenever we read him.

[Disclaimer: Though I refused to be Bar Mitzvah'd or to go to Hebrew school (since I considered myself an agnostic even in childhood), my Russian-Lithuanian mother happened to be Jewish, which makes me fully Jewish by Talmudic law. If I sound strident when it comes to antisemitism, it's because the subject has become too prostituted to be taken at pelvis value. Art that purports to be about the Holocaust -- in which certain of my relatives perished -- is usually about the sympathy and guilt of the artist and not the consciousness of the victims. If you want to gain insights into the Final Solution, I urge you to visit the Holocaust Museum in West Berlin and stand in the one of the death cars exhibited there for at least an hour. You'll begin to notice the scratch marks on the walls left by people's nails and, eventually, to catch flickers of the passing countryside through the spaces between the slats of the walls.]

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Old 09-17-2014   #199
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

I do feel obliged to record a recent exchange I had on True Detective on a site that shall remain nameless.

X: What really, really pissed me off about the show was that there were hardly any black people in the background of the scenes. It was so narrow-minded.

Me: (Internet equivalent of guffaw) Really, are you serious?

Admin (instantly): I would just like you to clarify for the satisfaction of all concerned that you do not hold any racist views and support minority rights.

Me: Really?

Admin: Yes, I think it's important given your response to X's post. Some might find it disturbing.

Me: Bye-bye.
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Old 09-17-2014   #200
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

That Admin was too quick with the trigger finger. If you had racist views they would have come out very quickly in the continued exchange with the forum member. Then the Admin could have acted. But this guy jumped right to The Interrogation. Your response was adequate and correct.

What always bothered me about that story of the black guy getting fired for using the word 'niggardly'--they were talking about council budgets and he was saying "we need more funds here, don't be niggardly."--is he was fired by his black boss. His crime? Being a literate human being in a room full of idiots. At one time it was unlawful in some states to teach black slaves to read and write.
Well, at least he was fired by a black man. That's progress for you.

These days in casual public conversation all but the most extreme verbal obscenities are tolerated. I suspect it was inevitable new taboos, driven by political correctness, would arise to replace them. Think of it like a dented empty beer can. Try to squeeze out the dent and just watch a new one replace it...
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