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Old 11-16-2014   #271
Robert Adam Gilmour
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Thanks for the thoughtful replies but I'm still not sure if there isn't a right time to frighten people with some worrying findings. I could understand why some scientists and environmentalists feel frustrated but from the sounds of some of them, they sound calmly accepting of the idea of imminent disaster.
But I'm a very paranoid person and I sometimes try to scare myself into action and you probably wont be surprised that it rarely ever works. Sometimes I want to scare other people because they seem to spend a lot of their days as if they'll live forever. I want to remind them that life is short, but I tell myself that constantly and I usually just keep procrastinating.

And there still are times when people present facts or speculations in a neutral manner and get accused of scaremongering anyway.

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Old 11-16-2014   #272
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

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And there still are times when people present facts or speculations in a neutral manner and get accused of scaremongering anyway.--Robert Adam Gilmour
The media is a big part of the problem.
There was a non-sensationalistic report at the beginning of summer, solid, long term studies, that stated obesity (not morbid obesity) is NO indicator, alone, of mortality. How the media loves their obesity Epidemic stories! This one didn't scare or say what was wanted and it was absolutely buried. It's a fate common to the kind of honest, neutral studies you refer to.
I don't believe frightening people does any good at all; either they indulge in denial or go off and do stupid things. But it's a good tool for manipulating them.
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Old 11-17-2014   #273
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by Robert Adam Gilmour View Post
Thanks for the thoughtful replies but I'm still not sure if there isn't a right time to frighten people with some worrying findings. I could understand why some scientists and environmentalists feel frustrated but from the sounds of some of them, they sound calmly accepting of the idea of imminent disaster.
But I'm a very paranoid person and I sometimes try to scare myself into action and you probably wont be surprised that it rarely ever works. Sometimes I want to scare other people because they seem to spend a lot of their days as if they'll live forever. I want to remind them that life is short, but I tell myself that constantly and I usually just keep procrastinating.

And there still are times when people present facts or speculations in a neutral manner and get accused of scaremongering anyway.
I've been thinking about this, and it's not a simple subject. Certainly not one I hope to clear up in a few minutes on a message board.

I remembered the very everyday word that is the positive flipside of scare-mongering: warning. Of course, we know of this in fiction as well as in journalism. 'A Warning to the Curious', or Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, etc. With fiction there are at least two ways this can be seen without it necessarily being scare-mongering: 1) exploring one's fear, which is possibly therapeutic or philosophical, 2) presenting a worst-case scenario for consideration. (There are possibly other ways.)

I do think this is legitimate, yes, which is not to say we can't interrogate it for intent, for value and so on.

For instance, I wouldn't be surprised if those reading this, like me, have been told, at some time, by someone with a knowing look in his or her eye, "Do you know what the opposite of love is? The opposite of love is not hate - it's fear!"

If this is true, it would seem to suggest that fear is never legitimate except as a kind of 'growing pain' that we must grow out of.

I don't think I'm qualified to say whether that's true.

Therefore, leaving that aside for the moment, I would say there are legitimate expressions or evocations of fear.

In terms of human bias, one obvious source of bias is that we're finite individuals trying to survive in a world we don't understand, unable to see beyond the horizon of mortality. As well as a source of bias, that also seems a clear and quite natural reason for fear to be experienced and evoked.

However, we do have to be careful that a warning doesn't become a dogma. There are various things I could say on this front, but I'm not sure I have the time for something detailed and trenchant.

I'll rely on E.B. White a moment to at least say something in contrast to the tunnel-vision that is produced by a warning transforming into a dogmatic vision of reality:

http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/01...other-day.html

In terms of how scare-mongering has specifically affected me, I shall give one example from a store of many:

I receive an e-mail from Environmental Defense Fund or some similar group, and it says, "Quentin!!!!! We have only twenty-four hours to save the planet!!!! The ice caps are melting and if we don't get the following petition to the Houses of Parliament within twenty-four hours, we will have missed our last chance, and our children will haunt the dreams of our few remaining days with tears in their reproachful eyes as they sink, screaming, into the rising waters of the imminent apocalypse!

"But don't despair! Just sign this petition and get everyone you know to sign it. And send us a donation for our ad campaign. Together, we will make a brighter future - your money and our manipulation of the media, like the X-men, but without all their hang-ups and dubious politics!"

And I think, "Jesus Christ! Only twenty-four hours. I suppose I'd better do something to save the planet. It would be remiss of me not to. I'm a bit skint at the moment, but I'll sign the petition and maybe pass it on to a few people with guilty consciences who won't hate me for it."

So, I do that, and next week, there's another e-mail, and it begins, "Quentin! We have twenty-four hours to save the planet!!!!!!"

After a while, I just think - I don't have any kids, thank god, and this is out of my hands. I will attempt to make my own peace with my maker in order not to die screaming hysterically. Even in a worst case scenario, it's basically what we already kind of assume - the human race are not going to last forever. It's just that it might be we, this century, who witness that end. Or maybe not.

"As the Director of one of the five greatest museums in our Eastern States has more than once remarked to me, From the Stone Age until now, what a decline!" - Ananda Coomaraswamy
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Old 11-17-2014   #274
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

A smorgasbord of links I hope are both relevant and interesting. I won't comment on each of them. My posting them does not necessarily indicate endorsement of views expressed here:

'Does Our Military Know Something We Don't About Global Warming?', in Forbes:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamescon...lobal-warming/

'It's Just a Ride', Bill Hicks:


'Landmark Vote Sees Diocese of Oxford Become the First to Go Fossil Free', in Christian Today:

http://www.christiantoday.com/articl...free/43080.htm

'The Planet is Fine', George Carlin:


'On Living in An Atomic Age', C.S. Lewis:


"As the Director of one of the five greatest museums in our Eastern States has more than once remarked to me, From the Stone Age until now, what a decline!" - Ananda Coomaraswamy
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Old 11-17-2014   #275
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

And yet even if there wasn't any politics of fear, any global warming or any atomic age, there would still be fear and there would still be anxiety. It's fundamental to human experience. Existence = Torment (Cioran).
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Old 11-19-2014   #276
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Bringing the thread right back to its essential theme of Lovecraft and the WFA, there's this article by Eleanor Arnason at Strange Horizons:

http://www.strangehorizons.com/2014/...rnason-c.shtml

I feel more and more weary reading this kind of thing, and I imagine everyone is pretty tired of this thread, but, as they say, the forecast is for more - a never-ending stream of Pharisaicalism hand in hand with Philistinism.

I think I'll let one of Lovecraft's characters comment in this case:

Quote
There were witches and what their spells summoned; pirates and what they brought in from the sea; smugglers; privateers -- and I tell you, people knew how to live, and how to enlarge the bounds of life, in the old time! This wasn't the only world a bold and wise man could know -- faugh! And to think of today in contrast, with such pale-pink brains that even a club of supposed artists gets shudders and convulsions if a picture goes beyond the feelings of a Beacon Street tea-table!
I think I fundamentally don't understand the assumption that art should be there to reflect and confirm us in our own moral values, and that we need some kind of chaperone in our brains to make sure we don't get into trouble.

The article ends:

"In the meantime, pay attention to what you read, and recognize how harmful ideas in light and popular fiction can be."

I actually find this incredible. Talking of outmoded attitudes, this is like something from the era when pillars of society were considered de facto moral guardians for everyone around them.

"As the Director of one of the five greatest museums in our Eastern States has more than once remarked to me, From the Stone Age until now, what a decline!" - Ananda Coomaraswamy

Last edited by qcrisp; 11-19-2014 at 06:01 AM.. Reason: it's/its
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Old 11-19-2014   #277
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by qcrisp View Post
Bringing the thread right back to its essential theme of Lovecraft and the WFA, there's this article by Eleanor Arnason at Strange Horizons:

http://www.strangehorizons.com/2014/...rnason-c.shtml
Most harrowing quote from your link:

Quote
Frederick Engels says somewhere that all oppression begins with the oppression of women and children. Sexism is foundational. It is based in the family, which is the basic human social unit, and it pervades human societies. Class prejudice has been with us since the Neolithic, when it became possible to pile up wealth, thus creating social classes.

But I am not willing to throw out all the art that is tainted by sexism or class prejudice, which brings us back to reading critically.




Well . . . thanks for stopping just shy of full-on book burner. Generous of you to concede that *some* of the tainted art would survive your reign.

Yikes.
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Old 11-19-2014   #278
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Daniel José Older is a joke.

In his online petition he wrote Lovecraft was a "terrible wordsmith" and in a interview with The Guardian he criticized Lovecraft's "sloppy prose". Also, if you check his website, some writers, like J. Ramsey Campbell and W.H. Pugmire, questioned him in the comments section and he answered to them using childish arguments and attacks and then closed the comments.

This was one of his responses to Pugmire: "If you think Lovecraft is a genius writer… There’s no hope for you. Your only defense here is that others agree with you. You haven’t made a case, you’re just being snide. Keep it moving, nobody here’s interested in your opinion."

Also, his "response" to S.T. Joshi was uploading a stupid photograph. Check it out: Daniel José Older - s Bizarre, Overwritten Blog About Me .

Your fall should be like the fall of mountains. But I was before mountains. I was in the beginning, and shall be forever. The first and the last. The world come full circle. I am not the wheel. I am the hand that turns the wheel. I am Time, the Destroyer. I was the wind and the stars before this. Before planets. Before heaven and hell. And when all is done, I will be wind again, to blow this world as dust back into endless space. To me the coming and going of Man is as nothing.
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Old 11-19-2014   #279
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

I was actually going to ask if anyone had read Older's fiction, because some people outside this discussion rated him highly but responses like that from him are really offputting.
But if I ever come across his work I promise to separate his unpleasant side from my judgment of his stories.

I think Joshi went a bit too hard on his opponents, maybe there would have been a better response from Older if Joshi hadn't went into full attack mode, because I think his arguments were strong enough.
But if Ramsey and Pugmire are getting responses like that then maybe it would have made no difference.

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Old 11-19-2014   #280
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

It's like a wildfire of insider nerdery that swept across the internet.

Here is the criticism, of the criticism, of the other criticsm of Older (or something). It boasts snippets of HP Lovecraft's, Daniel Older's, and ST Joshi's work being quoted and ridiculed by somebody on the internet with an opinion.
(Apparently the guy is also some kind of literary critic person?)

http://www.jasoncolavito.com/blog/s-...craft-and-race

Includes gems like:
Quote
This is, of course, in opposition to S. T. Joshi, a man who by his own autobiographical admission became a self-described literary critic at the age of 17 (when he clearly had a comprehensive grasp of the history of prose expression!) and later dropped out of a Ph.D. program in philosophy without receiving a degree to become a book editor.

I’m not sure what’s more insulting, the idea that journalists are disqualified from being cultural critics or that Joshi demands greater education and training from his critics than from himself. As someone who has somehow not found the secret door to the cultural critic club, I have nevertheless managed to write literary criticism (Knowing Fear, 2008; A Hideous Bit of Morbidity, 2009; my chapter in 21st Century Gothic, 2010—with a forward from S. T. Joshi!) without either a Ph.D. or formal training the history of prose expression.
Those with a discerning eye will also spot creative uses of "I know you are, but what am I", "Nuh-uh, you poopy head", and "Na-na na-na boo-boo".

Guys . . .no one walks away clean from a mudslinging match.

But we can certainly pull a lawn chair up to the sidelines, grab a bucket of popcorn, and enjoy the show!

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