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Old 09-06-2014   #51
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by brendanconnell View Post
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?"
I'd like to qualify my "thanks" of brendanconnell's (a master of his own making) comment by saying that it is for his spot-on Starbucks reference--I think the same thing my self! even of their "regular drip coffees"---the verdict is still out on what I think of Lovecraft's prose.
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Old 09-06-2014   #52
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

In his recent book Weird Realism Graham Harman demonstrates, convincingly I think, that Lovecraft in his best stories was an excellent stylist.

Last edited by MTC; 09-06-2014 at 05:54 AM.. Reason: Spelling
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Old 09-06-2014   #53
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

I've been trying to break my internet habits, but thought I'd just add a few thoughts here.

I think Lovecraft was a good writer. I like Huysmans, and it may be right that Huysmans would have thought Lovecraft juvenile, but I'd bet that Jung would have seen the worth in Lovecraft's writing.

One doesn't have to read narrowly in order to appreciate Lovecraft. Houellebecq, who appears to be pretty well read, demonstrates this; he wrote an entire book on Lovecraft.

Houellebecq makes some interesting comments there (incidentally, I don't see Houellebecq's book referenced much in the usual Lovecraftian circles, and I wonder why this is). In one section he ponders exactly how it is that Lovecraft achieves his effects, saying that this is a kind of a mystery, and that there is even something unliterary about what he does. This struck a chord with me. I don't have time to really analyse this, as I've run out of tea, and really need to go out and get some. But I think there's something about the ritualistic way that Lovecraft builds a disanthropocentric effect that is divorced from the usual aims of literature.

Not that he's entirely unliterary. To draw a parallel, though a fan, I have often thought that The Smiths/Morrissey make/s unmusical music. One has to recognise that particular effects are being achieved here that are unique and which are also, in some way, deviating from the usual aims of music (music is somehow secondary to them).

Anyway, if you don't like the effect Lovecraft is trying to achieve, chances are you won't like the way he achieves it, either. But he uses the right tools for the unusual task he has set himself.

One aspect of Lovecraft's language that I think is underappreciated is the kind of 'Jabberwocky' sinister nursery rhyme flexibility of it. It is meant to be an incantatory language. The structure of the stories is rational (in that evidence is slowly uncovered), but the language is, to a large degree, Jabberwocky.

On the question of racism, since, I assume, none of us knew Lovecraft personally, I don't see how this is an issue at all.

Well, in the sense that awards are political it becomes a political issue, in the pettiest sense of that word, but this says more about awards than it does about Lovecraft.

I honestly think the writing scene is too political at the moment. Everyone is struggling to prove how much more liberal they are than the next person, as if this has anything at all to do with being a good writer. It doesn't.

I've pretty much come to hate liberalism recently.

It's not liberal, actually, it's just pharisaical, but I'll save that conversation for another day.

I would like to be able to comment on Octavia Butler, but I haven't read any of her work. She sounds interesting, though, so I'll put her on the ever-expanding list.

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Old 09-06-2014   #54
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by qcrisp View Post


I've pretty much come to hate liberalism recently.

It's not liberal, actually, it's just pharisaical, but I'll save that conversation for another day.
Amen to that. I have noticed over the past year the ever encroaching enforcement of conformity of opinion creeping over the internet in the name of Liberalism.

An internet acquaintance of mine wrote this the other day. Leaving aside the rhetorical extravagances I can empathise greatly.

Mr. Mean-Spirited: INDIVIDUALISM IS THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE OF LIBERALISM
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Old 09-06-2014   #55
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by brendanconnell View Post
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.
"Factual"? Defining a "good stylist" is as subjective as "liking" something. Describing him as a "weak stylist" sounds very odd to me. Lovecraft had a very strong and distinctive prose style. I can understand why people may not like it (some find it excessive or overblown) but he took great care with his prose and was the master of his style. Calling him a "weak stylist" implies that he had no facility with language, which is utter nonsense.
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Or "Steven J. Mariconda"---whoever that is.
A leading Lovecraft scholar and the author of a detailed seven-page article putting the case for Lovecraft as a "consummate prose stylist".
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Old 09-06-2014   #56
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

A good stylist would mean the style they are cultivating is good. Lovecraft has a style, but it isn't a good style. Of course it is subjective, to some degree. Just like some people think a wine which has all the properties of vinegar is good. Sure, they are welcome to think that it is a fine bottle of wine, but it really speaks more of a decaying of good sense. As for why it matters regarding the award, I will quote from an email exchange I had privately with Quentin: "As for handing someone a bust of Lovecraft, if most people don't want to actually receive one, it seems silly to keep handing them out. It is like inviting people to dinner - half of them are vegetarians but you serve them pork chops anyhow."
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Old 09-06-2014   #57
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

I'm not sure I agree with the idea Huysmans would have thought Lovecraft's work “juvenile”. He had a keen appreciation for the work of Poe and this, I suspect, could well have tended to predispose him in Lovecraft's favour, much like his appreciation for the work of Baudelaire.

The French are very often ahead of the curve when it comes to recognising Americans neglected in their own homeland.*

In any case, hasn't the entry of Lovecraft into the Library of America and Penguin Classics pretty much sealed his lasting cultural significance?**

Mark S.

*Please do not mention the counter-example of the egregious Jerry Lee Lewis

** Also please do not mention the counter-example of Morrissey's egregious Autobiography


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Old 09-06-2014   #58
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Lovecraft's legacy certainly doesn't depend on an award given out to writers I mostly consider irrelevant. A bust of Dean R. Koontz should solve the problem nicely. Now award and winners are on the same level.
Sad truth? A Wilson bust of Lovecraft is way too good for those folks.

And, Brendan, seriously, my friend, a man who has been dead for almost 80 years and was know for his acts of kindness is hardly my idea of a Prick. The liberal Thought Police have done their job well!
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Old 09-06-2014   #59
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

Quote Originally Posted by brendanconnell View Post
A good stylist would mean the style they are cultivating is good. Lovecraft has a style, but it isn't a good style.
That seems like meaningless tautology to me. What exactly is bad about Lovecraft's style? S. T. Joshi and Steven Mariconda have written reasoned arguments that Lovecraft was a good stylist yet you ridicule their opinions and expect us to accept your bald statement that Lovecraft's style is not good because, well, it's not good!
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Old 09-06-2014   #60
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Re: Octavia E. Butler against Lovecraft (World Fantasy Award).

So, since anyone who dislikes anti-Semites is now "liberal", that would make all Jews liberal.
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