Author Topic: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)  (Read 5814 times)

Funcrusher

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Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #30 on: July 04, 2018, 12:44:08 PM »
The assumption is that non-white children will likely have experienced racism. Even without the racist stuff, I don't know why anyone would want to set Lovecraft for primary school kids.

This was about Laura Ingels-Wilder. I don't think anyone is intending to teach Lovecraft in primary schools.

Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #31 on: July 04, 2018, 12:44:40 PM »
Stop following me around, you meany!

?

Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #32 on: July 04, 2018, 12:46:34 PM »
Why does explaining how prejudice manifested itself in the past and why it was wrong only benefit the white chiidren?

Perhaps the black children already have some inkling.

Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #33 on: July 04, 2018, 12:47:23 PM »
This was about Laura Ingels-Wilder. I don't think anyone is intending to teach Lovecraft in primary schools.

That's right. Also it was about changing the name of an award, not not teaching her.

BlodwynPig

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Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #34 on: July 04, 2018, 12:47:54 PM »
The assumption is that non-white children will likely have experienced racism. Even without the racist stuff, I don't know why anyone would want to set Lovecraft for primary school kids.

Black children can like cosmic horror too.

Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #35 on: July 04, 2018, 12:49:14 PM »
This was about Laura Ingels-Wilder. I don't think anyone is intending to teach Lovecraft in primary schools.

Sorry, my mistake.

Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #36 on: July 04, 2018, 12:53:09 PM »
Black children can like cosmic horror too.

nobody is saying they can't

Funcrusher

  • Been shot up more times than Tom Mix
Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #37 on: July 04, 2018, 12:53:46 PM »
Perhaps the black children already have some inkling.

About how racist speech and behaviours manifest themselves in the present day, yes, but not in Laura Ingels-Wilder's day. Her books describe the thoughts and beliefs of pioneering settlers, so you're seeing the origins of prejudice, which are useful for everyone to understand.

Funcrusher

  • Been shot up more times than Tom Mix
Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #38 on: July 04, 2018, 12:56:16 PM »
That's right. Also it was about changing the name of an award, not not teaching her.

The part you quoted was about teaching her:

“But what about the Native and the black kids in the classroom who have to bear with the moment when they’re being denigrated for the benefit of the white kids?”

Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #39 on: July 04, 2018, 01:02:37 PM »
I need to get this straight, is it inherently unfair and bad to 'politicise' works by pointing out their racism because there's nothing to be gained from that conversation, or is it actually important to highlight these aspects because it teaches kids the origins of prejudice?

BlodwynPig

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Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #40 on: July 04, 2018, 01:06:52 PM »
I need to get this straight, is it inherently unfair and bad to 'politicise' works by pointing out their racism because there's nothing to be gained from that conversation, or is it actually important to highlight these aspects because it teaches kids the origins of prejudice?

How many of Lovecraft's stories are inherently racist? The Horror at Red Hook, and possibly Innsmouth. The origins of prejudice were primarily in his non-novel/short story texts? Plus as a misanthropist, I am sure racism was only part of a wider hatred of his own species.

Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #41 on: July 04, 2018, 01:10:59 PM »
Plus as a misanthropist, I am sure racism was only part of a wider hatred of his own species.

"I'm not racist, I hate everyone, especially the Muslims" - Legend Gary, 2018

Funcrusher

  • Been shot up more times than Tom Mix
Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #42 on: July 04, 2018, 01:22:37 PM »
I need to get this straight, is it inherently unfair and bad to 'politicise' works by pointing out their racism because there's nothing to be gained from that conversation, or is it actually important to highlight these aspects because it teaches kids the origins of prejudice?

Okay, I'll try and help you out.

HP Lovecraft, the subject of this thread, is not being taught to children, so that doesn't really apply. Lovecraft's most commonly read works don't contain any significant racism that I recall, as Blodwyn says. I've not read everything he ever wrote, and never will, I've just read a collection or two of his most famous short stories, like most people. Lovecraft himself was racist, as his journals and correspondence show, but his fiction is crazy stuff about elder gods with no discernible politics. So it's not really about pointing out racism in the works, but in the man, which doesn't serve a great deal of purpose, particularly given how marginal a figure he is.

Laura Ingels-Wilder is a writer who some critics seem to find interesting as a strong female voice on early 'pioneers' life, who was also a bit racist, and examples of this can be found in the fiction that she wrote. I think it's fine and useful to discuss the prejudice in her books, but maybe a shame to just withdraw them from the curriculum.

Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #43 on: July 04, 2018, 01:25:30 PM »
But do we learn much from these conversations? Having a more advanced view on political issues than a text that was written a hundred years ago isn't that difficult.

Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #44 on: July 04, 2018, 01:27:55 PM »
Lovecraft himself was racist, as his journals and correspondence show, but his fiction is crazy stuff about elder gods with no discernible politics.

Except as has been illustrated in this thread, his descriptions of other races in his private writings strongly resemble his descriptions of inhuman, unearthly creatures in his fiction. In my opinion Astronaut Omens has the right idea; this is about the background to Lovecraft's work. It's about understanding rather than condemning.

Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #45 on: July 04, 2018, 01:53:46 PM »
It's about understanding rather than condemning.

This should be fairly obvious to anyone, and the knee-jerk defensiveness around this topic is usually paranoid and unjustified. The "context of their time" argument has become distorted recently and seems frequently wheeled out in order to shut down discussion rather than open it up. It seems to have become a euphemism for "please don't discuss this in a way that makes me uncomfortable". Obviously there's a danger of over-emphasising problematic elements of people's works at the expense of the whole picture, but this does not mean these elements should be hand-waved away and not discussed at all.

In fact, I do think that it often enriches the work to discuss these things and understand the social context that birthed them. Anybody who assumes this is automatically a denigration of the work is engaging in, as I say, knee-jerk defensiveness.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2018, 02:11:01 PM by Monsieur Verdoux »

Famous Mortimer

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Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #46 on: July 04, 2018, 02:22:13 PM »
I respectfully disagree on that last note - having conversations in enlightened times is all well and good, but (and I haven't looked into this) unless Lovecraft was openly racist, I think he shouldn't be so readily brushed under the carpet as a "wrong 'un". Even the most liberally minded of his generation probably looked as foreigners with some sort of distrust. I have no problem with the word swarthy being written in the early 20th century.

On the Creation of n**gers

Quote
His letters overflow with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of an underground Jewry pitting the economic, social, and literary worlds of New York City against “the Aryan race.” He warned of “the Jew [who] must be muzzled” because “[he] insidiously degrades [and] Orientalizes [the] robust Aryan civilization.” His sympathies with rising fascism were equally transparent. “[Hitler’s] vision . . . is romantic and immature,” he stated after Hitler became chancellor of Germany. “I know he’s a clown but god I like the boy!”

“the Negro is fundamentally the biological inferior of all White and even Mongolian races.”

That seems like enough evidence for me - wrote a poem about how sub-human black people were, hated Jews too and liked Hitler. He was significantly worse than the culture of his time, even if you think that's a good enough excuse to ignore someone's racism (I don't).

I don't think this means his stories shouldn't be read or enjoyed, but the beliefs he had which informed his fiction ought to be discussed; and I think it was right that the World Fantasy Award was changed. I just discovered this article written by Nnedi Okorafor, one of the winners of that award:

https://nnedi.blogspot.com/2011/12/lovecrafts-racism-world-fantasy-award.html

Funcrusher

  • Been shot up more times than Tom Mix
Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #47 on: July 04, 2018, 02:26:44 PM »
Except as has been illustrated in this thread, his descriptions of other races in his private writings strongly resemble his descriptions of inhuman, unearthly creatures in his fiction. In my opinion Astronaut Omens has the right idea; this is about the background to Lovecraft's work. It's about understanding rather than condemning.

I've never personally met anyone from an ethnic minority who was half a mile long and had tentacles. I've seen it suggested that Lovecraft's fear of the ocean shapes a lot of his ideas - the Herzog documentary on deep sea exploration has a lot of Lovecraftian beasts in it.

There have been at least three types of 'conversationalists' we've been talking about here anyway:

1.  The Zero Books crowd. They just like Lovecraft because he's a kind of psychedelic that they can use now they're too old to take Es and listen to jungle, which will allow them to reside in a Baudrillardian  mindscape of signifiers or whatever. They probably believe in the death of the author so probably won't be that arsed about his biography

2. Houellbecq.  Famous for indulging a bit in the old Islamophobia and a bit sexist to boot, so perhaps not that surprising that he feels some kinship for Lovecraft. So, careful lads. You might want to Google 'Houellbecq + alt right'.  He probably likes Jordan Peterson as well.

3.  Woke nerds .  Could be wrong, but I would guess that their conversations are mostly going to be call outs, as dealing with messy, nuanced complexity isn't their strong suit.

Funcrusher

  • Been shot up more times than Tom Mix
Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #48 on: July 04, 2018, 02:28:21 PM »
That seems pretty open, right? Hated black people, Jews and liked Hitler?

I think we've established beyond any doubt that HP Lovecraft was racist.

Funcrusher

  • Been shot up more times than Tom Mix
Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #49 on: July 04, 2018, 02:28:49 PM »
But do we learn much from these conversations? Having a more advanced view on political issues than a text that was written a hundred years ago isn't that difficult.

Just having a more advanced view is kind of 'standard' as today's young people would say. It's not very difficult to read a passage that's obviously racist from Lovecraft's journals and identify it as racist. And if the conversation that stems from that is just 'calling out' an author of pulp horror stories who died 80 years ago I don't see that as adding much of value. A call out is not a conversation

Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #50 on: July 04, 2018, 02:36:49 PM »
And vice versa. Part of the problem is that people try to shut down conversations because they defensively assume that it's a mere call-out

Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #51 on: July 04, 2018, 02:53:30 PM »
He probably likes Jordan Peterson as well.

I wasn't using Peterson as a catch-all for 'bad opinions', it's his peculiar fixation on the idea that postmodernism is taking over academia/the world that makes him so tempting to refer to in conversations like this

Funcrusher

  • Been shot up more times than Tom Mix
Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #52 on: July 04, 2018, 02:57:35 PM »
I wasn't using Peterson as a catch-all for 'bad opinions', it's his peculiar fixation on the idea that postmodernism is taking over academia/the world that makes him so tempting to refer to in conversations like this

Chomsky also says this.

Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #53 on: July 04, 2018, 03:02:13 PM »
But Peterson means it in the 'STEM vs. Humanities, too much politics in academia' sense, whereas Chomsky means it in the 'political discussion has become infected by moral relativism, not enough politics in politics' sense. Chomsky isn't whining about people calling Mark Twain racist, or saying that people are too fixated on racism

Funcrusher

  • Been shot up more times than Tom Mix
Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #54 on: July 04, 2018, 03:14:34 PM »
But Peterson means it in the 'STEM vs. Humanities, too much politics in academia' sense, whereas Chomsky means it in the 'political discussion has become infected by moral relativism, not enough politics in politics' sense. Chomsky isn't whining about people calling Mark Twain racist, or saying that people are too fixated on racism

Politics in academia isn't really a feature of postmodernism. I've no idea what Jordan Peterson may or may not think postmodernism is.

Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #55 on: July 04, 2018, 03:20:01 PM »
That is a point of confusion, yes

BlodwynPig

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Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #56 on: July 04, 2018, 03:32:08 PM »
"should I be navel gazing?"

I just enjoyed his stories as a teenager. Nothing more, nothing less. I don't give two hoots about the politics or the vile racism of an out of touch mind.

Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #57 on: July 04, 2018, 03:35:35 PM »
nobody finds that objectionable, i don't know what you're trying to defend against here

BlodwynPig

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Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #58 on: July 04, 2018, 03:43:42 PM »
nobody finds that objectionable, i don't know what you're trying to defend against here

I'm not defending. Get over yourself. This post-whatever world, christ. Too much pointless analysis. Everyone an expert, everyone a hashtag, everyone needs therapy. It's like a shit Woody Allen movie.

I'm just the Jerker at the Threshold.

Re: Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890 - 1937)
« Reply #59 on: July 04, 2018, 03:44:32 PM »
okay