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HP Lovecraft and His Work

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  • That might broaden his view.

    The Chinese sure roused the ire of some people-there were so many laws that restricted their activities. Somehow, their laundries attracted restrictions, even when nobody else was interested in the business.

    The Chinese pretty much invented the concept of fast food-most of the dishes that are the standard fare of carry-outs was invented in America.


    • Here's what's scary. Heresiologist quoted a rather nasty bit about different flesh aromas. This goes so far back in history there was a story (apochryphal) that one of the disciples met his end being roasted on a giant iron frying pan, and the roasters wondered if "this Christian will burn with a sweet savour". Rather gut-wrenching, these days?

      I've heard people say - right out loud, like it was nothing - the exact same kind of thing. I heard it in Ohio, in Michigan, in Colorado, in Kansas, in California - and anywhere else I've been I've been spared that eavesdropping. It still exists. Just as virulent and as nasty as ever. Like smallpox.

      We think we are so modern and metropolitan. Still there are groups that kill those who can read because they are obviously possessed by devils. Many of the writers of the times gave us hefty doses of preconceived notions that were simply not correct. They retain value as they are a snapshot of the times, and seeing writers like Lovecraft who - once the epitome of loathsome aunt-leeching hermetic racism - made significant forward progress in changing some very deeply cathected views. Good for him! And look how far many of us have come since!

      And I done hear tell that the Police Chief in Ferguson went and quit today, and it looks like departmental racism was indeed Standard Operating Procedure. The outrage at historical presentations is left rather cold when we see the same exact thing happening today.
      ... just another sailor on the seas of Fate, dogpaddling desperately ...


      • Well, we have wandered far afield!

        I can tell you from experience, burning flesh, human or otherwise smells pretty good(saving you remember it's not a good thing-as a rule). Smells like a barbecue, then it stinks.

        Now, let us move on? There are atrocities in the world today that would make the pulp writers hide under their beds.

        William Seabrook, a serious hack who claimed to be a cannibal(since he was a liar, it was probably a lie. He was so depraved Crowley couldn't stand him) started the tall tale, and it became a staple of the "men's magazines" of the fifties and sixties. It was trotted out every couple of years.

        Most tales of such horrors were made up. Good way to besmirch a people or nation is to tell stories of horrible thiongs they have done.

        Except, such stories will take on a life of their own. The Germans in WWI were accused of ghastly crimes by Allied propaganda. Under the Nazis, these stories were made true, yes, and worse.

        I wonder if such fiction doesn't serve as a sort of blueprint for evil.

        Legends don't die. To this day, illustrations of the Iron Maiden are common, even though it has been proved it was a fraud(the spikes were examined and found to have been turned on a machine lathe). Wouldn't have been much of a torture device anyhow, close it, that's the end.

        My fondness for Lovecraft comes from the subtle way he suggests horrors once and a while, he brings one out, center stage, but that's the big reveal.

        Otherwise, he hints at a world of very bad things we mostly cannot see. The Great Old Ones are cthonic(they go back into deeptime) and partake of the Outer Darkness, that strange realm beyond what we can see or know in certainty.

        Was he a bigot? Was he a hack? Was he tetched? Hell, yes! My poor readings of this time period tell me that he wasn't the only one. The world was recovering from the horror of WWI and preparing to do it all again. It was an unsettled world, people were confused and uncertain-we call that traumatized, now.

        An aside,one of the staples of this sort of fiction is a litter of objects and tomes lurking about-just like the land mines and UXBs that vex us now. Another is Lost Knowledge, which has enough cred to make it almost viable. So far, we have the Antikythera machine-who knows what else may have existed. This is also part of the roots of Steampunk. Somehow, the myth of a Golden Age is part of the human psyche, and the belief that old things are better. Gee, I knew I should have kept that Commodore 64!

        And so, having observed the effects HPL achieved, we may examine how he did what he did. I think we've done enough deploring-though we may find other deplorable aspects along the way!


        • I read this thread occasionally and I am not sure what the take away is. Krakenten seems to say that L had racist tendencies, but its ok he didn't mean it, and he wrote some great horror and fantasy.
          I cant add much unfortunately, because I have not read any L, and I don't like racism or horror. Also I thought this was the MM site?
          Last edited by Tales from Tanelorn; 03-13-2015, 07:40 AM.


          • Sorry, Tales, but you got me wrong. It's not all right-but the guy is dead, nothing to be done about it now.

            HPL wrote a genteel sort of horror, not the guts hanging out splatterpunk of later times. He wanted to use science, not superstition in his work-the Great Old Ones were extraterrestrial creature with certain powers who lost a war with a similar lot. Remember, HPL was a life-long atheist.

            And here's a thought-at the end of WWII the Soviets and the Allies knew that Hitler was as dead as the dodo, yet they allowed the suspicion that he might have survived to linger. When I was a kid, comic books often portrayed Hitler and the Nazis alive and well in a remote place, or even in Outer Space. The Space Race seemed to lay that particular bogey, and the Nazi menace was repainted red. The Germans(at least the Western sort) became valued allies. Kinda like HPL's vision of the universe?

            Indeed, the Mythos has taken to spy fiction in a big way, Tim Powers "Declare" and Stross' Laundry Files are prime examples. You don't like horror? Read "Declare" See what you think. And read the Stross because its a whale of a lot of fun!


            • And another thing!

              Please remember that fiction requires a willing suspension of disbelief. If you refuse, it's (to quote Stephen King) ruint.

              If you read HPL looking for racist comments, you'll find them. Also remember that Lovecraft was a pessimist-boy, howdy!

              Oft overlooked is HPL's generous writing advice to others, his vast correspondence and his great loyalty to his native city.

              Like many another who felt deprived of his God-given place in the world, HPL needed someone to blame. Not right, not nice, but surely not unheard of, either. In our modern, touchie-feelie world,unacceptable. In his time and place, that was quite common.

              Trust me, it still goes on.

              Could we please go back to the writing?
              (yes, this is Mr. Moorcock's forum, but he says he's thinking of having a go at the Mythos. Perhaps we can give him some small aid?)


              • ok Krakenten, no worries, just wondered.
                I wonder what will be politically correct 100 years from now?
                They still write about a secret Nazi base even now:


                • For the brief time they were around, the Nazis
                  left a very deep scar on history.

                  Think of it, Hitler is a virtual derilict on the street, joins the Army and becomes a ruler such as has not been seen since the Pharoahs. He was a cunning bastid (low cunning is not genius)and quite adept at using those who thought to use him.

                  It's enough to make you believe in the Devil-why, the name Hitler even fits into patriotic songs dedicated to the Kaiser.

                  I made some study into this period of history, it was a very unsettled time, full of half-baked ideas that people rushed to embrace. This is why I hold that the XX Century was a political and social calamity.

                  As an autodidact, I keep my gob firmly battened as to my conclusions-no good ever comes of the self-taught-it is for them to be satisfied with what they learn.

                  All I say is that HPL was a man of his time and place, and he wrote some pretty good stories. The Mythos stands as an achievement. HPL, REH and RAH told good stories in distinctive voices, but this doesn't mean they ought to be worshipped as Gods or even revered as sages.

                  But if Ayn Rand, that font of screeds and foolishness, gets to be taken seriously, then so do they-strictly for entertainment value.(note please that the Reich nearly wiped out the population of Germany-causing an influx of non-Germans needed to supply labor. They produced ruins and damaged people, little else. The 'engineering marvels' were for others to perfect and exploit, their military was beaten to a hiney-hole, their culture crushed to earth. In short, the opposite of what they desired. And thereby hangs a tale.)
                  Last edited by krakenten; 03-13-2015, 11:44 AM. Reason: an afterthought


                  • I read that one cause of WW2 was the overly tough financial reparations the allies placed on G after WW1. I don't how true that is, perhaps it was going to happen regardless due to, as you say, all the mad ideas in the early 20thC.

                    Waiting for news here:
                    Last edited by Tales from Tanelorn; 03-13-2015, 08:21 PM.


                    • Germany bore the blame for WWI-the Kaiser wanted it, the generals thought they would win and the people cheered themselves hoarse.

                      The Versaille treaty broke the German economy, there was civil war and the country was in chaos-not the first time for Germany. Many Germans felt that they had almost won(that was close to true)when the Stab in the Back ended the war for them.

                      Fact is, the war was a long stalemate, draining both Germany and France of blood and treasure. When Russia dropped out, Germany had resources to invest in a final push.

                      But the Americans were there, the Spanish Flu was raging and the push came to nothing.

                      France had suffered horribly in the conflict, and the slogan of the day was La Revanche-revenge

                      Thus was sown the seeds of the next round in what many historians are calling one war, with a long armistice.

                      Hitler took advantage, France and Britain dithered, and they did it all again. This time, Germany was crushed, and fear of the Soviets kept Europe from further strife.

                      I'm convinced that the Cold War was the third round-realizing how ruinous the big ground wars had become, the new way was economic and social-lots of treasure, little blood.

                      But remember,I'm self taught, and my ideas are not to be trusted, even by me.


                      • Well... mention a harsh quote as a side note to a larger point, go away for a few days then come back, and see what everybody's talking about. And nobody seems to have listened to Leiber...

                        Originally posted by Tales from Tanelorn View Post
                        I cant add much unfortunately, because I have not read any L, and I don't like racism or horror. Also I thought this was the MM site?
                        Regarding the big L and what's all this hubbub about a horror writer on MM's site: note that the World Fantasy Award is a bust of L's head. I think this is because his fiction is not wholly horror, but various mixes of horror, fantasy and science fiction (and I think that's largely because he was writing before those categories solidified). If I remember right he referred to his stories as "weird fiction" and, personally speaking, I think that label works better.

                        When it comes to the racism in his stories, it's probably sampling bias or something, but it looks to me like there was about four decades' worth of ignoring it completely or else quick dismissals along the line of "it was minor" or "it wasn't important." Then come MM's "Starship Stormtroopers" essay and later Wizardry and Wild Romance, both of which apply some cudgels to the man and his work. (To be fair, Charles Saunders also wrote an essay around that time, but it wasn't nearly so high profile, at least for myself.)

                        Personally, when it comes to race I think the man was something of a minor ideologue. It's one of his main themes and I don't think it's unfair to say the man was somewhat obsessed with the subject, giving it plenty more thought (and research) than some hypothetical average racist of the day. About the only credence I can currently give to the "he moderated his views on the subject later in his life" argument is that, compared to earlier works, he managed to sublimate it well enough in "The Shadow Over Innsmouth." At least well enough that it doesn't surprise me that latter day readers often don't realize the subtext is miscegenation, that it's basically the cthulhoid one drop rule. In that sense I believe "presentism" can help some people appreciate his work.

                        For those who the originator's racism is too much of a barrier, there's plenty of later work. And it's quite diverse. Personally, it's not terribly important to me that it keeps the bogeys largely off stage. I tend toward preferring the stuff that retains something of the original melange of strange adventure and beasties from beyond. In that vein, I may soon be reading Cherie Priest's Maplecroft novel.
                        Last edited by Heresiologist; 03-14-2015, 02:34 PM.


                        • krakenten, is Mike really going to have a-go at the Mythos?
                          That would be sweet!
                          Love Stross's take on it, even though I've only read Atrocity Archives and Jennifer Morgue?, can't remember the last one as it's on my kindle, which is juiceless.


                          • Also try Tregillis' Milkweed Trilogy', which dispenses with the Mythos and keeps things properly vague.

                            These are cthonic beings, they have little to do with humans, save to exploit them.

                            I see the Mythos as a serious version of Fibber McGee's closet, open it, and things come out. Bad things. Very bad things.


                            • I have just been reminded of the connection between "At the Mountains of Madness" and 'ancient astronaut theorists'

                              When the novella was written, the interior of Antarctica was terra incognita, about as inaccessible as any place on Earth. That has changed.

                              Fact is, a lot of the modern weirdness stems from HPL's fiction, by way of Charles Fort and later, the spooky gang at Argosy Magazine.

                              Just as so much of the Golden Age scifi has been passed by science-either shown to be impossible or replaced by other theories, Lovecraft is becoming an antique. I think he might like that.

                              Remember, when this was written, the Atomic,Computer and Space Ages were but dimly glimpsed. Enjoy the tales for what they are, just as we prize Jules Verne.


                              • If I'm being a pain, somebody yell stop. I'll stop.

                                However, I do believe I'm on to something-I don't have much to occupy me, and I'm exploring the Einstein technique of the Thought Experiment.

                                He plumbed the secrets of the Universe, I'm doing HPL-I know my limits.

                                Lovecraft's time was a lot stranger than we usually acknowledge. The Yellow Age, the dawn of new science, and pseudoscience out the gazoo-much of it taken seriously by powerful people. Like Hitler?

                                WWI was a massive trauma, the number of dead boggles the mind(until WWII came along to put it in the shade) and the Spanish Flu-which some say really ended the war-piled up even more dead.

                                At the end of the 19th Century there had been a great bloom in strange tales and downright wacky beliefs-like Spiritualism, itself a response to the slaughter of the American Civil War.

                                Put the massive load of grief spawned by the trenches on top of that, stir in the disillusion of the War and the dislocations that made, you get a fertile field for planting tares.

                                Science was marching on, but lunacy was riding a bicycle, and the people were disinclined to trust the leadership that gave them the Somme , Ypres and the charnal house of Verdun. Rich soil indeed for planting crazy ideas.

                                Along came the Nazis-who were sort of New Age monsters, always ready to adopt some strange notion.

                                They swallowed the theory of Eternal Ice(dreamed up out of whole cloth by an amateur astronomer, not a scintilla of evidence ever presented) likewise, the Hollow Earth(my, what a surprise they would have gotten) and adopted them as official dogma.

                                The racial theories were drawn from this same cesspool-junk science gone mad. Most of it harmless enough-until Wansee, and the Final Solution.

                                And who is standing on the edge of it but HPL, the failed astronomer and marginalized writer. He read of this, he fumed and started his own pit. Except he didn't kill anybody, or even exhort others to do so.

                                This is why I say cut him some slack-he's dead, he cannot be shamed or punished. Never forgive the hateful nature of his beliefs, and be very sure to eschew such yourself.

                                Now, enjoy!(Please forgive the italics, for some reason my computer starts using same, and I don't know how to reverse it, except by shutting down. And I was on a roll-kinda like Big Mac or toilet paper)