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HP Lovecraft and His Work

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  • I know Alan Moore is on about HP's literary significance, but I think that's a travesty; I think HPL's legacy just doesn't fit into the literary scene.
    Not because he's not worth it but because he is; I think there is equal "literary" (if that's the term one wants to use to define something worthwhile) merit to be found in pulp/etc. as in any other, what I would consider, genre.
    To me, anyone who wrote on the literary-scene were basically just doing it for a particular type of artistic-endeavor but I don't think it makes their writing anymore valuable and anything else any less (though university literature classes and assigned-readings sales figures would beg to disagree).
    That said, I think Mike is definitely pulp (or maybe "independent" is more tasty? what with the innovations and freedom of printing nowadays, what isn't done by major-publishing houses/firms is just pulp by any other name, eh?). Not because I don't respect you, Mike, but because I think pulp deserves a figure that Alan is presenting in HP that we already have in you.
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    • Some if not most of Mike's early stuff is pulpy but he has genuine literary classics that go far beyond cheap genre fiction, like Byzantium Endures and Mother London for example, not to mention his more abstract sci fi and JC novels that were a bit beyond your standard sword and sorcery or laser gun fare. HPL in my opinion has never really written a proper novel, and I've read and for the most part loved all of his stuff bar his vast archive of letters. I suppose one similarity the two share is that they took established genre fiction and put their own unique slants on it. I feel Mike developed personally as a writer far more than HPL ever did though.

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      • I get that, what I'm saying is though, despite the labeling-tradition, Mike is more subversive than the literary-scene. To me, pulp/indie represents that which subverts the pop-scene. To me, that which subverts is always more useful than that which pleases.
        Subversion always tests the structure and its foundations; always shores up strengths and points out, or/and at best fills-in, faults (shakes off what stagnantly clings; crazy-ivans all the hangers-on). Stabilizing, as what subversion ultimately does, has the profound affect of making any growth far more potent than we can imagine without it (so much so we overlook it and sublimate it to lower-rank).
        Pop/literature's inferiority-complex is what makes the equality of indie/pulp literature into an oxymoron; and our own inferiority-complex makes what is popular more important rather than equal-to what is subversive.

        It should be pulp/indie literature and pop (or something less affecting and more descriptive, though the resonances of this scene make it clearly known to all that this signifies the "top") literature; both of equal, not lesser, value. We're conditioned to always see someone as winning and someone losing as fair; we neglect the primary truth of the plus-sum game and the illusion of the former.
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        • Lovecraft is a bit dated-he was old fashioned when he was active. Now and again, he spotlights some aspect of contemporary life-but not often.

          I can't recall any mention of prohibition, gangsters or labor unrest-certainly, it was all known to HPL and Rogue Island is traditionally the most corrupt state in the Union. Yet, there is little or no mention of rum-running, moonshining or bath tub gin.

          It just didn't interest HPL-a shame, really, there must be a myriad of plots in that sort of thing, not to mention villainous Negroes, Hispanic heels and assorted crossbreeds all inhabiting the squalid, teeming stews of the waterfront.

          Come to think of it, HPL didn't much villify the Chinese, in the Golden Age of Yellow Peril. Sax Rohmer blamed the Chinese for every ill in the World, Dashiell Hammett thought of them as generally likeable, but dangerous, rogues, and from Lovecraft, not a peep.

          Again, many fine plots gone to Hell!

          That just wasn't part of HPL's world view. The abominations he deplored are never mentioned in the statute books.

          For a rabid racist, he missed a good few easy targets. If you accept his fictional world, there is good reason to fear and shun these degenerate sub-humans-after all, they are working for the downfall of the human race.

          Yes HPL is dated. Or is he?

          There are any number of very new, cutting-edge theories that sound a lot like Art Magick to me, like Quantum Entanglement and Action-at-a-Distance.

          On a lighter Lovecraftian note, I'm reading "Shadows Over Main Street" a fine collection of Cthulhuesque tales set in small town America and well worth the reading.

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          • Originally posted by krakenten View Post
            I can't recall any mention of prohibition,
            "Sweet Ermengarde", "Old Bugs".

            gangsters
            The car-jackers who held up the truck containing mummies for Curwen & Ward.

            or labor unrest-certainly,
            "The Street" certainly comments on the police strike in Boston (I think it was) and the Russian Revolution.

            it was all known to HPL and Rogue Island is traditionally the most corrupt state in the Union. Yet, there is little or no mention of rum-running, moonshining or bath tub gin.
            "Sweet Ermengarde", "Old Bugs", "The Shadow over Innsmouth", "The Dunwich Horror"... and those are just off the top of my head.

            Come to think of it, HPL didn't much villify the Chinese, in the Golden Age of Yellow Peril.
            "deathless Chinamen" in "The Call of Cthulhu.

            For a rabid racist, he missed a good few easy targets.
            "Rabid"? Samuel Loveman, a Jewish poet, knew Lovecraft for twenty years, never noticed any anti-Semitism. If he had been "rabid" you would have expected him to show it in another way than becoming "livid", as his wife put it. Yet beyond admittedly virulent personal letters, and things like "The Horror at Red Hook" which didn't raise any eyebrows at the time, there is little to justify the "rabid" label.

            If you accept his fictional world, there is good reason to fear and shun these degenerate sub-humans-after all, they are working for the downfall of the human race.
            That goes for New Englanders like Wizard Whateley, Obed Marsh and Joseph Curwen as well.

            Yes HPL is dated. Or is he?
            Dated, without qualifications? Nope.

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            • Well... I think Lovecraft presents Old Man Whateley and Obed Marsh (not sure about Curwen) as essentially race traitors. GOO Quislings, and cautionary examples, if you will. They've turned their backs on proper Anglo-Saxon civilization and through their degeneracy they've associated themselves with the primitive, which brings them closer to the Old Ones. On the other hand, minorities and the racially mixed get express tickets into Old Ones association because they are by nature linked with the primitive and degenerate, which in turn connects them to the Old Ones. Taken together I think they represent internal and external threats to the Anglo-Saxon civilization Lovecraft so strongly identified with.

              I do sort of agree that he wasn't a rabid racist. But would note that, when it came to the racially mixed crowds of New York Sonia Greene said he became not just livid but "livid with rage" and that "He seemed almost to lose his mind" -- as well as describing him insisting on walking in the middle of the street rather than share the sidewalk with mongrels.

              At any rate, I think "rabid racist" is mostly a strawman argument playing on a simplistic notion that racists spend all their time getting spittle flecked with hatred. All the racists I've known have been quite human, even when faced with their ostensible objects of hatred. The hate, rabid or not, usually only comes out when some invisible colour line is crossed.

              But back to Lovecraft. In my opinion it's a mistake to think that since he includes some white people as story villains that it shows he's just a misanthrope and not really a racist. The past is a different place, they do racism different there. For one thing they had a lot more gradations of "white." I think the key is that, for Lovecraft, it's pretty much always all about Anglo-Saxon racial superiority. Defying that "natural order" is what gets Lovecraft riled up.That's why he can happily demonize the Germans in numerous WW1 era poems -- as well as go after the Irish in "Ye Ballade of Patrick von Flynn." The Germans got "uppity" and Lovecraft tore into them as beasts, savages, barbarians, brutish hordes, ravening hordes, infernal hordes, madden'd hordes etc.*

              For myself, it seems like dehumanization is one of Lovecraft's basic techniques for dealing with race. Which is not to say it's the only one (for he certainly did praise various non-Anglo-Saxon races at times). But it seems to me a fairly unifying theme throughout his work. It's there in his juvenalia, his early poems, his early stories as well as his mature works.

              * Not too sure why I thought it important to call out the many horde references. Except maybe that it reminds me of the Martense horde, the hordes of Deep Ones, and the shoggoths (who seem sort of like one creature hordes). Guess it seems like a recurring motif.
              Last edited by Heresiologist; 06-09-2015, 12:51 AM.

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              • I have some experience of the more extreme sort of racist, and have found that the recent classification of bigotry as a mental illness is justified and overdue. I can also see I have some re-reading to do.

                Seems to me, these people hate the idea of others, but easily tolerate individuals, they even come to be friends.

                A murky subject.

                In WWI, America went on a hysterical bigotry binge against Germans-sauerkraut became liberty cabbage, here in Baltimore, German St. became Liberty Street(and remains so) and gangs of bullies forced people to kiss the flag after reciting loyalty oaths. In one case, a man was lynched for refusing.

                During the investigation of the loss of the USS Cyclops, and indeed even before the ship was officially lost, some mention was made of ''German names'' on the ship's list, as though German sailors were unusual.

                Hysteria is sadly common in American history.

                But you do raise some very good points.

                As to the 'depravity' of mixed race people, this was a common literary convention in the pulps.

                I maintain that Lovecraft, for all his many faults as a writer, created something that shows signs of lasting. Right now, I'm in the middle of "Shadows Over Main Street", Lovecraftian tales in a small town context.

                After spending a few years in the town where I grew up, and watching it dwindle away before my eyes, I've come to see that the American small town is a very fertile setting for horror tales.

                Of course, I found York Co. PA(with the Hex Murders, Gates of Hell and Toad Road)just the place to set my Mythos based tales-they ran in a small on line magazine for a good while, but, alas, never became popular.

                Lovecraft's creations mix well with other genres, and that alone makes them special.

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                • Originally posted by krakenten View Post
                  Seems to me, these people hate the idea of others, but easily tolerate individuals, they even come to be friends.
                  Very true. For example, it was very common, even among the highest ranking figures in Hitler-Germany, to have their pet Jews to befriend and protect, at the same time as having no qualms about issuing orders about shower gassing thousands of their peers in concentration camps.
                  "If the environment were a bank, we would already have saved it." -Graffitti.

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                  • And yet there are still people who love the idea of genocide.

                    It has been reported that Himmler dreaded inspection trips to the camps because they made him sick. Myself, I doubt it. Certain ethnic groups-notably Hungarians, Balts and Ukrainians were quite willing to aid the Shoah-and some Germans begged off(they were excused).

                    The more I study this, the more horrified and baffled I am.

                    Never try to tell me there are no monsters.

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                    • One point I missed...

                      Much of the blame for the Shoah lies upon the European intellectual community-they published books, papers and articles that held Jews to be sub-human rascals, geneticly inferior and corrupt.

                      Some of this was spite from gentile achedemics who found competition from Jewish scholars to be painful. That formed a vile, black tarn of jealousy, and was grist for the anti-Semetic mill.

                      Soon enough, the idea of killing them all took root. Genocide seems so logical, once you deem a group to be evil and undesirable. Especially after a few beers. Especially if you don't have to do it yourself, or see it done. Reduced to a graph, the torture of children(or kittens) holds no horrors.

                      Perhaps the worst aspect of the Final Solution was that it was a solution to an imaginary problem.

                      ''O my bowels, my bowels! ''from the Book of Job.

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                      • Now, can we please return to HPL's very influential body of work?

                        His inventions-Cthulhu and Nyerlathotep-are pretty widely recognized today, largely because of gaming's use of them. Arkham is known well enough to be used in the comic universe.

                        If they didn't strike a chord, would they be so prominent?

                        And even though it may be debated, is it an accident that HPL's ideas are so like the "Chariots of the Gods"? (perhaps we might profitably explore HPL's connection to Donelly's"Atlantis" and Churchward's "Mu". With a grudging nod to M. Blavatsky, of course).

                        Now, giving props to evd and his gang of followers for showmanship(and when I consider such as a sideshow, my objections vanish.) I present-

                        THE MYTHOS!

                        Complex, convoluted and contradictory as any holy writ, full of lacunae and strange spellings, this work, produced in less than a century has been mistaken for fact more than once.

                        Is this not an indication of some underlying merit? Ancient astronut theorists(who think every ritual head-dress is a space helmet!) say yes!

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                        • ADVANCE NOTICE OF THREAD RELOCATION

                          Originally posted by krakenten View Post
                          Now, can we please return to HPL's very influential body of work?
                          This is now a very long thread which I think has long outgrown its original enquiry to Mike re. whether he read HPL (answer: no) and thus its place in the Q&A forum.

                          Consequently - and in the hope the discussion of the topic will continue in its new home - I'm going to move* the thread to the Genre Discussions/Horror forum. A link will remain in the Q&A to the new location though it will, in time, drop off the first page.

                          *I'll allow people a few hours to absorb this news before I do so.
                          _"For an eternity Allard was alone in an icy limbo where all the colours were bright and sharp and comfortless.
                          _For another eternity Allard swam through seas without end, all green and cool and deep, where distorted creatures drifted, sometimes attacking him.
                          _And then, at last, he had reached the real world – the world he had created, where he was God and could create or destroy whatever he wished.
                          _He was supremely powerful. He told planets to destroy themselves, and they did. He created suns. Beautiful women flocked to be his. Of all men, he was the mightiest. Of all gods, he was the greatest."

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                          • Good call.

                            I've learned a lot from this thread, and the discussion in it.

                            I love kicking the topic of strangeness around, even though people keep dragging in inconvenient aspects(like, that never happened, it happened, but there was nothing really strange about it (cleaver journalism, half-truths, a little-or a lot of embroidery).

                            Ancient astronut theorists say-see you in the new place!
                            Cthulhu f'taghn!

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Heresiologist View Post
                              Well... I think Lovecraft presents Old Man Whateley and Obed Marsh (not sure about Curwen) as essentially race traitors. GOO Quislings, and cautionary examples, if you will. They've turned their backs on proper Anglo-Saxon civilization and through their degeneracy they've associated themselves with the primitive, which brings them closer to the Old Ones. On the other hand, minorities and the racially mixed get express tickets into Old Ones association because they are by nature linked with the primitive and degenerate, which in turn connects them to the Old Ones. Taken together I think they represent internal and external threats to the Anglo-Saxon civilization Lovecraft so strongly identified with.

                              I do sort of agree that he wasn't a rabid racist. But would note that, when it came to the racially mixed crowds of New York Sonia Greene said he became not just livid but "livid with rage" and that "He seemed almost to lose his mind" -- as well as describing him insisting on walking in the middle of the street rather than share the sidewalk with mongrels.

                              At any rate, I think "rabid racist" is mostly a strawman argument playing on a simplistic notion that racists spend all their time getting spittle flecked with hatred. All the racists I've known have been quite human, even when faced with their ostensible objects of hatred. The hate, rabid or not, usually only comes out when some invisible colour line is crossed.

                              But back to Lovecraft. In my opinion it's a mistake to think that since he includes some white people as story villains that it shows he's just a misanthrope and not really a racist. The past is a different place, they do racism different there. For one thing they had a lot more gradations of "white." I think the key is that, for Lovecraft, it's pretty much always all about Anglo-Saxon racial superiority. Defying that "natural order" is what gets Lovecraft riled up.That's why he can happily demonize the Germans in numerous WW1 era poems -- as well as go after the Irish in "Ye Ballade of Patrick von Flynn." The Germans got "uppity" and Lovecraft tore into them as beasts, savages, barbarians, brutish hordes, ravening hordes, infernal hordes, madden'd hordes etc.*

                              For myself, it seems like dehumanization is one of Lovecraft's basic techniques for dealing with race. Which is not to say it's the only one (for he certainly did praise various non-Anglo-Saxon races at times). But it seems to me a fairly unifying theme throughout his work. It's there in his juvenalia, his early poems, his early stories as well as his mature works.

                              * Not too sure why I thought it important to call out the many horde references. Except maybe that it reminds me of the Martense horde, the hordes of Deep Ones, and the shoggoths (who seem sort of like one creature hordes). Guess it seems like a recurring motif.
                              I've not read Patrick Von Flynn. Does it attack the Irish over our neutral attitudes towards the Germans during the wars?

                              Comment


                              • When people cease being people to someone, they become hordes.

                                A racist does not see individuals(as a rule) but sees people as blocs, and identical. I worked in a place where if one person did something wrong, the entire staff was punished, the same thing was practiced where I went to school-if you couldn't identify the actual culprit, punish everyone, even people who were not there.

                                During race riots, any member of the group of which the 'offender' might be identified may be attacked, at random(I know, it happened to me).

                                Racists like to have it both ways. Being identified as a member of the 'guilty' group, makes you guilty and one guilty individual makes the entire group guilty. I saw a lot of that growing up.

                                "They do this," and ''they do that'', not long after the ruffians(always on the lookout for a likely victim) are on the attack. This gets really bad when the ruffians on both sides get active. Shows you what a thin veneer civilization really is.

                                Amounts to those with nothing to lose venting their spleen. And for those who have lost seeking revenge on unkind fate. I have a feeling this was HPL's sort of racism-he was angry about losing his privlidged place in life and social status. Besides, he was tetched!

                                I've seen that sort of attitude waning in the latter generations-but let the economy falter, and it will return. Somebody is always going to be blamed-try to avoid being that somebody.

                                Better yet, try to avoid blaming?

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