“Laws against homosexual behavior should remain on the books, not to
be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught
violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message
that those who flagrantly violate society’s regulation of sexual
behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens
within that society.”
“… Obama will put a thin veneer of training and military structure
on urban gangs, and send them out to channel their violence against
Obama’s enemies. Instead of doing drive-by shootings in their own
neighborhoods, these young thugs will do beatings and murders of people
‘trying to escape’ – people who all seem to be leaders and members of
groups that oppose Obama.”
Well, the best you can say is that he evolved a bit. Still pretty racist, at least by later standards. He married a Jewish woman and had Jewish (and gay) friends, something that would have been unthinkable for him even a few years earlier - but still made some pretty anti-Semitic comments at the same time.
Yep. The fear of the Other is certainly in Lovecraft’s work, but it’s in a lot of modern horror as well, without being all about that. And it was complicated in Lovecraft’s work, too - as in the sympathy you point out for the elder beings in Mountains of Madness, but in other ways, too - in a number of his stories, the monster is also the narrator (or the narrator is also monstrous). In “The Outsider,” the confused narrator is seemingly haunted by a grotesque corpse-like creature that causes panic and terror, only to discover that he’s simply looking in mirrors, catching glimpses of himself, and inspiring the terror himself. In stories like “The Rats in the Walls” and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” the narrator can’t overcome his inherited nature of madness and monstrousness - which could be read as coded racism, but they’re also highly autobiographical stories. That is, there was a definite fear of being the other in his stories as well.
But absolutely, Lovecraft was all about the fear generated by the idea of humanity’s total inconsequentiality in a vast and uncaring universe and the possibility of imminent and total destruction by forces of which we’re not even aware. You can really see the influence of what was then new scientific thought - things like relativity, evidence for the vast age and size of the universe, etc. - in reinforcing those fears. And that makes him pretty contemporary, given humans have spent more than half-a-century inventing and discovering all manner of existential threats from nuclear annihilation to some nearby star whose name most of us don’t know going supernova and bathing the Earth in sterilizing gamma rays.
Wanted to get to this earlier but got distracted. There are 2 independent films from the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society that are very very good. The Call of Cthulu done as a silent movie which ends up working well with the narrative of that story. The Whisperer in Darkness is a ‘talkie’ and also quite well done.
I saw both at SIFF showings and they were more than worth the ticket price. So it can be done just not to Hollywood liking mostly.
There was nothing accidental about it, which doesn’t make it very witty. If you read Lovecraft’s essay on supernatural literature, he basically considered Poe the finest writer of the supernatural. And like Lovecraft, Poe is more influential in terms of ideas than for his writing. Stories like the Tell Tale Heart are as pulpy as anything Lovecraft wrote.
Not denying Lovecraft was a racist. But isn’t it possible that his “cosmic horror,” rather than primarily being a fear of the other (i.e., immigrants, Jews and blacks) was a reflection of the existential crisis signaled by Nietzsche and taken up by people like Camus and Sartre? In essence, his generation faced a world in which the Judeo-Christian god is dead and the world the West has known for nearly two thousand years is torn from its moorings. This has a horrific aspect to it. To ascribe Lovecraft’s cosmic horror simply to racism seems extremely short-sighted.
There’s that, but also modern physics. Relativity and Quantum Physics really freaked out a lot of people at the time – JBS Haldane may have quipped in jest that the “universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose”, but there was a fear that the laws of the universe just were too weird for humanity to understand.
Personally, I bemoan people’s inability to distinguish works of fantastical literature from the author’s political views. There are incredible numbers of authors whose work I can enjoy, and who I would not like in person. Artists of any kind, in fact.
The two things - the artist’s outputs, and the artist’s personality and views - must necessarily be completely separate, otherwise you arrive at a cult of personality. Fair enough if that’s for you, but that’s not the default mode for everyone who enjoys works of (unspeakable) art.
Having lived in Providence for a few years, my wife and I came to understand Lovecraft’s ideas of seeing something so horrific it just makes you go completely insane. What a town!
I was fairly disappointed in how unimpressive his memorial was. Just a stone with a plaque on it. Should have been a huge Cthulhu statue or something. RISD’s right there, there are plenty of people who could have made that happen.
The problem with Lovecraft is that his racism actually shows up in his writing. Its not always central to the story, and he doesn’t try to justify it, but he makes use of popular for the day stereotypes to “Enhance” the atmosphere of his stories. And its troubling to read even now.
Maybe it is something I have because I’m not a westerner, but why should I be particularly troubled by the fact that the author I enjoy (for uncaring cosmic monsters and general hard to define coolness) would have found both my ethnic background and my beliefs abhorrent?
Do I really have to agree with an author to enjoy the work?