?

Log in

Raven Daegmorgan
13 November 2015 @ 05:34 pm

Lovecraft wrote a significant amount of (in influence, if not number) fantastic literature and played an equally significant role as a critic and mentor to numerous literary luminaries themselves influential in the very shaping (and popularization) of genre fiction; his influence on the genres of the fantastic cannot be overstated. Without his writings -- horror, fantasy, and otherwise -- and his correspondence with and even mentoring of other notable authors, these fields would be vastly different today.

The complete erasure of this from the common dialogue on the current issue concerns me, as so few seem to even realize this history or understand its importance. None of which is to defend racism, but instead to point out that boiling the entire situation down to the simplistic "he was just some white racist writer from a long time ago" is disingenuous (and, for those who were aware of these facts, manipulative). Because, yes, he was that.

Yet so were many of the Founding Fathers of America. Who also owned slaves and were horribly sexist by today's standards -- Burn the Constitution! Cease praising their political advancements and historical contributions! Remove their likenesses from our money! Wait? Why have we not decided to do so?

Even though many of them held views and engaged in behaviors we, today, find unacceptable and harmful, it is their superior qualities and accomplishments we honor and seek to emulate, not their inferior.
Similarly, arguing that because Lovecraft was a racist we cannot honor him as a writer, or praise another writer with such comparison, misses the point; he was not the symbol of an award for his politics, but for his influence and accomplishments in the field.

The social politics of the situation in SFF, however, have dictated otherwise in this case, and the community has decided Lovecraft's unfortunate, horrible racial views outweigh all other considerations, behaviors, influences, or significances. I am not necessarily in disagreement with this decision, with the caveat that one of the reasons all the above is important is when a new award statue is chosen, we cannot simply dismiss the historical significance of his use as the bust in terms of what he represented to the field.

Who to replace him with, should the award utilize another bust? The committee will need to find another writer whose influence on genre fiction and its participants was as significant, wide-spread, and long-lasting, even if many of those in the field, or reading genre fic, were unaware of that legacy until now.

Decades from now, when future generations look back on us, in hindsight they will be absolutely appalled by the things we believe -- they may look upon our writings with its casual view of animals as lesser beings, or with our belief in social unrest as a means to change, in disgust and discomfort. Perhaps they may see as irrational the idea of being stewards of the planet, instead of 'rationally' viewing it as resources to be exploited. Or think our glorification of technology immoral (or the opposite, our distrust of technology). Or it may be something else innocuous -- something obvious and correct to us in this day and age (our individuality?), but socially taboo, backwards, or horrible when we ourselves are great grandparents.

Should another bust be chosen, who then could stand such a test of time?

 
 
Raven Daegmorgan
21 July 2015 @ 01:12 pm

From an article:

"Ever called an organized friend 'OCD?' A pushy boss a 'psycho?' Or a sad moment 'being depressed?'...learn how to change your own language to help stop the stigma [of mental illness]."

Don't. Let me be clear: don't change your own language. Doing so doesn't actually help, not even though some really well-meaning people you totally agree with about everything else say it does. I'm really sorry it doesn't, because it seems like such an easy way to help fix things. But this is why:

"It's a problem because [people with mental illness] know they're stigmatized. Changing that stigma starts with changing the language!"

Actually it doesn't. Changing the language doesn't actually change perceptions, even though the idea that it does is a popular argument among certain social theorists. The reason it has picked up support on internet-activist blogs is because it seems like a common sense meme and is thus really simple to express and rally around. Except it isn't common sense -- the reality, as it often is, is counter-intuitive.

Just like playing violent video games doesn't make you any more prone to violence, watching cartoons doesn't make you believe in jumping off roofs with anvils, playing D&D doesn't make you think you're a for-real wizard or afraid of dragons, and reading horror novels doesn't make you go out and dismember people or fear being dismembered. (And I'm sure you can come up with more than a few of your own similar here.) Yet people still fall for arguments that say they do precisely because it seems behavior being influenced this way is a valid idea: that "what goes in comes out" and "what you see/hear is how you'll feel" and so on.

But it doesn't work here, either. Language is not the cause of or impetus for the stigma in question, because language use is multivariable and not actually prone to 'leakage' in this manner -- we use the same words to mean many multiple things, and we don't actually conceptually confuse those multiple things despite the words being the same. For example, no one actually believes calling a woman your "girlfriend" suggests you want to have relations with pre-pubescent females (girls) without any romantic committment (friend), and no one buys into the cracked notion that using a word like "girlfriend" creates a climate of pre-pubescent sexualization and non-committal relationships. No one except long-debunked social theorists have been arguing exactly that since the 70's -- that "girlfriend" bit is actually straight from feminist lit.

They have thus far thankfully been stymied by reality and how linguistics actually work. We know "girlfriend" is a composite word with a specfic, individual concept tangentially related to its root words. We do not confuse it with the meaning of the word "girl", or assume "girlfriend" is being used to demean and infantilize a woman, the relationship, or express some desired sexual preference. We recognize it is a noise we make, a sound, that has come to signify a particular type of relationship (the female in a budding romantic coupling).

It has also gained alternative meanings dependent upon context, such as the commonplace call-out between two individuals of "Hey girlfriend!", in which the latter word has no romantic connotations at all, and instead indicates a close friendship with a(nother) female, or merely excitement at seeing a(nother) female you know. Because people can differentiate uses of the same word without assuming mixed meanings.

If, however, we are to believe the "change the language" arguments, then any use of the word "girlfriend" between two women would indicate latent lesbian sexual desire. Or at any rate signify or suggest some kind of romantic involvement. All because the idea we can change minds by changing language use presumes, argues, against all reason and all actual social and linguistic science, that people aren't able to or don't differentiate between similar-sounding words or singular words with mulitple meanings, such that they are subconsciousbly influenced by the negative or positive qualities or meanings regardless of varying contexts.

Yet people still know the difference between a "sub" (the sandwich) and a "sub" (the underwater vehicle) and even a "sub" (the temp teacher or office worker). They don't confuse any of these with a "sub", the submissive partner in a BDSM relationship, nor (importantly to the question at hand) assume calling a teacher a "sub" is an indication that they are submissive or desire abuse, or that eating a sub means a person is not an extrovert or is incapable of exerting authority, and so on. Because, well, that would be crazy. (Uh-oh, I said "crazy.")

Yet this is exactly what the "change your language!" folks would like you to believe is indeed the case: that an 'incorrect' or 'negative' use of a word creates a stigma that carries over to other uses of that word. That one negative meaning or contextual use taints all uses and perceptions of all uses. That your 'girlfriend!' means they are actually your for-real lesbian romantic parter, so you should find some different slang.

Unfortunately, this idea has been faddishly embraced by young liberals who perceive it as a way to "get involved" and "change the world", when in reality all they are doing is something absolutely trivial and lazy, something that only amounts to status signaling within their own group ("I'm so progressive that I don't use those words (wrongly)!") and to feel good about themselves ("I helped!").

It's not actually a way to help change stigmas, attitudes, or ideas any more than tweeting about ending poverty actually helps end poverty. It doesn't affect it.

 
 
Raven Daegmorgan
05 November 2014 @ 11:05 pm
I've been saying this for quite a while (nor am I the only one), but here it is, laid out: identity politics is dangerous.

And not in the "good dangerous" sense, ie: life-altering for the betterment of mankind standing-up-to-the-man dangerous...but bad dangerous, really-really bad dangerous:

"...handed 1,000 people some sample student resumes and asked them to decide which deserved a scholarship...it's the grades themselves that should have driven the decisions...Democrats and Republicans chose the resumes that shared their politics roughly 80 percent of the time...

...the activation of political identity made grades pretty much irrelevant...partisans did not take academic merit into account. This didn't used to be the case. Even a few decades ago, our political identities weren't strong enough to drive our reactions...[this is] about tribes."

More to the point, this whole article is an excellent tear down of a deeply politicized (not political...but partisan and, more to the point, politically manipulated) situation, and even-more-to-the-point, how that politicization dynamic is playing itself out across our entire culture, how it influences and affects you without (maybe) your even realizing it.

"...common within political conflict in polarized times: the two sides segregate into completely separate information loops...media outlets and activist information sources have incentives to cover the worst of the other side, and to play to the fear, anger and even paranoia of their own side...each side only becomes familiar with the most extreme members and interpretations of the other side -- and so comes to loathe and fear them even more."

Which I have seen, endlessly. And has made me disgusted with a few people I formerly considered thoughtful, reasoning, progressive voices...but who are now blithely and thoughtlessly parroting trite partisan hater-ade straight from their chosen narrow narrative. In the specific case the article engages with:

"If you're reading about Gamergate on the left, virtually all you're reading about is the intense, horrifying harassment against women...If you're reading about Gamergate from inside Gamergate, virtually all you're reading about is how the media is smearing Gamergate...[and not discussing] all the money Gamergaters are raising for anti-bullying efforts [and women in STEP]."

In other words, beware of your media biases. Because your media is biased. It is not just truth and reason and fact, but instead truthiness, blithe omissions, and feelings presented as reason and obvious fact. And this particular situation in the gaming subculture provides such a stunningly perfect example of this dynamic and its dangers, such that it has also been noted in detail elsewhere:

"The media conspires to tell the same story in the same way that the TV networks conspire to flood the schedule with CSI clones...[so] it's always good to exercise skepticism about how your anger about an issue is being monetized or weaponized by others."

Which it is, by those on both sides, whether that's Gawker, etc. or Breitbart, etc.

"...take Milo Yiannopoulos, who writes for the Breitbart sites...[this] advances his chosen narratives...the media is a bunch of biased liberals! Feminists are destroying society! Progressives are fascists! Yet before #GamerGate, Milo was happy to use gamers for another purpose -- to advance the cultural conservative narrative 'Gamers are freaky dorks!'...if you are genuinely someone who only cares about journalistic integrity, and you promote Breitbart and Yiannopoulos, aren't you being a useful idiot?

...Kotaku and Gawker and Jezebel, is consistently outraged at the misogyny of #GamerGate...poses as high-minded...[but] then returns to its cash cows: self-righteously promoting revenge porn, ridiculing women based on their appearance, paying sociopaths to describe the pubic hair of women they don't like, gleefully outing people, shrugging at systematic harassment of its employees, leering at hacked nude pics...If you rush to Gawker Media's defense because it's #GamerGate who is attacking them, aren't you being a useful idiot?"

Each media echo chamber builds and supports a particular narrative based on its popularity with their demographic.

Particularly their ability to monetize -- in terms of clicks, readers, or even actual dollars -- outrage over a story, which if they can incite or deepen provides even more clicks and readers.

Tribal identity sells. Outrage sells. When you read only those sources you trust, or rather that agree with your 'gut' (your identity), you immediately dismiss, demonize, and mistrust contrarians and 'the other side' and anything they say (ie: given their 'obvious' moral corruption -- "socialist liberal terrorist idiots are destroying America!"), and so you read stories that reinforce your views, because it is comforting (and dissonance is not). So journalists and partisans write stories that reinforce those views.

"GamerGate is label-heavy, and labels are lazy, obfuscating bullshit...talking past each other and engaging with strawmen rather than ideas...Labels are an excellent way to vent outrage, but a lousy way to argue about ideas or facts."

And that doesn't apply just to this particular scenario, but many, many others. Like this other recent situation for example:

"If you read and relied upon progressive sources -- like the Huffington Post or Think Progress or BoingBoing -- you'd conclude that the Supreme Court of Connecticut held that Fourtin wasn't guilty of rape because the evidence suggested that the victim could have resisted but didn't.

[Not true]...prosecutors made the strange and...incompetent tactical decision to charge Fourtin under a...subsection of the Connecticut rape statute...that only applies to sexual assault of someone who is 'physically helpless'...[and] the state has to prove that you're guilty of the specific crime you're charged with...That's fundamental to due process."

...some people feel more strongly about rape than they feel about rights. That's why you have reactions like...moderators deleting comments pointing this out...[saying] 'why don't you shut the fuck up instead of being a rape apologist'...[and] that not being guilty of the particular crime you were charged with is a 'technicality'...[they don't] grasp double jeopardy or care...or care more about how [they] feel about rights in tough cases than about the rights themselves."

Failing to toe the line of your political identity group, especially when they are outraged, gets you labeled as part of the worst-of-the-worst. Reason goes out the window. It isn't about facts, or justice, or truth. It's about what the tribe thinks feels. When that tribe believes they are the tribe of reason and thought (and every tribe does), it becomes even more blind to its own biases and its own utter moral certitude (which leads to all sorts of horrible, awful, no good, very bad things. Examples are infinite).

The real point is that we are going to see this political dynamic creep into everything in every aspect of our lives, intensifying as it goes, to the point where saying or doing or liking "the wrong thing" is going to cost you friends, employment, even education (in point-of-fact, it already does) based on nothing more than your identity (or failure to adhere to it). And this is bad. Bad-bad bad.

"Ruling beliefs culturally repugnant is a game that the left is better at playing these days."

Why does that matter? Isn't that good? Shouldn't we base who gets ahead on who is good and decent? NO. Because eventually the game flips back around. And the right will once again be successfully declaring left-wing beliefs culturally repugnant. "Good and decent" is all-too-often "whatever agrees with my moral compass and the prevailing understanding of that compass."

This doesn't mean all moralities are equivalent, but it does mean how you treat those people with morals or ideas you don't agree with can be a dangerous choice.

Whatever you do -- whatever you weaponize -- will be done to you and will be used as a weapon against you: if you go around declaring things you disagree with are repugnant and people should be threatened, forced from their job, ostracized and shamed, or hated, then eventually something you agree with will be declared repugnant and result in you being threatened, forced from your job, ostracized and shamed, even hated.

Which is why it isn't a good game to play. It sure the hell wasn't when liberals were on the other side of that game, and it won't be when it goes back the other way again.

"...though they see themselves as liberals, they feel dismissed and even hated...they're for equal pay and they voted for Barack Obama, so why are they being made the enemy..?"

So even worse, at some point, you are going to be on the 'wrong' side of your fellow partisans, unfairly painted out to be a repugnant social deviant of the worst kind in all the echo chambers you frequented, and gleefully thrown under a bus bandwagon by people "...driven by forces that have nothing to do with [the issue]. Forces that are very good at making these kinds of conflicts worse and deeper."
 
 
Raven Daegmorgan
28 October 2014 @ 04:43 am
In response to someone's question, "How do I avoid making something that someone will call racist or sexist?" someone I know responded, "Don't make something racist or sexist."

...

Wow...

"If you don't want to be called racist or sexist, don't be racist or sexist."
It seems like such simple, obvious advice.

Other than the fact it's complete bullshit.

Because that is a loaded answer: that answer presupposes something accused of being racist or sexist means it absolutely, undeniably, inarguably is. If someone says it is. No room for negotiation. That is the defining criteria.
How do you avoid being accused of beating your wife?
DON'T BEAT YOUR WIFE.
A position the respondent made even more obvious by the context following the short answer, which was filled with variations of "you're either with us or against us" and "your work either validates the status quo, or demolishes it."

Such simplistic us-or-them this-or-that arguments prove a lack of peering outside one's own box; fails to consider one might incorrectly assess a situation or a work, or that -- beyond a certain point -- what expresses sexism and racism might be subjective and open to interpretation, rather than hard-coded, absolute fact. That accusations may, in fact, be misplaced, arise from ever-faulty human perception, or just be pure nuttery.
How do you avoid being accused of witchcraft?
DON'T PRACTICE WITCHCRAFT.
This is why authors fear and hate the "social justice" gangs on-line.
Because the SJ gangs are, in a word, fanatics.
And this is how fanatics argue: everything is about their thing; whatever they target and paint as bad and awful, really is bad and awful; and if you are not with them, you are against them, siding with everything horrible and terrible and hateful.

Because, after all, are they not are the shining paragons of virtue fighting the insidious status quo?
How do I avoid being accused of being a commie?
DON'T BE A COMMIE.
So what is the answer, really? The answer is you can't avoid being accused of something by someone, and it may be awful and make you feel icky and upset. So fuck the bullshit cult of -isms and the McCarthyist witch-hunts.

When those types show up with a bone to pick and a chip on their shoulder, view them exactly as you view fanatics calling your work the devil's recruitment tool or part of a commie plot to turn everyone *gasp* liberal -- treat them accordingly: ignore the shit out of them. Do not engage them out of a sense of social responsibility or social pressures or desire to 'set the record straight.'

(And if you want to do some hard examination on your own? Do it. On your own.)

But you will never avoid them. You will never be able to make anything that can't be accused of being "sexist", or "racist", or that "corrupts our youth", or a million other awful, terrible, no good, very bad things. So damn the torpedoes and make things!

 
 
Raven Daegmorgan
After weeks of incessant attacks on his character and business, a supporter of GamerGate tried to off himself.

This is why when you believe "your side" are the blameless paragons of virtue, and your side's actions don't hurt anyone or take actions that hurt people -- because that's what "their side" does, and your side aren't like them, that your side doesn't attack people and treat people like shite just because they disagree with you -- you're frankly just wrong.

Because "your side" sadly engages in vicious, disturbing behavior, too. Bomb threats? Not yet. Rape threats? Take your pick.

The behavior of people on your side has driven at least one person to suicide. And someone out there, right now, on your side, is cheering about that. Considers it a 'victory'.

Think about that for a moment.

This is why I am not a warrior for social justice: because warriors kill people, without compunction, safely ensconced in the moral certitude of their cause. And in the age of the internet, they do it like this.

 
 
 
Raven Daegmorgan
11 October 2014 @ 09:39 pm
I see the war to control the narrative of GamerGate is still in full swing. There's a segment of game culture voices who want to make the narrative of GamerGate be about misogyny in gaming, because disgusting, vocal trolls -- as they do -- are using the issue as an 'in' to get their jollies off and showcase the worst aspects of humanity from the anonymous cover of the herd.

If that above segment can convince everyone the real issue is some kind of right-to-misogyny, they can effectively silence culture and industry critics on the issues of ethics, corruption, and ideological witch-hunts -- "painting with a broad brush" is, I believe, the term. They win the debate by tainting any opposition to or criticism of their positions with a suggestion of the immoral or anti-social.[1]

Ironically, that broad-brush tactic ends up being a whole lot like the tactic of claiming "feminism is about misandry" because of grating examples of man-hating and male demonization in feminism.[2] Feminists respond to those accusations of anti-male sentiment by arguing (in similar or more gracious, shorter or longer, form to the following) "NUH-UH! That's not what feminism is about!"

GamerGaters are "just misogynists" the way feminists are "just misandrists".

Yet GamerGaters who respond to charges of anti-woman sentiment with the same defense are dismissed or ignored, making those feminists arguing GamerGate is about misogyny appear to be hypocrites, rejecting their very own defense against the ugly elements among their adherents when an outside or opposed groups defends itself from similar criticism for the same: the behavior of socially maladapted trolls who are non-representative of the actual concerns of a movement.

If one group is going to broadly decide the opposition is just about being a bunch of hateful pricks, regardless of rejection of that characterization by the affected group, then they'd best be prepared to have their own concerns and membership dismissed similarly on equal grounds. Meaning if GamerGate is about hating women, then feminism is about hating men.

Don't like that? Then understand your failure to clean house is just as egregious, damning, and difficult as the failure everyone else faces, and live with it.

-----

[1] That's how nationalism works. That's how McCarthyism works: "America is great, but communists criticize America. Because America is great, communists must be bad. If you criticize America, you must be a communist. Since communists hate freedom, you must hate freedom." It's how the liberal-conservative culture war works today, too.

[2] Let's get this out of the way, kids, before there's any arguing about its prevalence: it takes less than 30 seconds of Googling to find blogs and articles penned by feminists proudly declaring how much they hate men, or to find well-known feminists and feminist literature that calls men (literally) worse-than-animals.

Read more...Collapse )

 
 
Raven Daegmorgan
24 September 2014 @ 05:38 am
STOP  
OCD is really bad tonight. Last couple days, really. Would like these thoughts to STOP already.

Stress levels must be pretty high if it's this bad. And I suppose that's the case, since there's so much crap to worry about right now.

The foreclosure. Getting Galen set up for moving out on his own. Losing a third of our income. Winter. Bills, and neccesities.

Tags: ,
 
 
Raven Daegmorgan
20 September 2014 @ 03:55 am
I just rewatched 10,000 B.C., because it is a fun film, then did an internet search about one of the details I apparently remembered incorrectly. Upon doing so, I discovered the film was widely panned for...historical inaccuracies.

...

Seriously?

Well, fucksake, talk about pedantic nonsense! It is blatantly obvious the film wasn't meant to be historical fiction!

Complaining it was historically inaccurate is like panning ID4 because it didn't feature the actual president at the time, and had aliens in it instead of a nuclear missile crisis; or that the Indiana Jones series had magic ju-ju boxes and mystical rocks, and were terrible examples of how archeology is conducted! Or, OMG, Star Wars...you can't hear spaceships flying around in outer space because it is a vacuum and sound can't travel through a vacuum! Therefore 'WORST MOVIE EVER.'

So these critics ended up sounding like every snobbish English Lit professor who has ever dismissed the entire field of fantasy and sci-fi because it was "nonsense and children's stuff" and "not real literature". Congratulations, critics, you're the pretentious douchebags of cinema, self-certain in your own ignorant academic superiority!

10,000 B.C. was an over-the-top action film set on a pseudo-historical Earth--big on style and imagery and a well-blended mesh of disparate ideas, not on being a short documentary for the Smithsonian--and if you can't see that, you shouldn't be watching movies, let alone critiquing them, with your thumbs shoved so far up your asses.

But this is exactly why I don't pay attention to film critics--and that is a rule that has never disappointed me.

 
 
Raven Daegmorgan
As to Lovecraft and the World Fantasy Award, and his racism brought to the forefront by Nnedi Okorafor's winning of the award named after him, to those saying we should not be using as an award the bust of an avowed racist who held deeply troubling views on race, there is something being forgotten amidst all the comments regarding how Lovecraft must be "spinning in his grave" over a black woman winning an award named after him:

That he eventually rejected those earlier views--hated himself for them, even--later in life.

Thus the issue is not so simple as the celebration of a dyed-in-the-wool racist. It is more than that: it becomes also the celebration of someone who grew to see his prior racial views as misguided and wrong. Of an author who grew beyond his small world, his outdated beliefs, who came to see the wrongness of his position.

Is the bust not then a symbol of a triumph of character, of a triumph of the work of equality? Is that noble turn not important to remember; that even miserable racists can change their ways, can grow in the same way our field can grow to be more inclusive, that his bust may thus also be a representation of hope for the future?

From Vol. 5 of Lovecraft's "Selected Letters", page 407, a letter penned by Lovecraft to Catherine L. Moore, dated February 7th, 1937 (emphasis mine):

"I can the better understand the inert blindness & defiant ignorance of the reactionaries from having been one of them. I know how smugly ignorant I was—wrapped up in the arts, the natural (not social) sciences, the externals of history & antiquarianism, the abstract academic phases of philosophy, & so on—all the one-sided standard lore to which, according to the traditions of the dying order, a liberal education was limited.

God! the things that were left out—the inside facts of history, the rational interpretation of periodic social crises, the foundations of economics & sociology, the actual state of the world today ... & above all, the habit of applying disinterested reason to problems hitherto approached only with traditional genuflections, flag-waving, & callous shoulder-shrugs!

All this comes up with humiliating force through an incident of a few days ago—when young Conover, having established contact with Henneberger, the ex-ownder of WT, obtained from the latter a long epistle which I wrote to Edwin Baird on Feby. 3, 1924, in response to a request for biographical & personal data. Little Willis asked permission to publish the text in his combined SFT-Fantasy, & I began looking the thing over to see what it was like—for I had not the least recollection of ever having penned it.

Well .... I managed to get through, after about 10 closely typed pages of egotistical reminiscences & showing-off & expressions of opinion about mankind & the universe. I did not faint—but I looked around for a 1924 photograph of myself to burn, spit on, or stick pins in! Holy Hades—was I that much of a dub at 33 ... only 13 years ago?

There was no getting out of it—I really had thrown all that haughty, complacent, snobbish, self-centered, intolerant bull, & at a mature age when anybody but a perfect damned fool would have known better! That earlier illness had kept me in seclusion, limited my knowledge of the world, & given me something of the fatuous effusiveness of a belated adolescent when I finally was able to get around more in 1920, is hardly much of an excuse.

Well—there was nothing to be done ..... except to rush a note back to Conover & tell him I'd dismember him & run the fragments through a sausage-grinder if he ever thought of printing such a thing! The only consolation lay in the reflection that I had matured a bit since '24. It's hard to have done all one's growing up since 33—but that's a damn sight better than not growing up at all.
We can see this change in views and character in prior years, too; in 1936, he also wrote of this alteration to his fundamental worldviews:
"The liberals at whom I used to laugh were the ones who were right - for they had been living in the present while I had been living in the past."


Despite those hurtful earlier views, Lovecraft was a gentleman in person and in conduct with others, even cordially exchanging letters with the distinguished literary critic, William Stanley Braithwaite, a prominent African American citizen of the time. Indeed, one must wonder how or if that correspondence shaped his awakening--but better scholars of his life than I would have to speak to that.

Remember, too, that the poem which has brought so much heartache and rightful disgust, "On the Creation of Niggers", was written in his youth--during a major depressive episode whose weight crushed upon him for years, keeping him homebound, full of self-loathing, and miserable--and it would seem importantly, he neither published nor sought to publish it during his lifetime.

So I do not believe Lovecraft would be spinning...or at least not because a black woman writing of Africa won a prize named after him. He would be spinning in shame that the views he held earlier in his life are now seen as defining him, and for his own holding on to them for so long, for he was clearly disgusted and embarrassed by them.

When Nnedi Okorafor says,
"I am the first black person to win the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel since its inception in 1975. Lovecraft is probably rolling in his grave. Or maybe, having become spirit, his mind has cleared of the poisons and now understands the err of his ways. Maybe he is pleased that a book set and about Africa in the future has won an award crafted in his honor. Yeah, I'll go with that image."
I think she would indeed be correct that he would be pleased, both the physical man of that time, and the lingering spirit.

[Ed.: I have been informed the inestimable S.T. Joshi has noted the quoted passages from Lovecraft's letters were written mainly in reference to his political views as they became increasingly liberal.]

 
 
Raven Daegmorgan
18 April 2014 @ 04:24 am
Earlier today I noted:

I'm also coming to the conclusion that geek critics are the absolute worst kind of critics of all to pay any attention to: the criticism tends to be fatuous pedantic niggling snobbery.

See: "OMG! No Tom Bombadil? LotR is RUINED FOREVER!" and "Totally wrong period helmets! RUINED FOREVER!"
And then I realized that's basically the very same problem I have with social justice warriors and left-wing activism in general.

It's pedantic --

overly concerned with formal rules, trivial points, minute details and formalisms; finicky with language; showy and pretentious

Read more...Collapse )