Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #267 - Lost Lovecraft Manuscript, Houdini, and Racism
Hi Mom, and here we are again in our continuing series of things I care about and want to share with you but that your interest in them is solely because you love me and try to show interest in things that interest me. This goes all the way back to my early childhood when I quizzed your knowledge of dinosaurs withe my dinosaur flashcards.
I have Warren Ellis to thank for this article, like so many things he finds before I do. And when I noticed that the article combined two things I love -- HP Lovecraft and Harry Houdini -- it became more important for me to post about this news on my blog.
Apparently, Houdini commissioned Lovecraft to write an article on superstition. Previously only an outline and a first chapter existed. Recently, among unarchived papers from Houdini's estate, a thirty-one page manuscript was found that is the work of Lovecraft delivered to Houdini shortly before his death in 1926 and thus misplaced until now. Lovecraft had advanced the original idea substantially in these pages, though the work was left unfinished.
Here's the link, but I am going to copy and present the content farther below, with credit of course.
THE GUARDIAN: LOVECRAFT MANUSCRIPT ON SUPERSTITION FOUND AMONG HARRY HOUDINI'S PAPERS.
I came a bit late to the H.P. Lovecraft party. I tried to read his work off and on since high school but I kept getting distracted. I knuckled-down and applied myself to most of the short stories a few years ago and enjoyed them immensely. There are some first rate audio editions now, and I plan to listen again some time in the next few years.
Here's some tasty links for those wishing to spend some Internet time investigating Lovecraft, who has a great name for an author of horror.
HP LOVECRAFT ARCHIVE
THE COMPLETE WORKS OF H.P. LOVECRAFT
THE H.P. LOVECRAFT HISTORICAL SOCIETY
There's also this, which is a great essay on horror:
"Supernatural Horror in Literature" by H.P. Lovecraft
I don't know if Google is showing me a link to one of my T-shirt blogs because it's mine or in anyone will find my link while searching for Lovecraft online. This was the last result on the first page of the Google search:
T-SHIRT #339 - DEAD CAN DANCE
This page included links to and pictures for a Lovecraft-inspired comic strip I like called Cthulu Slippers (see below). It included my fascination with Lovecraft-themed podcast WELCOME TO NIGHTVALE, and several other things, including the main content devoted to DEAD CAN DANCE.
Do we forgive authors and artists for being products of their time? Not that everyone in Lovecraft's time was racist, hardly. Not that racism is a thing of the past today, certainly not. But it's best to have perspective, right?
The Salon published this article in 2014 about how fans need to find a "mature way to cope with ugly sides of authors who they love -- It's Okay to Admit that H.P. Lovecraft was Racist.
There was a flap about whether to honor Lovecraft now in Fantasy awards and Halls of Fame because of his venomous and open racism in his stories, letters, and essays.
Since 2014, just published last month, author Victor LaValle tackles Lovecraft's racism in a novella called The Ballad of Black Tom. There's a good article about it here at THE SLATE: a THRILLING STORY DIGS INTO RACISM IN H.P. LOVECRAFT'S WORK and a link to buy the novella.
Does Lovecraft's racism negate his contributions to literature? Should he be a forgotten author, overlooked and neglected, because of his racism? I don't think so.
This same issues is one I delayed writing about in my T-shirt blog in regards to Orson Scott Card's vocal opposition to gay marriage and the planned boycott of the release of the movie Ender's Game, adapted from his novel of the same name. Once the Supreme Court ruled on gay marriage, the issue became moot, and Card said as much on his blog.
Should I stop reading Orson Scott Card because he holds views that I oppose? Some of my gay friends think so. I have several gay friends who have stopped reading his work and will not support him in anyway. And yet, Card is one of the least hateful opponents of gay marriage and all gay issues (opposing the very existence of gay people on religious grounds) that I have seen. I disagree with him, but he is not hateful or vicious or ignorant in his views.
First off, boycotting the movie Ender's Game would hurt a lot of people who don't agree with Card either. The movie is bigger than one man and affects the livelihood of many.
Secondly, would my boycott of Card's books hurt him at all? Granted, I have purchased every single one of his novels. In some cases I have two copies, hard back and paper back. Even so, is Card's bank account much affected by my purchases? Hardly.
Lastly, he is one of my favorite authors. I have loved his work for years and read most everything he has written, certainly, all the Ender books. A boycott of his work is going to hurt me much more than it will hurt him. And unlike Lovecraft whose glaringly racism is evident in his stories, Card does not use his fiction as a vehicle to pander his religious views at all. Sure, there are underlying themes. Yes, there are no gay characters in his stories, but there's also no dogmatic bigotry either.
And what of all the other authors I read? Outside of authors like John Scalzi who regularly writes about his various political, religious, and ethical views on his blog, I do not know the opinions of other authors outside of what they share in their fiction or the occasional interview. The Internet has made it easier for authors to share views with the world, but this is no reason to decide their merits as writers SOLELY on whether I disagree with their stands on various issues. Certainly if someone is a hateful bigot and very vocal about being a hateful bigot, I am not going to be interested in that writer's work. But Orson Scott Card is not a hateful bigot, he just holds religious views that I do not agree with, much like most of the rest of the population of the world. I would guess that fewer than one percent of the world's population holds views much like my own.
So, Lovecraft gets a pass. His work is important. His racism is well known, and it has been well known, but if we dismiss the artists of the pass for hateful views, many great artists are going to be dismissed, possibly including Shakespeare. Is that the world we want to live in?
Besides, isn't forgiveness the single greatest act a human being can perform? Aren't we here to be accepting rather than discriminatory and judgmental?
After all, we cannot defeat hateful bigotry with hateful bigotry.
As a friend of mine recently told me, "be heart-centered. Practice radially acceptance."
Lost HP Lovecraft work commissioned by Houdini escapes shackles of history
Since I just wrote about the Lovecraftian inspired WELCOME TO NIGHTVALE, I also wanted to promote another Lovecraft influenced art thing I recently discovered: CTHULU SLIPPERS.
I must confess that Lovecraft is one of those authors at which I have taken several runs but have not fully invested. I have read a few stories, started and failed to finish others, but also I have not really applied myself. I am determined to rectify this oversight. It's time for some LOVECRAFTIAN absorption.
Reflect and connect.
Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.
Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.
- Days ago = 269 days ago
- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1603.30 - 9:04
NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.