S. T. Joshi Pulls Out of NecronomiCon to Avoid "Lovecraft Haters" and Discussion of Lovecraft's Racism
As many of you know, fans of H. P. Lovecraft gather each summer for a Providence, R.I. conference called NecronomiCon, named of course for the fictional Necronomicon, one of Lovecraft’s most famous creations. This year the run up to the conference has gotten a little hairy. S. T. Joshi, the preeminent scholar of Lovecraft, pulled out of the conference because he refused to appear in the same venue with people he describes as “Lovecraft haters” who want to devote time to evaluating the horror master’s record of racism. Joshi delivered an ultimatum, telling conference organizers to disinvite critics or lose him as a speaker. In such a context, his joke in his August 6 blog entry that questioning his opinions was tantamount to sacrilege—“Imagine anyone questioning my view of Lovecraft! The very idea is surely a kind of lèse-majesté, no?”—seems less like self-deprecating humor than a serious opinion masquerading as a barbed jest.
Yesterday marked the eightieth anniversary of the death of H. P. Lovecraft, an occasion that provoked a great deal of ambiguous observation in the media, mostly due to the tension between Lovecraft’s genius as a creator of a fictional world and his almost comically absurd levels of racism. In noting the anniversary of his passing, I thought I would break from my usual topics of discussion to talk a bit about one of Lovecraft’s other obsessions, Georgian architecture. As most readers of Lovecraft’s fiction, and especially his letters, know, Lovecraft was obsessed with Georgian and Georgian Revival architecture and found in it the form most pleasing to his sense of aesthetics. “Lifelong antiquarianism has caused me to lay zestful stress on historic backgrounds & traditional architectural minutiae,” he wrote to Fritz Leiber.
Yesterday marked the twentieth anniversary of the WB/UPN series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), but due to my review of Sekret Machines I wasn’t able to mark the occasion. Because the show was a seminal part of my adolescent years, I feel like I should have more to say about than I do, but somehow I find that the barrage of media coverage has approached the anniversary from every possible angle. Instead, I’ll just talk a little bit about the show. I need a bit of a break anyway after devoting so many hours this past week to Peter Levenda’s pretentious drivel.
From Sci-Fi to Alt-Right: Extremists and Conspiracy Theorists Using Lovecraft to Attack Feminism and L. Ron Hubbard to Take on International Bankers
A controversy arose this past week when anthropologists discovered that white supremacists had manipulated Google’s page ranking algorithm to make a racist and anti-Semitic hate site the snippet chosen for Google’s instant answer to queries about the definition of Boasian anthropology. “Boasian Anthropology is a pseudo-scientific Jewish assault on White European racial consciousness and identity,” the Google info-box informed its readers, taking the text from a white nationalist blog. Google expressed regret over the situation but said that the company had no responsibility to evaluate the content they excerpt: “The feature is an automatic and algorithmic match to the search query,” a Google spokesperson told The Verge. This is disingenuous, of course, since Google knows full well that many users cannot distinguish between a third-party snippet and an “official” Google-endorsed definition, particularly since Google offers similar-looking info-boxes for dictionary definitions, mathematical calculations, and other facts it presents as its own. Within hours of the controversy erupting, however, the anti-Semitic result disappeared from the Google top results.
Yesterday I started discussing W. Scott Poole’s views on H. P. Lovecraft from his recent book In the Mountains of Madness, and I mentioned that I took issue with his allegation that Lovecraft’s stories, his monsters, and his cosmic vision were unique and unprecedented. Today I’d like to talk about why I disagree so vehemently with Poole. To do so, we need to take a look at how he frames the issue:
Last night the CBC’s Toronto-set period detective drama Murdoch Mysteries featured H. P. Lovecraft. It was … different. Set in the early 1900s, when Lovecraft was a young teenager, the episode imagined Lovecraft as a Goth youth spending a season with his Canadian aunt. In Toronto, he became something of an autistic necrophiliac (presumably in the manner of the story “The Loved Dead”) who had an obsession with a rotten corpse. The show also implied that he had the psychic power to project monstrous fantasies into women’s minds. While it was not the be most accurate depiction of Lovecraft, it does lead me to today’s topic.
Mystic and Artist Warlock Asylum Claims Lovecraft Had Secret Messages for Followers of Crowley's Thelema
Sensei Messiah’el Bey is an artist who operates under the name Warlock Asylum. He claims to operate in a variety of shamanic and religious traditions, including ancient Mesopotamian cults and Shintoism. His spiritual journey would be of little concern to me if he hadn’t written a strange blog post yesterday attempting to prove that H. P. Lovecraft was an occultist operating with secret connections to Aleister Crowley’s Thelema.
Syndicated Newspaper Columnist Praises Racist Lovecraft Essay, Says Lovecraft's Immigration Views "Cannot ... Be Surpassed"
I’d never heard of Joseph Cotto before this morning, and probably for good reason. He’s a bottom-tier conservative columnist with aristocratic sympathies. He’s the kind of person who emphasizes in his biography that he received a knighthood and barony from the deposed titular king of Rwanda. Anyway, Cotto wrote a syndicated column earlier this month that was rather shocking in its outright rejection of pluralistic democracy in favor of essentially a monarchist vision of America. To do so, he quoted H. P. Lovecraft, whose racist vision he celebrated as the true spirit of America
Thursday Odds and Ends: A Blow to the Younger Dryas Comet Hypothesis, Lovecraft among the Alt-Right, and More!
Do you remember back in December when I described the cheap Chinese mechanical watch I bought on eBay? At the time, I had expected that it would last six months before crapping out, but it turns out that I was being overly optimistic. The M. G. Orkina brand mechanical watch died this week. I went to wind it, and the winding stem fell off, followed by several small gears that disengaged from the movement, stopping the watch. The watch lasted just about eight weeks. It was a learning experience. Apparently it is possible to make crap that is so cheap that it fails to meet even my lowest expectations.
For a bit of a change of pace today, I thought I’d call your attention to a strange new comedy series airing on IFC and available for streaming online called The Mirror. The six-part series is composed of a five-minute video “lessons” created by a cult calling themselves “The Children of the Mirror.” The videos begin as a parody of Christian televangelist programming but degenerate quickly into a bizarre world of paranoia and fear. Personally, I was a little cold toward the show and didn’t quite get on its wavelength, but the reason I mention the series is because of its Lovecraftian references
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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