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Walk a Mile in Lovecraft’s Shoes

5,727 words

HadenDavid Haden
Walking With Cthulhu: H.P. Lovecraft as Psychogeographer, New York City 1924-26
Amazon Kindle, 2011[1]

“I have met with but one or two persons in the course of my life who understood the art of Walking, that is, of taking walks, — who had a genius, so to speak, for sauntering . . .” — Thoreau, “Walking”

“Psychogeography is the science fiction of urbanism.” — Asger Jorn[2]

Here is another horror writer devoting some scholarly attention to H. P. Lovecraft. While Dr. G. Warlock Vance[3] did so in pursuit of a PhD. (successfully, to judge by his title), David Haden’s more Lovecraft-like approach is that of the gentleman scholar who has written a few essays here and there which he has gathered together in hopes of bringing us some amusement and education at our leisure.[4] In this he has certainly succeeded.

While Haden is writes not as an “academic” this is not to say he is “unscholarly.” His bibliography and notes take up a considerable part of the book — far more than those of Vance’s dissertation — and to judge from them he seems to have read and mastered the entire field of what might be called “the history and phenomenology of walking” or Pedestrian Studies. Haden certainly makes the case for it as a worthy intellectual pursuit, for both historian and literary critic.

Haden is correct in locating Lovecraft’s significance in his role as Traditional Man –though Haden knows not of such matters and uses not the term– confronting Modernity –of which Haden knows a lot, especially of its urban variety.

Lovecraft thus lived in that paradisiacal age of the pedestrian, which lay somewhere between the decline of the horse in large cities and the pestilence of mass car ownership.

Just as Vance studied the Necronomicon as Lovecraft’s fictional instrument to analyze and criticize the modern world, so Haden examines the works Lovecraft for their reactions to the irresistible rise of the Modern. As the city is the locus classicus of Modernity, and none more archetypally New York City,[5] the works Lovecraft produced under its influence[6] are especially worthy of study — from such stories as “He”[7] and “The Horror at Red Hook” produced while entrapped in the city itself, to “The Call of Cthulhu,” which Haden calls “a key story arising directly from Lovecraft’s New York period” — in fact, written almost immediately after his return to Providence.

On the other hand, Lovecraft, like all true visionaries, did not entirely need the City itself to provide stimulus; Haden notes that “Nyarlathotep,” written in 1920, several years before his New York sojourn, already presents us with

a dreamlike prose-poem that moves seamlessly from Providence, New England, via Egypt to a modern quack magic or spiritualist show in a large city, then passes out into a moonlit night-walk in that same city, encountering aspects of the post-apocalyptic and the alienage of modern life

although its scene (predating Metropolis) of masses shuffling in single file down subway entrances in

narrow columns, each of which seemed drawn in a different direction. One disappeared in a narrow alley to the left, leaving only the echo of a shocking moan. Another filed down a weed-choked subway entrance, owling with a laughter that was mad.

were likely inspired by a visit to the Boston subway in the 1910s, or reading press reports.[8] In any event, Haden devotes a large final section to reprinting “Nyarlathotep” with extensive annotations “Prepared for Mr. H. P. Lovecraft’s 121st birthday, 20th August 2011.”

The main body of the book is divided into two sections, “SURFACE: Walking the Streets of the City,” and “UNDERGROUND: On the Monstrous, Occult, and Hidden.” SURFACE begins with an essay that

surveys the psychogeographic tradition, with special attention given to drawing parallels with Lovecraft’s experiences in New York and showing his linkages with some of the same roots as psychogeography has.

Haden does not, as far as I can see, bother to define “psychogeography” for the unititatied,[9] but the closest he comes might be his discussion of the later Situationist concept of the dérive:

The practice of the dérive might then best be summarised as: the seeking out of tenuous atmospheres, sediments of history, unfrequented routes, during the semi-random pedestrian examination of urban streetscapes. Knowledge gained from this activity can psychologically transform urban spaces, and usefully reveal points of potential playful action.

Haden connects HPL both to his predecessors — from writers of his beloved 18th century such as Defore, through De Quincey, to his 19th-century idol Poe[10] — as well as to the nearly contemporary Surrealists,[11] and the later Situationists, who “also engaged in some highly influential night walks they called dérives in the later 1950s.”

The connection to the surrealist Aragon, some six years before the latter’s Paris Peasant appeared, is especially intriguing:

So it seems to me that Lovecraft’s project, if such it can be called, had somewhat similar impulses and ideas to that of Aragon and the early surrealists: the attempt to find a new way to act upon the world through literature that would be as potent as the original gothic novel had so obviously been; his attempt to reconcile secular reason with the yearning for the supernatural and alien; the seeking of the unfamiliar in the familiar fabric of the everyday urban world; the focus on uncovering the antique contradictions in modernity and finding a ‘northwest passage’ between the ancient and the modern; the emphasis on spatial atmospheres as links to the sense of the uncanny; the strong belief in the incompleteness of man’s grasp upon the real world; in the insistence on trying to speak the unspeakable through a fresh and dynamic language that could break with the tired style of the Victorian past; the attempt to develop new types of creative works that arise from ‘bad’ and ‘vulgar’ commercial taste but which would transcend those tastes.

There is much to reflect on here. “[T]he strong belief in the incompleteness of man’s grasp upon the real world” as well as “the attempt to develop new types of creative works that arise from ‘bad’ and ‘vulgar’ commercial taste but which would transcend those tastes” could both describe the understanding, or ‘picture,’ I’ve been developing and promoting, in the essays now collected in The Eldritch Evola . . . & Others, of a Lovecraft whose usefulness both metapolitical and metaphysical far transcends any notion of “spooky stories.”

Regarding the horror tale as a vehicle for taking action on the world — compare Vance’s notion of the role of the Necronomicon as critique of Modernity — Haden notes that the Situationists sought to do so through their famous slogans:

And how different were these [the famous slogans of May 1968] really from Lovecraft’s own cosmicism, ‘imprinted’ via his stories into places through being distributed to the youthful masses via the potent means of the pulp magazines? And what of these Situationist phrases from the walls of Paris . . . ?

“We see things only as we are constructed to see them”

“Penetrate the common veil of obvious empiricism”

“In my dreams I found a little of the beauty I had vainly sought in life”

“Possibilities are even more hideous than realities”

Actually these are all from H.P. Lovecraft. But they could so easily have been passed off as SI slogans from the walls of Paris in 1968.

Another of those slogans, “Beneath the pavement, the beach,” is one I’ve frequently used myself to epitomize the idea of archeofuturism, which could also be described as “uncovering the antique contradictions in modernity and finding a ‘northwest passage’ between the ancient and the modern.”[12] We find a clear symbol or parallel to archeofuturism in what Haden calls “‘eruptive’ traces of the past that can invade the present in various forms.”

We might see such an ‘eruptive’ past emerging into horror fiction form in the hideously metamorphosed American Indians in New York, in Lovecraft’s short story “He” (1925), written in the hours after an intense all-night solo walk in Manhattan. One can also see the idea fundamentally structuring his earlier “The Rats In The Walls” (1923) where important structures are built atop one other on the same site over the centuries and millennia.

As Haden correctly notes, had HPL “been a card-carrying leftist, he would no doubt have continued to be feted by such groups to this day.”

Like many psychogeographers, Lovecraft also had a clear ideology and philosophical vision. This was certainly not the ideology of the far left, which seems common to most psychogeographers. But there are striking similarities nevertheless. Like those on the political left, he also railed and chafed against the crassness and alienage of the modern commercial city, and sought to combat it in visionary words. Like the literary pacifist anarchists he engaged in a form of radical idleness — a reluctance toward paid regular work that was an effective refusal of it.

The word he’s looking for is Anarch or Bohemian Tory, or even dandy.[13] He delicately notes that his politics are more understandable:

More understandable if one views fascism as arising as a heretical sect within socialism, and one is aware of the ways that socialism was itself implicated with eugenics and anti-semitism between the wars.

In fact, Haden downplays Lovecraft’s politics and comes close to making him into a latter-day artistic Bohemian like Frederick Rolfe:

He also engaged in the typical bohemian modus operandi of ‘anti-consumption’, happiest with the idea of the city as garden and as museum, as basically free and pleasurable — the free pleasures of the parks, pet shops, the public libraries and museums, the art galleries, street cats, even the joy of lingering in a café over a cheap coffee in the small hours so as to be able to read the free morning-edition papers, and talking with like-minded friends on long night walks. Such free pleasures are, of course, one of the rights and prerogatives of the talented artist. If society refuses to pay now for what it will value only after one’s death, then one is perfectly entitled to sponge upon it mercilessly. Lovecraft did just that, becoming a lifelong expert at getting a free ride and then walking away leaving everyone smiling.

Still, Rolfe at his worst[14] makes a welcome change from the lugubrious notions of the sour Lovecraft hiding away from the world like some New England hermit.

Leaving these theoretical matters aside, the next chapter turns practical: delineating the methods, fifteen in all, by which Lovecraft sought to create his psychogeographical effects. Along with some obvious ones like reading up beforehand, we find such intriguing notions as “Placeability,” defined as

[F]idelity in literary documentation of places, even if fictional elements are uses. Lovecraft uses places in his fiction in such a way as the reader is made to wholly believe in them.

This again suggests the creation of uncanny effects through the accumulation of everyday detail that I’ve attributed to Lovecraft and others.[15]

Another interesting technique is “Taking fragments — and then somehow ‘meditating’ on them off site,” which sounds right up Hakim Bey’s alley. This gets us back to the idea of fiction that can access the past and thereby change the world in the future — at least a little bit. Lovecraft, visiting an old Dutch cemetery in Flatbush, chipped a piece off an old tombstone and later slept with it under his pillow. Meditating on what sort of vengeance might come, he wrote “The Hound” and as a result, tourists visit the spot today.[16]

The next two chapters of trivia (which is not to say, ‘trivial chapters’) provide a fascinating look at the rise and fall of the Pedestrian in New York City — that blessed period before smog and traffic forced him into the shadows, but after the dangers of encountering dead, rotting horses in ones path — as well as a tour of the coffee shops and ice cream parlors frequented by the Lovecraft gang.

The latter includes some news to me — the Double-R diner in Twin Peaks is likely an homage to Lovecraft’s favorite coffee shop! Moreover, it was, back in the day, a well-known “queer meeting place” — lending new meaning to Lovecraft’s poem to the place:

Here may free souls forget the grind
Of busy hour and bustling crowd
And sparkling brightly mind to mind
Display their inmost dreams aloud
—from “On the Double-R Coffee House” (1st February 1925)

as well as these lines in “He”:

. . . uncommunicative artists whose practices do not invite publicity
or the light of day.

Eventually, Haden has to get around to the thorny question of Lovecraft and immigration, since the topic, a constant throughout his published life, reached a kind of crazed crescendo during the stories and letters of his New York Period.[17] Rather than defending or condemning Lovecraft, Haden concentrates on the facts themselves about Lovecraft and his times, and delivers some interesting information.

He was deeply prejudiced against unassimilated immigrants from outside of the English-speaking world, but was far more tolerant of the assimilated Spanish and Portuguese and of what he thought of as ‘pure-blood’ Jews who had abandoned their religion. He married an assimilated Jew and several of his best friends were Jewish. After he returned to Providence he mentored a young Jewish boy who had come to live in the town.

So Lovecraft would be one of those Whites who, however “racial conscious,” would have no problem accepting a Scarlett Johansson as an acceptable mate. To paraphrase Lenny Bruce, you’re on a desert island, and there are two women — Kate Smith, and Natalie Portman. What do you do?

Lovecraft was always generally uncomfortable when in close proximity to black people, such as on the subway, although that feeling seems to have been very common at the time among white people. He was aware of jazz, and once remarked in his New York letters on his awareness of the new cultural forms of theatre then being born in the clubs of Harlem. But he obviously had no interest in seeing or hearing first-hand such developments in urban black culture.

Yes, Lovecraft, for all his nocturnal gallivanting, did not join his equivocal pals from the Double-R and go to Harlem in ermine and pearls. Here we see the limits of Haden’s liberal good-thinking. “At the time” indeed. Today, of course, White people — of the sort Haden associates with — no doubt fail to talk about it, and perhaps vigorously deny it, but any White person with an ounce of common sense knows that Negroes in a subway car — or any closed space — are bad news. This sort of prissy political correctness[18] crops us another time, when Haden channels Ray Bradbury[19] in conjuring up the modern, post-pedestrian urban nightmare (i.e, outside the Gilmore Girls settings he’s no doubt used to):

Lovecraft would not have had to deal with the modern paranoid politics of the sidewalk— in which to be seen daring to walk in many affluent parts of some American cities today is to become marked down immediately as a ‘criminal suspect’, and to find oneself a target for a roving police car pick-up or even a paranoid gun-toting property owner.

Here Haden mixes up two distinct memes: the 1% who are protected from the products of multi-culturalism by gated communities and private security — or perhaps just a vast property on the edge of Montauk, where no Negroes need apply for trailer homes costing $1 million;[20] and on the other hand, the Other White People in the Other Trailer Parks, “clinging to their guns and God”, as Our Dear Leader memorably put it. I must say, it’s a rather surrealistic image Haden invokes, someone like Mike Bloomberg running out on his law, waving his daddy’s Civil War rifle.[21]

Lovecraft’s fears appear to have been triggered more by unfamiliar facial features and noisy behavior than by the actual categories of race.

It would appear then that ‘race’ is more than a ‘social construct.’ In any event, we again see Lovecraft falling into the same category of “reluctant hater” that Greg Johnson has delineated: someone who ignores, or vaguely wishes well, the Others who keep their distance, but rebels when forced — by the multi-culti fanatics, or, in Lovecraft’s case, poverty — to live cheek by jowl with them.[22]

His phobia appears to have been heightened to a near-unbearable pitch of bodily anxiety if he saw such people wearing the ‘flashy’ modern ‘Jazz Age’ American city-clothes of the 1920s, and all together in a loud crowd. He does not seem to have been as concerned by groups who maintained their own ethnic clothing and who went about their business in their own areas — an early New York sight-seeing visit to a Yiddish bookselling district and to Chinatown with George Kirk seems to have intrigued him rather than repelled him.

In short, a Traditionalist, who respects and even delights in The Other as long as they keep to their valid, Traditional ways and neither broke down barriers nor adopted Modernism.[23]

Of course, some Traditions are safer than others:

Lovecraft did, however, denigrate immigrants publically in print, in several of his New York stories, especially “The Horror at Red Hook.” He seems to have been especially concerned for the future of New York City (and by extension, the nation) if it fell into the hands of ‘Asiatic’ immigrants whom he seems to have associated with the historical ‘Mongol hordes’ from the Steppes of Russia rather than with the Japanese or Chinese. Despite the 1924 Immigration Act banning all Asiatic races from eligibility for American citizenship, Lovecraft’s presents a hellish vision of a far-future New York in the short story “He” (1925), in which he clearly conflates Asiatic immigration and religion/occult rites . . .

Talk about failure of vision! I for one welcome our new Asian Overlords, especially when they can displace the Other Ones.

Part two, UNDERGROUND, is sort of a mirror image of the first; here, the topic is the New York subway system, not the surface streets. Even in Antartica, Lovecraft is still in New York City; the Shuggoths of At the Mountains of Madness are:

“a vast, onrushing subway train as one sees it from a station platform”.

Haden also explores literary motifs of New York City as submerged or otherwise decrepit, and suggests how these may have influenced the very image of Cthulhu’s underwater city of R’yleh.

Parallel to the chapter on “Lovecraft and Immigration” is one on the anthropology (so-called) of Franz Boas! Now this is a new one on me, at least:

Lovecraft weaves the character of a charlatan anthropologist into his long New York story “The Horror at Red Hook” (1925). . . . Lovecraft here shows us an ethnographer who conceals ulterior motives under a cloak of respectability. There actually were such cases in the 1910s, and the practice seems to have been quite extensive in the U.S., although of course it would be unfair to tar all such researchers of the period with the same brush.

Haden now explores an “anomaly” about Lovecraft’s scientific interests:

S. T. Joshi crucially points out that while Lovecraft assiduously tried to keep up with most of other advances in scientific knowledge, he did not follow the new ideas on race emerging in anthropology. He knew about and drew upon earlier evolutionary, eugenicist, and scientific racialist thinking in this area, ideas which were very widely publicised and fully worked-out in the 1920s. But Joshi states that Lovecraft completely ignored the new race theory work of those early thinkers such as the Columbia professor of anthropology Franz Boas (1858-1942) who — in a rather contradictory and antiquated manner — had in the 1910s and 1920s begun the effort of undermining racist frameworks in science. S. T. Joshi ascribes this ignorance, specifically of the new Boasian anthropology after 1930, to Lovecraft’s own conscious racialist prejudices and beliefs.

Why Lovecraft, or anyone else, should have paid attention to, much less overturned their own well-established beliefs — or “prejudices” — in response to, ideas that were, however “well publicised,” presented in a “contradictory and antiquated manner” is not obvious to me. First, though, Haden suggest a more interesting reason for Lovecraft’s disdain than Joshi’s tired old “prejudices” line:

The combination of dream analysis and anthropological discovery in “The Call of Cthulhu,” and the depiction of the pseudo-anthropologist in “The Horror at Red Hook,” seem to be contradictory. This apparent contradiction now points the way to an interesting line of further investigation. Did Lovecraft associate the new type of ethnographic anthropologists then emerging in the early/mid 1920s with what he understood to be quasi-mystics in psychology/psychoanalysis? He could have. There had certainly been much talk of “psychological anthropology” in the 1910s and 20s, including from Franz Boas himself, which must have served to muddy [the] waters in terms of causing the intelligent layman to conflate the new psychology / psychoanalysis and the new ethnography.

Lovecraft, in short, disdained the “new” anthropology because, to a hard-headed materialistic scientist like himself, it seemed to be hardly distinguishable from the “mystical” nonsense of Freud and Jung. On the other hand, as Haden documents, “The Call of Cthulhu” also shows Lovecraft exploring the idea of becoming an anthropologist himself (the field, at the time, was still open to the kind of gentlemen amateur he took himself to be), though of the scientific sort.

What’s interesting here is that Lovecraft was right. Boasian anthropology, like Freudian psychoanalysis, is all bosh. As Haden admits,

On the apparent tendency for these new anthropologist ethnographers to distort and mislead, see the later hot debates over Malinowski’s diaries, and the fieldwork of Margaret Mead, among others. Boas also faked some of his Eskimo photographs. There was also criticism of the scholarship of Margaret Murray from the early 1960s.

[T]here does seem to be support for Lovecraft’s skepticism from at least one modern scholar of the history of such ideas in America: “its central methodological values have long been sustained by stories and beliefs that have something of the character of myth”

As I pointed out in my review of Harman,[24] Lovecraft’s “racism” can’t be whitewashed by some po-mo gambit such as “ironically, the real horror arises from the ignorant racism of his protagonists” since it’s precisely their “racism” that is the least ignorant, most scientific aspect of them. The “irony” lies in their never the less falling victim to the unknown.

Haden seems to know that modern “anthropology” is a fraud, but he’s too careful to entirely vindicate Lovecraft. Some of us, though, have evolved a very different understanding of the whole setup,[25] and can appreciate how Lovecraft’s “racism” prevented him from falling victim to two of the greatest Jewish pseudo-scientific, anti-White cults of them all.[26]

Lovecraft may have considered himself a ‘scientist’ or a ‘materialist,” but more profoundly, he was simply a man who stuck the evidence of his senses. It helped his science, of course, by making him profoundly suspicious of Judaic “big ideas” and abstruse, abstract flim-flammery. It also made him not only a “conservative”[27] but also inclined him to the technique of minute observation which he used not only on his psycho-geographical expeditions, but in constructing his unique approach to horror fiction: creating the sense of ultimate horror not out of spooks and vampires but out of the careful accumulation of everyday details.

Stylistically, Haden is workmanlike but manages to convey his enthusiasm for all aspects of Lovecraftiana. He does appear addicted to the word “seems,” (Postum “seems to have been a sort of decaf coffee substitute, before decaf”; well, was it?), and the text would have benefited from better proofreading (“Stopes trial” for instance, or “muddy to waters” which I corrected in the quote above). The kindle is well formatted, allowing you to move easily from text to footnotes and back again (unlike, as I noted before, Vance’s text); however, though each chapter gives you the option to go back to the table of contents, there is, curiously, no option to pull up the table of contents at any given point (there must be an easier way to say that, but kindle readers know whereof I speak).

Overall, highly recommended for fans of Lovecraft, or those steam-punkers interested in the development of early 20th century street culture, especially in New York City, and especially for those Traditionalists or alt-Righters interested in learning from the Master how to use archeo-futurism to conjure up a more interesting world.

Notes

[1] Get your footwear here.

[2] Internationale Situationniste, 1958-1969, No.1 & 2. Editions Champ Libre, 1975

[3] See “Lovecraft’s Lost Labors: The Origin & Function of the Necronomicon”, my review of his The Dread and Portent of Lovecraft’s Necronomicon: Horror Fiction as Socio-historical Commentary, here.

[4] Another similarity, both works are available free online (download the pdf here ) and, again, those those who approve of courtesy (at least) to living authors are advised to buy a paperback copy here or get it for the Kindle. He’s also had the excellent idea of providing a “1000 word plain English summary,” which other authors might well emulate.

[5] Haden somewhat oddly calls it “that famous ‘ground zero’ of the impact of the truly modern world.”

[6] Conveniently collected as From the Pest Zone: The New York Stories By H. P. Lovecraft, edited by S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz (Hippocampus, 2005).

[7] My take on “He” and Lovecraft’s nocturnal strolls in New York can be found in my own 2011 essay “The Princess and the Maggot,” here and reprinted in The Eldritch Evola . . . & Others (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014)

[8] Still, “Boston had only a basic three-station subway. For this reason I am inclined to think that “Nyarlathotep” reflects more of Lovecraft’s ‘dream New York’, a “great” city he had not yet visited but whose subways he would certainly have read about.”

[9] He suggests the reader consult Merlin Coverley’s Psychogeography, 2nd ed. (Pocket Essentials, 2010).

[10] Haden notes that Lovecraft’s more recent master of the weird tale, Arthur Machen, has also been classed as a “proto-psychogeographer” and drew an explicit connection between his midnight rambles — his “London Science” which made of walking a “systematic and experimental practice,” in Haden’s words — and the composition of weird fantasy.

[11] “I refer, of course, to the famous surrealist texts such as the nocturnal walks recorded in Louis Aragon’s Paris Peasant (1926), one of the central and earliest seminal works of literary surrealism, walks that were contemporaneous with the night walks of Lovecraft and his circle in New York.” Similar works would follow, such as Breton’s Nadja and Soupault’s Les Dernieres Nuits de Paris in 1928.

[12] See Michael O’Meara’s “Foreword to Guillaume Faye’s Archeofuturism,” here.

[13] See “Right-Wing Anarchism” by Karlheinz Weißman, here, for a typology. I’ve noted Jere Real’s application of Russell Kirk’s idea of the “Bohemian Tory” to Noël Coward here — reprinted in The Homo and the Negro (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012), and applied it myself to “Ralph Adams Cram, Wild Boy of American Architecture” here — reprinted in The Eldritch Evola . . . & Others.

[14] Although Corvo never mastered the art of leaving the suckers with a smile; see A. J. A. Symons’ legendary and classic The Quest For Corvo (1932) and, more recently, Johan Kugelberg’s 2003 essay “Baron Corvo: The Greatest Asshole Who Ever Lived” in Alpha & Omega, a collection of reprints of rare ephemera and a facsimile of Cecil Woolf and Timothy d’Arch Smith’s exhibit catalogue for the landmark 1960 exhibition at the Marylebone Library in London issued — in an edition of 100, bound dos-à-dos in letterpress boards, and enclosed in a hand stamped lavender envelope — to celebrate the Death Centenary of Baron Corvo in 2013. “Rolfe was convinced that his path to glory, seemingly assured by his talents, was barred by a loose cabal of publishers, landladies, ex-friends and, above all, English Catholics. A toxic combination of paranoia, entitlement and narcissism made Rolfe his own greatest enemy and a lot of other people’s greatest enemy as well. Even at this juncture it is possible to imagine a correspondent’s despondence on receiving a letter addressed in Rolfe’s idiosyncratic script, a catalogue of sufferings wherein his righteous rage would break free of standard vocabulary to leave him spluttering neologisms. Rolfe was in effect writing his own hagiography, meticulously detailing the wrongs suffered with saintly patience at the hands of heathens that we the living may burn with his fury and beg for his forgiveness.” — “Papal bull” by James Conway (July 22, 2010), here.

[15] See the title essay of The Eldritch Evola regarding Lovecraft, Henry James, and Baron Evola.

[16] On the subject of changing the world, Haden, whose politics seem mundane, though willing to question the usefulness of the Situationists’ ’60s-style “revolutionary” rhetoric, has one moment of pedestrian political goodthinking when he notes that “At the moment when Lovecraft was formulating ‘The Call of Cthulhu,’ Hitler was publishing his own ‘horror’ book, Mein Kampf — which would indeed change the world.“ Who, in 1925, would regard a book about the necessity of uniting Austria and Germany and returning the latter to its pre-War borders as ‘horror’ is unclear to me — French chauvinists and irredentists? Dead-ender supporters of the Versailles Treaty? Moreover, lost here is the change to perform the interesting exercise of actually comparing the contents and methodologies of political and — in this case, horror — genre fiction. As I suggest in the title essay of The Eldritch Evola, if the respectable political thought of Baron Evola is entwined with his “mystical pseudo-history,” perhaps we should re-evaluate the latter rather than reject the former; so, rather than “fascist tendencies” smearing Lovecraft, perhaps our appreciation of Lovecraft should lead us to re-appreciate . . . fascism. To paraphrase C. S. Lewis, a Good Liberal can’t be too careful about his reading.

[17] See, again, my essay “The Princess and the Maggot.” Michel Houllebecq actually attributes Lovecraft’s finding his mature literary voice to the effects of his white-hot racial hatred; see his H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life (McSweeney’s Books, 2005).

[18] It reminds me of James Gould Cozzens’ Men and Brethren, where the author expects us to approve of the protagonist, a free-thinking and -living Episcopal priest, as he arranges abortions and parties hard all night with sinners, but reveals his secret shame when he flinches as a rowdy group of Negroes (the “youths” of today’s news reports) enter his subway car. Oh Lord, forgive our weaknesses!

Or, more recently, Joyce Carol Oates, who — among many examples over a long career — writes of a White girl followed by a black man down a dark street, who turns out to be, of course, an … angel; she’s a unconscious racist, you see.  See “Joyce Carol Oates’ Scorched-Earth Campaign For A Nobel Prize” by Nicholas Stix, Vdare.com,September 12, 2014, here.

[19] See “The Pedestrian,” included in the collection The Golden Apples of the Sun (1953).

[20] “Mobile Home Park on the Atlantic Appeals to the Rich; On Long Island, Tiny Plots at Montauk Shores Selling for Close to $1 Million,” New York Times, August 25, 2014, here.

[21] In the real world, Mike, while grabbing our guns, boasts of being protected by “My Own Army,” New York Observer, Nov. 30, 2011, here.

[22] See the title essay of Reflections of a Reluctant Hater (Counter-Currrents, 2011)

[23] Lovecraft’s antipathy seemed to be assuaged by situations Hilaire Belloc called “segregation by mutual arrangement”: “’recognition, with mutual advantage, of a reality which is unavoidable by other party.’ Societal recognition would involve a scenario wherein ‘the Jews on their side shall openly recognize their wholly separate nationality and we on ours shall equally recognize that separate nationality, treat it without reserve as an alien thing, and respect it as a province of society outside our own.’ Belloc powerfully concludes his opening chapter by arguing that: ‘If the Jewish nation comes to express its own pride and patriotism openly, and equally openly to admit the necessary limitations imposed by that expression; if we on our side frankly accept the presence of this nation as a thing utterly different from ourselves but with just as good a right to existence as we have; if we renounce our pretences in the matter; if we talk of and recognize the Jewish people freely and without fear as a separate body; if upon both sides the realities of the situation are admitted, with the consequent and necessary definitions which those realities imply, we shall have peace.’” Andrew Joyce, “Reflections on Hilaire Belloc’s “The Jews” (1922) [Part One of Three];” Occidental Observer, September 17, 2014, here.

[24] “’A General Outline of the Whole’: Lovecraft as Heideggerian Event,” here and in The Eldritch Evola.

[25] “Before the rise of Boasian anthropology in the 1920s and 1930s, Western anthropologists posited a direct correlation between external racial traits and internal psychological traits…. As Kevin MacDonald points out in The Culture of Critique, this approach was largely abandoned after World War II with the rise of Boasian anthropology which was instrumental in totally suppressing evolutionary theory in the social sciences. . . . the Jewish historian Norman Cantor noted how “Since 1945 and more intensively since the 1960s all forms of racialist thinking are excluded from rational and enlightened discourse, especially in the United States, where the liberal civil libertarians have made racial doctrine intrinsically wrong, evil, and undiscussable.” The reason for this exclusion is that “modern anthropology, as defined the German-Jewish expatriate Franz Boas, for three decades head of the anthropology department at Columbia University, declared nineteenth-century race theory without foundation.” Cantor admitted that “this behavioral egalitarianism and universality was itself an ideology,” and that the Boasians never actually disproved social-Darwinian race theory, but rather insisted that it be “excluded from civil discourse as a result of what the Nazis and other such hate-mongering groups did with it.” This new ideology represented a radical shift in Jewish thinking given that race, racial purity, and the reality of ethnic interests lie at the heart of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy.” See “Jews and Race: A Pre-Boasian Perspective, Part 1” by Brenton Sanderson, The Occidental Observer, February 1, 2012, here.

[26] “With this and the rise of the National Socialists in Germany, it became clear that White ethnocentrism and group cohesion was bolstered by hierarchic social-Darwinian race theory, and that this was antithetic to Jewish ethnic interests. The overthrow of this theory (and the resultant diminution of white ethnocentrism and group cohesion) was, as Kevin MacDonald points out, an ethno-political campaign that had nothing to do with real science. The “shift away from Darwinism as the fundamental paradigm of the social sciences” resulted from “an ideological shift rather than the emergence of any new empirical data” (CofC, p. 21).” — op. cit.

[27] Of a sort; see HPL’s The Conservative: The Complete Issues 1915–1923 (London: Arktos, 2013) and Kerry Bolton’s “Lovecraft’s Politics” here.

 

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6 Comments

  1. Jaego
    Posted September 22, 2014 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    I saw two guys with hairy backs today with a bunch of kids. One of the kids was older and weirder. Once he spoke, I realized it was female. I think it was the wife of one of the guys. Lovecraft’s vision is not mere metaphor (though that too), but reality. Once pure types are lost, the flesh begins to decay and revert back to something else. But what? Do we really want to know? Some things are best left unknown. Innsmouth is spreading to all of America now. If one can marry a Sophie, where do we draw the line? What’s next? Lascars? Cape Brava Portuguese?

    Individual evolution is accomplished within the Race. As Lin Yutang and William Simpson said, a bit of out breeding between close ethnes can be advantageous every now and then. Lin Yutang felt that the Mongols had enriched the Chinese. But mixture between the major races just unravels the whole work of evolution.

  2. Jaego
    Posted September 22, 2014 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    Under the pavement, the beach. And on the beach, the thing. As Chechar says, we must choose: the maiden looking up to the stars or the thing on the beach.

    HPL was not a healthy man, no more than Peter Lamborn Wilson or Jim Goad is. But we can forgive him his trespass with Sophie. That’s different than saying there was no trespass…

  3. Peter Quint
    Posted September 22, 2014 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    I am reading “The Ancient Track” at this time and I much prefer Lovecraft’s prose to his poetry. This is the only reason I place Poe slightly above Lovecraft.

  4. meh
    Posted September 21, 2014 at 3:24 am | Permalink

    “To paraphrase Lenny Bruce, you’re on a desert island, and there are two women — Kate Smith, and Natalie Portman. What do you do?”

    You do ’em both. Because opportunity. The Jewish problem is primarily one of memes and not genes anyway.

    “Yes, Lovecraft, for all his nocturnal gallivanting, did not join his equivocal pals from the Double-R and go to Harlem in ermine and pearls.”

    Inspecting with Van Vechten.

    “Talk about failure of vision! I for one welcome our new Asian Overlords, especially when they can displace the Other Ones.”

    You forget, perhaps, that “Asia” also includes West Asia – and Lovecraft was probably not referring to Chinese or Japanese when he refers to “Asiatics”. In the early 20th century, it was not uncommon to use “Asiatic” to refer to Jews, or even Russians, in the sense that “Asia” could mean anything east of Europe, and in the cultural sense “Europe” (that is, Western civilization) more or less ends where Russia begins (especially after Russia’s Westernized upper classes were exterminated). So, “Asiatic” as in “Mongol Hordes” as in “Bolshevik Russia” as in “Jewish Communists”, is probably closer to what Lovecraft meant.

    • James O'Meara
      Posted September 22, 2014 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      RE: Asiatics. Haden is actually more detailed about them than my little quip would indicate. He sorts them out, but concludes that ‘Asiatics’ for Lovecraft basically meant ‘occult practitioners’ rather than any actual ethnic group as such.

    • James O'Meara
      Posted September 22, 2014 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Re Bruce.

      It has seemed to me, at least after becoming racial-conscious, that the Bruce Dilemma (which originally was Kate Smith and Lena Horne) highlights the difference btw Judaic erotomania (you do, if you prefer that verb, Portman for pleasure), vs. the White man perceiving his duty to preserve the race. But that only works if you’re not just on a desert island but the last people on Earth, a la some Corman movie. And in reality,yes, both.

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