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The Horror! The Horror!
Reflections on the H. P. Lovecraft Award

2,790 words

award [1]Editor’s Note:

Because the PC Terror wishes to do away with the H. P. Lovecraft World Fantasy Award, Counter-Currents/North American New Right is inaugurating a new H. P. Lovecraft Prize for Literature. The first award will be given when we have a suitable bust and prize money, probably next August 20th, Lovecraft’s birthday. Nobody ever asked if Lovecraft would feel slighted by giving this hideous bust to no-talent PC hacks like Nnedi Okorafar. We will do the master proud. 

When I heard that there was some controversy about the H. P. Lovecraft award[1] — not the awardee, but the award itself: “Authors say statuette of the notorious science fiction author is inappropriate to honour modern sci-fi and fantasy writers” — I naturally thought it involved the god-awful look of the thing. Good Lord, couldn’t they have dug up Clark Ashton Smith?[2]

The board of the World Fantasy awards has said that it is “in discussion” about its winners’ statuette, modelled on the late HP Lovecraft, after calls for the trophy to be changed due to Lovecraft’s “fundamental racism.”

Over the past four decades, the prestigious fantasy prize has been won by writers including Michael Moorcock, Gene Wolfe and Haruki Murakami. It comes in the shape of a bust of Lovecraft, the creator of the Cthulhu mythos and prolific writer of weird fiction, who — 2011’s best novel winner Nnedi Okorafor was stunned to discover — was also the author of a poem that concludes with a description of black people as “a beast . . . in semi-human figure . . . filled . . . with vice.” [2]

For my part, I was merely intrigued to discover there was a Lovecraft-shaped award, but truly stunned to learn that someone named “Nnedi Okorafor” exists on this planet. Surely she should have received the award for her Cthulhulian-themed name alone?

Now her fellow author Daniel José Older has launched a petition [3] calling for the organisers of the prize to make the late African-American science fiction writer Octavia Butler [4] the inspiration for the statue rather than Lovecraft.

Ah, “José,” now we’re on familiar grievance territory. What a surprise, José and Nnedi have been offended, and only the total replacement of the old white man with a young, vibrant, diverse — though equally dead — African American will assuage them; as a bonus, she seems to have actually written some science fiction, so there!

That Lovecraft was a “racist” was quite well known — which gives the cries of outraged innocence on the part of the awardees something of a Capt. Renault aspect.[3] In fact, I’ve reviewed right here two books just in the last two weeks that cover the issue with more or less completeness.[4]

Without rehearsing the whole argument, I’ve speculated, there and elsewhere, that Lovecraft’s non-liberalism (which, for reasons we’ll get to, is necessarily perceived by the Liberal as “racism” and even “outright fascism”) was essentially tied up with his literary production. Lovecraft was a man who hewed closely to what his senses could report — his famous “scientism” and “agnosticism,” in imitation of his beloved 18th-century English models, culminating in his doctrine of “cosmicism.” This not only kept him immune to the fancy theories and idealisms of the Liberal, it was also the key to his unique approach to weird fiction — the production of horror by the careful accumulation of details, fabrication of factual reports, etc.

I wouldn’t perhaps go so far as to say that to be a great fantasy writer, or even just a good horror writer, you need to be a Rightist or even a “conservative” — but a glance at the titans of the field, up to and including Lovecraft, shows that it wouldn’t hurt.

Liberalism, by contrast, is an Idea — an Idealism, they might proudly say — which neither arises from contemplating reality, nor is subject to rebuff from reality. The only thing you can do with an Idea is spin out the logical consequences, come Hell or high water, while holding fast to the original Idea — that’s “integrity.”

As Marx summed it up, philosophers have hitherto only sought to understand the world, but the point is to change it.[5]

This has two consequences; first, as the Idea develops in History (hmm, maybe Marx wasn’t such a bad follower of Hegel), loyal servants and followers of the idea — ideologues, if you will — fall behind, as the Idea becomes progressively (see what I did there?) developed. Thus, David Lebedoff’s The Same Man: George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh in Love and War (Random House, 2008), explored the odd fact that not only were Orwell and Waugh friends, they actually agreed on most everything, except the remedy.[6]

Both men came by different routes to the view that the Modern Age would be faithless, and consequently something essential would be missing from our lives, displaced but not replaced by hedonism. . . . Neither Orwell nor Waugh saw in the modern Age the steady upward progress so comforting to H. G. Wells. They saw instead a bottomless abyss, which one man believed could be escaped in the next world, and the other resolutely sought to bridge.

Today, of course, the two would literally not be able to sit in the same room together – 21st Century Orwell (Chrissy Hitchens, for example) would stump out, as a point of honor. That’s the second point: deviation from the idea — even by an earlier partisan — is unacceptable, tout court. As Ayn Rand — another Idea person posing as a Rightist –would say, “A is A.”

Sometimes, one can take some Schadenfreude in the effect. That Mark Twain, that complete literary phony — he lectured his “fellow Southerners” on slavery from his mansion in Connecticut — should now be the poster child for “ray-zism” is a sweet irony.

Not only is deviation totally unacceptable, but the deviant is himself totally unacceptable. That’s the second point.[7]

So it should come as no surprise that the Lovecraft Award is perceived as “inappropriate” (that Liberal weasel word beloved of school administrators) for the likes of a China Miéville’, whose very name indicates that his (her?) parents were stone cold revolutionaries who must have offed a lot of pigs when not listening to Jefferson Airplane albums.[8]

The pro-ban comments under The Guardian article are quite breath-taking in their stupidity, are they not? Good Lord, why isn’t it just sufficient to point out that the “racism” is irrelevant to his achievement, or that if we applied that standard, everyone would be banned? Right, because logic has nothing to do with it, it’s just an emotional tantrum when faced with disagreement, even from the past. And that’s why it never stops; give in to these people on anything and they just come back with more.

Equality, egalitarianism, whatever you call it, being a purely abstract, logical notion, can have no empirical or common-sensical limit, only the logic limit of complete equality, leaving anything less indistinguishable from Total Evil. (Not for nothing is every new world villain dubbed “The New Hitler”; you might think this associating The Greatest Evil with some tin-pot dictator cheapen the former, but actually, it’s strictly logical: any deviation from The Plan is Total Evil). Auschwitz or a “racist” letter of H. P. Lovecraft: same thing.

What’s interesting is how you can see the list of un-persons growing right before your eyes. Take S. T. Joshi, the pre-eminent Lovecraft scholar (to an extent, the only one), who has, of course, devoted a good deal of work to documenting and also — note, also — contextualizing it. Here are his sane words:

[T]he significant question [is] whether racism should be regarded as so much more significant a moral, intellectual, and personal flaw than many other stances one could name”, and [it would be absurd to think] that Lovecraft’s undeniable racism somehow negates his immense talents as a writer and also negates the many virtues – intellectual, aesthetic, and personal – that he displayed over his life.

Scholarly cred aside, you might think that being an East Indian immigrant, settled in New York City and practicing his own brand of miscegenation, would give Joshi a pass. No way; the author of the article can’t wait to clear his palate — and the reader’s mind — with a stiff does of New Reality:

A Salon article by the writer Laura Miller [5] saw the self-avowed Lovecraft fan write that . . . : “When Joshi writes, ‘If Nnedi Okorafor and China Miéville [another WFA winner who objects to the trophy] are so offended at owning the WFA, they should simply return it and be done with the matter,’ he is essentially telling writers like Okorafor that they must accept an honour from that community in the form of a man who considered [black people] to be ‘semi-human’ and filled ‘with vice’. Suck it up, or get out. I’m pretty sure this is not the message the World Fantasy Convention meant to send when they gave Okorafor the prize in the first place.”

Take that, Mr. Man! Sisters are standing up for each other, word!

Next up, Tolkien:

Tolkein gets a surprisingly easy ride given that his books are not simply racist but describe a world where racism is fully justified by underlying reality.

Truly, we are through the looking-glass now, kids (I suppose an appropriate place to find “fantasy” writers). Tolkien, another fact-man though somewhat distorted by his religion (Tolkien and Lovecraft, same man?) is even more insidious than Lovecraft, since he creates a fantasy world that works just like the real one — which isn’t, of course, like the Ideal World of Equality. Perhaps this explains the popularity of “fantasy” fiction — the hunger people feel for some contact with reality, otherwise absent from what meets them in the classroom or the TV news channel.

So what’s the take-away? Just suck it up? No, let’s make this what our oppressors would call (another school administrator word) “a learning experience.” Just as there are two aspects this Thermidor of the Fantasy Writers, there are two lessons to be taken away (though not necessarily a matching set).

First, they do, as Miss Miller suggests, just need to suck it up. We, on the other hand, need to go back to the “bad old days” when professional organizations, at least, were “of course” white and male. Yes, I know, just as there are Negro rocket scientists (as in, “What, some Negroes are smart? Why, I never considered that objection to my ignorant racism. Thank you, Lefty, for enlightening me!”) and women of the Right (from Savitri Devi to Gwendolyn von Taunton), a glance at the two main instigators, and their proposed remedy — replacing HPL with Otavia Butler, who wasn’t even a fantasy writer but was a you-know-what which is, literally, all that matters — shows the validity of that law someone or other proposed (Robert Michels?): any organization not explicitly Rightist will, over time, become Leftist. It’s not like we haven’t found ways to accommodate them before. Let the Negroes form their own organization — they have some damn fine writers, I hear — and let the ladies form their own, non-voting, auxiliary.

Secondly, respond first, get in the first blow. The best defense is a good offense,[9] and it does cut out all the tedious Kabuki show that everyone is bored with but can‘t figure out how to get rid of. Rip the bandage off for yourself. Don’t wait to be denounced, step up now.

They’re going to call you “the new Hitler.” We’re heading for a time when all of us will be “the new Hitlers.” So you might just as well say “In fact, I do rather like Hitler; he made some mistakes but had some good ideas” and be done with it.

Take the Chinese for your models. Do they apologize to the world for Mao, or even to each other? Like the Chinese, unlike the Germans, we haven’t lost yet. Yet everyone, from McCain types to Mel Gibson types, just tries to grovel and apologize for “this one time.” Will that stop the Nuremberg II Trials to come?

Don’t just call for a return to the culture of Mad Men and hope to fly under the radar, strike first: why not just call the book The Homo and the Negro?

The truth is, as one hears from time to time, “multi-culti is anti-white.” They don’t really want multi-culti, they want white people to die. As Paul Kersey has pounded out on his invaluable blog [6], the Liberal project can best be summed up by dialogue from the 1996 movie Independence Day. With humanity on the verge of extinction, a downed alien pilot is questioned as to the motives of the extraterrestrial invaders [7]:

President: I know there is much to learn from each other if we can make a truce. We can find a way to coexist. Can there be a peace between us?

Alien: Peace? NO PEACE!

President: What is it you want us to do?

Alien: Die . . . Die.

No sex-changed award, no amount of money will be enough for reparations (although the Israelis will be glad to accept billions in perpetuity); we must die.

Wouldn’t you rather go like this [8]?

Don’t wait to actually be put on trial; as Baron Evola said in his Auto-Defensa [9], our ideas are simple the common sense of an educated person (well, dead White man) before the French Revolution (the beginning of the Liberal Idea in Action); if we are “fascists” and “racists,“ then so is every great mind from Plato to . . . Lovecraft.

Notes

1. “World Fantasy awards pressed to drop H. P. Lovecraft trophy in racism row; Authors say statuette of the notorious science fiction author is inappropriate to honour modern sci-fi and fantasy writers,” — Alison Flood, theguardian.com, Wednesday 17 September 2014, here [10].

2. HPL would have been, well, horrified at the idea of reproducing busts of himself and handing them out to these writer johnnies. He viewed his physiognomy as a poor job at best, ever since his mother began explaining to folks that he stayed indoors because he was “so hideous” that he might frighten others.. See, for example, Joshi’s discussion in A Dreamer and a Visionary: H.P. Lovecraft in His Time, online here [11]. Modern writers just pile on: “Lovecraft himself had a slightly deformed jaw, and so appears to have had ugly ingrown facial hairs in his later youth”; see Walking With Cthulhu: H. P. Lovecraft as Psychogeographer, New York City, 1924–26 by David Haden (Kindle, 2011), note 167; reviewed on Counter-Currents here [12].

3. Captain Renault: “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” View it here [13].

4. In addition to the Haden book in Note 2, see my review of G. Warlock Vance, The Dread and Portent of Lovecraft’s Necronomicon: Horror Fiction as Socio-historical Commentary (Amazon Kindle, 2014), here [14] .

5. The all-pervading nature of the disease can be shown by comparing this bromide with the infamous comments of a “White House insider” during the run-up to Gulf War I: “The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” . . .  “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.” Ron Suskind, “Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush,” [15] The New York Times Magazine, October 17, 2004. Similarly, Liberal economists like Paul Krugman respond to the abject failure of the Fed’s QE by calling for . . . more QE. The classic example, of course, was the constant search for some place, somewhere, where Communism “was truly implemented”; failure meant, simply, that it hadn’t been really tried, and the search moved on to a new location.

6. See my earlier comments here [16].

7. Just as the sneer about the “reality based community” is likely to derive from Leo Strauss, via the neo-cons (ex-Trotskyites, of course, searching for yet another place to “truly implement” Communism), so one might find here the problem Carl Schmitt diagnosed in liberal humanitarianism: while preaching “peace,“ the enemy, as the enemy of progress, rationality, human rights, etc, is now perceived as totally evil, totally non-human, and both requiring, and deserving, total annihilation, thus making Liberal wars more bloodthirsty than any previous.

8. As mentioned before [17], Miéville’s whining about Lovecraft’s “racism” in the Modern Library edition of At the Mountains of Madness led me to, for the very first time, actually tear pages out of a book. I felt rather like Nabokov, literally trashing a poorly translated book before his Cornell class.

9. English guy, discussing a PR campaign: “Give it to ‘em, and hard!” Crow T. Robot: “Lord Knute Rockne!” MST3k Episode 808, The She-Creature, here [18].