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Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 11 October, 2019 11:19AM
This is the branch that Dale had requested if one should wish to discuss Lovecraft's internal tension between the spiritual and the material in his worldview. I'd like to introduce the idea that the spiritual (I'm using this as a handy label to include the magical, the mysterious as opposed to granular materialism) exists perhaps as a remnant of "childhood wonder".

I'll admit up front that I find modern materialism to be the most satisfying foundation for my interface with life. This is to say, very simplistically, for sake of clarity, that every situation requiring a workable solution, or barring that, a new course of action, has had its best solution spring from the material, analytical approach, rather than the spiritual.

This is to say, that living in the world that presents itself to me, daily, for damned near 72 years now, I've had optimal success by taking the materialist approach. And I'll define "success" in this instance as "meeting personal goals for deep and lasting satisfaction."

This is not to say that the spiritual in mankind does not exist, but rather it is a separate domain in which the hypothetical is unlimited by practical constraints.

As I write this, now, before my morning triple brevé has fully taken hold, I see the sub-elements of the topic broadening before us--expanding like nebulae in the void--faster than we can discuss it, making it hard to form a meaningful exchange. But perhaps we might start by considering aspects of the following.

Assuming that the spiritual view, as represented by the putative views of Machen or Blake, exists and is accepted as either an alternate reality, or a complementary aspect of daily life, what *is* it, exactly? From whence did it arrive, and what is its nativity in the psyche of mankind?

I can see the possibility of strongly differing opinions, here, and I do not mean to ascribe some form of absolute superiority to one aspect or the other: I'm not purporting that the base materialistic view is superior to the spiritual, the magical, the mystic--or vice versa. But they come from different places, and serve differing needs, I feel pretty certain.

Your opinions, fellow-readers?

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 11 October, 2019 12:24PM
I think HPL saw materialism with horrific clarity, and saw that it could not be a foundation for much of anything. He wrote fiction more to escape from it than to embody it. But the tension between materialism and his aesthetic preferences does indeed influence his fiction.

I am not a materialist. You don't say you are one either. But you do say that materialism is the most satisfying foundation for your interface with life. That is meaningless to me. Materialism, as I understand it, is incapable of supporting any philosophic basis for any system of value, and therefore cannot recommend one approach to life over another.

You mention childhood wonder. This is one of the many aspects of the human experience (like consciousness, morality, or any sense of purpose, sense of value, or sense of satisfaction) that cannot be validated by materialist philosophy. By the foregoing, I do not mean that materialism cannot explain these things, or explain them away. I merely mean it cannot endow them with any validity or value. Certainly, materialism can say nothing about the value of a literary work.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 11 October, 2019 01:05PM
Platypus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I think HPL saw materialism with horrific clarity,
> and saw that it could not be a foundation for much
> of anything. He wrote fiction more to escape from
> it than to embody it. But the tension between
> materialism and his aesthetic preferences does
> indeed influence his fiction.
>
> I am not a materialist. You don't say you are one
> either. But you do say that materialism is the
> most satisfying foundation for your interface with
> life. That is meaningless to me. Materialism, as
> I understand it, is incapable of supporting any
> philosophic basis for any system of value, and
> therefore cannot recommend one approach to life
> over another.

I've mentioned so many times before that I see the world as material that I didn't want to be repetitive.

Nor do I consider materialism or spiritualism/mysticism as a sort of club or church, where one is a member. It's merely the shorthand for describing the basis for which one views the majority of interactions of daily life. I see daily transactions as being rooted in the material world, following physical motivations once they are translated from thought to action. The "thought" part might be considered to be a manifestation of the mystical, or at least the impetus for the initial physical action.

>
> You mention childhood wonder. This is one of the
> many aspects of the human experience (like
> consciousness, morality, or any sense of purpose,
> sense of value, or sense of satisfaction) that
> cannot be validated by materialist philosophy.

Right!

A good question is: does morality as a concept exist outside of the human psyche?

And one might look at the converse: perhaps there is no such validation possible for such as morality, unless it's as an offshoot of a successful evolutionary process.

> By
> the foregoing, I do not mean that materialism
> cannot explain these things, or explain them away.
> I merely mean it cannot endow them with any
> validity or value.

This makes sense to me. I don't tend to see any real absolute validity or value for anything--only that which is arbitrarily assigned by a conscious being.

In short, value is only meaningful to a conscious entity, and what's more, the value, if any, differs not only from individual to individual, but from circumstance to circumstance. So it's a sort of functional validity, and it may not include you, nor be applicable by you, except as we agree to share.


> Certainly, materialism can say
> nothing about the value of a literary work.

No, of course not. Nor are materialism and mysticism mutually exclusive in the human experience. So far, I'm playing around with the idea that they are essentially separate domains, with appropriate applicability in each respective domain.

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 11 October, 2019 01:25PM
I like the way we seem to be working towards a focus on the sense of wonder.

That gets to something important in what's at stake in a discussion like this. Here are some propositions.

1.Some people do have experiences of wonder, awe, beauty. These may come from experiences of nature (not necessarily grand vistas), erotic love,* philosophical contemplation, religious adoration, etc.

2.Many of the people who have such experiences feel that they experiences are "true" in some sense and "meaningful."

[a]Of these people, some may hold that the experiences are subjective and idiosyncratic and that they don't prove anything about the way things really are. This I would take it was H. P. Lovecraft's idea. He might feel joy when he beheld a sunset vista of old roofs and steeples. But he would say that, while he prized such experiences, they were not pointers to some supersensible reality. They were not really more meaningful than the sight of an earthworm that died in a rain-puddle on an asphalt street. For him, the universe is all there is and it is, in principle, wholly explicable, as nothing but an inevitable motion of mindless factors.

Other people hold that these experiences are not only choice moments in their personal histories, but are believed to be pointers to a greater reality on which they rest. The sensible and transitory can make manifest the eternal and supersensible.

3.I'm probably going to write, in this discussion, as an adherent of 2b above. I'm going to call this the Platonist understanding. Authors who seem to me to be relatively close (certainly as compared to Lovecraft) to this Platonist view would include Arthur Machen, Dante, Milton, William Blake, William Wordsworth, perhaps Walter de la Mare, &c.

(Side note: I'm an orthodox Christian, but I'm sure that many Platonists are not Christians. For the Christian, there is an eternal, supersensible realm, from which God, the Logos, the eternal source of meaning and of being, became incarnate, embodied under the categories of the sensible, transitory world. He the Changeless presumably had to pare his nails, certainly napped, etc. I think it would be good for present purposes if I, and others pro or con, tried to avoid getting the discussion into questions specifically relating to religious doctrines. I have put my cards on the table, but henceforth mean, here, as I said, to write basically as a Platonist.)

4.I see Lovecraft as a "divided" man because on one side he valued so much those experiences of beauty. J. D. Worthington years ago gave me an essay by Peter Cannon on "sunset imagery" in Lovecraft. It was really good. On the other side, Lovecraft was committed to what I think may be fairly called a futilitarian philosophy, according to which he determined, in advance of any further experience, that the cosmos was meaningless, that the delight you may feel in what you see is due to excitation of your nerve endings and the associations you bring from your personal history, and so on. These experiences can never mean that materialist necessitarianism is inadequate, in his view. This, then, made him inwardly divided. I suppose that Lovecraft would even have admitted this and said that man's existential situation is such that such division is the best he can do. Thus, paradoxically, a man may possess [i]integrity[i] [b]by
acknowledging and living with a permanent state in which that which he loves, he knows to be meaningless and unworthy of love, that which he values he knows to be valueless, that which stirs his "spirit" can do no such thing because his "spirit" is nothing but an epiphenomenon of mindless, meaningless movements in matter. Lovecraft's patron philosopher would, I suppose, have been Democritus to the Plato of Machen et al.

Plato is a good philosopher for those who have had, and value as really meaningful, the experience of the sense of wonder. Unfortunately, while I have read several of the dialogues, I haven't read the Theaetetus, which is where his famous remark about philosophy beginning with wonder is from, I believe.

I have read his Symposium, Republic, &c., which have some relevant material that perhaps I'll bring in later. I should emphasize that I'm not necessarily going to be all that concerned specifically with what Plato wrote, though. We're talking "Platonism" in a fairly loose sense.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11 Oct 19 | 01:37PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 11 October, 2019 02:51PM
Sawfish Wrote:
> I've mentioned so many times before that I see the
> world as material that I didn't want to be
> repetitive.

Sorry. I recognized your nym, but I don't really keep track of people's philosophies.

> Nor do I consider materialism or
> spiritualism/mysticism as a sort of club or
> church, where one is a member.

Nonetheless, if we could agree on a definition of "materialist", it becomes possible to say, for instance, that HPL was a member of the class of people called "materialists"; and that Machen was not. IIRC HPL espoused materialism in his essays (though this is perhaps not so cut and dried in his fiction).

I assumed, of course, that we were discussing materialism in the philosophic sense. HPL was not a materialist in the sense that his life was focused on the accumulation of material possessions. Rather the reverse, I'd say.

> A good question is: does morality as a concept
> exist outside of the human psyche?

Morality, as I understand it, involves the belief in something external to the human psyche. So if morality does not exist outside the human psyche, then it is a delusion.

Of course, language is flexible, and "morality" need not be defined as narrowly as I define it. But if you define it more broadly, you are using the same word to describe ideas that are fundamentally different. "You should not do that" means (usually) something fundamentally different from "I subjectively dislike what you are doing."

> And one might look at the converse: perhaps there
> is no such validation possible for such as
> morality, unless it's as an offshoot of a
> successful evolutionary process.

Well, most would agree that our physical senses have some connection, however, imperfect, to external reality. Most would also agree, I suppose, that our physical senses are the offshoot of an evolutionary process. Most would see this as no contradiction, as the accuracy of our perceptions might well be a survival benefit, fitting into the "survival of the fittest" aspect of evolutionary theory.

One materialist theory regarding the moral and/or religious sense, is that evolution endowed us with certain delusional perceptions and/or beliefs, presumably because, in some contexts, a fully accurate view of reality is not a survival benefit.

Ok. Could be. Sure.

But as a non-materialist, I don't think it follows that moral perceptions are meaningless or devoid of truth value, even if one starts with the premise that they evolved as part of an evolutionary process.

> No, of course not. Nor are materialism and
> mysticism mutually exclusive in the human
> experience. So far, I'm playing around with the
> idea that they are essentially separate domains,
> with appropriate applicability in each respective
> domain.

Okay. But how do we steer this discussion back to the topic of literature? Or do we?

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 11 October, 2019 03:38PM
Sawfish wrote, "I see daily transactions as being rooted in the material world, following physical motivations once they are translated from thought to action. The 'thought' part might be considered to be a manifestation of the mystical, or at least the impetus for the initial physical action."

I don't know if this is the place to get into these matters, but I think what you say points to a key problem for the materialist philosophy, that a materialistic explanation of consciousness is elusive, and yet one doubts that a "solution" is to be found in writing off consciousness as an illusion or something (though there's at least one philosopher who has been willing to pay that price; I forget her -- I think the philosopher is a woman -- name).

You've used the word "mystical," but for some readers, like me, that word suggests something more specific than what I take you to mean. From your point of view, I'm a "mystic," but from the way I use the word, I would hesitate to say that I remember ever having had a "mystical" experience.

I'd say that consciousness, imagination, thought are not necessarily "mystical," but that they are "elusive" for materialism.

You can observe my brain, but you can't observe my mind (unless, perhaps, you are telepathic).

So we have this dimension of experience that by its nature can't be "observed" objectively. We have a situation in which there is ever-growing knowledge of the brain, while the mind, or consciousness, baffles us.

There are also, btw, some bizarre observations of the brain that may surprise us. I'm not going to get my copy right now, but Rupert Sheldrake has some pertinent remarks in The Science Delusion. As I recall, he wrote about a brilliant student of math whose brain, however, was little more than a thin film surrounding a reservoir of water inside the skull.

[www.theguardian.com]

If we keep discussing consciousness, I'm bound to bring in Owen Barfield.

But yes, do we want to return the focus to literature -- and biography -- specifically Lovecraft's? Is there agreement that Lovecraft was fundamentally a divided person?



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11 Oct 19 | 03:51PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 11 October, 2019 04:09PM
On Lovecraft: Does his literary taste manifest the division I've been referring to?

My understanding is that his favored century was the 18th. So he liked the idea, I suppose, of common sense, of coffee-house culture, of writing poems in regular couplets as Pope did, of measure and harmony in all things, of appreciation of "nature and nature's laws," and so on, presided over by an enlightened monarch. But his imagination responded even more warmly to the literary reaction against this Augustan world; with this side of his personality, he was drawn passionately to the Gothic and authors in that tradition such as Poe. I have read little of his poetry, but my understanding is that a lot of it is 18th-century pastiche, other than the Fungi from Yuggoth and a few individual poems that are not representative of the bulk of his verse. His fiction, however, is certainly on the Gothic side.

Point taken? : )



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11 Oct 19 | 04:22PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 11 October, 2019 04:57PM
Platypus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish Wrote:
> > I've mentioned so many times before that I see
> the
> > world as material that I didn't want to be
> > repetitive.
>
> Sorry. I recognized your nym, but I don't really
> keep track of people's philosophies.

Right, but there are other readers of this, and the previous thread from which it branched, and it was for them, mostly.
>
> > Nor do I consider materialism or
> > spiritualism/mysticism as a sort of club or
> > church, where one is a member.
>
> Nonetheless, if we could agree on a definition of
> "materialist", it becomes possible to say, for
> instance, that HPL was a member of the class of
> people called "materialists"; and that Machen was
> not. IIRC HPL espoused materialism in his essays
> (though this is perhaps not so cut and dried in
> his fiction).


>
> I assumed, of course, that we were discussing
> materialism in the philosophic sense. HPL was not
> a materialist in the sense that his life was
> focused on the accumulation of material
> possessions. Rather the reverse, I'd say.

Yes. In the philosophical sense. The cosmos is made up of matter.

>
> > A good question is: does morality as a concept
> > exist outside of the human psyche?
>
> Morality, as I understand it, involves the belief
> in something external to the human psyche.

But requiring a human psyche to envision it, right?

Or are you supporting the idea that morality exists independent of rational consciousness?

> So if
> morality does not exist outside the human psyche,
> then it is a delusion.

Yes. It seems that way.

>
> Of course, language is flexible, and "morality"
> need not be defined as narrowly as I define it.
> But if you define it more broadly, you are using
> the same word to describe ideas that are
> fundamentally different. "You should not do that"
> means (usually) something fundamentally different
> from "I subjectively dislike what you are doing."

Frequently they are functionally identical, I've found, unless accompanied by a persuasive rationale.
>
> > And one might look at the converse: perhaps
> there
> > is no such validation possible for such as
> > morality, unless it's as an offshoot of a
> > successful evolutionary process.
>
> Well, most would agree that our physical senses
> have some connection, however, imperfect, to
> external reality. Most would also agree, I
> suppose, that our physical senses are the offshoot
> of an evolutionary process. Most would see this
> as no contradiction, as the accuracy of our
> perceptions might well be a survival benefit,
> fitting into the "survival of the fittest" aspect
> of evolutionary theory.
>
> One materialist theory regarding the moral and/or
> religious sense, is that evolution endowed us with
> certain delusional perceptions and/or beliefs,
> presumably because, in some contexts, a fully
> accurate view of reality is not a survival
> benefit.
>
> Ok. Could be. Sure.
>
> But as a non-materialist, I don't think it follows
> that moral perceptions are meaningless or devoid
> of truth value, even if one starts with the
> premise that they evolved as part of an
> evolutionary process.

That's correct. Moral perceptions , and hence, tenets, could be completely congruent with practical requirements for individual survival. So they'd reflect material necessities, but not from empiricism, but as an article of faith that may have been founded originally on empiricism.

Cultural prohibitions against certain degrees of incest may be an example.
>
> > No, of course not. Nor are materialism and
> > mysticism mutually exclusive in the human
> > experience. So far, I'm playing around with
> the
> > idea that they are essentially separate
> domains,
> > with appropriate applicability in each
> respective
> > domain.
>
> Okay. But how do we steer this discussion back to
> the topic of literature? Or do we?

Hah! Good one!

I'll desist. I tend to wander a lot.

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 12 October, 2019 07:54AM
I think Lovecraft was materialist (I refer to its first meaning, that of philosophically regarding the Universe as being wholly mechanical, not its second meaning, that of hoarding material belongings) intellectually, especially when communicating with others in letters and speech, to give a respectable and stable impression of himself. But in "spirit", or the transcendent level under his conscious intellect, in his personal approach to life and in his art, he was spiritual. In his helpful and generous treatment of others (see many of his letters), he was also being spiritual.

I suppose spiritual qualities, to some degree, could be deduced to subtle chemical and physical functions, in other words being materialistic actions and reactions, part of the mechanical world, being those of the finer, more sensitive strains of living in our biological flesh. And being in flow and harmony with the body's fine-tuned functions and desires, assenting personal pleasure and wellbeing, choosing to draw positive energy, from such things as for example, selecting finer food, a pleasant living climate and temperature, being where our cultural roots are and near our relatives, and choosing harmonious aesthetic surroundings through balanced forms and pleasantly vibrating colors; and perhaps through dreaming, which could be said to be a form a planning for a better future. And being in harmony with the cosmic laws, using the particular body we have been given to its fullest function, rather than struggling against the natural order. Some of these needs for more subtle things of harmony may be too subtle for the intellect to understand, but we know them by intuition and they are present in our subconscious; and so while the appreciation of a sunset over old rooftops perhaps could be called a "spiritual" sensation, or at least a non-materialistic sensation, Lovecraft probably still rationalized it as a materialistic experience on a finer level. I don't quite remember, but I think he discusses such things in his letters.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 12 Oct 19 | 08:11AM by Knygatin.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 12 October, 2019 12:20PM
My understanding from what I have read by Lovecraft and from some excellent discussions, years ago, with J. D. Worthington, is that Lovecraft would have endorsed these remarks from geneticist Francis Crick:

"You, your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules." You are nothing but a pack of neurons." (My underlines.) These neurons are not evidence of a Creator, or of some other source of intelligent design. They are the inevitable outcome of countless (to us), random atomic events, and of the tendency of mutations that happen to be favorable for reproduction to persist and pass on what appears to be "information" but is really no such thing; it's just molecules that happen to work a certain way.

This is an expression of scientism, which the late scholar of religions Huston Smith called the "world's littlest religion." Scientism is a faith; it's a resolution to believe in a certain way. It may appear to provide a convincing answer to some of life's problems (e.g. Why do bad things happen to innocents? It sure looks like we live in a vast, utterly uncaring universe that is not aware of us). It also means that the things that seem to us (till we learn scientism) to be meaningful, to be "signals of transcendence," are no such thing; they are as finally meaningless as the dead earthworm in the rain puddle on the asphalt street.

Now I think this is what Lovecraft believed, and yet he was also sensitively alive to some forms of beauty and so on. His commitment to materialism required him to deny the apparent value he sensed in those experiences, to write that off as just a quirk of his personality, such that really the person who evidently did not see the beauty, feel the wonder, was no worse off, except perhaps subjectively, than himself. From Lovecraft's point of view, the person who was subjectively content and happy, whatever his way of life, was just as well off as the other. You couldn't be a consistent materialist and yet say that Lovecraft at his happiest (perhaps relishing a beautiful sunset, and, a couple of hours later, spending a late evening with a good telescope and a clear sky) was any different from, any better off than, a hypothetical person absorbed by a virtual reality device, lying in a filthy bed swarming with bugs and rank with feces. In either case their neurons are being stimulated so that, subjectively, they feel content. Lovecraft's horror at the VR addict I have postulated would, he would need to say, be merely the inevitable result of what happen to have been his subjective history and his biochemistry, etc.; really, the VR addict is not in a horrible state. Lovecraft might be willing to make a story of something like this because he liked to write horror stories and could count on most readers being disgusted and appalled. But from his own point of view, really it doesn't matter. It wouldn't matter if all mankind went mad from some cataclysmic revelation of the Old Ones. It could happen, it might not happen, it doesn't matter; Lovecraft has made his peace with a cosmos wherein love and intelligence don't finally matter, even though that cosmos might seem to matter to some transient matter-energy units that we call human beings for in infinitesimal moment.

I think this is a fair statement of HPL's commitments, and a demonstration of his dividedness. I suspect he would agree and say that, things being as they are, dividedness permitted him to live with a kind of integrity: he admitted both sides of his inner life. Whether this was always really good enough for him, I don't know. He might have had to wrestle with the matter more if it were not for his having a supply of admirers to whom he could expound his materialism once again. I'm sure that he enjoyed doing that, and that it might possibly have helped to quieten faint, faint whispers of misgiving, if such there were.

This contrasts with Machen's view, which I will probably develop here later, although there's much of what I would say already there in the Hieroglyphics thread.

Incidentally, C. S. Lewis, as a young man, had a period in which his belief was very close to Lovecraft's. "The two hemispheres of my mind were in the sharpest contrast. On the one side a many-sided sea of poetry and myth; on the other a glib and shallow 'rationalism.' Nearly all that I loved I believed to be imaginary; nearly all that I believed to be real I thought grim and meaningless. The exceptions were certain people (whom I loved and believed to be real) and nature herself. That is, nature as she appeared to the senses. I chewed endlessly on the problem: 'How can it be so beautiful and also so cruel, wasteful and futile?'… I was so far from wishful thinking that I hardly thought anything true unless it contradicted my wishes."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12 Oct 19 | 12:27PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 12 October, 2019 02:42PM
Interesting to read the contrast between your descriptions of Lovecraft vs Lewis.

My present worldview, which I've held for maybe 40 years or so, is uncannily close to the way you portray Lovecraft's: nothing really matters, in a cosmic sense.

Now, it may matter to the individual engaged in a hypothetical situation, but this quickly attenuates as one distances one's self from the individual involved. So this demonstrates that the reaction to the situation is subjective in nature.

I'd postulate that Lovecraft, as you describe his outlook, was relatively comfortable with his worldview, while Lewis was at core a reluctant, and perhaps temporary, materialist. This may stems from an early religious upbringing, which I never had--don't know about Lovecraft.

But for me, the key to being able to deeply enjoy an aesthetic experience--like coming down the long grade from the northern border of Yellowstone, into Montana--in what is consistent with a "spiritual" manner is that while nothing that you do or think matters in the universe, neither does that disquieting and humbling realization matter.

Nothing matters, ultimately, but this does not necessarily inspire individual hopelessness--in fact it liberates one to undertake kind and positive, and indeed ephemeral and transient, actions purely for one's *own*, untainted satisfaction.

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 12 October, 2019 06:17PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Platypus Wrote:
> > Morality, as I understand it, involves the belief
> > in something external to the human psyche.
>
> But requiring a human psyche to envision it,
> right?
>
> Or are you supporting the idea that morality
> exists independent of rational consciousness?

I'm saying that what the human mind perceives (or imagines it perceives, or hallucinates, if you prefer) is something independent of itself, and I think, probably, superior to itself.

Freud hints at this, I think, when he separates the "superego" from the "ego". The mind perceives what Freud calls the "superego" as something independent of, and higher than, what the mind perceives as the self (the "ego" or the "I"). But Freud was, I think, a materialist, so naturally he considers this perception largely delusion. What the "ego" thinks it perceives is an illusion created by another aspect of the human mind. Or so Freud would say, I think.

Materialism, as I think you would agree, ultimately leads to a form of moral nihilism, where moral propositions have no real truth value.

But all I am suggesting is that one can avoid moral nihilism by choosing to believe that one's moral senses reflect (however imperfectly) an external reality. Similarly, one can avoid other forms of nihilism by choosing to believe that one's physical senses reflect external reality.

The nature of this external reality is another question. A Christian, and I suppose a polytheist as well, would say that it is both conscious and rational. I'm not too familiar with the eastern concept of "Karma" so I'm not sure if it is perceived as conscious or rational, but I do sort of have the impression that it is perceived as a force in the universe that is external to the self.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 12 Oct 19 | 06:30PM by Platypus.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 12 October, 2019 06:21PM
Thanks, Sawfish.

I tried an experiment, of rewriting three of Lewis's sentences.

"The two hemispheres of Lovecraft's mind were in the sharpest contrast. On the one side a many-sided sea of poetry and myth; on the other a materialist 'rationalism.' All that he loved he believed to be subjective; all that he believed to be real he thought meaningless."

So I have wondered what could have happened if these two had met under some appropriate circumstances, sometime in the 1920s. Lewis was around eight years younger than Lovecraft.

By the way, years ago -- it doesn't seem to have survived as a digital file -- I gathered together Lewis's remarks, from his excellent letters, etc. -- on weird fantasy, and compiled them udner the tongue-in-cheek title "'Supernatural Horror in Literature' by C. S. Lewis," which appeared in Pierre Comtois's 'zine Fungi. If, sometime in the 1920s, Lewis and Lovecraft had compared notes on their reading in this genre, there could have been some interesting exchanges. The chief thing that comes to mind in this connection is their enthusiasm for Algernon Blackwood. Curiously, I have found no compelling evidence to suggest that Lewis had ever heard of Arthur Machen! In the 1920s, Machen was more popular in the US than in England, I believe.

However, Lewis's library, as catalogued after his death, contained a collection of Machen's horror stories and the unsatisfactory novel The Secret Glory. But I suspect these were books that came into Lewis's library thanks to his marriage to the American Joy Davidman Gresham.

Anyway -- a bit of a digression here, which I hope might be of interest. I'll have to see, though, if I can dig up the story that Lewis projected, around this time, based on a nightmare, which, as I recall, sounds like it could have been a minor HPL tale. (CSL never wrote it, I believe.)

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Oldjoe (IP Logged)
Date: 12 October, 2019 07:17PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Incidentally, C. S. Lewis, as a young man, had a
> period in which his belief was very close to
> Lovecraft's. "The two hemispheres of my mind were
> in the sharpest contrast. On the one side a
> many-sided sea of poetry and myth; on the other a
> glib and shallow 'rationalism.' Nearly all that I
> loved I believed to be imaginary; nearly all that
> I believed to be real I thought grim and
> meaningless. The exceptions were certain people
> (whom I loved and believed to be real) and nature
> herself. That is, nature as she appeared to the
> senses. I chewed endlessly on the problem: 'How
> can it be so beautiful and also so cruel, wasteful
> and futile?'… I was so far from wishful thinking
> that I hardly thought anything true unless it
> contradicted my wishes."


Dale, this is a very interesting quotation from C.S. Lewis. Which of his works is this taken from?

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 12 October, 2019 07:31PM
Here's the Lewis horror story idea that I mentioned. I could see Lewis's "play" as being the basis for a story in Weird Tales, not necessarily a very Lovecraftian one, more run of the mill for that magazine.

Lewis and his friend A. K. Hamilton Jenkin (who became author of books about Cornwall) had the idea of writing a shocker play. Lewis's diary for May 1923 says they were "almost seriously " thinking about writing it.

"It is to turn on the idea of a scientist who discovers a means of keeping the brain and motor nerves alive in a corpse by means of injections. The victim is kept in cold storage but occasionally allowed a turn around the house, wearing a mask: the scientist tells people he is a poor fellow whose face was badly smashed in the war. He is always sitting over fires and complaining of being cold and always being chased away by the scientist for obvious reasons.
"The hero and heroine find the corpse lying in a box room in its coffin packed in ice: but there will be a long leading up to the moment at which they realise that the corpse upstairs and the figure they have seen wandering about the house are one and the same. The heroine of course has been designed as the scientist's next victim: the play turns on her escape" [All My Road Before Me, p. 238].

Lewis later recorded (12 Sept. 1923) having had a "most horrible dream. By a certain poetic justice it turned on the idea which Jenkin and I were going to use in our shocker play: namely that of a scientist discovering how to keep consciousness and some motor nerves alive in a corpse, at the same time arresting decay, so that you really had an immortal dead man. I dreamed that the horrible thing was sent to us -- in a coffin of course -- to take care of.

"D [the mother of Lewis's friend Paddy Moore, who had been killed in the war] and Maureen [Paddy's sister] both came into the dream and it was perfectly ordinary and as vivid as life. Finally the thing escaped and I fancy ran amuck. It pursued me into a lift in the Tube in London. I got away all right but the lift man had seen it and was terribly frightened and, when I saw how he was behaving, I said to myself, 'There's going to be a terrible accident in this lift.'" Then Lewis woke up (pp. 266-267).

So we could imagine the conversation that Lewis and Lovecraft might have had if, in 1923, Lovecraft had somehow managed to arrive in England and meet Lewis. (I think it's more likely that HPL would have gone to England than that Lewis would have gone to America.)

That lift accident. Did the scientist die in it? Did the hero and heroine?



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12 Oct 19 | 07:35PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 12 October, 2019 07:32PM
Oldjoe Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Dale Nelson Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Incidentally, C. S. Lewis, as a young man, had
> a
> > period in which his belief was very close to
> > Lovecraft's. "The two hemispheres of my mind
> were
> > in the sharpest contrast. On the one side a
> > many-sided sea of poetry and myth; on the other
> a
> > glib and shallow 'rationalism.' Nearly all that
> I
> > loved I believed to be imaginary; nearly all
> that
> > I believed to be real I thought grim and
> > meaningless. The exceptions were certain people
> > (whom I loved and believed to be real) and
> nature
> > herself. That is, nature as she appeared to the
> > senses. I chewed endlessly on the problem: 'How
> > can it be so beautiful and also so cruel,
> wasteful
> > and futile?'… I was so far from wishful
> thinking
> > that I hardly thought anything true unless it
> > contradicted my wishes."
>
>
> Dale, this is a very interesting quotation from
> C.S. Lewis. Which of his works is this taken
> from?

It's from his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, I'm sure.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 13 October, 2019 04:30AM
I think Lovecraft's chosen standpoint, that life and the universe is ultimately meaningless, were derived from unhappiness; he lost his father as a young child, and had a mentally ill mother who emotionally rejected him. The philosophy he developed, in piecing together his scientific studies, came in part from emotional bitterness with life. In other words, from a, basically, primitive, biological cause. It was his way of getting a sense of intellectual control over seeming chaos. I don't think he was very much at peace with himself, or comfortable, not as a young man. He had raging tempers and outbursts. But he settled down gradually into himself as he grew older, as most people do.

"Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood bring only fear and sadness. ..."
-Lovecraft

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 13 October, 2019 11:04AM
Oldjoe, the Lewis passage you asked about is from the chapter in Surprised by Joy called "Check." I remembered the passage and found it online, too lazy to get up and root it out of my copy of the book.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 13 October, 2019 11:28AM
Those are interesting details about Lovecraft, Knygatin -- I didn't realize that Lovecraft's mother rejected him, and I sure don't seem to remember that he had had raging outbursts at any time in his life. At my request, the university library bought Joshi's 1-volume biography of HPL and then the 2-volume one, and perhaps I should make a serious effort at reading one of these sometime, but either is really daunting. I wish there were a well-written, accurate biography of HPL of about 400 pages. (I did read the de Camp one when it came out, but as I won't need to tell anyone here, it came in for a lot of criticism, not all of it, perhaps, partisan.) I have little doubt that his (effective) fatherlessness is important for the way his thinking developed.

Incidentally, since I was drawing a parallel with C. S. Lewis in his 20s and Lovecraft -- Lewis's mother died when he was a boy, and his relationship with his Ulsterman father was very conflicted. I won't attempt to summarize it here. The plus side, for the reader, is that Albert Lewis is sometimes hilarious to read about. He was a respected lawyer, but in personal life domineering and quirky, given to missing the point and saying non sequiturs. Lewis and his brother as young men compiled no fewer than a hundred anecdotes.

Specimens:

---It having been maintained that the opposite of the proposition "Two and two make four" was inconceivable, he replied, "No, two and two is no eternal law. It's simply a matter of convention. Sure, people first began counting with pebbles and bits of stick!"----

---On the occasion of a pair of canvas shoes having been worn in the garden, he observed, "I came home for an hour or so with you before you go, and here I find an outrage."----

---On being told that the chief danger of driving at night lay in those large lorries whose real breadth often exceeded by two feet the distance between their headlights, he retorted, "Sure there are no roads in England only two feet broad."----

---A certain church having been mentioned which was remarkable both for a Greek inscription over the West door and for a curious tower, his interlocutor observed, "It is a great landmark. Now that I have got to know that tower, I pick it up from all sorts of places all over town, and even from the foot of Divis." "Do you meant to say," he replied with interest, "that you can read the inscription at that distance?"

---His interlocutor having begun an anecdote with the words, "A fellow I know once say a Greek captain------" He interrupted with the query, "Was this in the Homeric days?"----

---He said to his eldest son, "I see your brother had a letter from Oxford this morning. What was in it?"

There are some entertaining pages about Albert in Surprised by Joy (entertaining for the reader, anyway). The church tower story appears there, but I have been quoting from the complete collection of Albert anecdotes that was published in the journal Seven in 2015.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 13 Oct 19 | 11:36AM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 13 October, 2019 11:45AM
Platypus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Platypus Wrote:
> > > Morality, as I understand it, involves the
> belief
> > > in something external to the human psyche.
> >
> > But requiring a human psyche to envision it,
> > right?
> >
> > Or are you supporting the idea that morality
> > exists independent of rational consciousness?
>
> I'm saying that what the human mind perceives (or
> imagines it perceives, or hallucinates, if you
> prefer) is something independent of itself, and I
> think, probably, superior to itself.

If we took out this part of your statement:

"...what the human mind perceives (or imagines it perceives, or hallucinates, if you prefer)"

leaving the idea that phenomena ("what the human mind perceives") are independent of themselves, and perhaps superior to themselves, would it work? If we are, are we leaning toward archetypes?

Now, that addressed the phenomena as sensory and independent, but maybe you're referring to completely imaginary phenomena, existing only within the mind of an individual, and unperceivable by another individual.

Platypus, it may seem like I'm either beating this to death or that I'm like some of those posters out there who have nothing better to do than lay rhetorical traps. I want to reassure you that a) I am very literal and try hard to be precise--even though my own vocabulary of precision may leave a lot to be desired; and b) I enjoy coming to this forum because for the most part it is well-mannered and well-intentioned--not to say highly erudite and intelligent.

It is like a guest stay in a 19th C private club in Great Britain... :^)

So I *really* would like to fully understand your position, and I'll tell you up-front: I don't know that my position is actually valid--it just seems to me the most likely to be valid, after 72 years of life.

But for sure, I could be wrong.

>
> Freud hints at this, I think, when he separates
> the "superego" from the "ego". The mind perceives
> what Freud calls the "superego" as something
> independent of, and higher than, what the mind
> perceives as the self (the "ego" or the "I"). But
> Freud was, I think, a materialist, so naturally he
> considers this perception largely delusion. What
> the "ego" thinks it perceives is an illusion
> created by another aspect of the human mind. Or
> so Freud would say, I think.
>
> Materialism, as I think you would agree,
> ultimately leads to a form of moral nihilism,

Unreservedly agreed.

But is nihilism in and of itself "bad"--or rather, can the individual derive no positive aspects from it?

> where moral propositions have no real truth
> value.

But what I've found is that against all odds and conventional teachings, realizing this and getting comfortable with it is tremendously liberating to the self.

In a sense, I would suppose that it frees the ego of the unwanted kibitzing of the super ego.

It also makes the id at least respectable, in the eye of the ego...

Of course, this is just my opinion and by my own understanding of the cosmos, meaningless...

>
> But all I am suggesting is that one can avoid
> moral nihilism by choosing to believe that one's
> moral senses reflect (however imperfectly) an
> external reality. Similarly, one can avoid other
> forms of nihilism by choosing to believe that
> one's physical senses reflect external reality.

Yes. I can see this.

Even if an individual has come to the conclusion that I have--that nothing ultimately matters--one can construct what one *knows* (or believes) to be a temporary sense of order and meaning, and call that "life"--which has no lasting meaning outside of the self.

This is possible and it's what I do. Maybe this is very common, I really don't know. What I *do* feel that I know is that given that I need conform to no external set of moral tenets, I can make my own that fit like the proverbial glove, and to the degree that they are in harmony with a legal or traditional system, I can live peacefully.

And because this personal moral system is my own, and exists only at my own sufferance, I can change it at will, if I'm prepared to bear the consequences.

I don't know; perhaps this is the definition of amorality.

>
> The nature of this external reality is another
> question. A Christian, and I suppose a polytheist
> as well, would say that it is both conscious and
> rational. I'm not too familiar with the eastern
> concept of "Karma" so I'm not sure if it is
> perceived as conscious or rational, but I do sort
> of have the impression that it is perceived as a
> force in the universe that is external to the
> self.

It seems to me like any individual self exists as a transient bubble in the matrix of this external reality. Affected by the matrix, but within its bounds self-defining.

Great discussion and I hope I have not strayed too far!

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 13 Oct 19 | 12:26PM by Sawfish.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 13 October, 2019 11:53AM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I didn't realize that Lovecraft's
> mother rejected him, ...

Emotionally repressed him may be more correct than saying she emotionally "rejected" him. It depends on how one interprets it. She overprotected him, but at the same time made him feel unattractive and sickly.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 13 October, 2019 11:55AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I think Lovecraft's chosen standpoint, that life
> and the universe is ultimately meaningless, were
> derived from unhappiness; he lost his father as a
> young child, and had a mentally ill mother who
> emotionally rejected him. The philosophy he
> developed, in piecing together his scientific
> studies, came in part from emotional bitterness
> with life. In other words, from a, basically,
> primitive, biological cause. It was his way of
> getting a sense of intellectual control over
> seeming chaos. I don't think he was very much at
> peace with himself, or comfortable, not as a young
> man. He had raging tempers and outbursts. But he
> settled down gradually into himself as he grew
> older, as most people do.
>
> "Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood
> bring only fear and sadness. ..."
> -Lovecraft

I think one might also view the realization of "no meaning" as the *cause*, rather than the consequence, of unhappiness.

I'm not postulating that this is valid in Lovecraft's case, but I deeply suspect that many conventionally raised people, especially those from western cultures and religious traditions, are *deeply* uncomfortable--and I say that as a profound understatement--with the idea that there is no plan or purpose to life, and that hence nothing matters in a cosmic sense.

So on perceiving the idea of ultimate meaninglessness, they shy away from it, and if unable to intellectually avoid it, either thru profound faith or maybe intoxicants, they become deeply unhappy.

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 13 October, 2019 12:59PM
I fully agree with you on that Sawfish. Lovecraft was also deeply frustrated with seeing how society turned more and more materialistic (a consumer slavery) and hijacked by capitalists without deeper values.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 13 Oct 19 | 01:23PM by Knygatin.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 13 October, 2019 01:34PM
Knygatin Wrote:
> "Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood
> bring only fear and sadness. ..."
> -Lovecraft

This is one of Lovecraft's protagonists speaking. It is not necessarily Lovecraft, speaking of himself. You could draw many other quotes from his fiction that point in the opposite direction, regarding his attitudes toward early childhood. There is, for instance, Randolph Carter's retreat to childhood in "The Silver Key"; which however, HPL rejects as a dead end in "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath"; and perhaps further explores in "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward".

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 13 October, 2019 02:07PM
Knygatin, I would like to solicit your thoughts on an ancillary idea that has come to me as we discuss this broad topic: the role of intoxicants as an avenue to the spiritual or non-material.

As I wrote my previous reply, and wrote something like "faith or intoxicants" as a means to avoid discomfort with the meaninglessness of individual consciousness or action. Something resonated in me when I wrote it, and in a sense it conforms to what I've seen of drug abuse.

So in a sense, if one can avoid the nihilism of a material view by faith, that requires nothing other than one's will power; but if this proves insufficient, and an escape is still needed, one can use drugs of one sort or another to find some peace.

If one who uses drugs for this purpose can be contented with only intermittent relief, they've basically got control of their usage, but those who need to spend all or most of their waking hours buffered from meaninglessness, will often have a drug problem.

This is not to say that this is the only reason that individuals use intoxicants, but it's an area that is not well explored, in my opinion.

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 14 October, 2019 05:05AM
Platypus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Knygatin Wrote:
> > "Unhappy is he to whom the memories of
> childhood
> > bring only fear and sadness. ..."
> > -Lovecraft
>
> This is one of Lovecraft's protagonists speaking.
> It is not necessarily Lovecraft, speaking of
> himself. You could draw many other quotes from
> his fiction that point in the opposite direction,
> regarding his attitudes toward early childhood. ...

Yes, of course. Although I believe "The Outsider" is largely a reflection of how he saw himself. One side of himself at least.

He experienced both light and dark in his childhood. His letters describe fond moments. And we all like to dream back to our best moments of childhood.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 14 October, 2019 07:10AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Knygatin, I would like to solicit your thoughts on
> an ancillary idea that has come to me as we
> discuss this broad topic: the role of intoxicants
> as an avenue to the spiritual or non-material. ...
>

It is quite common for people with monotonous jobs to drink alcohol after work, as a relaxation and release. And alcoholism is not very unusual either, even if many themselves don't realize their own addiction.

People, especially women, who work in hospitals, often smoke. I don't know why that is. It is their form of restless escape. I find it sad. I did that too once upon a time.

Lovecraft ate loads of ice-cream (when he could afford), and chocolate, and he also enjoyed coffee. But I don't think he smoked tobacco, or touched alcohol. I would be curious though to know of his habits while living with Sonya Greene (a social butterfly I believe) and the gang of the Kalem Club in New York; there is a often a pressure to drink alcohol when mingling in social gatherings.

I don't have experience with heavier drugs, but occasionally like to drink beer or wine together with good food. I am more keen on sweets. I enjoy ice-cream, but try to stay away from it, because it gets me fat really quick. Especially industrialized sweets have artificially hardened fats that can be very unhealthy.

But when it all boils down, I still find the best intoxicant avenue from the mundane to be fantastic literature and art.

I have practiced TM transcendental meditation, but it wasn't really my ideal time spent to sit down and empty the mind.

I also pray to God and to Pan, and of course go for invigorating walks in nature.

I heard someone suggest that Clark Ashton Smith had experimented with heroin, but I strongly doubt that. Although, he does seem to portray heroin characteristics in the green flame of "The City of the Singing Flame".

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 15 October, 2019 03:42AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> an ancillary idea that has come to me as we
> discuss this broad topic: the role of intoxicants
> as an avenue to the spiritual or non-material.
>

I see that I did not directly reply to your specific concern in my previous post.

I am not a fan of drugs. I am more opposed to them. And know too little about drugs. It is possible that there are mind-expanding drugs that will help being an avenue to the spiritual; there are spiritual practitioners in India and elsewhere who use certain drugs to quicken the path.
But I am skeptical. I feel that while drugs (my experience is limited to smoking, alcohol, and morphine/opiate before a medical operation) may muffle certain inhibiting areas of the brain, and so increase our sensation of ecstasy and high-strung emotional awareness of important meaning, at the same time they distort other sensibilities. I don't trust drugs. I prefer to have my brain remain clean (although it could be argued if the brain really is clear when sober; I think not. But at least we then can reflect on and seek the spiritual over extended period and in a continuous manner, more so than in the brief high we get from intoxication).
I sometimes enjoy drinking alcohol while reading certain books, because it heightens the sensation of meaning; but that exhilaration is short-lived and rather quickly bridges over into drowsiness.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 15 October, 2019 11:57AM
Sawfish, do you have some experience with drugs? ... California, university, late 60s, 70s, flower power ...? It would be interesting to hear your opinion on the subject.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 15 October, 2019 07:38PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish, do you have some experience with drugs?
> ... California, university, late 60s, 70s, flower
> power ...? It would be interesting to hear your
> opinion on the subject.


Not too much, Knygatin. What experiences I've had don't really inform the point I was trying to make.

If the idea we're examining is that intoxication may be a portal to the ephemeral, and that many traditions and culture have recognized this over time, that may be true, but my thrust was not about the existence of the portal, but the motivation to seek such a portal.

I sense that many find the idea of the void very disquieting. This is especially true since the industrial age, and it picked up momentum with post-modernism. The way it is now, with traditional religion effectively invalidated, if one needs purpose, and religion is no longer a convincing bulwark, not even as a palliative, it seemed to me that intoxication can easily and conveniently offer the same sort of relief that a divine plan has, in former eras.

Not by the same mechanisms, but to the same ends...

And it's the mechanisms that my experience with drugs relates to--its efficacy as a potential respite from considering the void.

Cripes. I'm hinting around about this too much. Let me be frank...

To combat a deteriorated hip while waiting for surgery I was prescribed OxyContin. This was about 12 years ago or so. Thru a series of events I couldn't have the surgery for 3+ years, and rather than have me withdraw with no alternative pain relief, my doctor prescribed it for this interval.

So essentially I took it without wanted to escape day-to-day reality, other than the pain, and it was to have only been for 3+ months.

While the actual withdrawal and renormalization were unpleasant, at no time was I tempted to backslide. And that's because I never thought of it as a "portal" to a happier place, to escape from an unhappy place. Yet I could see very clearly that if one was unhappy in one's life, this would certainly do the trick.

Basically this explains lifelong heroin addiction. You have a person who is significantly bothered by some aspect of his/her day-to-day life--and in our case it is the deeply disquieting idea that one's entire life has no ultimate meaning, nor does anything one is aware of. But if you take opiates/opioids, this all goes away, consistently.

I had only the physical pain, and once the surgery relieved that I had no need to avoid any other aspect of my life, so the only part I had to deal with was physical withdrawal, which was manageable.

But for others, there *are* other aspects that they'd like to avoid dealing with, and I'm wondering if a poor reaction to nihilism is one. ;^)

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 15 October, 2019 10:10PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Your opinions, fellow-readers?


Well, I just finished reading Heiroglypchics (thank you to Dale Nelson for the suggestion). I think I know what Arthur Machen's opinion would be on this topic:
"The conscious opinions of a writer are simply not worth twopence in the court of literature …."

I tend to agree, but perhaps more could be said that would not be entirely irrelevant. But I need to get my thoughts in order.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 03:41PM
Lovecraft's materialist philosophy says that we have no free will. That's the same as to say, "I am 'dead' -- I am a 'thing' that may be acted upon by equally mindless forces in the universe, forces that include You, the other person in the room. I possess no real human dignity; my culture may endow human beings with 'dignity,' but that is spurious. We are all nothing but objects, like particles of dust, like planets, briefly existing in a meaningless cosmos till the matter of which we are comprised takes some other form." There is only a mindless and endless chain of cause and effect.

I submit that no sane person can really believe this, however much he may entertain the notion intellectually, because we do perceive and know ourselves to be agents, beings possessed of will, not inert. I can't truly believe myself to be dead when the very ability to think shows that I am alive.

Lovecraft hoodwinks himself with his philosophy. He thinks he is facing the cold facts. Rather, he is committing elementary self-delusion such as a moment's reflection should show him cannot be. His philosophy is not the product of reasoning; it's something he fancies to be true. I do not believe he really believed that anyone had every right to treat him no differently from a pebble, but if materialism were true, that would be the case.

I do wonder -- this is a distinct issue from the validity of someone's philosophy -- if Lovecraft's materialism was not something he wanted to be true (and so he tried to convince others of it) because it gave him emotional protection. Lovecraft's situation reminds me of the old Simon and Garfunkl song:

A winter's day
In a deep and dark December
I am alone
Gazing from my window
To the streets below
On a freshly fallen, silent shroud of snow

I am a rock
I am an island

I've built walls
A fortress, steep and mighty
That none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship
Friendship causes pain
Its laughter and its loving I disdain

I am a rock
I am an island

Don't talk of love
Well, I've heard the words before
It's sleeping in my memory
I won't disturb the slumber
Of feelings that have died
If I never loved, I never would have cried

I am a rock
I am an island

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room
Safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me

I am a rock
I am an island

And a rock feels no pain
And an island never cries

----It will be said that friendship was important to HPL, and his massive correspondence & so on shows it was, and yet my sense is that he might have found it easy to cut off someone who asked anything much of him other than epistolary camaraderie; if someone offended him, he could cut him off and continue on.

He enjoyed the stimulation of discussing books, talking at great length about his ideas and his travels. But I wonder if other people ever meant much to him. Did he learn from them (other than learning about books he hadn't read, that sort of thing)? I wonder if people were allowed to get past those defenses of his.

A philosophy in which everything is, really, an object, has its conveniences if you don't want people to get too close.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 19 Feb 21 | 04:14PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 04:22PM
This is interesting, Dale.

Let me start by asking for clarification. I don't want to assume that I know the boundaries of your position and therefore put words into your mouth.

Quote:
DN:
Lovecraft's materialist philosophy says that we have no free will.

Is this unique to Lovecraft's understanding of materialism, or is it a general feature of materialism? Is it true that all materialist thought posits determinism?

If true, this seems to imply that free will is co-joined to non-materialism, and hence to a spiritual reality.

Is this also accurate, Dale? I don't know, I haven't thought exhaustively about it and I'll tip my hand here because I'm not looking at this as a contest, but rather an opportunity for me to learn something.

My gut feeling is that the grosser circumstances are clearly defined by determinism. The instant that my wife was born, of Japanese descent, to two parents of short stature, she was never going to play in the NBA, as it is now constituted.

But her decision to marry me, I do not see as necessarily predetermined--I mean, I had to kick a lot of other guys out of the way.

So is it possible for determinism/free will to operate within certain scopes, rather like the difference in the perceived reactive physics of subatomic, microscopic, and astro physics?

I'm nowhere near sure.

There's always the mumbo-jumbo answer offered in infinite realities as posited by quantum mechanics, and intuitively (but not necessarily logically) I reject this, but if you write yourself an intellectual blank check by accepting a multi-dimensional, unbounded, timeless universe, anything is possible, I suppose.

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 04:55PM
Yes, a discussion rather than some big debate.

Materialism means that everything that happens, without exception, must be accountable in terms of material cause and effect. Lovecraft's mechanistic materialism probably held to, or implied, a strict determinism: everything happens as it must as the consequence of mindless motions of matter. A more recent notion of materialism might allow sheer random, unpredictable happenings, and so would not be deterministic as Lovecraft's version was. In either case, what's ruled out is happenings that are effected by free wills.

But if nothing possesses a free will, then everything is -- a thing; nothing can be a person.

Does that make sense?

Now, I'd say that it's impossible for anyone, except for people suffering from severe mental illness, truly to believe that he is a mere thing and not a person. Except in such extreme situations, we know ourselves to be subjects and not mere objects. But Lovecraft would have it that the universe, the "all that there is," is a collection of objects. Mind, agency, free will must be illusions -- or else we have admitted that there is more, after all, than mere mindless matter.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 05:10PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Lovecraft
> His philosophy is not the product of reasoning;
> it's something he fancies to be true. I do not
> believe he really believed that anyone had every
> right to treat him no differently from a pebble,
> but if materialism were true, that would be the
> case.

If you had actually read his letters, you would find that he reasons a lot about this.

Basically his argument is that the materialistic Universe of cause and effect is much too complex and intricate for our senses to perceive it as such. Therefore we live our lives thinking as though we had a free will.
Neither did he deny the value of comfort, dignity, or the pain of suffering, in this great stewing cosmic crucible. He was not all apathetic or indifferent to life. He appreciated the pleasures that the complexity of certain stimuli bring to the nerve centers (for example chocolate, sunsets, scenes of landscape, lines of poetry, fine architecture, art, and female company although sexual relationship appeared brief). He appreciated when the succession of cause and effect flowed smoothly, and within the illusion of free will strove to live his life as tolerable, comfortable, and pleasant as possible.

Personally I don't fully share his materialistic philosophy, because I believe there is a spiritual dimension and purpose to the cosmos. But I still think one can live a perfectly satisfying life from his kind of perspective. He found contentment in that philosophy, partly because he was so intelligent and could view its wonderful complexity, without panicking over its limitations for the personal self. Many people cannot accept, and fear, the brevity of a human life span, and therefore simply and readily accept any religious dogmas that tell them there is eternity for themselves after death.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 05:16PM
I don't deny that Lovecraft was a hedonist, Knygatin.

Lovecraft wanted his outlook to be based entirely on a materialist version of science. A problem with this is that it is possible to do "good science" that is indistinguishable from the most horrifying crimes against humanity:

[en.wikipedia.org]

But I'd refer back to what I've written earlier today for observations about the (in)validity of his philosophy. (I haven't read all of his published letters, but I've read one of the Arkham House volumes thereof and various essays and so on.) I don't want to repeat myself here.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 19 Feb 21 | 05:19PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 05:23PM
Whereas I agree with you on several points, Dale - ie, to say that we lack free will is arrant nonsense and I think you’re right that HPL probably used this worldview to justify his interactions with others - I’m not sure I buy into your theory that a supposed lack of free will would place us on par with an inanimate object. In this respect, I see Knygatin has beaten me to it, but anyhoo -

The argument in support of a deterministic universe is that God can deduce from - say - an atom’s trajectory after the big bang whether you intend to put your cat out or not. The theory doesn’t discount the illusion of free will. You think you’re acting of your own volition when you decide whether or not to put the cat out, but countless factors - what you ate an hour ago, a prospective visit to the bank, whether it’s raining - will influence that decision and these events are all preordained because they are the end result of a process of cause-and-effect that can be traced back to the beginning of time as we know it, and so (by extension) is your decision.

Supposedly!

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 05:32PM
Well, dignity, and the sense of natural harmony, prevents one from doing horrendous and atrocious crimes onto others. That was Lovecraft's perspective.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 06:04PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> horrendous and atrocious
> crimes onto others.

Those who do, are out of touch, out of harmony with the elements. They not only cause suffering to others, but also to themselves. A mechanistic philosophy that is based on intelligence, understanding of Nature, psychology, culture, and sociology, is not indifferent to nor excuse such behavior. Intelligent people flow with the laws of Nature, and follow its paths of harmony and meaningful rewards.

As to hedonism, I have only recently learned to stop eating sugar! Sugar is a drug, and a poison that is very damaging to the body.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 06:36PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Well, dignity, and the sense of natural harmony,
> prevents one from doing horrendous and atrocious
> crimes onto others. That was Lovecraft's
> perspective.


I'm just saying that you can't derive ethics from the scientific method or from materialism. It's certainly convenient to oneself if other people behave ethically; but to what can I appeal if I believe they (and myself) are wholly determined by the mindless chain of cause and effect? I may say "I wish you wouldn't do that," but I can't say "This is wrong."

Lovecraft needed people to be inconsistent -- to act, towards himself, as if they believed they could, and should, act ethically; while he denied to them the real dignity of agency, of the capacity rise transcend mere mindless cause and effect.

The Japanese scientists mentioned earlier today might have replied that the concept of their victims as possessing any innate dignity was meaningless to them; their victims were just things. They might have said the only "natural harmony" of interest to them was the hegemony of the Land of the Rising Sun, harmony with the will of the Order of the Chrysanthemum, etc.

I started this discussion today because of something I read now that I have revived my Samuel Taylor Coleridge studies. Man, if only STC and HPL could have met. here were two with fabulous gifts for weird imaginative writing and also philosophical interests. Maybe HPL would have given STC a listen where he wouldn't have listened to anyone else.

I do see STC as the founder of the modern weird tale: just read "Christabel." He was the founder of modern mythopoeic fiction -- "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." It was said of Gogol's realistic short story that modern fiction "came out of Gogol's 'Overcoat'" -- well, the ouevre of Dunsanian fantasy came out of Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" as the "overcoat."

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 06:48PM
Seemingly the descendents of the 'person from Porlock' are ridiculed to this day for his behaviour. One of the Dirk Gently books actually revolves around a parallel universe exactly like our own, but for how Kubla Khan is the epic STC intended it to be.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 06:56PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As to hedonism, I have only recently learned to
> stop eating sugar! Sugar is a drug, and a poison
> that is very damaging to the body.


Christianity teach us nil about avoiding damaging hedonism. But science, a knowledge of chemistry and so forth, actually does teach us that.

Religion (including Christianity) has further, throughout history, been a device of intolerance, excusing brutality and abuse in its name. Its deeply ingrained delusions are still causing suffering to Western society, inability to follow Natural laws, and may actually cause our complete downfall.

High science is a better tool, than religious superstition, for attaining Natural harmony and truth.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 07:25PM
I don't see, Knygatin, how you get from science, a tool for describing what is (that is, what is susceptible to measurement, etc.), to what ought to be done. Science could tell me how to breed a better slave for a job. It could never tell me that I ought not to breed slaves.

I haven't brought up any religion here. Is it your view that honest recognition of the reality of free will (which I experience as I experience myself to be a person), necessarily leads to a religion? That could be, but it it more than I have argued.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 19 Feb 21 | 07:32PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 07:38PM
In truth, does any of this matter in a material sense?

Call me Sancho Panza, but I'm damned if I can see it. What I *do* see, however, is that I'm strapped into the ride, it started quite some time ago, and there's no getting off so long as I live.

Do we really need this "first cause" sort of insight? What difference could it make--unless you conceive of an intelligent external grand purpose, and hence by implication an eventual weighing of individual sin/virtue at some point down the line.

For my entire life I've not seen anything that indicates an external purpose to life that cannot be economically explained by the will to live and reproduce. This appears to be the whole ball of wax, so far as I can tell.

Where's my wine...

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 07:55PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I don't see, Knygatin, how you get from science, a
> tool for describing what is (that is, what is
> susceptible to measurement, etc.), to what ought
> to be done. Science could tell me how to breed a
> better slave for a job. It could never tell me
> that I ought not to breed slaves.

I hope not to be a wise-guy, but by what overarching rule is this true?

Seriously, in the present environment, I neither what to be enslaved nor want to enslave others in the sense of chattel slavery (as opposed to penal imprisonment with a work requirement), but I'm well aware that this modern ethos has not always been considered either wise or binding, and are we then to say that former iterations of humanity who *did* think that breeding slaves was within the norm were necessarily evil as judged by an independent external moral authority?

>
> I haven't brought up any religion here. Is it
> your view that honest recognition of the reality
> of free will (which I experience as I experience
> myself to be a person), necessarily leads to a
> religion? That could be, but it it more than I
> have argued.

What if the concept of personhood, as you have conveyed it, is nothing more than a solipsistic illusion? I don't find it troublesome, frankly, since I'm in for the duration of the ride. It really doesn't matter, in the end, if I thought that I had free will, but did not actually have it, or I actually *did* have it and acted on it.

It only matters if you think everything is predetermined and so make no attempt at independent decisions, feeling that everything will fall into place--or not...

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Cathbad (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 08:14PM
'It only matters if you think everything is predetermined and so make no attempt at independent decisions, feeling that everything will fall into place--or not...'

Which would be a decision in itself, surely? My understanding of a deterministic universe - one governed by cause-and-effect - suggests it isn't demonstrably different from one governed by blind chance. If there's no way of proving free will is an illusion and if the truth one way or the other doesn't affect the outcome in any meaningful way, then what's the big deal? You might as well enjoy the ride.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 08:41PM
I would be distrustful of the mental health of someone who wanted to be regarded and treated as a chattel slave, i.e. as a thing to be bred, worked to death or not at another's will, and so on.

So, to the question, "are we then to say that former iterations of humanity who did think that breeding slaves was within the norm* were necessarily evil as judged by an independent external moral authority?" I must answer with an emphatic yes, even if, so far as we can tell, no one questioned the practice at that time and in that place. They could well be what the Bible calls "people who sat in darkness."


Again, though, the scientific method, so incredibly productive of information, can never tell us how we ought to use that information or ought not to use it.

But don't misunderstand me here. I'm not preparing an argument that will say one must have Christian belief in order to support the morality that is evidently necessary. I'm only saying that the morality that is necessary is disallowed by materialism, which likewise disallows anything to exist but mere "things."

STC, HPL!


*I take "norm" here to mean "the range of morally acceptable behavior."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 19 Feb 21 | 08:44PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 08:52PM
Cathbad Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> 'It only matters if you think everything is
> predetermined and so make no attempt at
> independent decisions, feeling that everything
> will fall into place--or not...'
>
> Which would be a decision in itself, surely?

One would think that this is how such a fatalist would see it, certainly.

> My
> understanding of a deterministic universe - one
> governed by cause-and-effect - suggests it isn't
> demonstrably different from one governed by blind
> chance. If there's no way of proving free will is
> an illusion and if the truth one way or the other
> doesn't affect the outcome in any meaningful way,
> then what's the big deal? You might as well enjoy
> the ride.

To me, it doesn't matter, never has... I *feel* like I'm in the driver's seat, mostly, and that's certainly good enough for me...

...but I'm pretty easy to please, really. A simple man, with simple tastes... :^)

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 09:21PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I would be distrustful of the mental health of
> someone who wanted to be regarded and treated as a
> chattel slave, i.e. as a thing to be bred, worked
> to death or not at another's will, and so on.

Generally speaking, I'm mistrustful of everyone except those with whom I've established some form of a personal relationship.

Not to dodge your point, however, I'd avoid such people as much as possible; they would be driven by incomprehensible (to me) motivations, and hence would make me nervous as hell.

>
> So, to the question, "are we then to say that
> former iterations of humanity who did think that
> breeding slaves was within the norm* were
> necessarily evil as judged by an independent
> external moral authority?" I must answer with an
> emphatic yes, even if, so far as we can tell, no
> one questioned the practice at that time and in
> that place. They could well be what the Bible
> calls "people who sat in darkness."

Ah, here we must disagree, amicably, I hope, Dale. I value our exchanges and your points of view.

>
>
> Again, though, the scientific method, so
> incredibly productive of information, can never
> tell us how we ought to use that information or
> ought not to use it.

Here's an exercise in utilitarianism.

Posit that the Nazis performed experiments on prisoners that ultimately led to an effective treatment for cancer--I mean that it was pivotal information that to replicate might take decades.

Do we use it ASAP, or proscribe it?

No need to answer, just consider it.

I'll tip my hand: I'd use it without qualm. I would not concern myself about this being a boon to mankind, but rather as a useful solution to an existential problem that could conceivably threaten me and mine.

If it were to be used solely on Barbary apes--who knows why?--I'd still be OK with it, because I cannot see why *not* to use it.

>
> But don't misunderstand me here. I'm not
> preparing an argument that will say one must have
> Christian belief in order to support the morality
> that is evidently necessary. I'm only saying that
> the morality that is necessary is disallowed by
> materialism, which likewise disallows anything to
> exist but mere "things."

Dale, I can see what is probably most people's idea of morality in my own actions and comportment, but cannot for the life of me see that it's binding on others unless me and others who share a similar moral code--and this would probably include you--force this upon them by might of arms or threat. We would therefore force "right" behavior on otherwise "bad" people.

Yes, you heard it here first: might makes "right".

>
> STC, HPL!
>
>
> *I take "norm" here to mean "the range of morally
> acceptable behavior."

Norm within what cohort? Mescalero Apaches? Quakers? Uighurs? Denisovans?

Can we say with certainty that any society that doesn't share our cohort's norm a "bad" society?

I wouldn't say that and yet I'd have no qualms about forcibly subduing them--as I assume they would me, if they could.

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 10:10PM
Sawfish wrote, "Posit that the Nazis performed experiments on prisoners that ultimately led to an effective treatment for cancer--I mean that it was pivotal information that to replicate might take decades. Do we use it ASAP, or proscribe it?"

I would want to discuss the matter with persons whose wisdom I respected. But my immediate thought was to use it. A question for me (since you have it that I am the one who must make the decision) is: What right would I have to withhold such knowledge from the physicians who could use it to save people from suffering and death?

To take another example: I don't believe that our laws should approve the torturing of suspected terrorists. Suppose some such suspect has been tortured and information is brought to me about the location of an explosive device that the terrorist at last said is ticking somewhere. What right would I have to risk the lives of the people who might be killed or injured if I kept that information to myself?

As for "norms," I think you overstate the variations between various societies as regards what they hold to be right or wrong, as indeed most educated people do. It seems, in fact, though, that morality has been pretty much the same everywhere, but what's varied is how far it extends. To state "Thou shalt not steal" as a universal rule is not different in kind, but in degree, from prohibiting theft within one's clan or tribe (but not from outsiders). To say that you shall revere the gods is not categorically different from saying "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God," etc.

If I'm not mistaken, when explorers from Europe went to China or the New World, they did not find people living without morality unless these were in a state of extreme desperation -- if then; there was, at least usually, common ground. I'd bet that, if people groups with "no" morality were found, these would not be people who had never in their "history" possessed moral awareness, but people who had fallen from it into degradation e.g. from plagues, wars, etc. That might have happened in some places in Europe on account of the Thirty Years' War, etc.

This is getting a bit away from the point I wanted to make about Lovecraft, which I guess we can leave be.

"....here we must disagree, amicably, I hope" -- of course!

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 19 February, 2021 10:55PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sawfish wrote, "Posit that the Nazis performed
> experiments on prisoners that ultimately led to an
> effective treatment for cancer--I mean that it was
> pivotal information that to replicate might take
> decades. Do we use it ASAP, or proscribe it?"
>
> I would want to discuss the matter with persons
> whose wisdom I respected. But my immediate
> thought was to use it. A question for me (since
> you have it that I am the one who must make the
> decision) is: What right would I have to withhold
> such knowledge from the physicians who could use
> it to save people from suffering and death?
>
> To take another example: I don't believe that our
> laws should approve the torturing of suspected
> terrorists. Suppose some such suspect has been
> tortured and information is brought to me about
> the location of an explosive device that the
> terrorist at last said is ticking somewhere. What
> right would I have to risk the lives of the people
> who might be killed or injured if I kept that
> information to myself?

Let me re-state my understanding of this: while you do not believe in torturing prisoners, if one happened to be tortured and divulged life-saving information, you'd feel morally compelled to share the results of torture?

While I wouldn't feel morally compelled to share it, I would, under most circumstances.


>
> As for "norms," I think you overstate the
> variations between various societies as regards
> what they hold to be right or wrong, as indeed
> most educated people do. It seems, in fact,
> though, that morality has been pretty much the
> same everywhere, but what's varied is how far it
> extends. To state "Thou shalt not steal" as a
> universal rule is not different in kind, but in
> degree, from prohibiting theft within one's clan
> or tribe (but not from outsiders).

I agree that this is mostly accurate, although I'm reluctant to state that some groups did not routinely practice customs among themselves that might be considered immoral. This would need more checking.

Current norms against incest, selling of children, etc.

But if it's true that the Mescaleros, for example, believed that thou shalt not kill, but that it applied only to other Apaches, while our modern moral sense says that thou shalt not kill applies to all innocent humans (some might say *all* humans, regardless of "innocence") of any group--I'd be comfortable arguing that the expanded scope between modern western societies and the example Apaches is itself a profound difference in moral codes. That by *not* extending the prohibition against killing to non-Apaches they are immoral from our POV, right?

In this sense, "bad" folk?

> To say that
> you shall revere the gods is not categorically
> different from saying "Thou shalt love the Lord
> thy God," etc.
>
> If I'm not mistaken, when explorers from Europe
> went to China or the New World, they did not find
> people living without morality unless these were
> in a state of extreme desperation -- if then;
> there was, at least usually, common ground. I'd
> bet that, if people groups with "no" morality were
> found, these would not be people who had never in
> their "history" possessed moral awareness, but
> people who had fallen from it into degradation
> e.g. from plagues, wars, etc. That might have
> happened in some places in Europe on account of
> the Thirty Years' War, etc.

I'm not specifically addressing a society devoid of its own moral codes, nor have I at any point in this discussion, but rather the difference in the codes, and their scope, between yours (and likely mine) and other societies.

But what you raise is interesting: in a greatly stressed and deprived environment, like a death camp, do morals break down? Probably. And possibly profound guilt ensues in the survivors.

How about amoral societies? Are there any? Could there be any? Or is "amorality" more properly limited to individuals and sub-cultures within a larger, moral, group? I think maybe it is so limited, but have no explored this at all.

I mean, group morality provides for social cohesion, and without that, no recognizable society, maybe.

>
> This is getting a bit away from the point I wanted
> to make about Lovecraft, which I guess we can
> leave be.

Lots of fun, Dale! Other people won't talk to me about this kind of stuff: you will.

>
> "....here we must disagree, amicably, I hope" --
> of course!

!!! :^)

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 20 February, 2021 12:01AM
Yes, my immediate response is that I would be morally at fault if, supposing I had reason to believe the information was true, I kept it to myself in an emergency such as was proposed.

The Mescaleros should be reasoned with, to help them to see that recreational killing of non-Apaches is wrong, just as such killing within the group is wrong. The difference between their present notion and that to which I’d want them to come IS important, but I’m emphasizing the common ground already existing, the agreement that some killing is wrong even if it was an attractive idea for some reason, e.g. to prove one’s skill and manhood or whatever.

There’s a hierarchy within the moral code, by the way. As a rule, one ought not to lie. But one may lie for the sake of conformity to a greater law of morality. I am not to lie in order to escape consequences of my laziness as a pupil, for example: the dog didn’t “eat my homework,” I didn’t do it, so I take the consequences. But now I’ve got Anne Frank in my attic and the Nazi patrolman asks me if I have been sheltering Jews. I’ll lie.

I doubt you could have an “amoral society,” but you could have a society in which one aspect of morality had undergone, in it, some horrible distortion and preemption of everything else. That’s what happened with Nazi Germany, I suppose. A loyal love of home and kin is appropriate, but with them it was grotesquely inflated and disfigured, and everything else was suppressed.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 20 Feb 21 | 12:01AM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 20 February, 2021 12:11AM
Good points, all.

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 20 February, 2021 03:11AM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Is it your view that honest recognition of the reality
> of free will (which I experience as I experience
> myself to be a person), necessarily leads to a
> religion?

No, it isn't necessarily. A spiritual experience of life (if that is what you associate with "free will" and being a "person") doesn't have to lead to organized religion. But it often does form into religion in human cultures.

Lovecraft surely also conceived himself to be a person from his mechanistic perspective. A person born into this world, and leaving this world and existence after his death, ceasing to be, leaving behind the marks of his actions, for the good or bad of others to continue building upon.

You find comfort in having your particular view of what you define being a person is. You have your belief-system (and it seems to me like you are here trying to prove it in a convincing way by temporarily pretending to ignore your Christian background in the presence of pagans). Lovecraft had his rational intellectual approach, which is also a belief, based on what his senses perceived. Reality is the same, either way, whatever we believe in. Many people find easy comfort in Christianity and other religions, it makes their existence bearable. I admit that religion has also proven to be an effective tool for controlling the primitive masses and preventing turmoil.

Thanks for the exchange. But I must step back here, for I feel I have already gone too far. I have promised myself not to get into political or religious discussions on this site. For such discussions easily slip into endlessly spinning merry-go-rounds.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 20 February, 2021 10:22AM
Here's S. T. Coleridge in his own words:

"Whatever is comprised in the chain and mechanism of cause and effect, of course necessitated, and having its necessity in some other thing, antecedent or concurrent -- this is said to be natural; and the aggregate and system of all such things is Nature. It is, therefore, a contradiction in terms to include in this the free-will, of which the verbal definition is -- that which originates an act or state of being."

We can see that, before HPL was born, STC would have understood clearly what HPL meant by mechanistic materialism. (STC was writing circa 1815.)

Coleridge didn't believe he could prove the existence of free will objectively, but insisted that "every man may find for himself" that he is indeed a moral nature"; "there is more in man than can be rationally referred to the life of nature and the mechanism of organization." If a man choose "to disclaim our natural as moral beings.... he excommunicates himself. He forfeits his personal rights, and becomes a thing: that is, one who may rightfully be employed or used, as means to an end, against his will."

Coleridge critique of the positivist view, his certainty that the scientific method cannot give an adequate accounting of human awareness, thus does not make an appeal to a "God" located in the lacunae of the physical sciences, but rather proceeds from an appeal to the intuitive awareness of his readers, of themselves as purposive beings (who spontaneously feel the injustice that has occurred if their humannness is denied). He has no opposition to modern science, yet his thought is a descendant of the ancient Greek wisdom, which urged seriously gnothi seauton, "know yourself," and of Plato's maxim that philosophy begins with wonder, etc. For the positivist mentality, "all that" has to amount to a shuffling of meaningless words. But you can see why I can wish that STC and HPL could have sat down together for an unhurried conversation (rather than a formal debate).

In writing the above, I haven't added much, if anything, new, to what I wrote before, but I wanted to share a little of Coleridge's own words.


My sense is that HPL rarely had conversations, or epistolary exchanges, with people who were as smart as he was, and he might have enjoyed the experience of talk with Coleridge, who did have exchanges with thinkers of his day, notably the chemist and inventor Humphry Davy.

[www.jstor.org]

His interest in science was genuine and persistent.

[www.oxfordhandbooks.com]

I see an intriguing affinity between STC and HPL as writers of exceptional imagination and as devotees of science. It's true that HPL was more intrigued by astronomy, Coleridge by chemistry, but they had some real common ground.

Incidentally, what did HPL say about "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," "Christabel," and "Kubla Khan" -- does anyone have that information?

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 20 February, 2021 11:02AM
Quote:
DN:
Coleridge didn't believe he could prove the existence of free will objectively, but insisted that "every man may find for himself" that he is indeed a moral nature"; "there is more in man than can be rationally referred to the life of nature and the mechanism of organization." Coleridge didn't believe he could prove the existence of free will objectively, but insisted that "every man may find for himself" that he is indeed a moral nature"; "there is more in man than can be rationally referred to the life of nature and the mechanism of organization." If a man choose "to disclaim our natural as moral beings.... he excommunicates himself. He forfeits his personal rights, and becomes a thing: that is, one who may rightfully be employed or used, as means to an end, against his will."

The last part of Coleridge's statement, that: "If a man choose 'to disclaim our natural as moral beings.... he excommunicates himself. He forfeits his personal rights, and becomes a thing: that is, one who may rightfully be employed or used, as means to an end, against his will.'"

By this he means that practically speaking, this is his definition of what is often criminal behavior.

He is essentially describing the ancient custom of outlawry, whereby an organized society withdrawal societal protection for an individual, making him fair game for any treatment a member in good standing of that society may wish to employ. This would mean that killing such a proscribed individual would not be viewed as breaking the social contract.

He would essentially have the same social status as an animal.

Would you consider this to be immoral, Dale? I wouldn't, be we already know that I see "morality" differently than you--and perhaps even most people. I'd see it as a pragmatic functional attempt for a society to police and enforce the standards understood in the social contract of that society. It is one of the few effective and immediate ways that this can be done. The concept of rehabilitation for the bettterment of society is absent, possibly because this requires much additional time/expense/effort by the society, with little assurance that any general benefit is gained.

Rehabilitation as social policy begins to make sense when there is an insufficient number of individuals for the society to conduct its normal, accustomed habits ad practices. Hence, in time of famine, it might make sense to rehabilitate a farmer who ran afoul of the contract, but in times of plenty, with an abundant supply of human labor, it makes much less sense to rehabilitate an unskilled individual.

So social utility plays a big part in my concept of popular morality.

--Sawfish

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"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
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Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 20 February, 2021 11:42AM
Sawfish, we are approaching the point where I will feel out of my depth, as regards political theory.

My impression is that your thought might have affinities with Robert Heinlein's. He wouldn't, I think, have advocated outlawry in that situation, but he did see the liberties of citizenship as things that should be extended in varying degrees, depending on people's service to society -- or didn't he?

But his thought might have affinities with China's social credit system, which horrifies me, although I think some version of it may be coming here, thanks to the woke movement. I don't see you as likely to align with the Chinese arrangement.

[arcdigital.media]

By "excommunicates himself," I think Coleridge is not referring to how society sees the person, but to what the person is doing to himself. He is surrendering his rights and dignity -- which, NB, seems an inevitable corollary of materialism if one is logically consistent. This theory dehumanizes oneself insofar as one conceives of oneself.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 20 Feb 21 | 12:02PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 20 February, 2021 01:02PM
I'll admit that much of this is just me thinking over my experiences, observations, and readings and amalgamating and testing repeatedly until I have a model that seems to account for what I've seen, read reports of, or otherwise experienced.

It's just a bastard personal philosophy.

But I'd still stand by the outlawry part from Coleridge, based on this part:

"...becomes a thing: that is, one who may rightfully be employed or used, as means to an end, against his will."

To me, this endorses slavery, and since few would comply, it might well be a de facto death sentence.

Oh, well...!

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 20 February, 2021 01:49PM
Well, Sawfish, your latest message strikes a billiard ball against my consciousness-ball and knocks it off to a tangent, namely the importance for Coleridge's imagination of "outlawry." I mean, certainly his most famous character -- the Ancient Mariner -- is an outlaw! He commits a crime (the wanton killing of the albatross that had been the friendly companion of the sailors) and imposes upon himself a harrowing exile from his fellow human beings. Less well-known is a "prose fragment" on the Wanderings of Cain! In "Christabel," much of the poem's interest centers on a female outlaw, Geraldine -- I'm sorry that, for us, "Geraldine" is a semi-comic name, as there is nothing semi-comic about her.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 20 February, 2021 02:08PM
Off topic, but I think Lovecraft would have been very impressed by J. R. R. Tolkien. There are old LP recordings available on Youtube of Tolkien reading and singing, and speaking elvish, from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It is music to my ears. His passion and dedication is remarkable.

Lovecraft philosophical materialist, and Tolkien born Catholic. I think if they had met, and if Tolkien had been patient, he would have appreciated Lovecraft's intellectual scope. But Lovecraft may have acted diffident, closing up like a clam. I think the real issue is that of a lack of academic schooling, which made Tolkien automatically tower above in authority. Both Lovecraft and Smith were freewheeling rebels, self-taught outsiders, ... just the same, geniuses. But their lack of formal schooling, would have caused social diffidence and inhibition for them in Tolkien's company.

Even though a materialist, Lovecraft was passionate. His wife Sonia has described how, when Lovecraft read literature aloud, his voice would transform and completely become the part, acting out in deep empathy.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 20 February, 2021 02:27PM
I'll have to check this out, Dale.

The Rime made a big impression on me--not only is it almost phantasmagorical in feeling as it progresses thru the narrative.

But the idea, as I recall it, that a wedding party comes down the beach in one direction--likely with laughter and merry-making--and the old coot, coming up the beach from the the direction, buttonholes them and tells them his story, which had to have put a damper on the festive spirit.

I mean, sole survivor plus a near-death experience.

Dale, maybe you ca help. I never figured exactly what Coleridge means by "Rime", which sounds like rhyme, but to me means a frost-coating. I realize that parts took place in what? near Antarctica?, but...

What's going on here? What was the intent?

In the 60's, at San Diego State, I was *sure* he was on drugs when writing Kublai Khan...

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
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Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 20 February, 2021 02:31PM
AS I understand it, Tolkien and HPL *did* meet once, at a restaurant, but Tolkien never forgave HPL for sneaking a whoopie cushion onto his chair when he went briefly to the restroom...

Little known fact.

--Sawfish

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them...well, I have others."
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Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 20 February, 2021 04:14PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Off topic, but I think Lovecraft would have been
> very impressed by J. R. R. Tolkien. There are old
> LP recordings available on Youtube of Tolkien
> reading and singing, and speaking elvish, from The
> Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. It is music to
> my ears. His passion and dedication is
> remarkable.
>
> Lovecraft philosophical materialist, and Tolkien
> born Catholic. I think if they had met, and if
> Tolkien had been patient, he would have
> appreciated Lovecraft's intellectual scope. But
> Lovecraft may have acted diffident, closing up
> like a clam. I think the real issue is that of a
> lack of academic schooling, which made Tolkien
> automatically tower above in authority. Both
> Lovecraft and Smith were freewheeling rebels,
> self-taught outsiders, ... just the same,
> geniuses. But their lack of formal schooling,
> would have caused social diffidence and inhibition
> for them in Tolkien's company.
>
> Even though a materialist, Lovecraft was
> passionate. His wife Sonia has described how, when
> Lovecraft read literature aloud, his voice would
> transform and completely become the part, acting
> out in deep empathy.

It's Tolkien's friend C. S. Lewis whom I could wish had sat down for a conversation with Lovecraft. They had some things in common, and Lewis was probably more receptive to weird fiction than HPL. Lewis would have understood HPL's beliefs from within -- he can sound like the man from Providence in some of the things he wrote as a young man. Have I written about that here already? Also, did I write about Lewis's idea, as a young man, of writing a weird tale play with a friend? It really sounds like something that could have been published in Weird Tales. Lewis had been a big fan of Algernon Blackwood, as Lovecraft had.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 20 February, 2021 04:18PM
Sawfish, the spelling "rime" was intended by Coleridge to evoke an earlier literary era. I trust you have read the poem with the wonderful "glosses" by a later annotator (actually by Lewis). And that's another of the things HPL and STC had in common, that knack for pastiche antiquarian writing. That famous "translation" from the Necronomicon, about how They walk unseen, etc., and STC's "glosses" to the Ancient Mariner, etc.

Re: Lovercraft and materialism (new branch from the Hieroglyphs thread)
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 20 February, 2021 04:28PM
Just think, Sawfish, if there is an infinity of universes, your whoopie cushion incident must actually have occurred.



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