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Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 8 March, 2020 01:41PM
Knygatin asked me, "No, I have not read "Rogue Moon" or anything else by that author. Is Budrys yet another example of your specific preference for Christian writers?"

No -- I would say that the philosophy underlying "Rogue Moon," if there is one, is existential. The story suggests that man finds himself in a universe that is alien to him, and the test for him is even to put his life on the line for the sake of the things he believes in (e.g. the value of scientific knowledge; loyalty to one's nation -- or the like) without expecting anything external to himself to validate his determination. I haven't studied existentialism much, but I take it that that notion is in line with "existentialism." There's an affinity with Hemingway's idea of "guts" as "grace under pressure." "Rogue Moon" might be the kind of story Lovecraft could have written if he were not so concerned with maximizing horror and hadn't had an agenda of belittling humans.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 8 March, 2020 03:28PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> "Rogue Moon" might be the kind of
> story Lovecraft could have written if he were not
> so concerned with maximizing horror and hadn't had
> an agenda of belittling humans.

"Rogue Moon" seems like an interesting story.

I don't think Lovecraft had an agenda of belittling humans. But in his scientific view of the Universe, he objectively saw humans as a tiny speck in comparison to the greater cosmic forces. That was not his personal agenda. Quite the contrary: He was very engaged in human culture, art, and the politics of defending his white European racial heritage and grace of Western society, and also in the importance of socially acceptable behavior, appearance, and interaction with others. He might have been a bit gloomy and depressed (which I don't blame him, considering his family background), but was also quite altruistic and generous.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 8 March, 2020 05:20PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> ... some of us would say that myth may be the form in which something very real had to present itself to our
> minds; we can "unpack" it in prosaic exposition, ...
>
> C. S. Lewis: “For me, reason is the natural
> organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of
> meaning. ...
>

I think often the most satisfying fantasy fiction is written by authors with deep insight into mythological and archetypical energies, and are able to intelligently work with precise symbols (without being overly explicit) for this that strike deeper cords within us. I think Fritz Leiber is extremely apt at doing this with his rich fantasy details surrounding Fafhrd & the Grey Mouser. Representing the implications of a more mundane level of existence (as opposed to grand events); he appreciates and understands the small things in everyday life.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 8 March, 2020 06:49PM
Knygatin, I'd like to hold off on responding to your response to my remark about Lovecraft belittling mankind, and see what others might have to say about that.

But I wondered about your comment on Lovecraft being "quite altruistic and generous." It's a long time since I read a book-length Lovecraft biography (I read de Camp's and Long's when they came out and have read some memoirs too), but I don't remember incidents that would justify those adjectives. My impression is that Lovecraft could be enjoyable company in person with his cronies, and that he certainly liked to write long letters. But I wouldn't say those facts justify "generous" and "altruistic." I recall no incident of Lovecraft doing something to help out a stranger, or being engaged in any kind of philanthropic activity, or giving some book he liked to someone whom he thought would love to have it -- or anything like that.

I REALIZE LOVECRAFT HAD HARDLY ANY MONEY.


So how did he show altruism and generosity?



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 8 Mar 20 | 07:48PM by Dale Nelson.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2020 03:34AM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> So how did he show altruism and generosity?


In his own way, as best he could. As you said, he had little economic or material means. I don't imagine he ever would have stopped and helped any poor stranger sitting in the street. His altruism was in connection to his intellectual and artistic interests. He sacrificed his own time and efforts (much by way through his letters) guiding others whom he thought could benefit from his own knowledge.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2020 04:14AM
I would like to see any famous writers of today being as generous with their own time as Lovecraft was. But most of them are very taciturn outside of their profession, and egoistic. They don't say anything of value unless they are paid for it.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2020 10:45AM
Above all Lovecraft was generous with his own ideas and creative thoughts, sharing these in long long letters, without a thought of getting anything, least of all payment, in return. Such a character trait, so full of unconditional sharing, is rare, especially in today's ego tripped world. In certain social gatherings (in which he felt comfortable) he could act out parts from literary works, with so much commitment and empathy that his voice transformed into the parts. So don't say he was not generous.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2020 11:32AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Dale Nelson Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > ... some of us would say that myth may be the
> form in which something very real had to present
> itself to our
> > minds; we can "unpack" it in prosaic exposition,
> ...
> >
> > C. S. Lewis: “For me, reason is the natural
> > organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of
> > meaning. ...
> >
>
> I think often the most satisfying fantasy fiction
> is written by authors with deep insight into
> mythological and archetypical energies, and are
> able to intelligently work with precise symbols
> (without being overly explicit) for this that
> strike deeper cords within us. I think Fritz
> Leiber is extremely apt at doing this with his
> rich fantasy details surrounding Fafhrd & the Grey
> Mouser. Representing the implications of a more
> mundane level of existence (as opposed to grand
> events); he appreciates and understands the small
> things in everyday life.

This last observation is very interesting, Knygatin, in that it brings to mind that authors write within a sort of scope. This is to say that with Leiber, in the Mouser stories, for example, the scope is confined to the two main characters and their environment .Much of CAS is also like this, but is somewhat broader, at times.

But Lovecraft is often of a very broad scope; his stories read as if whatever awful thing happens to the narrator, or to the main character, could just as easily happen to all of humanity. His tales convey existential threat for the universe as we know it. Smith's tales are on a much more personal scale.

Something like reading Fail Safe or watching Dr. Strangelove versus reading Candide.

...

HAH! As I edit out an error in punctuation, it comes to me that Lovecraft offers no hope, or destroys it, in his most apocalyptic tales. Basically, it's the logical result if the Mythos held true, and even in his tales like Dreams in The Witch House, he is at best neutral.

This is not the case with much of CAS's best prose work, where, for example, all you have to do is avoid X, and you'll be all right.

Therefore, in Isle of the Torturers, since you'll never be king, no worries. Similarly, if you stay the hell out of musty vaults, as in Weaver in the Vaults, you should be strictly OK.

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 9 Mar 20 | 11:47AM by Sawfish.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2020 11:36AM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Knygatin, I'd like to hold off on responding to
> your response to my remark about Lovecraft
> belittling mankind, and see what others might have
> to say about that.

I don't think that he belittled mankind so much as put them in their proper objective place in the universe he portrayed.

>
> But I wondered about your comment on Lovecraft
> being "quite altruistic and generous." It's a
> long time since I read a book-length Lovecraft
> biography (I read de Camp's and Long's when they
> came out and have read some memoirs too), but I
> don't remember incidents that would justify those
> adjectives. My impression is that Lovecraft could
> be enjoyable company in person with his cronies,
> and that he certainly liked to write long letters.
> But I wouldn't say those facts justify "generous"
> and "altruistic." I recall no incident of
> Lovecraft doing something to help out a stranger,
> or being engaged in any kind of philanthropic
> activity, or giving some book he liked to someone
> whom he thought would love to have it -- or
> anything like that.

Sounds like my kinda guy.

>
> I REALIZE LOVECRAFT HAD HARDLY ANY MONEY.

..and here's where we must part company...

;^)

>
>
> So how did he show altruism and generosity?

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2020 01:57PM
I think that sharing ones personality, is generosity. But giving away ones books, is plain stupidity. I lent books, and never got them back after the borrower was done. Another visitor opened one of my books, and thereby broke its back. I say, my books are my private belongings, and I prefer others to stay off. Some were difficult and expensive to acquire. I have spare and worn paperback copies of some books, which I gladly lend though. Lovecraft let his original story manuscripts circle among his group of correspondents. I believe one (or perhaps it was C. A. Smith's manuscript) was grabbed by R. H. Barlow; he dressed it in snake skin, and kept it.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2020 02:44PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I think that sharing ones personality, is
> generosity. But giving away ones books, is plain
> stupidity. I lent books, and never got them back
> after the borrower was done. Another visitor
> opened one of my books, and thereby broke its
> back. I say, my books are my private belongings,
> and I prefer others to stay off. Some were
> difficult and expensive to acquire. I have spare
> and worn paperback copies of some books, which I
> gladly lend though. Lovecraft let his original
> story manuscripts circle among his group of
> correspondents. I believe one (or perhaps it was
> C. A. Smith's manuscript) was grabbed by R. H.
> Barlow; he dressed it in snake skin, and kept it.

Must have been in pre-animal rights activists days...

;^)

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2020 02:57PM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> ... authors write within a sort of scope. This is to say that
> with Leiber, in the Mouser stories, for example,
> the scope is confined to the two main characters
> and their environment. Much of CAS is also like
> this, but is somewhat broader, at times.
>
> But Lovecraft is often of a very broad scope; his
> stories read as if whatever awful thing happens to
> the narrator, or to the main character, could just
> as easily happen to all of humanity. His tales
> convey existential threat for the universe as we
> know it. Smith's tales are on a much more
> personal scale.
>
> ... with much of CAS's best prose work, where, for example, all you have to do is avoid X, and you'll be all
> right.
>
> Therefore, in Isle of the Torturers, since you'll never be king, no worries. Similarly, if you stay the hell out
> of musty vaults, as in Weaver in the Vaults, you should be strictly OK.

Yes, it's nice, isn't it! I can enjoy all of these three levels, from the bottom and up. It all depends on how well the writer conveys it. One more level, above or parallel to Lovecraft, may perhaps offer spiritual redemption from cosmic catastrophe. Either some Christian writer, like Dale Nelson wants us to read (Tolkien is fantastic!), or a more universally spiritual writer like Algernon Blackwood. Blackwood's book The Centaur really is a beauty. Another writer, like Arthur C. Clarke, offer us redemption through sheer intellect, and scientific solutions.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 9 March, 2020 05:57PM
I just found The Centaur on Project Gutenberg and have downloaded it.

Thanks for the tip!

Sawfish
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"Life is a tragedy to those who feel, a comedy to those who think."

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 10 March, 2020 05:19AM
Sawfish Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I just found The Centaur on Project Gutenberg and
> have downloaded it.
>
> Thanks for the tip!

If one has never read Algernon Blackwood before, for introduction, I think his best supernatural short-story would be "The Wendigo". Others might say "The Willows", but it is more subtle, I have not read it in a very long time.

Re: Have you actually been creeped out by a work of weird fiction? Namely?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 23 March, 2020 12:28PM
Sawfish Wrote:

> I don't think that he belittled mankind so much as
> put them in their proper objective place in the
> universe he portrayed.

Lovecraft's view of human beings vis-à-vis the universe is no more "objective" than any other view. It's merely a view of human beings from which much has been removed or depreciated.

To get an intuitive sense of what Lovecraft leaves out, one might simply do a quick Google search for photographs by Andre Kertesz of people reading. I'd say just spend a few minutes looking at some of these -- forgetting about Lovecraft during the interval. Then come back to his typical remarks about human beings. I think you may feel that he willfully leaves something out -- even if it would be difficult, perhaps, to state in words what that is.

Now, I'd say that any work of art involves selection, so for the purposes of a weird tale it might be legitimate to leave out something that, say, the Kertesz pictures suggest. But let's not allow ourselves to be misled by our enjoyment of the stories into thinking that Lovecraft will do as a philosopher.

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