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CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 25 August, 2020 01:26PM
We recently kicked around the idea that CAS's output was of a more varied quality than HPL's. I agree with this, but then I got to thinking...

We decided that "A Captivity in Serpens" was an example of sub-standard CAS work, but what would be a corresponding example of HPL's sub-standard output?

This needs to be calibrated: CAS's bad stuff, relative to his good stuff, is very poor, indeed. But HPL seemed to me to be very consistent, so that his poorer works were only sub-standard in a much less obvious manner than CAS's.

Now, this is different from simply not caring for a branch of his work--e.g., I've never much cared for his "What the Moon Brings" kinda stuff--it seems like pseudo-Dunsany, in a way. I think all of that material was coherent and well done, but it never clicked with me in the same fashion that At the Mountains of Madness clicked.

So thinking about, I nominate a story ghost written for Zealia Bishop: "The Curse of Yig". A very good story in many ways--atmospheric as hell, if you ask me--very professionally done and complete, but seems like it was "written to order" (which it was) and he was not personally invested in it.

Your thoughts on this?

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

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 25 August, 2020 01:48PM
Have not read it since my teens, but from my impression then, I nominate "Herbert West--Reanimator."

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 25 August, 2020 02:28PM
I might not be an HPL fan like I used to be, but I still appreciate his work and I think I consider them fairly. I'd like to participate, even if I think the other members here are more suited to this discussion.

It might be tempting for some fans to consider his Dunsanian fantasies "stinkers", but as they are generally well-written, spoken with sincere yearning, and filled with fabulous ideas described with fittingly fabulous language, I wouldn't call most of them stinkers, but rather an area he wasn't best at. They still stand very well for fanciful stories, higher than many writers who dedicate themselves to the genre.

But of his stories in that Dunsanian vein, I definitely consider his sequel "Through the Gates of the Silver Key" a very weak story. It's clear it was written by two different people who weren't on the same page, causing an unwieldy schism between the exotic mysticism and the cosmic horror, leaving both aspects of the story a bit sloppy and incomplete, and too packaged with hurried exposition. And as a sequel to "The Silver Key", it ruins what was a fine ambiguous ending.

It's been many years since I read his ghost writings, so my memories of "Yig" aren't the strongest, but I'm not surprised that some of his ghost writings and collaborations would be weaker than his wholly personal work. I remember finding "Horror in the Museum" fun but not much else. If it was HPL's intention to make a somewhat cartoonish Halloween story then I admit it was just okay, but if it was meant to be as solemnly impressive as "Call of Cthulhu" or "Shadow Out of Time", then I think it falls short.



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 25 Aug 20 | 02:43PM by Hespire.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 25 August, 2020 04:11PM
As to ghost-written stories, HPL did one for Bishop called "The Mound". I personally like the story, but for those who dislike At the Mountains of Madness because it's less plot driven than an extended compendium of cultural/historical observation (he spend many pages simply describing who the hell these being that built the Antarctic city were), well, he does the same with the race that lives beneath the mound.

But me, I *liked* it...liked them both.

Hah! A thought just came to me: did CAS ghost-write like HPL?

For "Reanimator", never read it. I saw an awful X-rated film of the same name, claiming lineage from HPL, at a drive-in theater in San Diego; my date thought I was some kind of degenerate, and it was the end of that romance. After that, I wanted only to forget everything about it, including the title.

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



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 25 Aug 20 | 04:14PM by Sawfish.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 25 August, 2020 05:04PM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Have not read it since my teens, but from my
> impression then, I nominate "Herbert
> West--Reanimator."

Disagree. "Herbert West" is a hoot.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 25 August, 2020 05:32PM
Hespire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> But of his stories in that Dunsanian vein, I
> definitely consider his sequel "Through the Gates
> of the Silver Key" a very weak story. It's clear
> it was written by two different people who weren't
> on the same page, causing an unwieldy schism
> between the exotic mysticism and the cosmic
> horror, leaving both aspects of the story a bit
> sloppy and incomplete, and too packaged with
> hurried exposition. And as a sequel to "The Silver
> Key", it ruins what was a fine ambiguous ending.

Well, I happen to very much like "Through the Gates of the Silver Key". But differences of taste aside, I don't think the flaws you complain of (even if flaws are what they are) stem from the contributions of his co-author. I did read Hoffman-Price's original draft, so my opinion on this is not entirely uninformed.

I suspect HPL decides to "ruin" the ending of "The Silver Key" for much the same reason that he decided to "ruin" the ending to "Celephais" (in "Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath"). He had rejected that solipsistic strain of thought. He realized, at least, that the mind cannot just turn in on itself.

I think I would rather dislike both "The Silver Key" and "Celephais", had HPL not decided to "ruin" them.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Dale Nelson (IP Logged)
Date: 25 August, 2020 05:36PM
I suppose no one will hasten to speak up for "Poetry and the Gods."

"The Hound"?

A number of his early stories probably get more love than they deserve because they are by HPL. "Herbert West," for sure.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 25 August, 2020 07:05PM
Dale Nelson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I suppose no one will hasten to speak up for
> "Poetry and the Gods."

It's a stinker for sure. But it is also "by Anna Helen Crofts and Henry Paget-Lowe". Not only is HPL not given as primary author, but he evidently did not want his true name associated with the piece at all. It was dug up and attributed to him after his death.

> "The Hound"?

It's far from his best, but also far from a stinker, IMHO.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 25 Aug 20 | 07:44PM by Platypus.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 25 August, 2020 07:11PM
Hespire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It's been many years since I read his ghost
> writings, so my memories of "Yig" aren't the
> strongest, but I'm not surprised that some of his
> ghost writings and collaborations would be weaker
> than his wholly personal work.

While I would not call them "stinkers", I would say that his ghostwritten pieces, or "revisions" are at least 2 steps below those he wrote under his own name. The exception would be the story he wrote for Houdini. Houdini was famous, so he got the benefit of a second-rate effort, rather than a third-rate effort.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 25 August, 2020 08:44PM
Platypus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hespire Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > But of his stories in that Dunsanian vein, I
> > definitely consider his sequel "Through the
> Gates
> > of the Silver Key" a very weak story. It's
> clear
> > it was written by two different people who
> weren't
> > on the same page, causing an unwieldy schism
> > between the exotic mysticism and the cosmic
> > horror, leaving both aspects of the story a bit
> > sloppy and incomplete, and too packaged with
> > hurried exposition. And as a sequel to "The
> Silver
> > Key", it ruins what was a fine ambiguous
> ending.
>
> Well, I happen to very much like "Through the
> Gates of the Silver Key". But differences of
> taste aside, I don't think the flaws you complain
> of (even if flaws are what they are) stem from the
> contributions of his co-author. I did read
> Hoffman-Price's original draft, so my opinion on
> this is not entirely uninformed.
>
> I suspect HPL decides to "ruin" the ending of "The
> Silver Key" for much the same reason that he
> decided to "ruin" the ending to "Celephais" (in
> "Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath"). He had rejected
> that solipsistic strain of thought. He realized,
> at least, that the mind cannot just turn in on
> itself.
>
> I think I would rather dislike both "The Silver
> Key" and "Celephais", had HPL not decided to
> "ruin" them.


I hope I did not offend you. I don't have the sort of backbone you and the others have when it comes to disagreements. I really can't stomach any sort of argument, and normally back down the moment someone else is agitated or offers a stronger argument. And I can see you are quite passionate about Lovecraft, so by comparison I have nothing of use to say on this subject.

I would like to add that "Celephais" is a story I don't care much for, and "Dream Quest" is just okay to my taste, though its ending is what makes it stand out most in my mind, feeling naturally beautiful to someone like me, who hates the idea of using fantasy as a permanent escape from reality, a sentiment I am finding more and more examples of in this era.

As for the matter of "Silver Key", I'm not sure if you're accusing me of endorsing a particular philosophy, because most of all I was referring to how the story ends with Carter's disappearance, leaving it up in the air what became of him or if he ever returned, which I felt had good buildup once Lovecraft got over his ranting. While "Through the Gates" technically has that sort of ending too, it didn't feel satisfying to me because I felt some parts of the story, including the Zkauba plotline, weren't fleshed out enough for me to feel personally invested. The story has many brilliant ideas, and in fact it's one of my favorite stories by Lovecraft because of these ideas, but I would have preferred a much different approach to it. Rather than blaming either author, I assumed this quality I don't like was a result of them having conflicting ideas, and Lovecraft himself had mostly negative things to say about the story, even in spite of CAS' and others' enthusiasm for it. But maybe the story is far greater than my stuck-up attitude can appreciate.

I would ask more about the original Price manuscript, whose existence I was unaware of, but I think it is best if I bow out of this thread now. I can't stand the idea of saying things that would hurt, annoy, or conflict with others.



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 25 Aug 20 | 08:51PM by Hespire.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 25 August, 2020 10:28PM
Hespire Wrote:
----------------------------
> I hope I did not offend you.

Not at all. I can't even understand why you would say this.

> I would like to add that "Celephais" is a story I
> don't care much for, and "Dream Quest" is just
> okay to my taste, though its ending is what makes
> it stand out most in my mind, feeling naturally
> beautiful to someone like me, who hates the idea
> of using fantasy as a permanent escape from
> reality, a sentiment I am finding more and more
> examples of in this era.

We're more or less on the same page here.

> As for the matter of "Silver Key", I'm not sure if
> you're accusing me of endorsing a particular
> philosophy, [...]

Not at all. I'm merely explaining my own opinion.

> [...] because most of all I was referring to
> how the story ends with Carter's disappearance,
> leaving it up in the air what became of him or if
> he ever returned, which I felt had good buildup
> once Lovecraft got over his ranting. While
> "Through the Gates" technically has that sort of
> ending too, it didn't feel satisfying to me
> because I felt some parts of the story, including
> the Zkauba plotline, weren't fleshed out enough
> for me to feel personally invested.

That's fine. I enjoyed it. You did not.

> I would ask more about the original Price
> manuscript, whose existence I was unaware of, but
> I think it is best if I bow out of this thread
> now.

I'm not sure how I ever found it before, but if I find it again I'll post a link.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2020 12:50PM
Hespire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I hope I did not offend you.

Also, if you ever use this passive-aggressive whining on me again, I WILL be offended. I don't expect you to apologize for your opinions, and have no intention of apologizing for mine.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2020 02:27PM
I have no issue with disagreements or corrections. My only issue is a neurotic fear of bothering others by wording my opinions too strongly. Text doesn't always properly convey tone, or I don't read text properly, so I assumed your tone was one of annoyance or offense at my disrespect for something you admired. Maybe it's my particular Asian upbringing, I don't know, all I know is I don't handle confrontations over intellectual opinions well, and I fear disrespecting something which other people hold dearly. It's one reason I would make a terrible critic, and am both thrilled and shocked by S. T. Joshi's strongly worded essays, even when I might agree with him. One reason I singled out "Through the Gates of the Silver Key" as a "weak" story is because I usually don't see anyone defending it, and even Lovecraft wasn't fond of it. I assumed I could share my opinion without stirring any controversy, but this experience goes to show that anyone can like and defend anything.

I apologize for my response, sincerely, I just have unhealthy fears of expressing my honest thoughts to strangers, even when I try to. I was hoping I could work on that weakness here, among mature and educated individuals, but perhaps it would be wiser, and more peaceful for everyone, to work on it elsewhere before returning here.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 26 Aug 20 | 02:37PM by Hespire.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2020 03:14PM
Not to worry, Hespire!

My wife is 2nd gen Japanese American, by way of Hawaii. She's not really comfortable in that situation, either.

Often I've speculated aloud that the main reason she keeps me around is to strong-arm other people, when it come in handy. She just smiles coyly...

...but, you know, *maybe* there's something in that... (gulp!)

;^)

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

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2020 07:57PM
Every time I post an opinion on this site, no matter how foolhardy or enthusiastic I sound, it's always with doubt and anxiety. It's why I felt a little bad when considering which of CAS' stories are "stinkers", fearing both disapproving members and the imaginary ghost of CAS, and why I insisted that other people here are better at discussing HPL's stories than me. Funny you share your experience with a Japanese wife, because my Japanese mother definitely instilled this in me.

With that said, I did read "Through the Gates of the Silver Key" last night, fearful of my ignorance and arrogance as a reader and eager to change my mind. In spite of my complaints, I've always considered it one of my favorite HPL stories because of its open-minded nature and wild ideas. It's the only story I know in which Lovecraft (or rather Price, but HPL left this in) acknowledged that calling ancient alien beings "abominable" and "malignant" is a bit overly judgmental, and that entities like Yog-Sothoth couldn't possibly be so evil because they are far too grand to even think of harming little ol' humanity. It offers a rare perspective on Lovecraft's mythos that resonates with me, though I'm no Theosophist or orientalist. And the plot with Yaddith was a fun idea for a cosmic horror, and I mirror Robert E. Howard's sentiment that a whole story about Yaddith would be great.

But unfortunately I still found the story rather lacking, even with my attempt at opening my mind to it. It's a brilliant idea from beginning to end, but I found the whole plot with Yaddith so rushed and so different from what came previously that I couldn't immerse myself in it. Maybe I would have preferred it if HPL had just focused on a story about Carter, Zkauba, and Yaddith, and left out Price's Theosophic lecturing and the adventure with Yog-Sothoth. It felt like two very different stories with very different perspectives, rather than a natural progression from one thing to the next. And I understand that maybe HPL wanted it to be a shocking revelation, that humans can dream of other worlds but could never truly thrive outside of their own, and that human senses wouldn't handle the shock of being suddenly dropped into an alien dimension. But none of that spoke to me, because even after spending ages with all these otherworldly adventures (adventures which were too vague to entice my imagination), Carter simply hated being an alien, and I couldn't put myself in his shoes because I don't think this side of his conflict was explored very deeply. There was too much summary for me to feel for his plight.

Even if "Dream Quest" isn't one of my favorites, I still appreciate the progression of feelings and events leading up to the revelation that Carter's true dream-city was his home all along. There was a long, ambling, but definite progression rising up to that exact moment. And the twist that Nyarlathotep, his mysterious arch-nemesis, is the one to reveal this to him was a stroke of genius. But in "Through the Gates", it felt too sudden and too much at odds with Price's contribution. Again, none of the ideas are bad, but the presentation of them felt discordant to me, and rushed as if HPL might not have enjoyed writing this, which might be true because he stated he wasn't eager to write any sort of sequel to "Silver Key." I would have preferred this either as a longer novel or perhaps as two different stories, so that all the ideas could breathe and be explored more deeply.

Maybe CAS, who was so enthusiastic about this story, could have done something a little more unified with it, since he had written several stories dealing with men visiting alien worlds. And the idea of an alien avatar hating its human avatar but forced to share the same body sounds like the sort of drama and humor he would have played up. Almost along the lines of the subtle humor and horror in his "Monster of the Prophecy."

I refuse to call any story a "stinker" now, but I do feel that this story is one of Lovecraft's notably weaker efforts.



Edited 8 time(s). Last edit at 26 Aug 20 | 08:14PM by Hespire.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 26 August, 2020 10:27PM
Looking through my books of letters, I found this sample of HPL's lack of enthusiasm for "Through the Gates" in a letter to R. H. Barlow from August of 1933. Every time he brings up this story in other letters, it's to emphasize that he was reluctant and doesn't enjoy collaborating.

Quote:
Yes—Price told me you had the MS. of the Silver Key sequel, together with the preliminary draught he prepared. I'm no good at collaboration—having to fit another person's ideas spoils the whole creative process with me. I doubt whether Wright will take this hodge-podge—but Sultan Malik has now sent it on to him.

Of course HPL's reluctance cannot affect how anyone views his work; CAS liked "Through the Gates" just fine and I enjoyed other stories HPL claimed to dislike, but I do think his comments explain why I found this story so much weaker than what he usually wrote.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 26 Aug 20 | 10:29PM by Hespire.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 27 August, 2020 07:49AM
Hespire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Every time I post an opinion on this site, no
> matter how foolhardy or enthusiastic I sound, it's
> always with doubt and anxiety. It's why I felt a
> little bad when considering which of CAS' stories
> are "stinkers", fearing both disapproving members
> and the imaginary ghost of CAS, and why I insisted
> that other people here are better at discussing
> HPL's stories than me. Funny you share your
> experience with a Japanese wife, because my
> Japanese mother definitely instilled this in me.
>

This is all very interesting. And it illuminates some of the difference between European culture and Japanese culture. The ideas of democracy (Greece) and freedom of speech (Voltaire) are very much European ideas, and are not automatically taken for granted in other parts of the World. I don't believe Japan has any particular traditions of free speech or open arguments. But on the other hand, Japan has other (correct me if I am mistaken) cultural values, such as serving, discipline, respect for authority, perfecting of skills, dignity, and honor; qualities which in themselves can be of great value, and in part explains why Japan has become such a successful and stable nation. (Don't know if the same things can be said for Asian culture generally; but China is not quite the same, with a greater focus on total and silent obedience. Not sure how the situation was in China before the Revolution, but culture and art were certainly much higher standing; in other words, individual talent was favored.).

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 27 August, 2020 11:03AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> This is all very interesting. And it illuminates
> some of the difference between European culture
> and Japanese culture. The ideas of democracy
> (Greece) and freedom of speech (Voltaire) are very
> much European ideas, and are not automatically
> taken for granted in other parts of the World. I
> don't believe Japan has any particular traditions
> of free speech or open arguments. But on the other
> hand, Japan has other (correct me if I am
> mistaken) cultural values, such as serving,
> discipline, respect for authority, perfecting of
> skills, dignity, and honor; qualities which in
> themselves can be of great value, and in part
> explains why Japan has become such a successful
> and stable nation. (Don't know if the same things
> can be said for Asian culture generally; but China
> is not quite the same, with a greater focus on
> total and silent obedience. Not sure how the
> situation was in China before the Revolution, but
> culture and art were certainly much higher
> standing; in other words, individual talent was
> favored.).


I'm half japanese, and spent most of my life surrounded by Americans, especially the white side of my family (a very loud, roaring bunch), so I would probably seem more quaint, amusing, or even barbaric to a fully Japanese person raised in Japan. But what you say is true from what I've learned through my mother, and the times I've taken interest in her homeland (haven't ever visited!). Harmony is a key thing, and most disagreements, both minor and major, have to be suffered in silence when in public. Political and intellectual matters are best kept to yourself, or shared only with close friends and family. No doubt my American upbringing makes me more likely to raise an unwanted opinion, and although my mother might have been shy even for a Japanese person, I learned both beneficial and crippling traits from her.

On the subject of Japan, I have an online Japanese friend who told me the Cthulhu Mythos is a bit of a hit over there, and many Japanese artists enjoy illustrating its stories and creatures. CAS also has a very small presence there, but few of his stories have been translated. My friend, who speaks decent English, can hardly understand what CAS is saying in the original English, for obvious reasons! Once he also shared a fascinating illustration of CAS' monsters terrorizing the Japanese countryside in the style of traditional paintings! But this is getting out of hand, I didn't expect a discussion based on my heritage, I was simply explaining why I'm a bit of a nuisance. Passive-aggressiveness is more common in Japan than direct arguing, at least in public, and when you're raised by an overly aggressive father and a meek mother, you learn some things.



Edited 5 time(s). Last edit at 27 Aug 20 | 11:20AM by Hespire.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 27 August, 2020 11:31AM
Knygatin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hespire Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Every time I post an opinion on this site, no
> > matter how foolhardy or enthusiastic I sound,
> it's
> > always with doubt and anxiety. It's why I felt
> a
> > little bad when considering which of CAS'
> stories
> > are "stinkers", fearing both disapproving
> members
> > and the imaginary ghost of CAS, and why I
> insisted
> > that other people here are better at discussing
> > HPL's stories than me. Funny you share your
> > experience with a Japanese wife, because my
> > Japanese mother definitely instilled this in
> me.
> >
>
> This is all very interesting. And it illuminates
> some of the difference between European culture
> and Japanese culture. The ideas of democracy
> (Greece) and freedom of speech (Voltaire) are very
> much European ideas, and are not automatically
> taken for granted in other parts of the World. I
> don't believe Japan has any particular traditions
> of free speech or open arguments. But on the other
> hand, Japan has other (correct me if I am
> mistaken) cultural values, such as serving,
> discipline, respect for authority, perfecting of
> skills, dignity, and honor; qualities which in
> themselves can be of great value, and in part
> explains why Japan has become such a successful
> and stable nation. (Don't know if the same things
> can be said for Asian culture generally; but China
> is not quite the same, with a greater focus on
> total and silent obedience. Not sure how the
> situation was in China before the Revolution, but
> culture and art were certainly much higher
> standing; in other words, individual talent was
> favored.).

While I deeply believe that ultimately, human interaction between individuals is ultimately what is the defining nature of that relationship, it is also fair and mostly justifiable to make cultural generalization, as a sort of "first cut" in understanding an emerging social dynamic when dealing with those of a differing cultural background.

Those who are less generous tend to call this "prejudice", but in fact, one's personal ability to make considered judgements about emerging situations is the single biggest source of personal power/authority, or, if poorly done, self-inflicted misery, that one has in one's life.

In my observation, the simplest difference between Japanese and Chinese contemporary cultural norms is that a granular level of subservience is evident in Japanese culture and less evident in Chinese. By this I mean that the ***tendency*** in Japanese culture seems to me that many more socially-recognized "castes" existed at one time and much of the baggage from this carries on to this day, such that when any two individuals meet, the relative ranking must be sorted out before proceeding. Perhaps this is a by-product of a form of feudalism that was present in Japan, and relative to Chinese levels of social organization, more recently, historically.

In contemporary society the differences in "caste" have eroded, but what remains is the elaborate social "politeness". My best guess, therefore, is that what appears to the western eye to be a concern with politeness is simply an evolved response of subservience to a (potentially) higher caste member--one who in former times had life or death power over you.

You'll note in contemporary business relationships among Japanese, a level of vocal restraint by those of less status, and a heightened vocal projection, often terse, in response from those who are of higher status, as they relate to each other.

Now, my wife of 35 years is 2 generations removed from this (just as I'm 2 gen removed from my cultural forebears--but from the other side of the globe), and also from Hawaii--which is pretty laid back, relaxed. Much of this has eroded, but over the years she shares with me the sort of stuff she had seen from the older folks, right straight from Japan, and sometimes she'll mention something we see on TV, a certain expressed attitude or tendency.

I have had less exposure to contemporary Chinese culture, but what I've seen of it is much less of this sort of fixed social status response as there is among contemporary Japanese.

These are only my own opinions an therefore subject to flaw.

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

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 27 August, 2020 11:52AM
I'm going to diverge into social stuff, Hespire. It is fun and if no one objects...

If they do, I will refrain after this. This site is *special* and I'm not going to change it if most here prefer to keep this stuff off the forum...

Hespire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Knygatin Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > This is all very interesting. And it
> illuminates
> > some of the difference between European culture
> > and Japanese culture. The ideas of democracy
> > (Greece) and freedom of speech (Voltaire) are
> very
> > much European ideas, and are not automatically
> > taken for granted in other parts of the World.
> I
> > don't believe Japan has any particular
> traditions
> > of free speech or open arguments. But on the
> other
> > hand, Japan has other (correct me if I am
> > mistaken) cultural values, such as serving,
> > discipline, respect for authority, perfecting
> of
> > skills, dignity, and honor; qualities which in
> > themselves can be of great value, and in part
> > explains why Japan has become such a successful
> > and stable nation. (Don't know if the same
> things
> > can be said for Asian culture generally; but
> China
> > is not quite the same, with a greater focus on
> > total and silent obedience. Not sure how the
> > situation was in China before the Revolution,
> but
> > culture and art were certainly much higher
> > standing; in other words, individual talent was
> > favored.).
>
>
> I'm half japanese, and spent most of my life
> surrounded by Americans, especially the white side
> of my family (a very loud, roaring bunch), so I
> would probably seem more quaint, amusing, or even
> barbaric to a fully Japanese person raised in
> Japan.

Hah! My wife says that in Hawaii she ran into Japanese tourists and/or students (in college there she tutored Japanese students in English) who seemed to cast doubt on her level of "Japaense-ness".

Very insular culture, it seems.

So, our daughter is like you--in Hawaii the term is "hapa". Personally, I think she's very pretty, but I'm badly biased... ;^)


> But what you say is true from what I've
> learned through my mother, and the times I've
> taken interest in her homeland (haven't ever
> visited!). Harmony is a key thing, and most
> disagreements, both minor and major, have to be
> suffered in silence when in public. Political and
> intellectual matters are best kept to yourself, or
> shared only with close friends and family. No
> doubt my American upbringing makes me more likely
> to raise an unwanted opinion, and although my
> mother might have been shy even for a Japanese
> person, I learned both beneficial and crippling
> traits from her.

Yes. There most certainly *are* beneficial traits from my wife's side. I can see them in our daughter and as a young adult starting out, I'm *extremely* happy she has picked them up. They are going to benefit her in life, for sure.

>
> On the subject of Japan, I have an online Japanese
> friend who told me the Cthulhu Mythos is a bit of
> a hit over there, and many Japanese artists enjoy
> illustrating its stories and creatures. CAS also
> has a very small presence there, but few of his
> stories have been translated. My friend, who
> speaks decent English, can hardly understand what
> CAS is saying in the original English, for obvious
> reasons!

Hah! There are native English speakers who'd say the same!!!

> Once he also shared a fascinating
> illustration of CAS' monsters terrorizing the
> Japanese countryside in the style of traditional
> paintings! But this is getting out of hand, I
> didn't expect a discussion based on my heritage, I
> was simply explaining why I'm a bit of a nuisance.


Not to worry; no nuisance. Please stick around. Your observations/comments have great value to the forum.

Some posters here are just naturally gruff. That's OK, too.

> Passive-aggressiveness is more common in Japan
> than direct arguing, at least in public, and when
> you're raised by an overly aggressive father and a
> meek mother, you learn some things.

Hah!

I would like to think that when I'm aggressive--which is not too much, I hope--it's for the outside world. Like car repair folks, etc.

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

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 28 August, 2020 11:11AM
A while ago I learned from my friend that sometimes Japanese people will openly question the "Japanese-ness" of a person, especially those who lived in foreign countries or half-Japanese people, when they don't behave as most Japanese do! It's amusing to learn an example of that from someone else. Hearing about your wife and daughter was very pleasant, and it sounds like you have a great life going. Nothing can make me smile more!

Interestingly, I learned about "hapa" just this month. I've never been to Hawaii, but from what I've read that word implies a more friendly or accepting take on mixed race than usual. It even sounds pleasant to say!

I'll leave things here, as I don't want to further annoy anyone by accident, but discussions on societal matters like this might perhaps be suited to Knygatin's universal thread, perhaps?

To bring things back to Lovecraft, I'll just add that I've read Sawfish's suggestion of "The Mound" a long time ago, and it definitely never struck me as a stinker. Lovecraft's investigations of alien civilizations are fascinating and more realistic than most sci-fi's I've read. It seems his ghost writings are pretty decent because he still had some creative control, while "Through the Gates" was more difficult because he had to find some way to merge Price's perspective with the story Lovecraft would have preferred telling.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 28 August, 2020 11:33AM
WRT to HPL's ghost writing as opposed to CAS--of whom I'm unsure if he ever did *any*--I'm intrigued to think that *maybe* HPL had clients for his services *because* he is so damned professional and consistent.

I mean, he really seemed to put in a very professional effort, no matter what. Very admirable work ethic.

And yes, I agree that maybe social stuff should go on the "general" super-thread, but...

Yes, we *do* have a very pleasant life!!! Very, very lucky, I am...

And yes, "hapa" in Hawaii, and here on the mainland too, is a sort of positive identifier. My daughter has told e that she feels a sort of special kinship to other hapa kids, and seeks them out when possible. She say it raises amusing observations...

"Oh, is your Dad willing to eat natto? Not mine...can't say that I like it much, either".

My introduction to the way race is treated in Hawaii was foundational; I was exposed to it the first time at about age 38 or so. There, race has little extra baggage; it has roughly the same significance as the paint job on your car.

Very relaxed...

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

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 28 August, 2020 02:08PM
Hespire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Harmony is a key thing, and most
> disagreements, both minor and major, have to be
> suffered in silence when in public. Political and
> intellectual matters are best kept to yourself, or
> shared only with close friends and family. ...
> Passive-aggressiveness is more common in Japan than direct arguing, at least in public,
>

Passive-aggressiveness is part of every civilized culture. Otherwise our society would have looked like a battlefield out of R. E. Howard's Conan. In European culture the intellectual debate has evolved to sidestep violence. The more repressed communication in Japanese culture can have some negative neurotic side effects, for sooner or later energy has to go somewhere. Akira Kurosawa's films examine this, and, I am sure, so do also many modern Japanese films that I have not seen.



> I have an online Japanese
> friend who told me the Cthulhu Mythos is a bit of
> a hit over there, ... CAS also
> has a very small presence there, ...

Europeans have much respect for the sophistication of Japanese culture, especially the samurai tradition, and of course technology, have made a great impression. Likewise Japanese are very curious about Western culture. There is a polite but dedicated fanbase in Japan for almost every little obscure underground cult band or artist we have (and most of us don't even know about). The Japanese are very enthusiastic. But this extreme open-mindedness also make them vulnerable and run the risk of threatening Japanese culture, from destructive liberal capitalist influences flooding the country.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 28 August, 2020 02:38PM
I'll cut/paste this to the super-thread...under "Observations on Japanese culture".

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



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 28 Aug 20 | 02:39PM by Sawfish.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 28 August, 2020 09:35PM
Hespire Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
[Re: "Through the Gates of the Silver Key"
> It's the only story I know in which
> Lovecraft (or rather Price, but HPL left this in)
> acknowledged that calling ancient alien beings
> "abominable" and "malignant" is a bit overly
> judgmental, and that entities like Yog-Sothoth
> couldn't possibly be so evil because they are far
> too grand to even think of harming little ol'
> humanity.

Carter's "beyond good and evil" perspective is to some extent HPL's perspective, since HPL is (philosophically though perhaps not "aesthetically") a moral nihilist.

But in story terms, what happens here is that Carter makes a deal with demon, loses his humanity, and becomes a monster. Maybe that's the aesthetics acting up, and overwhelming the philosophy.

> But none
> of that spoke to me, because even after spending
> ages with all these otherworldly adventures
> (adventures which were too vague to entice my
> imagination), Carter simply hated being an alien,
> and I couldn't put myself in his shoes because I
> don't think this side of his conflict was explored
> very deeply. There was too much summary for me to
> feel for his plight.

Yes, well, perhaps this is consistent with our different reactions to "The Monster of the Prophesy". I found it very easy to understand that, after a while, Carter began to long for the return of that which he lost.

> Even if "Dream Quest" isn't one of my favorites, I
> still appreciate the progression of feelings and
> events leading up to the revelation that Carter's
> true dream-city was his home all along. There was
> a long, ambling, but definite progression rising
> up to that exact moment. And the twist that
> Nyarlathotep, his mysterious arch-nemesis, is the
> one to reveal this to him was a stroke of genius.

What Nyarlathotep did was try to draw him out into space. Carter decides he is loyal to the World, throws himself off the Shanktak, falls to the earth, and retains his humanity.

But in "Through the Gates of the Silver Key", Carter lets himself get drawn out into space by Yog Sothoth, realizes he wants to return too late, and loses his humanity.

In some way the message of both tales is very consistent. The difference is that in "Dream Quest ..." Carter jumps ship just on time; and in "Through the Gates ..." he changes course too late.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 28 Aug 20 | 09:39PM by Platypus.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Kipling (IP Logged)
Date: 28 August, 2020 10:02PM
Platypus Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hespire Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > It's been many years since I read his ghost
> > writings, so my memories of "Yig" aren't the
> > strongest, but I'm not surprised that some of
> his
> > ghost writings and collaborations would be
> weaker
> > than his wholly personal work.
>
> While I would not call them "stinkers", I would
> say that his ghostwritten pieces, or "revisions"
> are at least 2 steps below those he wrote under
> his own name. The exception would be the story he
> wrote for Houdini. Houdini was famous, so he got
> the benefit of a second-rate effort, rather than a
> third-rate effort.


I disagree with your endorsement of "Through the Gates of the Silver Key," and "Under the Pyramids"; they are stinkers, as are "From Beyond", "He", & that all-time snoozer, "In the Walls of Eryx". Smith's "A Captivity in Serpens" is a dull example of pulp prolixity, but his style makes even less stellar tales such as "The Immortals of Mercury" or "The Immeasurable Horror" hold my interest. He himself felt that "The Door to Saturn", which has a trite plot, was stylistically strong, possibly moreso because of its initial ecclesiastical satire.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Hespire (IP Logged)
Date: 28 August, 2020 10:18PM
After our discussion on "Monster of the Prophecy", I see this is mostly a matter of taste. I concede that "Through the Gates" is far from the worst. In fact it only seemed so bad because I felt it was weaker than most of Lovecraft's other cosmic horrors, and a bit too uneven for his Dunsanian fantasies. I still don't consider it a good story, but I'll admit I might have been a bit harsh on it. I can appreciate many aspects of it though, especially the strange and darkly humorous ending.

Your comparison of the two Carter tales makes me appreciate them as alternate outcomes for a similar mental state.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 28 Aug 20 | 10:21PM by Hespire.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 28 August, 2020 11:24PM
Kipling Wrote:
> I disagree with your endorsement of "Through the
> Gates of the Silver Key," and "Under the
> Pyramids"; they are stinkers, ...

Calling "Imprisoned with the Pharaohs" (the historically correct title; there is no good reason to call it anything else) a "second rate effort" was not much of an endorsement from me. I would not say the same about "Through the Gates ...". On "Through the Gates ...", we have more of a disagreement.

Still, "Imprisoned with the Pharaohs" was by far the best of the 3 pieces Houdini wrote for WEIRD TALES.

> as are "From Beyond", "He", ....

I'm okay with both stories, particularly "He" which has some memorable imagery. I would rate "Cool Air" and "Beyond the Wall of Sleep" lower.

> & that all-time snoozer, "In the Walls of Eryx".

A piece of revision work HPL redrafted for Kenneth Sterling. In substance (if not style) it is probably mostly Sterling's. I doubt if there is any good reason to suppose that HPL ever wanted his name attached to it. That occurred after his death.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 28 Aug 20 | 11:31PM by Platypus.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 29 August, 2020 12:43AM
Kipling Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> that all-time snoozer, "In the Walls of Eryx".
>

It is the best story about being stuck in a labyrinth I have ever read. I like it a lot.

Other labyrinths that come to mind, are in movies, Laurel and Hardy Goes to Oxford and Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Kipling (IP Logged)
Date: 30 August, 2020 10:16PM
Have you read Edmund Hamilton's invisible labyrinth fantasy, "The Monster-God of Mamurth", or Smith's "The Invisible City"?Lovecraft got quite a kick out of the former, back in the 20s when it appeared in Weird Tales. The distinctive of HPL's story (which he wrote almost entirely despite what Platypus avers), is the documentary framing device. This method, while effective in "The Mound," for example, doesn't gather as much suspense in "Eryx" as the standard dramatic narrative employed by both Smith and Hamilton. The Hamilton story is the best of the three, and more original since it pre-dates Smith and Lovecraft. I think C.L. Moore used the idea too in "Werewoman", but I may be mistaken.

jkh

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 30 August, 2020 11:35PM
Kipling Wrote:
------------------------
> The distinctive
> of HPL's story (which he wrote almost entirely
> despite what Platypus avers) ....

I'm not sure this entirely contrary to what I averred, depending on what is meant by "wrote almost entirely". But even if it were, I am not familiar with the evidence that would induce me to reconsider. Is Sterling's original draft available, for instance, so we could compare it?

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Knygatin (IP Logged)
Date: 31 August, 2020 01:39AM
Kipling Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Have you read Edmund Hamilton's invisible
> labyrinth fantasy, "The Monster-God of Mamurth",

No, I haven't. I shall!

> or Smith's "The Invisible City"?

Yes, but it was many years ago. I don't remember the details. I will reread it!

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Ashurabani (IP Logged)
Date: 13 September, 2020 08:31AM
I'm shocked no one nominated "The Horror at Red Hook", considering it is completely nonsensical and is very badly composed even from a narrative perspective.

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Sawfish (IP Logged)
Date: 13 September, 2020 11:13AM
Ashurabani Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'm shocked no one nominated "The Horror at Red
> Hook", considering it is completely nonsensical
> and is very badly composed even from a narrative
> perspective.


I certainly tend to agree that it's somehow not a good story, Anshurabani, but what specifically do you mean about "nonsensical", and also "badly composed"?

I think you have something interesting in mind and I'm eager to read it, and I'll prime the ol' analytical pump--so to speak--by saying up front:

1) My first thought is that once you accept that an author's output will routine treat seriously, in the context of the narrative, an octopus-headed alien entity who lies in a dormant state in a sunken city, or others of his ilk, pretty much anything goes. The reader has basically accepted that normal rules of reality don't apply, that it's OK, and so long as the narrative both forms its own rules--by implication or directly--and doesn't violate *its own rules*, it's at least minimally acceptable.

So the basic premise will likely be acceptable, but perhaps the way the plot is structured--manipulated artificial, etc.--this, too, might be nonsensical.

2) My overall impression of Lovecraft's published output is that he was a competent storyteller and his composition (POV, narrative sequence, resolution, etc.) was solid if not artistic. But I can easily be convinced otherwise.

3) Yep. It's definitely not a good story, so far as my recollection of it, but I'm uncertain of the specific reasons why.

It would be fun to kick this around in the group, if you are OK with it. ED is developing to be a lot like the upper division Lit seminars I attended way back when when Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth--stimulating, enjoyable, collegial.

Hope to hear from you!!

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

Re: CAS had "stinkers"...how about HPL?
Posted by: Platypus (IP Logged)
Date: 13 September, 2020 02:54PM
Ashurabani Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'm shocked no one nominated "The Horror at Red
> Hook", considering it is completely nonsensical
> and is very badly composed even from a narrative
> perspective.

The stigma of racism that attaches to it will make many reluctant to defend it. But apart from that, I do not agree with your statement and, like Sawfish, I am uncertain exactly what you mean by it. Your dismissal of the plot as "completely nonsensical" seems over-the-top, and suggests to me that you did not fully understand the story. But if you merely mean that you did not enjoy the story, that is something no-one can argue with.



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