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Re: whitechapel essay
Posted by: voleboy (IP Logged)
Date: 10 May, 2005 03:13AM
Like Lovecraft, and some others, I am a mechanistic materialist, although I also admit that we will never know all, as a result of our being in the universe and of it as well. I like Richard Dawkins, and admire his work, which is why I added him in part.

But that doesn't mean that I can't love Clark Ashton Smith, either.

*Author of Strange Gardens [www.lulu.com]


*Editor of Calenture: a Journal of Studies in Speculative Verse [calenture.fcpages.com]

*Visit my homepage: [voleboy.freewebpages.org]

Re: whitechapel essay
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 10 May, 2005 09:48AM
Quote:
But that doesn't mean that I can't love Clark Ashton Smith, either.

No one's saying that you can't. Lovecraft loved CAS's work, too, after all. Still, you obviously must also have the same fundamental philosophical disagreement with him that Lovecraft had. By the way, it's amusing to see budding debates on this subject arise on occasion in the letters between the two, only to be quickly curtailed by CAS's diplomacy and/or submissiveness in this instance. My sense is that CAS had very little taste for debate, in general (the occasional letters to fanzines not withstanding), and that he did not wish to find himself bludgeoned by twenty-page typewritten Lovecraftian polemics on science and materialism.

My very short take on Dawkins and mechanistic materialism: Dawkins is an ideologue on a mission to promote the religion of Science, and is as blind as the watchmaker in the title of one of his books.

As for mechanistic materialism, the universe is under no obligation to respect the limitations of the mind that contemplates it. That's all I'll say here on this subject, though, as it's grossly off-topic, and I did not mean to open the door to such a digression.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10 May 05 | 09:58AM by Kyberean.

Re: whitechapel essay
Posted by: Mikey_C (IP Logged)
Date: 10 May, 2005 12:52PM
I think 'free speech' is a red herring in this context, although it is true that Whitechapel's views may be illegal in some countries on the grounds of 'incitement to racial hatred' - what we individually think of that would be too much of a digression here.

What is really in question is the issue of the site's editorial values (or lack of them) and how they impact on the reputation of CAS and, as LSN has pointed out, those of us who post here. (I'm well aware that the argument of 'free speech' has been used to defend the publication of hardcore porn - but would we want to see that here, if it did have a tenuous CAS theme?)

'Political correctness' is similarly not the issue. We all know that when see it, and it's generally laughable. A woman in my workplace objected to the use of the phrase 'master key' on the grounds it was 'sexist'! 'PC' is a matter of making an effort to search out things to be offended by. This, on the other hand, is different. It stares you in the face, and the hate pours off of it.

If people are still uncomfortable on this point, then try looking at this at the point of view of simple, old fashioned good taste and manners. Why should people of all backgrounds not feel that they can use this site without being insulted? Why can I not feel comfortable in recommending it to my friends (some of whom are, indeed, Jewish)?

Eldritch Dark is labelled "The Sanctum of Clark Ashton Smith". It is therefore sacred to his memory. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't discuss all aspects of the man, including those very few things that some of us may not feel altogether comfortable with. It does however mean that these need to be contextualised and kept in perspective. The man deserves to be treated with respect and not used as a foil to promote someone else's agenda, particular when this is one which is guaranteed to cause so much offence.

I think it may be useful to think back to the time that the 'Stop the War' banner was removed from the site. Although I agreed with its sentiments, I could also see it why it was in the wrong place. By all means let's have freedom of speech - but let's have some standards too.

Re: whitechapel essay
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 10 May, 2005 01:24PM
Quote:
The man deserves [...] not [to be] used as a foil to promote someone else's agenda [...].

This is really the crux of the matter, I think. I'm with Scott on this one: It's not a matter of the offensive content of the speech here--that is at least as much a red herring as the freedom of speech idea--it's a matter of how closely the texts in question relate to Clark Ashton Smith and his work. So, in my view, the "standard" should be, "How closely does the text in question relate to the life, work, and thought of Clark Ashton Smith, as opposed to those of the author?". Nevertheless, see below....

Quote:
I think it may be useful to think back to the time that the 'Stop the War' banner was removed from the site. Although I agreed with its sentiments, I could also see it why it was in the wrong place.

I see little relation of that to the instant matter, except that, in both cases, I would say that this is Boyd's site, and he can do as he likes with it. I, for one, was sorry to see the "Stop the War" banner go--not because I necessarily agreed with it, or felt that it belonged here (I did not), but because I hated to see Boyd, a New Zealander, capitulate to a vocal minority of offended Americans. The bottom line is that anyone who does not like the content that Boyd chooses to post on his Web site is welcome to vote with his feet.

Also, if we're invoking the sainted memory of CAS here, then I submit that he wouldn't have cared overmuch about any of this, one way or the other. He (wisely) had very little regard for interpretive essays or other forms of literary criticism, in general, and I doubt seriously that he would have lost sleep over Whitechapel's piece.

Re: whitechapel essay
Posted by: voleboy (IP Logged)
Date: 10 May, 2005 04:53PM
Having made my main points earlier regarding Simon, I'd like to address the concept of the relevance of the texts gathered.

Yes, I agree that the texts gathered together here must have relevance to the site's theme: the life, works and interpretation of Clark Ashton Smith. And yes, I would like to see more critical material: hence the attempts, momentarily stalled, to look at individual poems, and my current work on several essays for (hopefully) future publication here.

The question remains: is Simon's piece relevant as a pice about, or relating to, CAS, or does it remain peripheral? In part, according to my reading, it is both. At one point, it looks at the racial response by CAS to the presence of Jews in publishing, and then it argues that such a reaction is justified: some aspects of prejudice are justified, these aspects here are, therefore CAS had a right to express his antisemitism.

There has been recent research which argues that the more negative stereotypes are applied to a group, the more likely those negative characteristics are adopted by the group; the same is not true of positive characteristics. Thus, we can argue that Christians have absorbed such negative characteristics as hypocrisy, and, especially with Protestant Christians, a concern with wealth and power as being indicative of divine favour. With Jews, as a result of centuries of Christian antisemitism and focus upon the afterlife, rather than the material, corporeal aspects as embodied in the profane world of usury, the Jews have been forced to adopt a concern with money, as the moneylenders to the Christians. The Christians needed the Jewish money, and hated them for that need, and punished them as a result.

Therefore, the spheres of money and finance became the locus for Jewish activity, and CAS' comments on Jews in that respect become no more than unthinking boorishness, which, nonetheless, remain problematic.

When we look at Simon's work, then, in light of these considerations, how relevant is it? I would argue that it is in effect liminal, borderline. It can be argued that the initial focus on CAS and the expressions of his antisemitism is enough to maintain a relevance to the site. Others may argue that the divorce of the bulk of the argument, the focus on the supposed validity of prejudice in fact, is enough to warrant its consideration as irrelevant. Here, we must argue--pro, contra--over that central issue: is this piece relevant to the site's avowed focus? That must be our focus.

One sociological argument looks at the question of group boundaries. It argues that periodically someone or something will test a group's boundaries, and this is either absorbed or rejected by the group; in the process, the boundaries shift, to reflect the process, and new standards are assumed. I see both the war banner, and this essay as prime examples of this process. Simon, here, is challenging us to accept certain standards of relevance to CAS. Need a text only be about CAS, mainly about him, partially about him, or peripherally about him, to be accepted? This instance, this question is relevant to everything on the site, from his articles to my poems, and beyond, and it also indicates that we should have a healthy, flourishing climate for both intellectual and aesthetic debate, that we can address this issue without dogmatism or division.

We need, then, Simon's essay, as it helps define what we, as a group, mean by CAS, and what we will accept as relevant to our own fascination with him and his legacy.

*Author of Strange Gardens [www.lulu.com]


*Editor of Calenture: a Journal of Studies in Speculative Verse [calenture.fcpages.com]

*Visit my homepage: [voleboy.freewebpages.org]

Re: whitechapel essay
Posted by: Mikey_C (IP Logged)
Date: 11 May, 2005 03:26PM
Very good arguments, everyone. 'The group' has looked at this rationally, and considered the matter from almost every angle. Just two small questions remain though: does 'the group' acknowledge that the article is hate speech? And, if so, does 'the group' wish to 'absorb' or 'reject' it?

To assist - a definition:

hate speech
n.

Bigoted speech attacking or disparaging a social or ethnic group or a member of such a group.


PS The point is well taken that "that anyone who does not like the content that Boyd chooses to post on his Web site is welcome to vote with his feet", but I hope that Boyd will appreciate that I care about CAS and I care about this site, because, apart from the one matter under discussion, I think its rather splendid. I don't want to have to go, in other words.

Re: whitechapel essay
Posted by: Scott Connors (IP Logged)
Date: 11 May, 2005 08:16PM
Mikey_C Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Very good arguments, everyone. 'The group' has
> looked at this rationally, and considered the
> matter from almost every angle.

Yes, I am very proud that we have managed to avoid turning this into a flame war. I think that this says a lot about the quality of people posting on this group. Everybody take one attaboy out of petty cash.

Just two small
> questions remain though: does 'the group'
> acknowledge that the article is hate speech?

I have philosophical problems with the entire concept of "hate speech." This is not, however, the time or place for a discussion of that issue.

And,
> if so, does 'the group' wish to 'absorb' or
> 'reject' it?

I reject it, but only on the grounds of it being essentially "off topic." As I mentioned above, IMO Simon is using CAS as a stalking horse to advance a position that is essentially antithetical to CAS. A lot of people talked one way before the Holocaust, and another after Auschwitz became common knowledge. Even Henry Ford got that point.
>
>[snippage]
>
> PS The point is well taken that "that anyone who
> does not like the content that Boyd chooses to
> post on his Web site is welcome to vote with his
> feet", but I hope that Boyd will appreciate that I
> care about CAS and I care about this site,
> because, apart from the one matter under
> discussion, I think its rather splendid. I don't
> want to have to go, in other words.

One essay which tangently links CAS with Anti-semitism is hardly going to tar either him or us with the stigma of wanting to fire up the crematoriums once again. I hope that you stay, but like President Truman said, if you can't stand the heat, you might wish to exit the kitchen. It might be just me, though, but it seems to me as if it isn't hot even to break a sweat even.

Best,
Scott




Re: whitechapel essay
Posted by: voleboy (IP Logged)
Date: 11 May, 2005 10:05PM
Scott Connors Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> A lot of people talked one way before the Holocaust,
> and another after Auschwitz became common knowledge.

If we are going to look seriously at CAS' use of racist or racialist comments, this is a point we have to keep in mind: when did he speak?

Let me postulate the following: CAS was racist to a degree. He was not as vehement a one as Lovecraft, nor did he attempt to buttress his beliefs with pseudoscience, again like Lovecraft. What he did do was to respond to events, so that as the full extent of the Holocaust became known to him, he dropped his raism, learning from his mistakes. So that, by the time Doc F knew him, he was no longer a racist, and wiser.

This is just a hypothesis, and I would like to have a decent look at what I can for any evidence. The question is, then, what evidence have we that his racism lasted beyond the aftermath of WW2?

*Author of Strange Gardens [www.lulu.com]


*Editor of Calenture: a Journal of Studies in Speculative Verse [calenture.fcpages.com]

*Visit my homepage: [voleboy.freewebpages.org]

Re: whitechapel essay
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 11 May, 2005 11:24PM
I would not go so far as to call Whitechapel's essay "hate speech", although, like Scott, I have problems with the term "hate speech" itself. I also believe that the piece is not quite sufficiently related to CAS's work to merit a place on this site, but, again, I feel that Boyd may do as he pleases in this regard.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11 May 05 | 11:26PM by Kyberean.

Re: whitechapel essay
Posted by: lokilokust (IP Logged)
Date: 29 May, 2005 09:47AM
personally, i wouldn't consider it 'hate speech,' but i also have problems with that very concept.
i do think, however, that the author seems to be projecting a number his abberant (to me) viewpoints and attempts to recontextualise smith's own anti-semitism to justify his own.
yrs. in exile,
-.s.j. bagley

Re: whitechapel essay
Posted by: Mikey_C (IP Logged)
Date: 30 May, 2005 02:31AM
Aberrant or abhorrent? (Both, probably ;-])

Re: whitechapel essay
Posted by: lokilokust (IP Logged)
Date: 1 June, 2005 11:00AM
both, i would say.

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