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Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 6 September, 2009 03:41PM
Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As for CAS's personal philosophy, his cosmicism
> and his ability to escape the conditioning of the
> "human aquarium" are profoundly original.

When I said that Smith was not much of a philosopher, what I meant, of course, was that I consider the sort of thing you mention to be nonsense---fine for providing a weird story with atmosphere, but hardly to be taken seriously as a basis for action of any kind in the real world.

> Second, when someone reads only
> a handful of an author's one-hundred-plus stories,
> and then pontificates that much of the writer's
> work is "routine hackwork"--which Joshi admits
> that he did in CAS's case--then that is grossly
> irresponsible "scholarship", and I have a
> tremendous problem with it.

Perhaps then there is, after all, something to be said for academic scholarship? In academia, when something is submitted for publication in a reputable journal or by an academic publisher, it is subjected to peer review. The (often anonymous) experts who review the manuscript then spot such errors and either recommend rejection or demand revision before publication. Or such is the theory, at least.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2009 01:55AM
Name a more definitive Lovecraft biography than Joshi's?

That is right, you can't!

:)



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 7 Sep 09 | 02:04AM by Eldritch Frog.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: australianreaderdotcom (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2009 07:09AM
A problem: if we are to argue that all philosophers, for their philosophical system to be valid, must create an original system, then it devalues the place of those who, whilst followers, explore what it means to hold those systems as a neccesary component of their world-view.

Marcus Aurelius, for example, may not be an original thinker, but he is important for revealing what your garden-variety stoic held important. And that's where HPL and CAs come in; in the former case alone, we see, clearly, what it was like to be a scientific materialist in the first third of the Twentieth century, and this, really, is more exciting for our understanding of that philosophy than those far and few who created their own, original systems.

My basic point is this: we should not look solely to the original thinker for our understandings of a philosophical system or position, but also to the followers and epigones, for their translations into the world-views of the more common people. We don't just understand the impact of Darwin on the world by looking only at Darwin, but how the society around and following him absorbed and absorbs his ideas, and we should not be doing the same for philosophy, or for any other comparable field of human endeavour.

Blog: The Cruellest Month -- [the-cruellest-month.blogspot.com.au]
Website: [www.phillipaellis.com]

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2009 07:57AM
Quote:
[W]hat I meant, of course, was that I consider the sort of thing you mention to be nonsense---fine for providing a weird story with atmosphere, but hardly to be taken seriously as a basis for action of any kind in the real world.

I am not altogether sure what you mean, here, but if I understand you correctly, then the view you express is the nonsensical one, to me, with its arbitrary and insupportable dualism.

As for the application and understanding of such ideas as the equivocal definition of "reality", have a look at the Danish philosopher Jurij Moskvitin's Essay on the Origin of Thought, sometime. And please, since you seem to have it all figured out, by all means tell us what exactly the "real world" is. ;-)

This fact may shock you, but some of us really can and do consciously distance ourselves from consensus reality and maintain, at least for brief periods, the sort of perception that CAS espouses. That few are capable of doing so really doesn't concern me, since my world is as "real" as theirs.

Even if we follow your frame of reference, however, your assertion falls flat. Marcus Aurelius, for instance, obviously found it quite valuable to contemplate life from the cosmic perspective. When last I checked, he did not do so to create atmosphere for weird tales, but as a form of spiritual exercise that assisted him in ruling over the Roman Empire, which, I believe, would fit your definition of the "real world".

Quote:
Perhaps then there is, after all, something to be said for academic scholarship?

That's right, there is. I am not the one who is anti-academic. Although I am far from being uncritical of academics, one finds them making the sorts of gaffes as Joshi does far less frequently. Joshi's work is often outstanding, within his limitations, and I am for the most part glad that he is around. It is silly, however, to pretend that his lack of formal academic affiliation does not leave him hamstrung, at times. When he makes such howlers as he did in the case of CAS, and then compounds the error with arrogance, he deserves to be called to account.

By the way, having graduate research assistants to check citations and the like, as academics often do, means that such errors as Joshi's should usually never even reach the peer review stage.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 7 Sep 09 | 10:30AM by Kyberean.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2009 09:19AM
australianreaderdotcom:

You seem to discount the possibility that so-called epigones add original contributions of their own, by developing--and sometimes altering beyond recognition--the alleged "original" ideas of others.

"Original" ideas are themselves more likely to be mere syntheses of others' ideas, ones that are recombined to create something new, than they are to be offspring of the forehead of Zeus. Absolute originality does not exist. As someone wisely observed, those who seem most original are the ones who best disguise their sources. In emphasizing the cosmic perspective, Marcus, for instance, showed a distinct element of originality. In developing the idea, so does the thought of CAS.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: priscian (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2009 01:43PM
Eldritch Frog Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> You don't strike me as an academic in the field of Weird Fiction (or
> even educated for that matter), but nonetheless I can safely assume
> that Joshi is more widely published than you will ever be, has more
> projects in the field than you have (in any field), and is a more
> amiable chap as well.
>
> I met him 2 years ago, and trust me he is not the jerk you
> hate-spewing shoggoths would paint him to be! :p
>
> Yes, he is opinionated but unlike you he actually backs his ideas
> clear and concise evidence!
>
> Name a better biography on Lovecraft? Oh, that's right you can't!
> There is not a more definitive biography on Lovecraft out there!
>
> Maybe you should right his "wrongs" with a biography yourself? After
> all you are the "academic"?

Please try to keep up, Frog. Martin made a ridiculous comment to emphasize how silly some of the criticism against Joshi in this thread has been; I refined the comment to make it even more ridiculous, because I haven't cared much for the unsupported Joshi-bashing, either. I think his biography is excellent, and I'm eager to read the expanded version. As for the sneering at Joshi's atheism and materialism from others: the preponderance of evidence points to the existence of only atoms and the void, so he's placed the right bet. Religions, philosophies, and New Age fantasies aren't somehow better than reality because they're more unprovably rococo.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2009 04:00PM
Priscian:

Quote:
I haven't cared much for the unsupported Joshi-bashing, either.

Maybe you are the one who needs take his own advice about keeping up. Both I and others have offered specific evidence in this thread, as well as elsewhere in the forum, regarding Joshi's errors and arrogant misstatements. Also, I have been careful to mention what I consider to be the positive aspects of Joshi's work, as well. Therefore, to suggest that every critical comment here about Joshi has been negatively one sided involves selective perception.

Quote:
the preponderance of evidence points to the existence of only atoms and the void, so he's placed the right bet.

Ah, another pontificator who can tell us all about what "reality" really is! Now that I have your word for it, I shall certainly mend the error of my ways! ;-)

All I can say is, I envy you your certainty, but not your myopia, which bespeaks a breathtaking historical ignorance. In Ancient Greece, for instance, the "preponderance of the evidence" was that the cause of emotional depression is excess secretions of black bile. R.D. Laing has a great quotation that pertains to those of your ilk (paraphrased from memory): "Yesterday, the universe was a great clock. Today, it is a hologram. What intellectual rattle will we be waving at it tomorrow?"


P.S. Speaking of ignorance, historical and otherwise, if you think that atoms are still considered to be the primary unit of matter, then your physics is about a century out of date. When I hear a lecture about science and its infallibility, I generally find it more convincing when the person actually gets the science right!



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 7 Sep 09 | 04:18PM by Kyberean.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2009 04:21PM
Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Ah, another pontificator who is capable of telling
> us all about what "reality" really is! Now that I
> have your word for it, I certainly see the error
> of my ways! ;-)

He does refer to evidence, which means he is not just asking us to take his word for it---he is saying that we could all at least in principle verify it to our own satisfaction. It is rather the person who, for example, says that "Although, by the very nature of things, I have no way of demonstrating it to you, it happens to be true that the Universe is ruled by invisible, numinous forces" who is demanding that we unquestioningly bow to his authority.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: priscian (IP Logged)
Date: 7 September, 2009 05:24PM
Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Priscian:
>
> I haven't cared much for the unsupported
> Joshi-bashing, either.
>
> Kyberean:
>
> Maybe you are the one who needs take his own
> advice about keeping up. Both I and others have
> offered specific evidence in this thread, as well
> as elsewhere in the forum, regarding Joshi's
> errors and arrogant misstatements. Also, I have
> been careful to mention what I consider to be the
> positive aspects of Joshi's work, as well.
> Therefore, to suggest that every critical comment
> here about Joshi has been negatively one sided
> involves selective perception.

Incorrect. Not a single example of "specific evidence" of Joshi's errors is offered in this thread. Some of the following opinions have been offered, though:

1. A biographer must write from a completely objective point of view.
2. The prefaces to Joshi's Arkham House Lovecrafts suck.
3. Joshi makes "very basic mistakes." (No examples.)
4. Joshi is not an academic.
5. Joshi's writing is "dreary."
6. Some claptrap about "science worshippers."
7. Joshi repeats himself.

However, no specific examples or links accompany these assertions.

Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Priscian:
>
> the preponderance of evidence points to the
> existence of only atoms and the void, so he's
> placed the right bet.
>
> Kyberean:
>
> Ah, another pontificator who can tell us all about
> what "reality" really is! Now that I have your
> word for it, I shall certainly mend the error of
> my ways! ;-)
>
> All I can say is, I envy you your certainty, but
> not your myopia, which bespeaks a breathtaking
> historical ignorance. In Ancient Greece, for
> instance, the "preponderance of the evidence" was
> that the cause of emotional depression is excess
> secretions of black bile. R.D. Laing has a great
> quotation that pertains to those of your ilk
> (paraphrased from memory): "Yesterday, the
> universe was a great clock. Today, it is a
> hologram. What intellectual rattle will we be
> waving at it tomorrow?"
>
>
> P.S. Speaking of ignorance, historical and
> otherwise, if you think that atoms are still
> considered to be the primary unit of matter, then
> your physics is about a century out of date. When
> I hear a lecture about science and its
> infallibility, I generally find it more convincing
> when the person actually gets the science right!

For someone who likes thinking about the nature of the universe in analogies rather than facts, you're taking my nod to Democritus rather literally.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 09:51AM
Yea, I noticed that I responded to the wrong person. That is why I later edited my response because I forgot who I was even railing against in this post.

But seriously, I find the Joshi bashing to be quite ridiculous. I was surprised he was such a cool guy when I met him based on negative things people said about him on the internet. He went out of his way to make sure I had a good time and personally gave me a Lovecraft tour of Providence even though the University was too scared to do it because the weather was a little crazy that day.

But for crying out loud, if you have not even read his biography then what can you possibly know about this book?

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: priscian (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 10:00AM
Eldritch Frog Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Yea, I noticed that I responded to the wrong
> person. That is why I later edited my response
> because I forgot who I was even railing against in
> this post.
>
> But seriously, I find the Joshi bashing to be
> quite ridiculous. I was surprised he was such a
> cool guy when I met him based on negative things
> people said about him on the internet. He went
> out of his way to make sure I had a good time and
> personally gave me a Lovecraft tour of Providence
> even though the University was too scared to do it
> because the weather was a little crazy that day.
>
> But for crying out loud, if you have not even read
> his biography then what can you possibly know
> about this book?

You don't mean me specifically, right? Because I have read the bio. Twice.

I met Joshi a few years ago in Buffalo when he was "on tour" for "The Angry Right." Not many people showed up for the reading, but he pleasantly engaged the few of us there in discussion about his writing, current events, etc. He even signed my copy of "Lovecraft: Four Decades of Criticism." Nice guy.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 11:09AM
priscian Wrote:
> You don't mean me specifically, right? Because I
> have read the bio. Twice.
>
> I met Joshi a few years ago in Buffalo when he was
> "on tour" for "The Angry Right." Not many people
> showed up for the reading, but he pleasantly
> engaged the few of us there in discussion about
> his writing, current events, etc. He even signed
> my copy of "Lovecraft: Four Decades of Criticism."
> Nice guy.

No. Another poster was bashing the book, and then admited that he did not read it. It was in the first few pages! lol

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 11:14AM
I am sure Joshi is a fine fellow; I would not know. My complaint is strictly with the products he is selling. The character testimony of friends and relatives is not really germane to this issue.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 11:25AM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I am sure Joshi is a fine fellow; I would not
> know. My complaint is strictly with the products
> he is selling. The character testimony of friends
> and relatives is not really germane to this issue.

Again, name a better biography on the subject?

Also, if you are such a "scholar" then why not write a better biography?

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 11:51AM
Eldritch Frog Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Again, name a better biography on the subject?

If you take a moment to read this thread, you will notice that I have said nothing about Joshi's Lovecraft biography. For a good reason: I have not read it! I have read a number of his other works, however. In fact, I am currently struggling with his awful book about John Dickson Carr.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 8 Sep 09 | 11:52AM by Jojo Lapin X.

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