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Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 01:03PM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> 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.

This is absolutely hilarious! That is 2 bashers in this thread, who have not read the biography!

How do you expect any of us to take your opinions serious when you have not and do not intend to read either of the books?

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 01:25PM
Eldritch Frog Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> How do you expect any of us to take your opinions
> serious when you have not and do not intend to
> read either of the books?

I do not understand. Why do I have to read his Lovecraft biography before I can have an opinion on those books of his that I have read? It seems entirely unreasonable.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: priscian (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 01:46PM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Eldritch Frog Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > How do you expect any of us to take your
> opinions
> > serious when you have not and do not intend to
> > read either of the books?
>
> I do not understand. Why do I have to read his
> Lovecraft biography before I can have an opinion
> on those books of his that I have read? It seems
> entirely unreasonable.

Could you explain why you dislike the book about Carr (which I haven't read) so much? So far in this thread, Martin has been the only one to offer specific examples of flaws in some of the works discussed (SL and "Lovecraft Remembered"). Everyone else has offered only unsupported opinion.

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 01:59PM
priscian Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Could you explain why you dislike the book about
> Carr (which I haven't read) so much?

It is poorly written; it has no point; like most of Joshi's "analytical" work it consists mainly of a string of lengthy quotations. It also points up what is perhaps the fundamental problem with Joshi's scholarship: the absurdly Lovecraft-centric nature of his view of the world of literature. There is, of course, no reason whatsoever to refer to Lovecraft, or even mention him, in a book about Carr---but Joshi drags Lovecraft into this like he drags Lovecraft into everything.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: priscian (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 02:15PM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> priscian Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Could you explain why you dislike the book
> about
> > Carr (which I haven't read) so much?
>
> It is poorly written; it has no point; like most
> of Joshi's "analytical" work it consists mainly of
> a string of lengthy quotations. It also points up
> what is perhaps the fundamental problem with
> Joshi's scholarship: the absurdly
> Lovecraft-centric nature of his view of the world
> of literature. There is, of course, no reason
> whatsoever to refer to Lovecraft, or even mention
> him, in a book about Carr---but Joshi drags
> Lovecraft into this like he drags Lovecraft into
> everything.

"Poorly written" (I myself wouldn't say that about most of Joshi's work in general) and "has no point" are rather unspecific, but you have a point about Lovecraft's ubiquity in Joshi. I've seen H. P. L. pop up in places I certainly didn't expect to find him; not to the detriment of the work, but also not integral to its apparent purpose. I'd have to scan my collection of Joshi for specific examples, because I've only got hints in my memory.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Kyberean (IP Logged)
Date: 8 September, 2009 03:01PM
Good grief, what a ridiculous mess this thread has become! At a minimum, I am going to summarize my main points as briefly as possible in a way that cannot be gainsaid or misunderstood:

--Joshi:

1. He's done some very good work. Overall, I think that his contribution to the field is a positive one. His Lovecraft biography, in particular, is very good, though hardly flawless. It's also the best we are likely to get.

2. He's done some bad work, and has made some boneheaded mistakes, primarily because he over-extends himself. An academic affiliation would offer him better support for his over-ambitious writing and publication schedule.

I didn't list all of Joshi's boners and examples of his padding and repetition in this thread because others have done so, and because I and others have also done so in other threads on this forum. So please, Priscian, cut the crap about all the "unsupported" criticism of Joshi:

A. Joshi claims in the Lovecraft biography that "much of CAS's fiction is routine hackwork", despite the fact that, by Joshi's own admission, he had read only a small subset of CAS's fiction when he made that comment.

B. Joshi claims in his Annotated Supernatural Horror in Literature that very little of Gustav Meyrink's weird fiction had been translated into English. By the publication date of Joshi's edition, nearly all of Meyrink's weird fiction had been translated into English.

C. Joshi asserts that George Sterling's "Black Vulture" is an allegory of death. Sterling, addressing the matter in an easily-discoverable letter, says nothing of the sort. Granted, Joshi needn't accept Sterling's own comment on his work at face value, but it is sheer incompetence not to refer to it, at all.

All this is just off the top of my head, writing here from work during lunch without access to any of my books!

3. I don't care whether Joshi seems like a nice guy to someone who met him in person, but I do think it worthwhile to know a person's biases. Joshi is biased toward the materialist extreme of the philosophical spectrum. His atheism is often strident. His affinity for Lovecraft, I venture, is based largely upon Lovecraft's similar views in these matters.

--CAS, Philosophy, Science, Etc.:

1. Science is a very good and useful discipline. Skepticism toward science as the sole valid medium of absolute truth does not equate automatically to anti-science, nor does it mean that such skeptics cannot make use of and appreciate science, as far as it goes. Forgive us, however, if we withhold our religious faith in science's omniscience-giving properties.

2. The ovine certainty that science uncovers absolute or objective "truth" is ridiculous. This absurdity holds for any creation of the extremely limited human brain and sensorium. Science and empiricism do not reach us "pure"; much prior cultural and intellectual conditioning prepares us for their reception. To assert otherwise is merely the bleating of the brainwashed.

3. CAS realized very clearly that this certainty is ridiculous. Humans are not sufficiently evolved to "know" much of anything, as yet.

4. This recognition, in my view, makes CAS's philosophical perspective more profound than that of most, including that of scientific materialists who are convinced that their world-view and method provide the criteria by which every question should be judged.

5. I have never advocated the false opposition of religion or "New Age" spirituality versus science. This is a phony dichotomy. CAS believed in neither the one nor the other. I agree with him. As Edison himself once said, "We don't know one-tenth of one percent about anything".

As for the impulse that underlies science and religion as explanatory, comforting, and certainty-providing disciplines, Kurt Vonnegut beautifully summarizes the deep psychological need, and the deep emotional weakness, that underlies them both:

"Tiger gotta hunt,
Bird got to fly,
Man got to sit and wonder, why? why? why?

Tiger gotta sleep,
Bird got to land,
Man got to tell himself he understand".



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 8 Sep 09 | 03:27PM by Kyberean.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: The English Assassin (IP Logged)
Date: 9 September, 2009 12:52PM
Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

>
> Philosophy: I think that English Assassin severely
> underestimates CAS and his philosophical
> abilities, but I see little point in debating the
> matter further. English Assassin and I have a
> different definition of philosopher, it seems. To
> me, a philosopher is simply someone who thinks
> philosophically and who seriously considers
> philosophical problems. One does not need to have
> a Ph.D. in the subject, or to found a
> philosophical school, in order to be a
> philosopher. The Ancient Greeks wisely considered
> philosophizing to be the province of every
> thinking subject.

I'm not sure I have quite as narrow idea of philosophy as you think. I'm quite happy to admit that CAS might well have had a discusive and open philosophical mind, which is fine and probably means I'd sooner share a pint or two with him than Lovecraft, however I think it's fair to say that he doesn't have quite such a defined and well-formed Philosophy. That is to say that I think most people who know Lovecraft would know what a Lovecraftian Philosophy was, but I'm not convinced that a CASian Philosophy would be, specifically.

I do take issue with you that Lovecraft was particularly closed minded. Having strong opinions doesn't mean you don't or haven't discussed a given concept, either by yourself or with others. HPL always seems quite open to having discussions about any subject. Even things, like Modernism, which weren't to his taste, he dabbled with to see what it was about. I think I'd also point out that many of HPL's friends held radically different opinions with him on cosmolgy, yet he was always open to debate. The fact that he argued his case well, rationally and strongly doesn't mean he is philosophically autistic. This is a gross simplification in my opinion. I think the problem with Lovecraft's nay sayers are they feel insulted/patronized by his rhetoric. He is to my mind a very powerful rhetorical writer and I don't see anything wrong with that, especially in fiction. I don't want endless relativism. CS Lewis' Cosmic Trilogy, while I strongly disagree with almost every word of, is also a fine piece of fantasy rhetoric.


> As for CAS's personal philosophy, his cosmicism
> and his ability to escape the conditioning of the
> "human aquarium" are profoundly original. I know
> of few Western philosophers, apart from the
> Stoics, who were able to de-center human
> perspectives and view reality from non-human
> viewpoints without bringing "God" into the
> equation--and a highly anthropomorphic god, at
> that! Planets and Dimensions is a far better
> source for CAS's philosophical opinions than his
> letters to friends.

This is a good point. While I'm not too keen on some of CAS' proto-sf work in general, he does produce a stagering cosmic perspective, perhaps more intuitively arrived at than Lovecraft, whose Philosophy is perhaps more mechanically in more than one respect.

> As for allegations of philosophical naivete, I'd
> say that true naivete lies in an uncritical
> worship of science and materialism. In that
> respect, Lovecraft is by far the more naive of the
> two authors. That anyone could mislabel such an
> extreme epistemological skeptic as CAS "naive"
> simply boggles the mind.

Perhaps 'naive' is a little strong in relation to CAS, although i will qualify that with saying that I used it in comparison to HPL's perspective, which I perceive as being more questioning and less accepting than you do. I also think I qualified my post by saying that this is just my opinion and it's all subjective and I wasn't being absolute. But I will add that surely asking for proof, logic or questioning circular thinking isn't particularly naive? This assumption that all scientists and atheists is scientism I find staggering. Anyone who has studied in the sciences will know that there is more debate, disagreement and outright rivalry in science many other disciplines. This perception of evil materialist scientists being sucked off by their unquestioning science-worshipping followers as they coldly reduce everything to a cold grey world is, frankly, stereotyping, grossly simplistic name-calling in my opinion - or is it just another man's rhetoric?


> First, like many critics, Joshi has the bad habit
> of stating his opinions as if they were
> indisputable fact. 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. Again, let us hope
> that when Joshi revises the biography, he makes a
> more responsible, informed, and nuanced assessment
> of CAS's fiction.

It has to be said that HPL: A Life is a biography on Lovecraft and not Clark Ashton Smith and I see no reason why Joshi should have to read everything by every single person he mentions in it. The fast that he looked at some of CAS's fiction, poetry, letters and art is enough, in my opinion, for him to express an opinion in passing and to give an overview. I suppose this new edition might be amended in this regard as Joshi's knowledge and opinions change. Actually isn't demanding such an ultra-thoroughness in Joshi's scholarship a bit like like the sort of thing that those who 'worship science' would level at pseudo-science, religion and spiritualism also demand? Is literary scholarship really as important as science?

Anyway, hope this post wasn't too inflammatory and not too personal.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Jojo Lapin X (IP Logged)
Date: 9 September, 2009 02:14PM
priscian Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> "Poorly written" (I myself wouldn't say that about
> most of Joshi's work in general) and "has no
> point" are rather unspecific

About the lack of point: A book cannot just be a catalog of facts; it needs a thesis. We can find out the facts about what is in Carr's novels by reading them ourselves. The only point of writing a book about them must be to add something to our understanding of them.

As Joshi admits, the only thing that a Carr novel is ever about is how a complicated, seemingly impossible crime was committed. The construction of such a baffling plot is its sole reason for existing, its sole source of entertainment the unraveling of the mystery. Yet Joshi already on page one explains that in order not to spoil anything for readers unfamiliar with the novels, he will refrain from discussing details of their plots! This, of course, leaves him with nothing to talk about at all.

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 10 September, 2009 10:06AM
Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> priscian Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > "Poorly written" (I myself wouldn't say that
> about
> > most of Joshi's work in general) and "has no
> > point" are rather unspecific
>
> About the lack of point: A book cannot just be a
> catalog of facts; it needs a thesis. We can find
> out the facts about what is in Carr's novels by
> reading them ourselves. The only point of writing
> a book about them must be to add something to our
> understanding of them.
>
> As Joshi admits, the only thing that a Carr novel
> is ever about is how a complicated, seemingly
> impossible crime was committed. The construction
> of such a baffling plot is its sole reason for
> existing, its sole source of entertainment the
> unraveling of the mystery. Yet Joshi already on
> page one explains that in order not to spoil
> anything for readers unfamiliar with the novels,
> he will refrain from discussing details of their
> plots! This, of course, leaves him with nothing to
> talk about at all.


And the mere fact that you have not read Joshi's biography, do not intend to and are instead discussing a book that has nothing to do with his Lovecraft Biography leaves you with...nothing to talk about at all! :p

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: australianreaderdotcom (IP Logged)
Date: 10 September, 2009 07:27PM
Eldritch Frog Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Jojo Lapin X Wrote:
> > 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.

Given that this thread is about the biography, then, not having read it, why are you even posting in this thread? It's akin to joining a reading group, and discussing Pride and Prejudice by talking exclusively about Emma and Sense & Sensibility!

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: Gavin Callaghan (IP Logged)
Date: 5 October, 2009 06:42PM
I find it ironic that after a long absence from the Eldritch Dark, I should return to find two separate threads dealing with H. P. Lovecraft on an ostensibly Clark Ashton Smith-website ---and not a word of complaint from Kyberean, although he repeatedly upbraided me for precisely the same thing. (Although, curiously, Kyberean does see fit to mention me twice by name in these same threads!)

As for the issues at-hand: S. T. Joshi is the premier Lovecraft-scholar now living. As such, any work of his on Lovecraft is worth looking into, and studying in detail. (---Whether I shall have the money to do so myself, of course, is an entirely other matter…) I must also say that Mr. Joshi was very kind to me in our one or two brief contacts in the 1990's, and I also found him to be very exacting in his scholarship.

Where I do disagree with Joshi, is in his apparent “hero-worship” of Lovecraft. Though in no sense hagiographic -Joshi is appropriately critical of Lovecraft in his biography- one gets the feeling (from reading Joshi’s own description of the event) that Joshi’s youthful discovery of Willis Conover’s book, Lovecraft at Last, was almost akin to a religious experience for Joshi. This sense of “hero-worship”, in all its varying degrees and uncritical manifestations, extends to much of Lovecraft’s fandom, as well.

One such example of this “hero-worship“, I fear, may be found in the apparent title of Joshi’s newly-enlarged work, i.e. “I Am Providence” ---a title which, if Joshi applies it uncritically (and perhaps he doesn‘t -we'll just have to see), one would find extremely troubling.

Lovecraft is far closer to the Puritanical theocratic Royalism of the Massachusetts Bay colony, than he ever was to the progressive, liberal, racially and religiously tolerant Providence of Roger Williams. Indeed, the frankly religious and “blasphemy”-laden language of HPL’s weird-fiction is closer to a vituperative Cotton Mather-sermon on the evils of free-thinking, than to anything Roger Williams wrote in the same time period. The fact that HPL was writing in the early 20th century, while Williams wrote in the 17th, (when polemics such as Mather’s are somehow considered more “excusable”), makes Lovecraft’s unabashed atavism all that much more appalling.

As early as 1698, Rhode Island’s leaders were vehemently protesting English parliamentary interference in colony affairs. (Herbert Aptheker, The Colonial Era [1979], p. 27) (Compare this with HPL, who routinely peppered his correspondence with “God Save the King!", and who as late as the 1930’s was still decrying the “sedition” of the American revolution against arbitrary royal authority, and what he called the treasonous secession of “Yankees” from their rightful English masters in 1775 and 1809. [Miscellaneous Writings 374])

Providence itself, H. P. Lovecraft’s hometown, was founded by Roger Williams, who was banished by the Massachusetts colony (APTHEKER 92), and who later succeeded, Herbert Aptheker writes, in “parrying several threats of invasion from Massachusetts, whose rulers wanted to forcibly wipe out ‘Rogues Island.’” (APTHEKER 99)

“Williams,” Aptheker says elsewhere,

“really believed that ‘God had made of one blood’ all mankind, and to him all people were equal in the sight of God and hence should find equal treatment at the hands of his children. In this he included all people of all colors and persuasions. Especially notable was the fact that he included the American Indians (Williams wrote the first Indian-English dictionary), and that he drew the necessary but very provocative conclusion that the forcible taking of their lands was sinful and therefore void, thus questioning the King’s title and all other land titles- questioning, indeed, the whole base of the Massachusetts colony.” (APTHEKER 98)

In Rhode Island, too, “slavery and indentured servitude were forbidden (though the former prohibition did not remain effective in the 18th century)” (APTHEKER 99-100) -an idea which presents a striking contrast to Lovecraft’s own incongruous view of slavery as a “divine” right (in such poems as “De Triumpho Naturae”), and Lovecraft’s love and veneration for the slaveholding aristocracy of the American South. (Lovecraft had pictures of Southern Confederate leaders on his walls; in strained, pseudo-archaic travel-writings, Lovecraft railed against “the empty rantings of Northern Abolitionists” [MW 374]; in Lovecraft’s travelogue on Richmond, Virginia, furthermore, HPL goes into panegyrics over such personages as “William Byrd, Gent.”, (MW 326), “Robert Edward Lee, Jefferson Davis, and the Great Lost Cause!” (MW 324) -William Byrd, whose personal diary [quoted in Aptheker, pp. 41-43 ff.] reveals him to have been a rabid torturer of the worst sort -and whose amusements consisted of applying things like the “branding-iron, “the bit”, and “the whip” to intransigent or rebellious African slaves -often female slaves and children.)

Roger Williams likewise, Aptheker writes, “insisted that all, even the most ‘paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or antichristian consciences and worships,‘ be freely permitted and not be the cause of any persecution whatever“ in Rhode Island. (APTHEKER 98) As early as 1654 in England, Roger Williams was asking, “Whether it be not the duty of the Magistrate to permit the Jews, whose conversion we look for, to live freely and peaceably among us?” (Oscar S. Strauss, Roger Williams: The Pioneer of Religious Liberty, D. Appleton-Century Co., 1936., p. 173) As Strauss observes,

“It is gratifying to record as a further evidence of the humane tolerance of Roger Williams, that not alone was he the founder of a State in the New World, which was the first to shelter the Jews under equal laws, but he also took a significant part in securing their readmission into England after long years of exclusion following their final expulsion under Edward in the year 1290.” (174-175)

Perhaps needless to say, this contrasts greatly with HPL’s views on the same subject, cf. HPL’s recurring rhetoric regarding the “weak”, “effeminate” aspects of Eastern/Oriental/Jewish philosophy, and what HPL termed the “foetid flood of swart, cringing Semitism“ (MW 376) in New York City.

Significant, too, is Aptheker’s description of colonial Rhode Island as a place where “Jews and Quakers and even ’witches’ did find a haven and equality and fraternity” (APTHEKER 100), ---women and particularly witches repeatedly forming the consorts of Lovecraft’s male agents of “chaos” in his fiction. Here, as elsewhere, HPL is closer to Mather than to Williams.

Rhode Island, too, was ground zero for both the Industrial Revolution in America, as well as that transoceanic mercantile trade which HPL so decried, and of which slavery played so large a part. Here, as elsewhere, HPL was rebelling against the very basis (in this case the economic basis) of his home state.

And while Joshi, in his Penguin paperback edition of HPL’s works, suggests that Lovecraft “could look upon the ‘Puritan theocracy’ of Massachusetts with suitably abstract horror and even a certain condescension” (PENGUIN 70), it seems more likely that Lovecraft’s views were closer to those of Puritan Massachusetts, and its ecclesiastical masters, than otherwise. Lovecraft’s seeming ambivalence and association of “horror” with the Puritan theocracy in his earlier stories is thus the result of the polemical confusion and ideological inconsistencies of Lovecraft’s early fiction, in which Lovecraft’s story ideas did not succeed in accurately reflecting all the aspects of his philosophical polemic.

Like a Roger Williams in reverse, Lovecraft wrote dark treatises of racial miscegenation and decay from the capital city of Williams’ land of tolerance- and did so in the 20th century, when our country was adopting Williams’ own progressive attitudes with more alacrity and enthusiasm than ever before. In truth, then, Rhode Island’s foundation, based as it was in the ideas of racial, religious, and democratic equality, is farther from Lovecraft’s own than the ideas of the Puritan divines.

On a more psychological level, too, in relation to this issue of “hero-worship”, one notes the apprently religious meaning of the phrase, “I am Providence”- as if one were to say, “I am Heaven”, or even “I am God.“ A better title, surely, for a new biography of HPL, would be “Twentieth Century Puritan”; or perhaps “Rhode Island Anachronism”.

The (apparently still-ongoing!) debate on the value of L. Sprague de Camp’s biography of HPL is, I think, another aspect of this “hero-worship.” This debate is an old one, as testified by E. Hoffmann Price’s account in his Arkham House memoir, Book of the Dead (pp. 335-341).

Of course, one does not have to be a Lovecraft “fan” to find faults with de Camp’s method and reasoning. I tend to give de Camp’s books very high marks, however, for paving the way. Though apparently loathe to admit it (Joshi does not even mention de Camp’s From Quebec to the Stars, for example, in his notices of previous Lovecraft-publications at the end of his Miscellaneous Writings), Joshi’s HPL: A Life largely builds upon what de Camp first started.

True, de Camp’s biography is highly critical of Lovecraft- but then that is the biographer’s job. If a biographer were ever to unilaterally adopt the point of view of his subject, he would be remiss in performing his function.

One also needs to understand that de Camp, in criticizing Lovecraft, was also being just as hard, in a way, upon HIMSELF. As de Camp points out himself in his book, he delved into Lovecraft’s life with a very definite feeling of “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” De Camp made a living as a professional writer- a very risky business, but he succeeded- and he did so mainly by writing non-fiction historical work with a rigorously logical and scientific viewpoint -not very easy in a time when pseudo-scientific works on “Chariots of the Gods” and “Jesus was an Alien”, etc., were the main bill-of-fare.

De Camp is unintentionally ridiculous on some points, of course- his criticism of Lovecraft for being too attached to his hometown is rightly challenged by Joshi as absurd. De Camp’s criticism of Lovecraft for being an “amateur”, too, is silly -as if nearly every important writer known to history were not also an “amateur” of some sort or another. Of course, in attacking Lovecraft as an “amateur”, De Camp is basically criticizing himself, and the life he feared he himself would have led, if he had not chosen the professional road.

I find it interesting, in this connection, that some on this thread would think to raise the issue of “amateur scholarship” in relation to S.T. Joshi, when the same could just as well be said of H. P. Lovecraft and his vaunted “philosophy”. In truth, of course, some of the greatest scholars and academics never had a proper degree in their chosen fields- John Kenneth Gailbraith comes to mind; Richard Leakey, the famed hominid paleontologist, is another. The nineteenth century is replete with many such “amateur scholars”, though admittedly by now they are becoming, regrettably, more and more rare.

Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> "To state that neither CAS nor Lovecraft is ‘much of a philosopher’ by the standards of what passes for philosophy today is to pay these men an unintentional compliment.”


As a philosopher, HPL is entirely without value, except perhaps as a psychological case study, and as an example of what Marx and Engels identified as the last-stand of aristocracy, as embodied in such things as “Feudal Socialism”.

Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>“And please, since you seem to have it all figured out, by all means tell us what exactly the ‘real world’ is.”


Reality is the universe of observable facts- facts which exist independent of all group consensus, of all democracy, of all wish, of all emotion, of all personal whim, of all tyrant’s force, and of all religious dogma. One really has to wonder about Kyberean’s point of view, if it requires that he change the whole nature of reality simply in order to prove his point.

Science is a method of investigation, nothing more. It derives facts from reality via observation, logic, and deduction. As such, science is cumulative, and therefore measurable. That "mutability" of science, at which Kyberean scoffs, is thus, in reality, perhaps science’s greatest strength.

Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>“but some of us really can and do consciously distance ourselves from consensus reality … That few are capable of doing so really doesn't concern me, since my world is as ‘real’ as theirs.“


There is only one reality. Anything else is delusion.

There is a name, however, for “Kyberean’s world“: a world in which Boyd Rice is a harmless Merovingian scholar, Nicholas Schrek is a misunderstood practitioner of Tantric sex-magic, and H. P. Lovecraft is a “great philosopher“- it’s called “La-La Land.”

Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>"We've come a long way since the Ancient Greeks--in the wrong direction.”


Kyberean says as he types into a computer keyboard, and then (instantaneously) uploads his post onto the Internet. That modern technology allows for the viral transmission of archaic or retrograde views is ironic, to say the least. But it is also to be expected, until such time as mankind finally lives up to the technology we have created.

It is ironic, too, that Kyberean would cite the Greeks in this instance, given HPL’s own unflattering view of Hellas. “Hairy”, “effeminate”, clever, subtle, chattering, Oriental, and “foreigners”, are some of HPL’s kinder remarks regarding the Greeks.

Kyberean Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>“Lovecraft, in particular, seems to loom as a threatening figure to certain individuals, who then feel compelled, Oedipus-like, to ‘cut him down to size‘.”


If Kyberean wishes to misrepresent legitimate criticisms of Lovecraft as having some personal animus or basis, he is welcome to do so. But he is also wrong. For my part, my criticisms of HPL have one basis alone: facts.

But then, if Kyberean needs to change the facts of reality to suit his thesis, clearly, he is capable of doing so. Even if he is just living in a world "all his own."

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Gavin Callaghan (IP Logged)
Date: 14 October, 2009 06:04PM
Just remembered that I tried to start a discussion re. Joshi's HPL: A Life back in February of '09, on the Temple of Dagon site. Regrettably, there was little interest...... Be interesting to see how Joshi treats the issues of arsenic, ulcers, and boxers in his new, improved version...

"Arsenic, Ulcers, and Boxers in S. T. Joshi's HPL: A Life"

[www.templeofdagon.com]

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Eldritch Frog (IP Logged)
Date: 8 July, 2010 12:12PM
Since I know you guys just adore Joshi, you might want to pre-order "I Am Providence" now. He will sign the first 350 copies! If the thought of having his signature makes you swoon, and I know it does Jojo Lapin X, then email Derrick over at Hippocampus to make sure you get your precious signature! ;)

The book ships next month!

[www.hippocampuspress.com]

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Absquatch (IP Logged)
Date: 9 July, 2010 02:58PM
I, for one, can't wait to read another hundred or two hundred pages about Lovecraft's APA activities. *yawns*

Re: "I Am Providence" - S.T. Joshi's expanded/unabridged Lovecraft Biography (2 vols.)
Posted by: Martinus (IP Logged)
Date: 9 July, 2010 02:59PM
It'll also have more on the literary context in which he wrote, IIRC.

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