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Journal of No. 118

May 29th, 2014

Lovecraft and Race @ 09:26 am

Yep, it's that time again.

P Djeli Clark wrote an unflinching, exhaustive, and mostly fair essay on the topic.

I think the author dismisses the 'he was a man of his times' defense a little too cavalierly. People who use that line of thought are accused of "ignoring that victims of racism were also men and women of those times." Bwuh? I think I will continue to ignore it, because it seems to be a non sequitur.

Related to that is his correct observation that "[HPL] was a racist too. And he was very good at it." Yes, when a masterful word-user expresses ugly things, they are masterfully ugly. Is Lovecraft more racist than Joe Sixpack, *because* he is more eloquent (and his writings have survived)? I'm not so sure. But overall I'm in violent agreement with the author.

It was also a bit of a shock to see Bryan and the HPL Bust project appear at the tail end of the essay. Bryan and I have traded angry words on a lot of issues, so I'm not sure whether to rush to his defense or kick him when he's down. Okay, okay, it's really between kicking him when he's down, and refraining from kicking him when he's down. But knowing him, he'll be happy to stand all alone on his own two feet, and tell us all (and the author of the piece) how he feels. OK, next tough question: do I tag Bryan in the FB simulcast?
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Date:May 29th, 2014 04:53 pm (UTC)
The 'victims of racism' argument is that we're collaborating in HPL's racism by being more concerned with whether or not he was typical of white men of the period than with the groups he trash-talked.

I attended a Lovecraft and racism panel at WHC once. Joshi said what Joshi always says ("man of his times," "never acted on it," "mellowed as he got older"). Another participant talked about how hard it was to teach HPL in school because of the racism and people nodded their heads sagely. To repurpose le Carré: "Nobody learned anything, nothing changed, the offal was cleared away by morning."

Journal of No. 118