The Only Thing We Can Do About Lovecraft, Racism, and the World Fantasy Award Statue

Jan 15, 2015 18 Comments by

First, let’s get this miserable piece of shit out of the way, and if you have a shred of human decency in you, the next eight sentences (nine, if you count the title) will not be pleasant.

On the Creation of Niggers[1]

By H.P. Lovecraft

When, long ago, the gods created Earth In Jove’s fair image Man was shaped at birth. The beasts for lesser parts were next designed; Yet were they too remote from humankind. To fill the gap, and join the rest to Man, Th’Olympian host conceiv’d a clever plan. A beast they wrought, in semi-human figure, Filled it with vice, and called the thing a Nigger.

That David Duke-worthy ass-canker was written by my favorite author, the same man who revealed to me the mysteries of dreaming Cthulhu, the machinations of the Fungi from Yuggoth, the unholy prophecies of the Necronomicon, the ravenous and unidentifiable “colour” out of space.  He changed my world irrevocably. I visited his grave and dreamed of his monsters and began to see everything in an eldritch hue. Many agree with me. You’ll find the author of “On the Creation of Niggers” immortalized in film, art, music, and all kinds of games. His bust is given to winners of the prestigious World Fantasy Award. But my love for his writing has always been tainted by that poem.  Upon reading it, WFA winner Nnedi Okorafor, an American author of Nigerian (Igbo) parentage, joined a long and tortured dialogue readers of Lovecraft have been having for decades.

We go in circles, offering the same palliatives: everybody was racist when Lovecraft lived, he kinda sorta grew out of it before his death in 1937, he was still a great writer and I don’t care about his politics, he wasn’t violent about it, he had lots of Jewish friends. . .there’s anger and defensiveness and behind it all, a sense of guilt that we can find so much to enjoy in a man who wrote a poem entitled “On the Creation of Niggers.”  Behind it all is the knowledge that doggerel like this represents something truly depraved: the kind of thinking that enabled the Ku Klux Klan to lynch with impunity for a substantial part of the twentieth century, that sent 11 million to the gas chambers and crematoria of Nazi-dominated Europe, that justifies the murder of young black men across contemporary America, that guns down the staff of Charlie Hebdo.  Godwin’s Law or no, this is humanity-denying hate speech of the worst kind and we can neither excuse nor deny it.

The most recent twist in this debate is whether or not Lovecraft’s bust (as visualized by Gahan Wilson) should continue to represent the World Fantasy Awards.  Substitutes have been suggested (Octavia Butler being the best, in my opinion), followed by counter-accusations of political correctness, and then all the old excuses.  Tessellations upon tessellations, forming fractal-like into the same, repetitive, meaningless debate.  It’s time we admit upfront that Lovecraft, like many of horror’s founding fathers, was deeply racist, to the ongoing detriment of our great genre.  I think Octavia Butler is as good a face for contemporary fantasy as Lovecraft, and given that the face of contemporary fantasy is no longer pearly Anglo-Saxon, she may well be a better one.   But I’m a middle-class white guy, and my opinion on Lovecraft’s offensiveness can’t be called informed.  So what do we as Lovecraft (or Howard, or Campbell, or whoever) fans do?

What we don’t do is stop reading a man whose contribution to horror literature is as undeniable as his troubling racism.  If Lovecraft had merely been a race-baiter, he would be as forgotten as the William Dudley Pelley.  He was an ingenious writer, philosopher, and metaphysician.  He was, if his many friends are to be believed, a very genial, friendly, and outgoing man who was happy to nurture many authors who went on to be great talents in their own rights.  His letters are entertaining and often have a strange charm, like something you’d get from a kooky but lovable old neighbor—a male cat-lady.  Who also wrote “On the Creation of Niggers.”

There is only one way we can exorcise this, the deep and human flaw of one of our genre’s greatest creators.  We must take up our word processors, our pencils and brushes and cameras and clays and programming languages and create Lovecraftian horror that repudiates racism.  There is no other way.

I hear some of you grumbling about political correctness right now.  Hear me out.

I want to know about Arkham’s black bootleggers, who run Innsmouth liquor up to Boston.  I want to feel the absolute terror of a Hawaiian navigator as he looks below his catamaran and sees a twisted building greater than the most triumphant mara’e of his kingdom.  Lovecraft tells us that Dunwich’s stone circles existed before the Indians lived there.  So what did the Iroquois know about the beings that built them?  Who are the Whateleys of Mongolia?  Can the Australian Aborigines journey to Unknown Kadath in their vivid, pointillist dreams?

Horror must be open to all, not merely because it is the best and most human thing we can do, but because a rich globe of fear awaits us.  Lovecraft will not be excommunicated; he’ll merely share the canon with the Lovecrafts of Africa, Latin America, and Asia.  With gay Lovecrafts and female Lovecrafts and Lovecrafts who aren’t atheist materialists. Don’t you want to know what scares them all?

[1] From http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/On_the_Creation_of_Niggers.

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About the author

Hunter C. Eden's work has appeared in Weird Tales, City Slab, and Doctor Fantastique's Show of Wonders. He lives in Denver, Colorado with his demanding asshole of a cat and is currently working on a comic book about Aztec gangsters and Vikings with machine guns.

18 Responses to “The Only Thing We Can Do About Lovecraft, Racism, and the World Fantasy Award Statue”

  1. Magister says:

    It is also a horrifying, hilarious irony that anyone who quotes That Poem does more to spread it than did its author, who never published it or, as far as is known, never showed it to anyone.

    • Nathan Tarantla says:

      You are correct. The more it is discussed the more it spreads and festers. It’s time to just stop the “conversation”. It’s not doing anything to make it better – but it does get more clicks on pages, which is why were seeing it soooooo often.

      • Hunter C. Eden says:

        Uh, “On the Creation of Niggers” isn’t exactly the Necronomicon, guys. It’s not some horrendous secret document that is only now coming to light. It’s featured in major bibliographies of Lovecraft’s work, including Wikipedia’s. Hell, I got the text from Wikimedia. The casual Lovecraft fan may not have heard of it, but it’s not hidden away in some archive, mouldering.

        And why is it wrong to talk about this troubling aspect of a man whose writing we all respect and enjoy? If it kept us from talking about shoggoths or Deep Ones, or if it was all we discussed, that would be one thing, but this is the only time I’ve ever written about Lovecraft’s attitudes towards race, and I’ll hold my peace. It sucks that he wrote a poem like, “Creation.” But the twin “solutions” of ignoring it or obsessing about it aren’t doing anything.

  2. todd m says:

    Fantastic idea.

    • Hunter C. Eden says:

      Thanks, Todd! A gentleman associated with Shoggoth.net wants to do an anthology of Mythos stories using characters from backgrounds very different from your typical WASP professor from Miskatonic–so non-white characters are obviously in, but also gay and female characters. I’m going to write about Arkham’s black bootleggers, but a number of others have signed on, and if you’re interested, I’ll be happy to put you in contact. Thanks again!

  3. redcap says:

    Or do nothing. We could do nothing. Imagine how, ten years from now, when the world doesn’t stop spinning on it’s access because no one had to be an apologist and just enjoyed the work for it’s own merits? Or imagine, if you will, a world where a creator who inspired countless other writers was honored for his work without having to answer for his beliefs decades and almost a century after his passing- where his work spoke for itself. This is dumb. This debate is dumb.

    • Hunter C. Eden says:

      “Imagine how, ten years from now, when the world doesn’t stop spinning on it’s access because no one had to be an apologist and just enjoyed the work for it’s own merits? Or imagine, if you will, a world where a creator who inspired countless other writers was honored for his work without having to answer for his beliefs decades and almost a century after his passing- where his work spoke for itself.”

      If you read the article carefully, you would see that I’m pushing for something very similar. But I don’t just want existing Lovecraft fans to come to terms with Lovecraft’s attitudes, I want future fans to do so as well. I’d love to see horror fans of color find their way into Lovecraft’s ideas through writing that speaks to their own experiences, and eventually just do what the rest of us do when we read a bit of Lovecraftian prejudice while enjoying an otherwise great story: roll our eyes, think, “Come on, Howard, you’re better than this,” and keep going.

  4. Shiroe says:

    A commenter on that page said it perfectly – “The Poem” was a piece of his privacy, was never actively circulated by Lovecraft, and has seen more readership today because everyone is so outraged about it. The only thing we can ACTUALLY do about Lovecraft and the damn statue is ACCEPT IT AND MOVE ON. Lovecraft was a racist. His fear of race and changing society of his era translated itself into the deep examinations of fear that we all venerate. We may not like what inspired that fear, but it’s not our place to.

    Erasing history, literature, art, or anything else for any reason is cowardly. It says that we are too scared to face the icky and intolerable parts of our psyches and our history. In fact, Lovecraft’s writing reflects that ickiness in ways we know he didn’t mean on a conscious level, yet captures as perfectly as he captures his views on blacks in American society of his day.

    Writing Lovecraft fanfic with minorities in it does not solve the problem. Making a new award with someone else’s face on it does not solve the problem (who the hell is Octavia Butler, anyway?). What solves the problem is acceptance and evolution. The fact that this outcry exists shows that we all disagreed with his belief. But are we now expected to disown Shakespeare when religious groups start hollering they don’t like his careless attitude toward religion? Or burn all Dante because “The Divine Comedy” might offend atheists?

    Art and literature is reflective of humankind and its views on society. We may not like everything art has to say about society, and sometimes art is dead wrong about society because the artist’s perception is so twisted that their own view isn’t clear (sort of an artistic strawman argument). Neither of these factors renders the quality of the work or the work itself invalid. Lovecraft being racist, the composer Wagner hating Jews, many major Renaissance authors (Chaucer and Shakespeare, to some extent Dante and Milton) hating or ridiculing religion, none of this makes them bad people. Yes, I will even go so far as to say being racist doesn’t make you a bad person. Stupid, misinformed, and prone to rigid, stubborn, and biased thinking, sure, but we all have flaws, and let he who is without those cast the first stone.

    On a final note, I would also submit that Lovecraft tackled his racism and his fears about black people rather productively. His published and public writing reflects this. These terrible creatures came from that awful muse, but that doesn’t make us, his readers racist for being afraid of them (or revering them, or revering being afraid of them….). These creatures aren’t his racism, they are fear. His fear was races. Yours might be heights or public speaking or peeing in a public restroom, but it still is dark and primal and has lots of tentacles and pointy teeth. He translated his fear so effectively that it resonates universally, and as such, is MORE deserving of being cast in effigy for the World Fantasy Award statue, not less. That he could take such a terrible view and manifest it with that resonance is a legacy that no political correctness can erase or play down, and if I were ever awarded the Octavia Butler Award, I would only show up to smash it to the ground and demand my Lovecraft Award.

    • Hunter C. Eden says:

      “Erasing history, literature, art, or anything else for any reason is cowardly. It says that we are too scared to face the icky and intolerable parts of our psyches and our history. In fact, Lovecraft’s writing reflects that ickiness in ways we know he didn’t mean on a conscious level, yet captures as perfectly as he captures his views on blacks in American society of his day.”

      [Snip.]

      “But are we now expected to disown Shakespeare when religious groups start hollering they don’t like his careless attitude toward religion? Or burn all Dante because “The Divine Comedy” might offend atheists?”

      I want you (and anyone else who has brought up this non-sequitur of an argument) to go through this article and find me one sentence where I advocate for the banning, burning, or censoring of any piece of art or literature for anyone reason whatsoever. Go on. I’ve got all the time in the world.

      SPOILER ALERT: You won’t find it. There is no book or piece of art or literature that has ever been created, up to and including Mein Kampf and Protocols of the Elders of Zion, that I feel should be banned, and the article above reflects this conviction.

      “Writing Lovecraft fanfic with minorities in it does not solve the problem.”

      Maybe you’re right. I mean, it’s been tried so often. . .

      “Making a new award with someone else’s face on it does not solve the problem (who the hell is Octavia Butler, anyway?).”

      I’m curious to know how many people even knew that the WFA was a bust of Lovecraft before this controversy came up. And frankly, I’m disappointed at all the so-called speculative fiction readers who are willing to dismiss a writer because they’ve never heard of her. I guess not everybody is in this genre to read something new.

      “What solves the problem is acceptance and evolution.”

      Like the kind I wrote this article advocating for? I want everybody to enjoy, appreciate, and create Lovecraftian works of art, because there is much, much more to Lovecraft than racism. My model would be Charles Saunders, a black Canadian author who loved Conan, but found himself put off by some of Howard’s racial attitudes. So he invented Imaro, his own wandering barbarian warrior whose culture is based off the Maasai rather than the ancient Celts. It’s great stuff, filled with necromancers and tentacled horrors and creatures from African myth. So we get to 1) Enjoy Howard’s work and, 2) enjoy a new and very talented author who has created more work in the same style that may in turn bring new fans to the genre who might have been uncomfortable reading Howard but may now be willing to give him a try, racial baggage and all. How is that not a win for everybody?

      “Yes, I will even go so far as to say being racist doesn’t make you a bad person. Stupid, misinformed, and prone to rigid, stubborn, and biased thinking, sure, but we all have flaws, and let he who is without those cast the first stone.”

      Did you actually read this essay? Like, all the little paragraphs, each in their entirety? I write:

      “What we don’t do is stop reading a man whose contribution to horror literature is as undeniable as his troubling racism. If Lovecraft had merely been a race-baiter, he would be as forgotten as William Dudley Pelley. He was an ingenious writer, philosopher, and metaphysician. He was, if his many friends are to be believed, a very genial, friendly, and outgoing man who was happy to nurture many authors who went on to be great talents in their own rights. His letters are entertaining and often have a strange charm, like something you’d get from a kooky but lovable old neighbor–a male cat-lady. Who also wrote ‘On the Creation of Niggers.’”

      No, Lovecraft was not a thoroughly abominable human being because he held some racist attitudes. HPL endured a childhood of tremendous emotional abuse at the hands of his unstable mother, which basic psychology tells us will leave anybody with low self-esteem, a desire for approval, and lots of anger. I think Lovecraft adopted his love of Anglo-Saxon heritage and disgust for those of other races as a subconscious way to try to win his family’s love and vent the incredible, justified rage he must have felt. He held some terrible attitudes, but racism was not nearly his principal contribution to the world, and I think that at heart he was a good human being who was that–human.

      The mistake we make when dealing with racism is to assume that it is a philosophical position most people take out of conscious ill-will. I find that 99 times out of 100 (and this includes Lovecraft), fear and ignorance are at the root of racial hatred more than calculated evil. I this applies to HPL.

      “On a final note, I would also submit that Lovecraft tackled his racism and his fears about black people rather productively. His published and public writing reflects this. These terrible creatures came from that awful muse, but that doesn’t make us, his readers racist for being afraid of them (or revering them, or revering being afraid of them….). These creatures aren’t his racism, they are fear. His fear was races.”

      I’m a huge Lovecraft fan, as my writing on this site alone will attest. I’m not a racist, nor do I think the vast bulk of my fellow cultists are. But we live in an age when genre isn’t just a club for white guys. Personally, I think that’s great, because I love horror and especially Lovecraftian horror and anything that leads to more of it is something I’m in favor of. If the price is getting rid of a statue that kind of looks like HPL crossed with a dildo, I can more than live with that.

      But I totally and completely disagree with you when you say, “These creatures aren’t his racism, they are fear. His fear was races.” I don’t think racism and fear are distinguishable, as I’ve mentioned. And I will never agree that racism was central to the Lovecraftian aesthetic. I don’t think his creatures derive from his fear of non-WASPs; I think they spring from his fascination with the smallness of mankind against the vastness of the cosmos. What’s the racial angle in “The Colour Out of Space” or “At the Mountains of Madness?” All Lovecraft’s “racist” stories work just as well without the racism (in fact, better), which is one way we can know it wasn’t the totality of his being.

      You ever see art or writing by committed, hardcore racists? It’s as boring as propaganda, because that’s what it is (and that’s why most of us haven’t even heard of “On the Creation of Niggers” because not only is it a nasty little piece of shit, but it’s just bad writing even if we’ve read tons of Lovecraft). The Nazis found to their chagrin that few people were interested in the Party-approved art that glorified Aryan supremacism. No, your average German was more interested in the “Degenerate Art” exhibits, which featured plays by people like Kurt Weil, avant-garde work, and art that lampooned Nazi ideas, because that’s where the real art was happening, the art that spoke to people. There’s enough of Lovecraft that speaks to people that he isn’t forgotten like all the Nazi playwrights who just couldn’t understand why people loved “Mack the Knife” so much when it was so bad for their racial hygiene.

      I don’t think you’re a racist, but you seem to believe that Lovecraft’s own prejudice is inseparable from the qualities that make his best art continue, 125 years after the man’s birth, to speak to us. I feel this attitude is not only incorrect, but also harmful to bringing appreciation of Lovecraft to the wider world.

      “That he could take such a terrible view and manifest it with that resonance is a legacy that no political correctness can erase or play down, and if I were ever awarded the Octavia Butler Award, I would only show up to smash it to the ground and demand my Lovecraft Award.”

      You know why I really don’t give a shit about the statue? Because I’m in no immediate danger of winning one, and I’m guessing you aren’t either, which makes me wonder why you’re in such an iconoclastic fury about it potentially being changed to Butler’s face (the absolute best suggestion I’ve heard, by the way, was to make it a statue of Cthulhu). I get some of the outrage, because this issue is often cast as somebody throwing veiled aspersions on those of us who enjoy Lovecraft for his cosmic horror. You’ll note I don’t do that. I’m writing as one cultist to my fellow cultists. But the outrage some of us fans are showing about changing a statue that most of us will never even see in person is just childish and does not advance what I see as our cause: communicating the best aspects of Lovecraft to others so that we can increase knowledge, appreciation, and recognition of one of the greatest horror writers who ever lived.

      • Shiroe says:

        The point that wraps up everything I wrote is this – if you don’t like that he had racist tendencies, get over it. If someone is small-minded enough to boycott his work or strip the award of his name because he was just like everyone else of his time, then I have no use for them, and if WFA caves into pressure to change the bust then they’re idiots too. Constantly calling attention to the poor downtrodden minorities who aren’t getting their due in fantasy (which they obviously are, since one black author was offended by receiving the award) is just as racist as not giving them the award to begin with. Being oversensitive on their behalf is just as racist as hating them; reverse racism is still racist (that is, holding certain biases over a person because of their race).

        As for Octavia Butler and what a wonderful author I’m sure she is, she still does not have entire groups dedicated to dissecting her stories and mapping her settings and picking out areas where her influence inspired movies, sculpture, and other significant pieces of pop culture the way Lovecraft does. The reason there is not a minority on that bust is because there is no black fantasy author who has influenced the art and dare I say thinking of our culture in the way Lovecraft has. In fact, many NON-black authors can’t even claim that.

        Basically, “advancing our cause” involves not treating that as an issue, or at best treating it as a historical thing the same way we overlook the 168 times (I think) that the word “nigger” appeared in Huck Finn. With this article, you’ve come in and said, “hey choir boys, let me tell you about God and Jesus.” True fans already are doing what you’re saying to do, and belaboring the point just stirs up the hornet’s nest again. What should we do about Lovecraft’s racism? Take it for what it was, and move on. That’s it, nothing more. Write articles examining it if you have to discuss it, but stop trying to make controversy over it, because the only thing making it a controversy at this point is people perpetually telling us what we should do about it.

        By the way, as Valkyrie Ice pointed out below, I’ll reiterate by directing you to the HP Lovecraft section of Fanfiction.net (and that’s just for a start) to the numerous fanfictions that do exactly what you’re saying, and have been doing for years. There are many other sites devoted to fanfiction that have Lovecraft fanfictions in them, and many of them are excellent works. So congrats on your “new” approach!

        • Hunter C. Eden says:

          Shiroe, what exactly do you think I’m saying? Because every point you’ve argued against in everything you’ve posted is nowhere to be found in my essay, but it is part of the general soup of bullshit Lovecraft’s most reactionary fans seem to spew forth whenever the matter is even brought up. If you’re going to argue against this essay, that’s fine, but please read it. Like, in detail, not stopping after the first paragraph to go fire off a rant on HPLHS. Can you please finally do that?

          ” Constantly calling attention to the poor downtrodden minorities who aren’t getting their due in fantasy (which they obviously are, since one black author was offended by receiving the award) is just as racist as not giving them the award to begin with. ”

          Show me where I did this. And for the love of God please use quotes.

          “Being oversensitive on their behalf is just as racist as hating them; reverse racism is still racist (that is, holding certain biases over a person because of their race).”

          Uhhhhhh. . .you do know I’m white, don’t you? Look next to my comment and you’ll not see a picture of the sun-kissed mahogany face of Afrocentrism. And where exactly have I been “oversensitive?” Again, please quote from my article, and not from what some Salon.com jackass with a Lovecraft hate-boner said elsewhere. And use quotes.

          “The reason there is not a minority on that bust is because there is no black fantasy author who has influenced the art and dare I say thinking of our culture in the way Lovecraft has”

          This couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that the genre has been a white boys’ club until quite recently, could it? And as far as Lovecraft’s influence, I’m going to do something very special now, Shiroe. Pay close attention:

          “So what do we as Lovecraft (or Howard, or Campbell, or whoever) fans do?

          What we don’t do is stop reading a man whose contribution to horror literature is as undeniable as his troubling racism. If Lovecraft had merely been a race-baiter, he would be as forgotten as the William Dudley Pelley. He was an ingenious writer, philosopher, and metaphysician.”

          This is something I wrote. It’s a direct quote from the essay above which completely contradicts everything you’re claiming I said.

          “Basically, ‘advancing our cause’ involves not treating that as an issue, or at best treating it as a historical thing the same way we overlook the 168 times (I think) that the word ‘nigger’ appeared in Huck Finn.”

          There are people out there who would pillory me for NOT censoring the word “nigger” in this article. You know what the difference between the poem quoted above and Huck Finn is? Jim is a fully-developed, human character in Huck Finn, and the novel is about an understanding between a white boy (Huck) and a black man who is his friend (Jim). A word like “nigger” coming from Huck’s mouth is an example of how growing up in a slave-holding society fills even the innocent with hatred. The spirit is totally different from Lovecraft’s poem.

          “What should we do about Lovecraft’s racism? Take it for what it was, and move on. That’s it, nothing more. Write articles examining it if you have to discuss it, but stop trying to make controversy over it, because the only thing making it a controversy at this point is people perpetually telling us what we should do about it.”

          Please read the article in its entirety.

          “By the way, as Valkyrie Ice pointed out below, I’ll reiterate by directing you to the HP Lovecraft section of Fanfiction.net (and that’s just for a start) to the numerous fanfictions that do exactly what you’re saying, and have been doing for years. There are many other sites devoted to fanfiction that have Lovecraft fanfictions in them, and many of them are excellent works. So congrats on your “new” approach!”

          You’ve admitted elsewhere that you’re not a big FSFH reader, so I’m going to be charitable and assume that you’re unaware that lots of professional writers still create and publish fiction set in the Cthulhu Mythos, and have since Lovecraft began encouraging his contemporaries to do so in the 1920s. I have no idea where you got the idea that I’m calling for fanfiction, and I have even less idea why anybody would feel that I was asking for anime/Lovecraft crossover fics, rather than what I very clearly indicated:

          “I want to know about Arkham’s black bootleggers, who run Innsmouth liquor up to Boston. I want to feel the absolute terror of a Hawaiian navigator as he looks below his catamaran and sees a twisted building greater than the most triumphant mara’e of his kingdom. Lovecraft tells us that Dunwich’s stone circles existed before the Indians lived there. So what did the Iroquois know about the beings that built them? Who are the Whateleys of Mongolia? Can the Australian Aborigines journey to Unknown Kadath in their vivid, pointillist dreams?”

          In other words, researched, nuanced portraits of the Mythos set in cultures Lovecraft (and most of his successors) neglected to write about. Fanfics will only connect with those in the fandoms concerned. I’d like to see something a little more universal.

          Seriously, how do you read Lovecraft when an essay of less than a thousand words provokes so much confusion?

  5. Park says:

    Moving on and ending discussion, these would be the worst things we could do, just as bad as forgetting his work. Lovecraft was a foundational talent, and his racism, like Shakespeare’s sexism and Homer’s class prejudice, informed his work and effects his readers. Just as importantly, talking about and dealing with the flaws in those figures force us to face the truth that great and even otherwise good people can also believe and do terrible things. The splotchiness of our heroes should remind us to beware the attraction of a black and white world with easy moral assumptions.

    • Hunter C. Eden says:

      Exactly, Park. The most constructive approach to prejudice is to examine it, understand it, and enjoy the work in question without enjoying the troubling aspects of it. Not that hard to do. Enough people liked my idea of black bootleggers in Lovecraft Country that I’m going on to write that story and hopefully prove by doing so that a more sensitive approach to racial issues and Mythos-based horror aren’t mutually exclusive.

  6. Valkyrie Ice says:

    Judging an author for having the “acceptable prejudices” of his era is kinda silly in my book. Of course he was racist, you can’t read “Call of Cthulhu” and tell me he WASN’T racist, considering nearly all of the “Cultists” were described in ways that made it obvious they were blacks or dark skinned. He suffered from being a member of his society, and from views commonly held by many. That we have since begun to overcome this way of thinking is only to our credit, but in no way changes the reality that he was guilty of merely sharing socially acceptable views in his time.

    Sure, being aware of his prejudices is necessary, so that it can be consciously filtered out while reading, but “applying modern political correctness” to his work is as asinine as all of the works of classic sculpture defaced by idiot popes over the centuries.

    As for “fanfiction?” You do know it already exists, in droves? In fact, I can recommend at least two Anime/Lovecraft VNs and several lovecraft fanfics, including my own: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/3563452/1/The-Horror-Of-Akuma-Atoll

    And for those of you looking for truly excellent genre blending, I recommend “Children of an Elder God” an NGE/Lovecraft/Chambers (i.e. the King in Yellow) story.

    Lovecraft has always been controversial. I’ve known xtian’s who wanted to burn his books because they were satanic. It’s all just examples of people building mountains out of molehills so they have something to feel outraged about.

    • Hunter C. Eden says:

      Thank you for at least taking me up on my challenge and writing something. I confess I’m not generally an anime fan and I didn’t understand the prior relationships between most of the characters, but I liked some of the historical detail you put in and you got a nice atmosphere in Ranma’s diary.

      That said, I feel you missed my point. I wasn’t talking about fanfiction, and the term appeared nowhere in my essay. Writing Lovecraft/anime crossover fiction is all well and good if you enjoy it, but it isn’t nearly the same as writing a researched, original story set in coastal Japan and featuring the Mythos.

  7. Dancy Larence says:

    >That said, I feel you missed my point. I wasn’t talking about >fanfiction, and the term appeared nowhere in my essay. >Writing Lovecraft/anime crossover fiction is all well and good if >you enjoy it, but it isn’t nearly the same as writing a >researched, original story set in coastal Japan and featuring >the Mythos.

    There are multiple anthology volumes of published Mythos stories set in Japan (and available in English translation) – look for the works of Ken Asamatsu .

  8. Rae says:

    I really want to thank you for writing this. This is a really tough position for me. I’m one of those people who are unashamedly “PC”, and it is sometimes really hard for me to relax and enjoy my love for classic literature, when they are full of constant reminders and allusions to racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, etc. Lovecraft is one of my favorite authors and it is no less, perhaps even more disappointing coming from his works. I like to believe that he would have a much different outlook were he around today, but the truth is even for his own period he was shockingly, overtly racist, so who knows. In any case, thanks for this piece. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one wrestling with these types of moral conundrums. Of course I will always be in awe of his talent and brilliance, but I don’t think that can erase his flaws.

  9. Rae says:

    http://storebrandsoda.com/2014/12/29/the-art-is-not-the-artist-on-holding-abusers-accountable-enjoying-problematic-media/
    Also, here is a really great post about artists vs their art. It isn’t 100% relevant because she is mostly describing sexism/abuse by artists, but it has some very valid points about the separation of artists from their art. One point she makes, is you could spend your time being an apologist and making excuses for them, or you could use your voice to try and offset it. Which is exactly what you are talking about here. Nice job. 🙂

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