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General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Thu Sep 14, 2006 10:41 am

Ezra Lb. wrote:JohnG wrote

> I can see a place for groundbreakers and innovators as well as fine
> craftsmen in any sort of lit surveys, regardless of how well the actual
> works stand to reading again over time.

So I should read a bad book because the person who wrote it was first?


As John riposted, nobody's telling you in particular to read anything. The issue was whether Lovecraft's work was worth preserving in the Library of America. Don't change the terms of the debate.

But it's not just "first" that qualifies here, but influence.

Consider other influential bad books that it would be wise to know: the Bible, Mein Kampf. . . .
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Thu Sep 14, 2006 12:30 pm

Mothers Against Drunk Bloviating:

We are talking about reading a book, not drinking and driving. Let's be sensible here. David is in time out.

I was talking about teenagers, who are molded to be adults, so they should have the liberty of adults. As an anarchist I am against all authority over a person, including parental authority. Sure, if a kid is about to touch a hot oven, you yank his hand back. If he or she walks out in the street, even though a truck is coming down the road, you have the right to yank the kid from the street. Parents think that they own their children. They don't think of them as small adults. Sure, they can be molded, as long as that molding mines their individualism.

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Ezra Lb.
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Postby Ezra Lb. » Thu Sep 14, 2006 12:31 pm

John my reponse to you was intended more or less facetiously. I concede your point but reemphasize mine.

1. Just because a work is fun to read and popularly successful doesn't mean it is great literature.

In my opinion, leaving aside the enjoyment reading his works brings, the importance of Lovecraft for scholars is that he was, along with his near contemporaries C S Lewis and J R R Tolkien, a dissenter to Modernism.

But to hold him up as an exemplary prose stylist to be imitated deserves a chase across the Plain of Leng by a Shuggoth.

2. People have to be educated into an appreciation of quality.

David if you want to read the best of HPL check out

The Colour Out of Space
The Silver Key
The Music of Eric Zann


That's as good as it gets.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Thu Sep 14, 2006 12:33 pm

This is why I don't like Lovecraft. Because I am a modernist.

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Ezra Lb.
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Postby Ezra Lb. » Thu Sep 14, 2006 12:42 pm

Because of the lack of an edit function I am compelled to post twice in a row (as opposed to once in a row).

FrankChurch wrote

I was talking about teenagers, who are molded to be adults, so they should have the liberty of adults. As an anarchist I am against all authority over a person, including parental authority. Sure, if a kid is about to touch a hot oven, you yank his hand back. If he or she walks out in the street, even though a truck is coming down the road, you have the right to yank the kid from the street. Parents think that they own their children. They don't think of them as small adults. Sure, they can be molded, as long as that molding mines their individualism.

This is so absolutely confused and self-contradicting that it makes my head spin.

Don't have kids Frank.


And David, the Bible is not a bad book just because it has been used by bad people. Parts of the Hebrew Bible are as good as anything in the Greek, Hindu, or Chinese traditions.

If you remain skeptical I refer you to

http://www.amazon.com/David-Story-Trans ... F8&s=books

exquisite!
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Thu Sep 14, 2006 12:50 pm

No, I would never punish a child that badly. Imagine what kind of role model I would be. har har.

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Jim Davis
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Hiya, Rob!

Postby Jim Davis » Fri Sep 15, 2006 1:43 pm

--
"His plan therefore was not to refuse admission to the idea, but to keep it at bay until his mind was ready to receive it. Then let it in and pulverise it. Obliterate the bastard."--Samuel Beckett

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Fri Sep 15, 2006 2:12 pm

I'd say Haaratz is evenhanded. They may actually, in fact be raving homelessmen.

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Ezra Lb.
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Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Sep 19, 2006 9:13 am

File this one under:

DUMB ALL OVER

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14905096/
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

DVG
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Postby DVG » Tue Sep 19, 2006 9:47 am

"What in Lovecraft's output even comes close to the power of Masque of the Red Death or Young Goodman Brown?"

I can think of two at least beyond the three you have mentioned: "The Outsider," which is one of the most beautifully written stories of its type ever created, and "The Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath," where the language works sonorously and continually, creating a seamless vision of an entire ancient and only semi-visible empire.

Lovecraft's lingusitic peculiarities are often overemphasized by his critics. There is little in "The Dunwich Horror" or "The Shadow over Innsmouth," both excellent tales, that feels forced or overly ornate.

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markabaddon
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Postby markabaddon » Tue Sep 19, 2006 2:49 pm

In addition to the works DVG mentioned, I would also say that The Colour Out of Space and the Rats in the Walls are stories that feel neither forced nor overly ornate.

Lovecraft is most definitely an acquired taste. There are linguistic and stylistic peculiarities that make the prose much less accessible than other writers. This is not to say that Lovecraft is better or worse than any other writer but that his style is very unique.

Personally, I love the stuff, and as October approaches, will be re-reading his works all over again (except before bed, only a couple of items I will not read before bed Lovecraft and the Doll's House collection of Sandman). For me, reading Lovecraft is to be submersed in a world where the fantastique and the mundane collide but I recognize that this opinion is shared by a fairly small segment of the population
Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristrocratic forms. No gov't in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, gov't tends more and mroe to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Tue Sep 19, 2006 3:43 pm

Gallup is a hack poll, best to not look too deeply into that crystal ball. But, if it is true, it tells us that Americans may actually want actual fascism, as compared to the watered down fascism of Reagan.

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Ezra Lb.
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Postby Ezra Lb. » Wed Sep 20, 2006 7:44 am

Frank I think you'll find that the Gallup poll is as scientific and accurate as such things generally are.

My desire is simply that the Demos take back control of at least one of the bodies of Congress. Not because I support them by and large but because it will prevent Bush & co from doing even more damage to our country than they've already done. The most glorious word in the lexicon of political thought (such as it is ) in this country is GRIDLOCK.

Also, one of my pet peeves is the use of the word FASCISM as a term of opprobrium for political thought one finds repugnant. We can use words like a surgeon performing micro-surgery, or we can use them like a chimpanzee with a MAC 10. Frank, since I can tell by your posts that you want to use words effectively and precisely and always seek to educate yourself, allow me to recommend

http://www.amazon.com/Anatomy-Fascism-V ... F8&s=books


Ok people this is my last word on Lovecraft. May Great Cthulhu slither out of my bathroom sink and nibble on my big toe if I lie!

I ENJOY HPL. His writing has provided me with many hours of pleasure. I am simply pointing out that just because we might enjoy his work does NOT mean that he is a GREAT writer, producing literature for the ages.

If we are going to have a literary canon (something I find debatable in and of itself) then it should be the best of the best, a parthenon to be entered not merely because your work is popular. (To objections that the Library of America is not such a canon, well they certainly present themselves as such.)

Also, to consider the lovers of Lovecraft (sorry) as some sort of persecuted minority is simply ludicrous. Or maybe you haven't perused the horror bookshelves lately?
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

DVG
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Postby DVG » Wed Sep 20, 2006 9:19 am

But Ezra, with all respect, and not to draw the argument out, none of your points address my own belief that Lovecraft is more than merely a popular writer. He has been misrepresented, often by his own editors, and badly imitated by countless others, but his core vision of the universe is as compelling as that in Sartre's "No Exit" or Godard's "Weekend" while being a sight more original.

He was the first secular cosmic existentialist.

Faults of prose run through many great writers. Dreiser is certainly more impressive for what he wrote than how he wrote it. Ditto Zola. And is Dickens less important for the fact that his plots are wheezing junkyards?

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Ezra Lb.
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Postby Ezra Lb. » Wed Sep 20, 2006 10:19 am

DVG wrote

But Ezra, with all respect, and not to draw the argument out, none of your points address my own belief that Lovecraft is more than merely a popular writer.

Obviously the current culture is on your side rather than mine. I was simply giving my opinion and attempting to explain it. It is certainly possible for you to have a long and happy life without agreeing with anything I write.

What's wrong with being simply an entertaining popular writer? Why must we enthrone our desires?



Wait...shhhhhhhhhh! Did you hear that? That! That! A watery slurping...as if a viscous mass had hefted itself out of the sink, dragging itself across the floor...approaching my study door.

The door knob is turning...and some nameless green ichor is now poring from under the door.

Oh my god. It's It's It's entering my mind! I must unify the forces. CTHULHU FTAGN! IA! IA! SHUB-NIGGURATH! The three-lobed burning artichoke...!
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter


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