You have two things to look forward to this weekend

It’ll be my last weekend before classes come crashing down on my head, so I’m going to take advantage of it.

Skepticon starts tomorrow! Tune in!

I’m looking forward to this as well: Lovecraft Country airs on Sunday!

It’s a great book, and it looks like HBO is doing right by it. There’s a write-up in the LA Times about that horrible racist, HP Lovecraft, and why he is surprisingly popular.

Lovecraft helped create a genre now known as “cosmic horror,” stories filled with dread and terror at the knowledge that humans are not the most important things in the universe.

“He was beginning to write at a time when science was making vast and profound discoveries,” says Klinger. “What he came to believe, I think deeply and honestly, was that human beings were insignificant little dust motes in this enormous universe and that eventually we would discover that we were not particularly significant.”

Science has been spending a few centuries working to move the center of the universe away from us, so it fits with an ongoing trend. Now we just have to dislodge that center from white people, which is proving to be the hardest step of them all. Lovecraft Country, though, does its part in the decentering. Don’t read Lovecraft, read the more recent authors that have been bringing us cosmic dread without the petty racism. (Another author I’d recommend: the work of Ruthanna Emrys, who takes on the perspective of the fish men of Innsmouth.)

Hey, can we pretend Skepticon is taking place in Lovecraft country?


  1. says

    You cannot fully understand, or appreciate The Ballad of Black Tom without reading The Horror at Red Hook. By all means point out that Lovecraft’s odious views informed much of his writing and recommend that people love the newer stuff. But don’t seperate texts from their boarder contexts.

    -a person who doesn’t particularly care for Lovecraft on his own.

  2. PaulBC says

    I haven’t read much Lovecraft and never read any until well into middle age, but I enjoyed The Shadow over Innsmouth after a friend recommended it to me. While Lovecraft is expressing his own horror over miscegenation, the reader is welcome to interpret it any number of ways. From my view, The Deep Ones are not benevolent in any sense, but their actions in the story are no worse than human colonists. They have an ancient and advanced civilization that the protagonist plans to join. Taken at face value, they are also amazingly forgiving considering he will be invited to join their society after his role in destroying their colony. (“For bringing the upper-earth men’s death I must do a penance, but that would not be heavy.”) It’s a happy ending in a way that more people can appreciate now (consider what a Joss Whedon treatment would look like) . I can only assume that to Lovecraft, being a “race traitor” was a fate worse than death.

    I am not sure why it is supposed to be horrifying to believe that “humans are not the most important things in the universe”, which is certainly the case. This is not even a universal belief in human culture. Animists, for instance, would probably downplay the significance of humans even in their local environment. Even medieval Christianity with hierarchies of angels, would be hard-pressed to place humans as “more important” than the infinities of other sentient beings though they may play a unique role.

    When I call myself a “humanist”, I mean that humans are subjectively the most important thing to other humans. It’s not that we have the right to be selfish or run roughshod over nature. It is more that if we don’t look after ourselves, nobody else is going to. Not being the most important thing is more of a relief to me than a source of horror. The universe will get along just fine without us, and our situation is precarious enough that it’s increasingly likely it will have to. Personally, I think it would be cool to expand into space somehow and expand our footprint over time, but I also don’t see it as an imperative. We will obviously never be “important” except to ourselves, and so what?

  3. jrkrideau says

    It’ll be my last weekend before classes come crashing down on my head,

    Have you ever considered job in Canada. A normal two-term academic year starts just after Labour Day and Winter Term exams end on or before May 1st.

  4. birgerjohansson says

    Horror, going off on a tangent again.
    With hundreds of thousands of follow Americans being unable to afford the medical care they need, you already live in hell, you just do not realise it because people do not walk around with signs saying “dying of poverty, and a treatable disease”.
    Americans are a bit like people in the horror film ‘They Live’ .
    I have thought a lot about this recently, because Ed Brayton became the latest victim.

  5. aziraphale says

    I think Lovecraft’s At The Mountains Of Madness and The Shadow Out Of Time are worth reading if you like the cosmic horror genre. Not noticeably racist IIRC. I agree, Ruthanna Emrys is excellent.

  6. gijoel says

    I have tried to read Lovecraft but he always comes off as hysterical. He isn’t hysterical in the ‘ha-ha’ way, but a man who was afraid of his own shadow. The first Lovecraft story I read was about an archeologist stumbling on a lost city in the Rub’ al Khali. Any archeologist worth his salt would be giddy at the prospect of rummaging through the piles of mummies. Alas our protagonist is indescribably terrified by all this and flees back into the desert.

  7. says

    I think maybe the best option would be to produce enough new cosmic horror fiction to effectively render Lovecraft irrelevant. Take Cthulhu and friends, and run. Then we’d have our cake and eat it too! (i fucking love cake btw nom nom nom)