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Thread: The Racial View of HP Lovecraft

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    Quote Originally Posted by Odalman View Post
    More good HP Lovecraft quotes.

    A great Lovecraft quote about blacks, and their effect on society:
    The black race is vastly inferior. There can be no question of this among modern and unsentimental biologists — eminent Europeans, all of them. But, it is also a fact that there would be a very grave problem even if the negro were the white man's equal. For the simple fact is, that two very dissimilar races, whether "equal'" or not, cannot peacefully coexist in the same territory until they are either completely mongrelized or cast in folkways of permanent traditional aloofness. No normal being feels at ease amidst a population radically different from himself, in both physical aspects and emotional responses. This, of course, implies permanent association. We can all visit exotic scenes and like it — and when we are young and ignorant, we usually think we might continue to love it as a regular thing. But as years come to pass, we see that mongrelism won’t work. We require an environment of physical types like our own, and will sacrifice anything to get them. If we find ourselves engulfed by alien and clashing influences, we instinctively fight against them.

    Naturally, if a race wants to submit to the terrible ordeal of mongrelisation for an agonizing period of centuries, there will emerge a new race whose members will have attained a new homogeneity — and therefore a new and satisfying equilibrium. But who wants to sacrifice himself for the sake of this hypothetical future race — a race just as foreign and meaningless to him as the Africans are to ourselves? All that any living man normally wants is a stable perpetuation of the forms and appearances to which his perceptions are, from birth, instinctively attuned. That's all there is to human life — the preservation of a framework which will render the experience of the individual relevant and significant. Here we have the phenomenon of race prejudice in a nutshell: the normal struggle of every sane personality to live in a world where life can mean something.

    Just how the negroes can be adjusted to the American fabric, yet remains to be seen. It's possible that the economic dictatorship of the future can work out a plan of separate allocation, whereby the blacks follow a self-contained life of their own, avoiding the hardships of inferiority through a reduced numbers of contacts with the whites. However, sentimentalists exaggerate the woes of the average negro. Millions of negroes would be content with a servile status, if good physical treatment and sexual amusement could be assured them. We must also discourage the increase of mulatto half-breeds by placing the heaviest penalties on miscegenation, and arousing as much public sentiment as possible against this disgusting phenomenon.

    All told, I think the modern American is pretty well on his guard, at last, against racial and cultural mongrelism. There will be a very long time of deterioration, but the Nordic has a fighting chance of coming out on top in the end.
    Came across this on google, and as a great Lovecraft fanatic I wanted to point out that the quote has been altered in many ways--by who I don't know. The correct quote, found on p. 253 of Selected Letters Vol. III, is this:
    The black is vastly inferior. There can be no question of this among contemporary and unsentimental biologists—eminent Europeans for whom the prejudice-problem does not exist. But, it is also a fact that there would be a very grave and very legitimate problem even if the negro were the white man's equal. For the simple fact is, that two widely dissimilar races, whether equal or not, cannot peaceably coexist in the same territory until they are either uniformly mongrelised or cast in folkways of permanent and traditional personal aloofness. No normal being feels at ease amidst a population having vast elements radically different from himself in physical aspect and emotional responses. A normal Yankee feels like a fish out of water in a crowd of cultivated Japanese, even though they may be his mental and aesthetic superiors; and the normal Jap feels the same way in a crowd of Yankees. This, of course, implies permanent association. We can all visit exotic scenes and like it—and when we are young and unsophisticated we usually think we might continue to like it as a regular thing. But as years pass, the need of old things and usual influences—home faces and home voices—grows stronger and stronger; and we come to see that mongrelism won't work. We require the environing influence of a set of ways and physical types like our own, and will sacrifice anything to get them. Nothing means anything, in the end, except with reference to that continuous immediate fabric of appearances and experiences of which one was originally part; and if we find ourselves ingulphed by alien and clashing influences, we instinctively fight against them in pursuit of the dominant freeman's average quota of legitimate contentment. Naturally, if a race wants to submit to the fantastic martrydom of mongrelisation for an agonising period of centuries, there will emerge a new composite race and culture whose members will have attained a new homogeneity—and therefore a new and satisfying equilibrium. But who cares to sacrifice himself for the sake of this hypothetical future race—a race as genuinely foreign and meaningless to him as the Peruvians would have been to the Greeks, or as the Thibetans are to ourselves? All that any living man normally wants—and all that any man worth calling such will stand for—is as stable and pure a perpetuation as possible of the set of forms and appearances to which his value-perceptions are, from the circumstances of moulding, instinctively attuned. That is all there is to life—the preservation of a framework which will render the experience of the individual apparently relevant and significant, and therefore reasonably satisfying. Here we have the normal phenomenon of race-prejudice in a nutshell—the legitimate fight of every virile personality to live in a world where life shall seem to mean something. . . . Just how the black and his tan penumbra can ultimately be adjusted to the American fabric, yet remains to be seen. It is possible that the economic dictatorship of the future can work out a diplomatic plan of separate allocation whereby the blacks may follow a self-contained life of their own, avoiding the keenest hardships of inferiority through a reduced number of points of contact with the whites. This, indeed, is grudgingly and pragmatically seen by the author of your negrophile extract. No one wishes them any intrinsic harm, and all would rejoice if a way were found to ameliorate such difficulties as they have without imperilling the structure of the dominant fabric. It is a fact, however, that sentimentalists exaggerate the woes of the average negro. Millions of them would be perfectly content with servile status if good physical treatment and amusement could be assured them, and they may yet form a well-managed agricultural peasantry. The real problem is the quadroon and octoroon—and still lighter shades. Theirs is a sorry tragedy, but they will have to find a special place. What we can do is to discourage the increase of their numbers by placing the highest possible penalties on miscegenation, and arousing as much public sentiment as possible against lax customs and attitudes—especially in the inland South—at present favouring the melancholy and disgusting phenomenon. All told, I think the modern American is pretty well on his guard, at last, against racial and cultural mongrelism. There will be much deterioration, but the Nordic has a fighting chance of coming out on top in the end.
    Some changes are minor and don't really modify the meaning (though they do dumb down the language in minor ways, like replacing "contemporary" by "modern" or "from the circumstances of moulding" by "from birth"), but others eliminate whole phrases, or are smaller changes which do alter the meaning in some way--I've put those differences in bold. The altered quote eliminates the positive appraisal of the Japanese, for example, and generally making his views on blacks to be more based on emotional prejudice and stereotype (note for example the replacement of 'amusement' by 'sexual amusement', and the removal of the last part of 'eminent Europeans for whom the prejudice-problem does not exist') whereas he saw them as more a matter of detached scientific analysis, and stated that he wished no harm to blacks (another sentence removed in the altered quote). It also eliminates some of his cosmic pessimism, and his sense that none of our aims, including preserving culture, really mean anything in the end and are just ways to help us preserve a limited amount of happiness through a kind of illusion of meaning, based on whatever evokes a kind of homely nostalgia for familiar thing which remind us of the happiest aspects of our childhood, something he felt very keenly (as evidenced in many of his other letters).

    To get a properly nuanced sense of his views on race, it's also worth pointing out is that by the 1930s he had not only abandoned the idea that Nordics were "superior" to other European and Asian groups, but also felt that the differences that existed were almost entirely a matter of culture rather than biology...from Selected Letters V, p. 79:
    As a matter of fact, most of the psychological race-differences which strike us so prominently are cultural rather than biological. If one could take a Japanese infant, alter his features to the Anglo-Saxon type through plastic surgery, & place him with an American family in Boston for rearing—without telling him that he is not an American—the chances are that in 20 years the result would be a typical American youth with very few instincts to distinguish him from his pure Nordic college-mates. The same is true of other superior alien races including the Jew—although the Nazis persist in acting on a false biological conception. If they were wise in their campaign to get rid of Jewish cultural influences (& a great deal can be said for such a campaign, when the dominance of the Aryan tradition is threatened as in Germany & New York City), they would not emphasize the separatism of the Jew but would strive to make him give up his separate culture & lose himself in the German people. It wouldn't hurt Germany—or alter its essential physical type—to take in all the Jews it now has. (However, that wouldn't work in Poland or New York City, where the Jews are of an inferior strain, & so numerous that they would essentially modify the physical type.)

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    "Yet who shall declare the dark theme a positive handicap? Radiant with beauty, the Cup of the Ptolemies was carven of onyx."



    Happy birthday, HP Lovecraft. One of my favorite authors.


    "Reality is itself a shadow, only an appearance accepted by those whose eyes shun what might lie beyond." -Louis L'Amour

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hersir View Post
    Happy birthday, HP Lovecraft. One of my favorite authors.
    One of my favourite authors, too, Hersir. I've watched many film adaptations of Lovecraft's stories, and while some films get close to the Lovecraft sensibility, they often stumble.
    “She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick.”
    ― Flannery O'Connor

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