"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking" - JMK
- LK has an interesting post on the relationship between Hayek and Keynes. One of the things he covers that I've always been interested in is Hayek's recollection of the relationship many decades later in the UCLA interviews. I'm amazed at how uncritically people accept Hayek's memory and his side of the relationship. LK covers a lot of the reasons why I've been skeptical. I'd have to dig for the source, but in writing my 1920-1921 paper I think I came across Bruce Caldwell expressing skepticism about Hayek's reasons for not reviewing the General Theory as well.
- The Economist declares the end of the Space Age. I haven't read the article yet, but when I pulled that out of my mailbox yesterday afternoon I was predictably disappointed to see it splashed on the cover. They're referring, of course, to the end of the Shuttle program.
- Lovecraft is well known as a racist, although it's widely agreed that he abandoned a lot of those prejudices later in life. His views on Jews are incredibly complicated. His views on blacks were much less nuanced. One thing that's always bothered me about the analyses of Lovecraft's racism, though, is how they've used his stories as evidence against him. The most common story you hear cited is The Horror at Red Hook, in which the scene is set with a description of a degenerate, but multicultural neighborhood in New York City. It's always bothered me that this was taken as evidence of racism - that uncharitable portraits of immigrants and minorities in a story is presumed to have its origin in racism. Or, to put it another way, the assumption that a non-racist Lovecraft could not have written The Horror at Red Hook. I mention this because last night I was rereading The Dunwich Horror, which is one of my favorite Lovecraft stories. It struck me that the introductory description of the Massachusetts town of Dunwich, populated by Americans of English descent, easily matches the squalor and degeneracy that Lovecraft describes in The Horror at Red Hook. Lovecraft was a fan of Oswald Spengler. Lovecraft is a big fan of the imagery of decadence that leads to degeneracy and dilapidation. He likes describing scenes of degeneracy and dilapidation which cultivate darker horrors. I personally fully acknowledge that Lovecraft was a racist, but I harbor doubts that racism motivated many of his stories. Certainly he had his own experiences with New York immigrants in mind when he wrote The Horror at Red Hook. That is beyond a doubt. But I imagine the inspiration for that description has its origin in the same aesthetic fascination with degeneracy that inspired the description of the Anglo-Saxon population at Dunwich. You can judge for yourselves from the opening passages of The Horror at Red Hook and The Dunwich Horror. I think our own revulsion at racism leads us to see it everywhere, even places where it might not play a major role. The Horror at Red Hook, I think, primarily has its origin in a much broader Lovecraftian aesthetic.
Hoisted from Late October 2012: The Half-Month of MittMentum
59 minutes ago