Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Blog highlight

Check out Jeffro's Appendix N summary, or epilogue.  And then read the entire series of blog posts.

And then, if you haven't, read the actual books under discussion.

Honestly, the only things I think Gygax missed from the Appendix N, because they were obviously hugely influential on the development of D&D, are the actual classics.  But they're so classic, or at least they were before SJWs attempted to obliterate the history of Western civilization, that he may have felt that it was unnecessary to note them.  After all, most people read them.  Anyone with a classic education was expected to, and even at my age, anyone with a regular education was at least passing familiar with them, and read portions of them as required reading.

By "the classics" I mean really foundation Western civ literature.  Malory, Tennyson, Hesiod, Homer, the anonymous Beowulf author, Bulfinch, Sturluson, the often anonymous authors of Norse sagas, even Howard Pyle and Rudyard Kipling, etc.  Those kinds of guys.

The other thing I mean by classics is the true foundation of the genre; the foundational works written before the genre crystalized—William Morris, Bram Stoker, E. R. Eddison, George MacDonald, etc.

Anyway, here's the post, and a small sample of it:  When it was announced that the World Fantasy Award was replacing its iconic Lovecraft bust, Joyce Carol Oates declared that the literary canon is “saturated with racism, sexism, anti-semitism, anti-democracy… and lunacy.” Graciously she allows that “tossing it all out is no solution.” But why wouldn’t you toss it out…? If it really was as bad as people say, you probably would do just that. I mean really, why would people read the works of such terrible people…? They don’t. And if by some chance they do, the reaction can be almost physical sometimes, as this woman describes it:
I read a lot of Bradbury as a teen and thought his stories were wonderful. Rereading his stories now is actively painful to me. I’m a lot more able to pick up on those subtle cues, and less able to make excuses for them, that the author doesn’t really see his female characters as important, or real, or three dimensional, or people.
Are we really so advanced a civilization now that The Martian Chronicles necessarily should make us ill?

Older people steeped in the classics will dismiss that as an outlier, but it really is a sign of the times. This attitude certainly shows up in a great many of the reviews of old works of fantasy and science fiction that pepper the internet. It’s almost as if there is a barrier in these peoples’ minds. As soon as they get to something they been trained to think of as being “problematic”, they shut down. Very little in the way of any kind of analysis of the material can even be done, because calling out and reviling everything from Madonna/Whore complexes to “black and white morality” is the sort of thing that passes for deep or sophisticated thinking.

The retiring of Lovecraft’s bust from the World Fantasy Awards is therefore not so much reminiscent of statues of Stalin being pulled down in post-Soviet Russia. It’s more a reflection of the Berlin wall… going up. It used to be that reading centuries old books was almost universally considered to be a very good thing, to the point of being the very definition of an education. Now, looking into works that are merely decades old are increasingly beyond the pale. People with this attitude will even go so far as to object to having to read Ovid at university– and college administrators– far from standing up to this– seem instead to be on the lookout to accommodate this sort of thing.

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