Posts Tagged ‘Salon’

h1

Puppies, Politics, and Gay Dinosaur Sex in Space

August 25, 2016

So … this is still going on:

The Hugo Award℠ logo.Watching Hugo voters choose “no award” instead of their nominees did not teach the Puppies Catholic virtues like humility or grace, however. Instead, many became consumed with rage. If they couldn’t take over the Hugos, the next step was to destroy them.

(Marcotte)

Read the rest of this entry ?

h1

Can You Imagine the Rumble?

February 25, 2016

In truth I was not aware of any particular rivalry ‘twixt authors of novels and memoirs, but neither is that definitive … or indicative of pretty much anything. Nonetheless, here we go:

Salon.comBy the end of this treatise on “appropriate choice of vocabulary” and the human impulse to “relativise” emotions, the reader still has no clear sense of how [Catherine] Millet feels about her mother’s suicide or what, if anything, this suicide has to do with her pained relationship with her husband. We learn more in one sentence of [Edouard] Levé’s about both the precise nature of the narrator’s feelings for his dead friend and the complications of intimacy in general.

And while I will not take a side―nor even try to figure out what the sides are, or if they actually exist at all―in Hannah Tennant-Moore’s introspection, I would at least go so far as to note she would seem to have a point with that paragraph.

Yeah, I know. Everybody’s a critic. Doesn’t mean a one of us has an answer. The answer. I mean, you know. An answer? Do I need an umbrella today? “Nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nineteen! Nineteen!” Yeah, you know? It’s an answer.

―bd

____________________

Tennant-Moore, Hannah. “Too real for reality TV — or even memoir: The new novels that dare use fiction to reveal secret truths”. Salon. 14 February 2016.

h1

The Shadow Over Lovecraft

November 23, 2015

It is true I hold a soft spot for H. P. Lovecraft; his stories are among those that made me want to write. It is an unfortunate history, then, fraught with caveats; this is the problem:

First, Lovecraft―who wrote “The Call of Cthulhu,” “The Colour Out of Space” and other influential tales of madness and “sentient blob[s] of self-shaping gelatinous flesh”―is one of weird fiction’s most celebrated authors. He is enshrined in the Library of America.H. P. Lovecraft Stephen King calls him “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale.” The author of the novel “Psycho,” Robert Bloch, once wrote, “Poe and Lovecraft are our two American geniuses of fantasy, comparable each to the other, but incomparably superior to all the rest who follow.”

Second, as Lovecraft’s letters―and, to a lesser extent, his stories―reveal, the guy harbored a fierce loathing for almost all non-WASPs. Blacks were “greasy chimpanzees,” in Lovecraft’s words. French-Canadians were a “clamorous plague.” New York’s Chinatown was “a bastard mess of stewing mongrel flesh.” And so on.

Phillip Eil’s explanation, for Salon, of the final distribution of Howards for the World Fantasy Award does, indeed, follow the gravity of the tale. It only goes downhill from there.

We can try making what excuses we want; he was a misanthrope, he was crazy, he was an extreme product of something whatnot whonow … er … right. It’s possible to do the five stages; I recommend skipping tracks to acceptance. Then again, neither do I know how many of the generation that comes after me even bothered with Lovecraft, so maybe my own years of reflecting on the question really are as useless as they have always felt.

Still, though. Sigh.

No, no, I’m not fretting for the trophies. It’s just, you know, it’s just one of those, This is why we can’t have nice things! feeling. Lovecraft, Koestler, Cosby. Sometimes it just hurts to face up to what all goes into the art we love, y’know?

But it’s true, he was a miserable, sickly, repulsive sort of genius.

―bd

____________________

Image note: H. P. Lovecraft in undated photo via Wikimedia.

Eil, Phillip. “The ghost that haunts American literature: The genius & the repugnance of H.P. Lovecraft”. Salon. 21 November 2015.

h1

Some kind of crazy

August 4, 2011

There is a reason why the notable leaders of history all seem crazy. Or, at least, so says Tufts University professor Nassir Ghaemi.

Winston ChurchillIn his provocative, fascinating new work, “First-Rate Madness,” Nassir Ghaemi, an author and professor of psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine, argues that many of history’s most famous and admired figures, from Churchill to FDR to Gandhi, showed signs of mental illness — and became better leaders because of it. Ghaemi bases his argument on historical records and some of the latest experimental studies on depression and mania, arguing that mild symptoms can actually enhance qualities like creativity or empathy. Gen. William Sherman’s bold march through the South during the Civil War, for example, was actually spurred by his mania, while Churchill’s and Abraham Lincoln’s depression gave them the strength to make it through their more difficult hours.

Thomas Rogers interviews Ghaemi for Salon.

I think if most people knew that their leaders were making important decisions, like, say, about the debt ceiling, while going through a manic phase, they would be concerned.

It’s important to get out of this all-or-nothing thinking. It’s not that you’re either completely normal or in control or completely manic or out of control. Mental illness can come in many degrees of severity; it can be mild, moderate or really severe. When people are mildly to moderately manic they have what are called racing thoughts, going down different tangents that a person normally wouldn’t, and this often produces creative links that most people would not make. Those lead to judgments that lead to decisions that often end up being correct and helpful and would otherwise not happen. Manic people, especially when their symptoms are mild or moderate, can make much better decisions than mentally healthy people who often make very poor decisions.

While conventional wisdom is generally silent on the subject for the sake of dignity, I think most people realize that in the modern world, you have to be crazy to want to be a president, prime minister, or even banana republic dictator. The only real question is what kind of crazy are we voting for.

John Ray reminds of the paving in Hell. Jerry Garcia reminds us to enjoy the ride.

-bd