Sunday, April 29, 2007

Post-Weird Realism Tentacularity

Last Thursday's 'Weird Realism' conference was a blast, despite the emphasis being on philosophical interpretations of Lovecraft's work (not being a philosopher - to be frank, Continental philosophy gives me the willies - some of the more gritty discussion was a bit hard to follow).

Sadly, my paper appeared to cause some confusion, I guess as a result of failing to communicate my ideas clearly. In any case some of the participants seemed to think that I was saying the opposite to what I was actually trying to express (that occultural appropriations of Lovecraft's fiction does tend to drift towards a kind of 'McDonaldisation' and celebration of consumerism). One point I also failed to emphasise, though, was that such appropriations can be considered 'revolutionary' in the way that science-fiction and fantasy genres more generally are replete with a 'revolutionary potential': namely in facilitating a re-envisioning and re-pereception of the world. In any case, it was a fruitful experience, forcing me to re-evaluate some of my notions about Lovecraft's work. Also fantastic to see, at last, Lovecraft being taken seriously within academia. I'm not aware that any other conference has been solely dedicated to Lovecraft, making this a first.

Highlights of the day were Benjamin Noys presentation of 'The Shadow out of Time' and (trying not to be too much of a fanboy here) China Mieville's discussion of the post-WWI explosion of the 'tentacular' (which is also explored in his introduction to 'At the Mountains of Madness'). I also felt that Mieville's notion that Lovecraft's entities - far from being 'unnameable' - are drawn with an explicit and often overdetermined precision was spot on.

Cogratulations to all who made it such a fascinating event - special thanks go out to Mark Fisher for organising it

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