Sunday, June 26, 2016

Lovecraftian Thing a Day No.178: HPLHS' The White Tree

Another digital purchase, the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society's latest audio drama seems an appropriate choice for day 2 of the Lovecraftian Social Justice Warrior Week, given that it subverts the racist tropes found in Lovectaft's The Call of Cthulhu (to which this is a partial sequel). In this respect, The White Tree: A Tale of Inspector Legrasse pits one of the protaganist from TCoC against a  Louisiana cult worshipping yet another entity from Lovecaft's Cthulhu Mythos; but where Lovecraft often represents worshippers of the Mythos in terms that fit neatly with his own (even at the time) bigoted and outdated social evolutionist and racist presuppositions, here the HPLHS make the effort to switch things up by levelling the blame at the KKK. Without going off on a huge tangent, this seems relevant with regard to how contemporary GOPers, whilst on the one hand presenting a racialised narrative of white Christian 'civilization' being a bulwark against non-white 'barbarism', nonetheless often viciously advocate the same barbarism against its white liberal enemies (some of the neo-Con comments re: the tragic events in Orlando being instructive in this respect).

At this point, hopefully it is evident that the Lovecraftian Social Justice Warrior Week is not meant as a joke or some sly commentary on those who identify as SJWs; rather, it is meant as an (albeit) brief exploration of the relevance of Lovecaft's cosmicism in a contemporary social milieu; also how Lovecaft's racism informs (often in direct and unambiguous ways) that cosmicism, as well as - most importantly - the possibility of that racism's subversion. Indeed, if the increasingly overt racism that is becoming evident in the UK post-referendum wasn't bad enough, today social media has also revealed more by way of Lovecraftian apologetics with the inference that his racism is excusable on the grounds that, really, it was only levelled at POC who have not been properly assimilated by 'Western Civilization'. How very magnanimous.

The fact that many (albeit not all) of Lovecraft's apologists tend to be members of a privileged ethno-economic class is also significant here with regard to their institutionally-legitimsed power to enact a denial of HPL's racism, which is something else this short series hopes to contest. Finally, as an academic interested in contemporary esoteric thought, I'm also looking to challenge those (often highly-conservative) Lovecraftian esotericisms which namecheck racialist historians, philosophers and esoteric thinkers (names to be aware of here are Miguel Serrano, Oswald Spengler, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, R.A Schwaller de Lubicz, Ludwig Klages and other various propagators of racialised Theosophical /Ariosophist thought) oftem, it seems, as a means of promulgating an ill-thought out body neo-colonialist and primordialism.

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