Graham Harman, obviously on some kind of speaking tour of the USA, will talk in Baltimore on “What philosophy can learn from H.P. Lovecraft” on 22nd February 2014, Red Room (425 E. 31st St.).
* Cesar Guarde Paz (2012), “Race and War in the Lovecraft Mythos: A Philosophical Reflection”, Lovecraft Annual, No. 6, 2012.
* Cesar Guarde Paz (2006), “Edicion crítica de “Nietzscheanismo y realismo” de H. P. Lovecraft”, Dilema: Revista de Filosofia, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 5-18. (In Spanish. Appears to be a collection of relevant aphorisms from philosophers known to have influenced Lovecraft)
* David Simmons (2013), “H.P. Lovecraft: The Outsider No More?” (Editor’s introduction to Palgrave’s 2013 book New Critical Essays on H.P. Lovecraft. Basic short outline of Lovecraft’s changing reputation, followed by a short summary note on each of the book’s essays. Free sample PDF from Palgrave)
Am still hoping for paper review copies of the following, from 2013…
David Simmons (ed), New Critical Essays on H. P. Lovecraft.
Steven J Mariconda, H. P. Lovecraft: Art, Artifact, and Reality.
David Goudsward, H. P. Lovecraft in the Merrimack Valley. (Now on its way to me)
Alex Kurtagic, Annotated Supernatural Horror in Literature.
Gavin Callaghan, H.P. Lovecraft’s Dark Arcadia: The Satire, Symbology and Contradiction.
I made a quick whistle-stop tour around the conference listings for 2014…
Brown University Graduate Student Conference on the Monstrous and the Religious Imagination – 28th February 2014, Providence, USA. (No Lovecraft on the roster, oddly).
Pulp Magazine Studies, Popular Culture/American Culture Association National Conference – 16th-21st April 2014, Chicago, USA.
Monstrous Geographies, 14th-16th May 2014, Lisbon, Portugal.
The Power of the Monstrous, 26th-27th June 2014, University of London, UK.
Visualizing Fantastika: an interdisciplinary conference – 4th July 2014, Lancaster, UK
Fear, Horror & Terror: Rituals, Myths and Symbolism – 11th-13th September 2014, Oxford, UK.
A Fiend in the Furrows – Perspectives on ‘Folk Horror’ in Literature, Film & Music – 19th-21th September 2014. Queen’s University Belfast, UK.
* Andrea Franzoni (2014), “From the Sea to Deep Space: the Leviathan in Herman Melville, Stefano D’Arrigo and Howard P. Lovecraft”, Disputatio Philosophica, Vol.15 No.1, 2014. (“…these three contemporary authors summon the Leviathan as the possibility to create a new order in the World: an attempt whose only possible outcome is a failure”. The Lovecraft section is rather short and cursory. Part of a special journal issue on evil and the monstrous)
* Harlan Morehouse (2013), Untitled. Review of Ben Woodard’s On an Ungrounded Earth: Towards a New Geophilosophy, Society and Space journal website, undated.
* Rory Rowan (2013), Undermining the Ends of the Earth. Review of Ben Woodard’s On an Ungrounded Earth: Towards a New Geophilosophy, Society and Space journal website, undated.
* Jordan K. Skinner (2013), A Philosophical Topology. Review of Ben Woodard’s On an Ungrounded Earth: Towards a New Geophilosophy, Society and Space journal website, undated.
* Ben Woodard (2013) Response: Terrestrial Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness, Society and Space journal website, undated. (Response to three reviews of Woodard’s book On an Ungrounded Earth, reviews which appeared on the Society and Space journal website).
Popping up on the blog-dar today: Graham Harman was at Rice University yesterday…
“Harman’s [Lovecraft tinged] philosophy [the OOO variety of the new Speculative Realism] does not distinguish categorically between humans and nonhuman or life and matter. Drawing on Heidegger, Harman extends phenomenology’s account of the relation between human beings and the world to objects and the relations among objects.”
No video. But here’s a Dec 2013 talk by Harman I found, so decide what it all means for yourself…
I mostly fail to see the usefulness or point of modern academic philosophy, possibly because I’m not trained in it but also because its hair-splitting concerns seem so utterly arcane. But for my own amusement I’ve just attempted at a quick translation of the above-linked Wikipedia page section. At first glance Harman’s core ideas seem to me rather like a standard semiotics framework, shunted sideways into the language and categories of contemporary philosophy. Here’s what I can make out, in as plain an English as I can manage…
* Real physical objects are made up of complex combinations of objects, sub-objects, materials, and forces.
* Real physical objects exist amid complex landscapes of other real objects and physical forces.
* Amid such ramifying complexity, most humans find it useful to imbue a real physical object with a shorthand mental caricature of it.
* We use these shorthand mental caricatures to engage with real physical objects, just as much as we use our eyes / fingers / ears.
* These shorthand mental caricatures about objects exist and operate within culture and language, where they tend to interbreed and mutate over time.
So, let’s try that on a real world instance: a suspension bridge across water can be both a real physical object and a cultural form. The bridge is imagined and designed, and as such it is undoubtedly a cultural form. Yet once constructed, the bridge is also undoubtedly a real physical object. Yet the real bridge rapidly becomes a shorthand mental caricature, part of a more complex symbolic landscape of nation, city, travel, speed, ambition, work and commerce, structural elegance, the alluring sublimity of weather and light at play over a large human structure, etc. But this complex web of symbolic meaning is not enough to keep the bridge aloft: since we only wish to actually cross the bridge if it can be shown to rest on immutable and objectively-real laws of physics and geometry. In this sense the bridge also rests in part on the accumulated historical labour of many human minds, those special men who in the past discovered the countless correct object-combinations needed to build such a bridge. The bridge also replicates itself physically into the future, as designers and engineers are inspired by it to create new structures elsewhere. Poets and artists may likewise develop the bridge’s symbolic meanings, long after it has been dismantled or has fallen into the river and decayed to rust, weakened by the implacable web of objects and forces — weather, wind, waves, tide, rain, human use and neglect/repair, accident, barnacle attack — in which the bridge was placed.
I’ve not looked in any depth at the new Lovecraft-inspired philosophy before, but (judging by Wikipedia and a video, and some vague memories of a couple of book reviews) one of the most interesting things the OOO variety of speculative realism appears to ask is: what happens when real objects autonomously interact and recombine? Especially when objects are able to autonomously develop interactions that lie beyond human symbolic meanings (perhaps initially via some kind of embedded generative/emergent semantic artificial intelligence, I’m guessing?) Thus OOO seems relevant to autonomous generative emergence in nature (the wheeling flight of many flocking birds, complex weather systems, population dynamics over time, and even weirdly unknowable deep earth-crust ecologies), and also to autonomous emergence in new human technologies (AI singularities, unstoppable grey nano-slime, online bot ecologies, etc). Most of which emerge relatively independent of us, and appears to care little or nothing for us.
Hence Lovecraft, presumably: unspeakable knowledge about unknowable realities; the cosmic indifference exhibited by nature and time, in terms of the fate of man; the arcane trajectories of unfeeling inhuman conspiracies; and the frailty of the human mind when faced with knowledge that such things can exist without reference to us.
* Conny Lippert (2013), “Lovecraft’s Grimoires: intertextuality and The Necronomicon“, Working With English: Medieval and Modern Language, Literature and Drama, No. 8, 2012-13, pp. 41-50. (Part of a Gothic Histories special edition).
* James J. O’Meara (2014), “Mike Hammer, Occult Dick: Kiss Me Deadly as Lovecraftian Tale, Counter Currents (North American New Right), 7th Feb 2014. (Detailed analysis of the 1955 noir movie Kiss Me Deadly, in terms of its apparently use of typically Lovecraftian themes and ideas).
* John Schmidt (2013), “Narrative (as) Madness and the End of the Talking Cure: H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Rats in the Walls”", Pyxis: Wesleyan Journal of Humanities, Spring 2013.
* Nicholas Mazzuca (2009), The Dreamer Deepe: A Two-Act Play in the Lovecraft Horror Mythos (Stage play submitted in place of a formal Masters disseration, Clemson University)
* Kurt Fawver (2013) The Terror of Possibility: A Re-evaluation and Reconception of the Sublime Aesthetic (PhD thesis, University of South Florida. Appears to touch on Lovecraft from time to time, throughout)
* Ryan P. Kennedy (2012), Evolution of Effect: The Numinous in Gothic and Post-Gothic Ghost Experience Literature. (Undergraduate dissertation, a short section discusses the theme in H.P. Lovecraft’s short stories)
* Xavier Gamboa (2012), Baroque Worlds of the 21st Century (PhD thesis, “an analysis of the unfolding twenty-first century neobaroque phenomenon”. Not on Lovecraft per se, but seems to have been inspired by Patric MacCormack’s 2007 essay “Baroque Intensity: Lovecraft, Le Fanu, and the Fold” and other writing on the neobaroque)