Monday, May 13, 2013


It has been a while since I worked actively on this blog.

There are a few reasons for that.

The first is that so many other things are going on that HPL has to take a smaller role in my life.

The next is that there are already thousands of posts on this blog.  How much is enough?  I don't know, but it seems I am getting close.

There are many other HPL blogs now on the 'net and they are doing good work.  They are not doing precisely what I am doing, but then what I am doing is pretty old fashioned for the 21st century.  Like the old guy I am, I think old.  The world needs new ideas and needs to be done by those who are much better at this Internet thing.

Then there is my frustration with Lovecraft scholarship in general.  I participate minimally with the established groups.  The work that has been done is outstanding, no doubt.  It has been invaluable.  But there seems something too political about it.  From an historical perspective, it seems a bit too much, "I didn't like what Derleth did, so I'll show him".

It would be hubris to think that as good as the modern and post-modern scholarship is, that it is the end-all be-all of Lovecraft research.  As the Derleth, Long and deCamp biographical work seemed inadequate, so one day will the late 20th century biographical work be revealed to be just a little too biased, and a little too inadequate.

It will one day be surpassed, but probably not until mid-century.  It will likely start to look more like a wikipedia-YouTube multimedia presentation than a book.  Something that will appeal to 40-somethings who were born in the first decade of the 21st century 

I personally have found information that supersedes some aspects of published accounts of Lovecraft's life.  I know others have as well, and they have found information that augments information that has been published.

I think it highly unlikely that this new information will ever find its way in a book, and probably will never enter a Lovecraft journal or pamphlet.  Paper is rapidly becoming old school.  I do not know how all this Lovecraft information will enter the mainstream, or how it can or will be vetted in the future.  These are conundrums that are being worked out even by particle physicists and mainstream historians, much less a cottage industry like HPL.

So what is Chrispy going to do?

As long as Google keeps Blogger going, I will add from time to time on the HPL blog.  I want to add to Lin Carter's early years as I find the time.  I want to finish the biography of Whipple Phillips.  I am trying to assume I have about a decade of good work left in me.  It already has been 10 years - hard to believe that in 2002 I learned who HPL was for the first time.  A lot of water under the bridge.

I have begun to think "What is Chrispy's legacy"?

I guess as a sometime writer of horror, and mostly known as a "Lovecraft blogger".

I believe that "Lovecraft blogger" is usually meant to be a pejorative, though not by all.

It comes from a time when all "good internet work" was allegedly "web site" work.  As many are finding out, web sites are so early 2000's.

I am proud that I was one of the first to realize that you could use eBay as a museum and capture auction images to preserve fleeting materials that passed quickly from collector to collector.  That Google's scanning project uncovered a wealth of HPL material before they began scaling it back.

But I hope that my biggest "legacy" will be to show HPL more in social context.  His own and ours.  When I finally upload all the Whipple Phillips biographical material, it will shed so much more light on Lovecraft and his family.  I believe that will be a game changer.  At least I think it will be.  

Whipple and Howard lived an eerie parallel life.

Whipple was a true orphan, and HPL was a sort-of-orphan though his Mom was alive.

Whipple became a dynamo of the Gilded Age, although a few historical setbacks kept him from becoming a Carnegie or Ford.  After his shocking political defeat resulting in bankruptcy, Whipple chose a path of stealth toward wealth and political power.

Howard became a success in his own way, and for many of the same reasons and due to many of the same skills he inherited from his grandfather.  His total failure on the math exam at Brown University caused him to choose a new path in science, and then his near death experience in 1910 led him to an identical path of stealth toward literary success.  Instead of becoming a Clyde Tombaugh, he became a different kind of legend.

Howard, though he struggled with mysterious and real illness, was a keen judge of character and had his own ability to masterfully manipulate people in his circle.  This is not a criticism, nor an ethical judgement.  But it should be acknowledged.  It is not good enough to be a genius, but one has to have people believe and promote that you are a genius.  Whipple had that unique Phillips skill before the age of 15, I think.  So did Howard.

No offence to the Lovecrafts, formidable though they were as a clan, but Howard was and should always be seen as a Phillips.  And specifically, as the last heir to Whipple's genetic gifts.

Whipple used his skill for business.  That was his world.

Lovecraft used his to create a unique new genre, and by sheer willpower assembled a group of individuals who would perpetuate that new genre.  That was a Whipple skill.  Even the great Houdini fell under his power for a while.  As did Derleth.  As did so many others.  It was not just literary genius, but being a keen judge of men that created Lovecraft's legacy.  That was the Whipple genius, too.

So, from time to time I will continue to check in here at this blog, but don't forget the other blogs I post to also.



w. h. pugmire, esq. said...

We love you as a fellow Lovecraftian. I understand being bummed about the political nature of the current movement of Lovecraft "scholarship," much of which, when I read it online, has nothing new or interesting to tell us about Lovecraft. I prefer the books published by Hippocampus Press and written by people who actually ADMIRE Lovecraft and know what they're talking about. I hope, sweet chum, that you'll be attending NecronomiCon!! I want to put my arms about ye.

rpk said...

Very interesting post. The limitations of present Lovecraft scholarship are evident to me as well, and we are overdue for some fresh perspectives. I wish a good mainstream literary historian would take him on.

CoastConFan said...

I'm pleased to see you back, as a mid-20th century type, myself. I have to agree with you about not only HPL scholarship, but also that in literary scholarship in general. We all work from the known to the unknown in research, but duplication simply validates the findings. Many people simply don't understand HPL's milieu as being key to unraveling his and his contemporaries (not to mention predecessor’s) works. Post as you can and as the spirit moves you.


Blog Archive


Google Analytics