A Type of Warfare

Monday , 29, May 2017 21 Comments

Over at the OD&D Discussion boards, things have (predictably) begun to heat up. The intensity of the response is so baffling, it has prompted this question from the forum denizen known as The Perilous Dreamer:

Would someone fill me in on why there is so much hate for jeffro and for this book, because I am not seeing where any of this is coming from.

It’s not about me. The sort of suppression fire you see here… well, it’s strange to say this, but it’s a type of warfare.

The fight is not recent, but goes way back. Here is an example of it from a writer that “Rafael” over there deems to be far superior to me:

Howard’s tales lack the de Camp verisimilitude–Howard never tried, or never tried intelligently, to give his preposterous saga the ring of truth…even when they’re most insulting to the rational mind. Howard had the maniac’s advantage of believing whatever he wrote; de Camp is too wise to believe wholeheartedly in anything. All the great fantasies, I suppose, have been written by emotionally crippled men. Howard was a recluse and a man so morbidly attached to his mother that when she died he committed suicide; Lovecraft had enough phobias and eccentricities for nine; Merritt was chinless, bald and shaped like a shmoo. The trouble with Conan is that the human race never had produced and never could produce such a man, and sane writers know it; therefore the sick writers have a monopoly of him.

I had no idea that this sort of thing went on when I was writing my book. I was baffled by the fact that these supremely talented authors that engineered the foundations of fantasy and science fiction were so strangely and weirdly obscure. I know when I read them I kept saying to myself, “why didn’t anyone tell me to read this author before?!” and “why is the only discussion about this on some stale blog posts from the OSR?!”

The fact is, there are people that can only enjoy contemporary works, that have a difficult time reading anything from before 1980, and that have a meltdown when they encounter things from before 1940. And whether they know anything about me or not, they are my enemies from the moment they catch wind of anything related to my efforts.

How can you know if you’ll like my book or not…? Well I’ve seen enough to have an idea. If you have read any Howard or Lovecraft or Merritt and thought to yourself, “I’d really like to read more stuff like that,” then you’ll be glad to learn more about the authors that would have been considered to be their peers by the designers of the first wave of role-playing games. If you look at the Appendix N reading list and don’t recognize more than a few names, you will come away with a list of authors that you are excited about and that you’ll want to start reading right away.

If you’re the sort of person that thinks that the ugliness of a Damon Knight is something to aspire to as a critic, then you’ll hate it.

  • Sky says:

    “The cynicism that regards hero worship as comical is always shadowed by a sense of physical inferiority.”

    Yukio Mishima

    These people are worms.

  • deuce says:

    I have to admit that I never realized there was such a chasm existed until the Puppies phenomenon arose. Then Jeffro’s book came out and I saw just how so much of modern fandom wasn’t just hostile to the Good Old Stuff, but just pig-ignorant about it as well.

    I started reading pulp fiction when I was 8. I always assumed the SFF readers who attacked it were just nerds who didn’t get it. Back in the mid-2000s, I was a mod on the conan.com/Official REH Forum and there was tons of enthusiasm for all of that and massive traffic. There was a thread for every author in App N except for Bellairs. Some, like Lovecraft, had multiple threads. We had threads for Planetary Romance and Space Opera. The Cimmerian blog was getting traffic that Black Gate has only achieved in the last year. Then, the disappointing 2011 Conan movie came out and Facebook exploded, splintering REH fandom into about 20 different FB groups.

    I see now that I was dealing with a non-representative — albeit quite large — sample. Obviously, a big part of what calls itself SFF fandom has drifted far away from its roots and has become not just ignorant, but actively hostile.

    • deuce says:

      Upon rereading my post, I don’t think I stated that well at all. Simply put, I knew there was hostility to the Old Stuff out there. However, I thought the hostility was due to actually READING the texts and not liking them, as opposed to just received wisdom and parroting the Party line. I granted more honesty and credibility to the other side than they deserved.

      • Andy says:

        It may have been true at the time, that people actually responded to what they read, but it’s been a few years now. Enough time for those who were just young kids to grow up to become college kids and graduates who are very smug in their ignorance. And as bad as college was when I went in the late 90s, it seems to have become orders of magnitude worse in terms of what they’re drilling into people’s heads now.

  • I find contempt is usually tinged deep-green with envy.

  • John E. Boyle says:

    You’re right, this is war and it won’t end any time soon. It is too personal for them. I don’t know whether it is the sense of inferiority or the bitter envy or ideology or a corrosive mix of those and/or other factors, but whatever the reasons, they simply cannot accept that you are right.

    It is as if doing so would damage the image they have of themselves, and they cannot bear that.

    And, as that twit who says the human race could never produce a Conan proves, they’re pig-ignorant of history as well as SFF.

  • Joe F Keenan says:

    The cited texts rings familiar, looks like a copy and paste with just a dash of personalization. I believe the visceral dislike evident in the citation has its origins in massive insecurity. This pretty much says it all, ” The trouble with Conan is that the human race never had produced and never could produce such a man, and sane writers know it; therefore the sick writers have a monopoly of him.” Author is projecting his insecurities outward, there are in fact plenty of men like Conan, see the Congressional Medal of Honor winners for stories of bravery in action that are often more over the top than anything Howard ever wrote. Regarding the physicality of Conan, if that is an objection, see wrestlers, boxers, NFL players, rugby players, Marines, etc…The cited text is an example of how you write when you have no life experience outside your little bubble.

  • cs7850 says:

    It sounded like Damon Knight judged works based on the hearsay and physical shortcomings of writers, as if having a smaller chin makes for an inferior prose writer. This line of criticism is lazy because it can be used on anything, because every person has flaws and imperfections. It has little to do with the writing itself.

    As for HP Lovecraft, as learn more about him I get the impression that the ‘hermit’ label is exaggerated and too simplistic. He loved outdoor walking holidays, going to exhibits, and had 100+ correspondents.

    And on pre-1980 genre fiction, some of the Weird Tales and pulp set feel very readable and contemporary. I wouldn’t have guessed C.L. Moore’s NW Smith was written in the mid 1930s. Neither would most ‘blind’ readers I daresay.

  • John E. Boyle says:

    Ah, I had not realized that was a quote from Damon Knight; I had thought it was a quote from a contemporary on that Forum.

    Maybe I should read Jeffro’s Google site before I read Castalia’s blog.

  • Man of the Atom says:

    The Poison of Damon Knight runs deep in many areas of our culture.

    The Weed of Knight bears bitter fruit.

  • I’ve read through the current thread over at the OD&D forums. The fact that Rafael is a moderator turns me off to the whole forum itself. That was not civil discourse, no matter how much reframing he attempts. And he misses every opportunity for mea cupla. When mods are trolls it’s either time for a new mod or a new forum.

    • Man of the Atom says:

      When the moderators are trolls, then the forums is converged. Time to burn it down and find another forum.

  • M. B. Moore says:

    Rafael = Gamma Male.

    Vox was correct when he wrote his blog post “The Deluded Freaks Of Fandom.”

    This just convinced me to purchase Appendix N.

  • Steven D Warble says:

    Jeffro, I am a 53 year old die hard leftest liberal who grew up reading Conan and Flash Gordon and John Carter. I have no clue why there is this backlash against the idea that the books that Gygax read and enjoyed influenced the game he helped make. I am truly boggled.

    Steve W
    Baltimore, Md

    • deuce says:

      You graduated college before 1990, I assume? I would say you didn’t get the full indoctrination and haven’t been getting the frequent updates to the Narrative.

      Every single author/book in App N is “problematic” due to one or more violations of the postmodernist/intersectional paradigm. The Left has gone far beyond the point where any of the heroes you named can be enjoyed without a sense of irony or outrage. ALL of those authors are problematic wrongthinkers according to “Progressive” strictures. The Narrative marches on and the Struggle is eternal.

      All that said, it’s cool that you, personally, see no problem. You might want to check out the videos of Sargon and Dave Rubin. They’re both Classical Liberals who believe that elements within the Left have gone too far in the culture war.

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