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Thread: Starship Stormtroopers - Michael Moorcock' Critique of Reactionary Sci-Fi and Fantasy

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    Default Lovecraft Died A Racist!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by x359594 View Post
    But as a matter of fact he outgrew his antisemitism and his conservatism and ended a New Deal liberal. This is apparent from the last volume of his Selected Letters.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ñó[FONT=&quot
    [FONT=&quot]Ẋ[/FONT][/FONT]îöʼn;1890553]
    The ironic thing? Lovecraft was married to a jew.
    Quote Originally Posted by Yazman View Post
    Lovecraft was not so much just an anti-semite as he was racist in general though there was an anti-semitic component.These views were heavily moderated as he got older and eventually he was said to have reconsidered his racist ideas completely later on in life.
    Quote Originally Posted by x359594 View Post
    There is no question that for most of his 47 years Lovecraft was a racist and a reactionary; it was only during the last 10 years of his life that he dropped those views and came to a humanistic socialism as the guiding principle of his social views.
    I apologize for the technomancy, and the massive first post.

    I adore the tales of HP Lovecraft but think many of you are being pretty charitable when you say that he abandoned his racism. It is true that he embraced socialism in the latter years of his life (he went from being a monarchist to a socialist via his own unique brand of fascism), but his racial views remained essentially unchanged, as can be easily seen in his correspondence even as late as 1934, less than three years before his death. These ideas may not have pervaded his tales as frequently as in his earlier years, but that does not necessarily mean that he had embraced a new egalitarian ideal.

    Here is a brief biographical sketch in which Lovecraft sums up his racial ideas.

    February 13, 1934
    I dislike to see great cultural fabrics split up, & am a sincere Tory in my regret for America’s separation from the British Empire. I think the differences of 1775 ought to have been settled within the empire. I admire Mussolini, but think Hitler is a very inferior copy—led astray by romantic conceptions & pseudo-science. At that, though, Hitler may have formed a necessary evil—saving his country from disintegration. In general, I think any nation ought to keep close to its original dominant race-stock—remaining largely Nordic if it started that way; largely Latin if it started that way, & so on. Only in this manner can comfortable cultural homogeneity & continuity be secured. But Hitler’s extremes of pure racialism are absurd & grotesque. Various race-stocks differ in inclinations & aptitudes, but of all of them I consider only the negro & australoid biologically inferior. Against these two a rigid colour-line ought to exist.
    He went to his grave regarding blacks as biologically inferior (he once opined in a very early letter that he considered them a link between ape and man) to every other race of human beings. He was vehemently opposed to miscegenation and was adamant that a “color-line” be in place to prevent the dilution of quality blood with that of what he considered to be subhuman.

    Here he discusses eugenics, blacks, and Jews.

    November 22, 1934
    Wiggam, like Prof. J. B. S. Haldane, believes that much will be done in future toward the artificial development of Homo sapiens; but I doubt very much whether such development can ever reach more than a tiny fraction of the extremes they postulate. In the first place, the complexity of the laws governing organic growth is enormous—so enormous that the number of unknown factors must always remain hopelessly great. We can discover & apply a few biological principles—but the limit of effectiveness is soon reached. For example—despite all the advances in endocrinology & all the experiments in glandular rejuvenation, there is no such thing as a permanent or well-balanced staving-off of senescence & dissolution. And in the second place, the fact that human beings live by emotion & caprice rather than by reason will probably prevent the widespread application of any unified plan of eugenics. Resistance to organised effort will be tremendous--& can be overcome only in a few instances….mainly in strongly centralised fascist nations. In the United States, for example, the silly & criminal sentimentality arrayed against any rational racial discrimination is of appalling magnitude. What is more—there really is no one idea of racial excellence. Even if the principle of eugenic control were accepted by a nation, there would remain a constant struggle among various factions advocating different goals of development. One group would advocate the cultivation of this or that group of emotions, or the establishment of this or that blood mixture, while another would campaign ceaselessly for a directly opposite result. Thus the Nazis in Germany want to get rid of every trace of Jewish blood, while other groups believe that the highest intellectual qualities in all races come through prehistoric & forgotten infusions of Semitic blood! Amid such a confusion of objects, what single policy could ever gain an effective ascendancy? However—this is not to say that eugenics will remain utterly neglected. There are, of course, certain lines of action where virtual unanimity exists; & along those lines considerable progress may be expected. It is, for example, agreed that hereditary physical disease & mental inferiority ought not to be transmitted—hence within the next half-century the sterilisation of certain biologically defective types will probably become universal throughout the western world, thus cutting down on the prevalence of idiocy, epilepsy, haemophilia, & kindred inherited plagues. The Nazis have already put such a policy into effect. There may, too, be local efforts (like the present anti-Semitism of the Nazis) to direct the ethnic strain…in cases where a certain approximation of unanimousness exists within single nations. The rise of the inferior stocks at the expense of the superior is becoming so obvious & alarming, that some countries may be veritably scared out of their mawkish equalitarian idealism. Some way of checking the increase of alien elements within nations ought to be devised, & the multiplication of the sound stock ought to be encouraged through a planned economy making it practicable for persons with civilised living standards to rear larger families. As it is, the only persons who can rear large families are either a negligible sprinkling of millionaires, or—at the other end of the scale—low grade proletarians (in America, mainly negroes & foreigners) who do not care what squalor they live in. Under unsupervised capitalism, it is absolutely impossible for the average citizen of good stock to rear more than one or two children with the social & educational advantages which he himself enjoyed, & which are necessary for the maintenance of the great tradition of civilisation. The result in four or five generations is obvious—a complete engulfing of the high-grade stock by the fertile & squalid masses. Regarding the negro—I don’t know what the outcome will be. But I greatly doubt whether any general assimilation will occur in the United States. Fortunately the American people seem to have no wavering in their determination to keep African blood out of their veins, so that nothing could precipitate such a mongrelisation as occurred in Egypt, & and in later years in Brazil & the Caribbean nations. It is no novelty for Aryans to dwell as a minority amidst a larger black population—such has been the case in Alabama & Mississippi for decades, & the upper part of South Africa is having a similar experience. But the effect of this condition is generally to heighten rather than relax the colour-line. The white minority adopt desperate & ingenious means to preserve their Caucasian integrity—resorting to extra-legal measures such as lynching & intimidation when the legal machinery does not sufficiently protect them. Of course it is unfortunate that such a state of sullen tension has to exist—but anything is better than the mongrelisation which would mean the hopeless deterioration of a great nation. Naturally, the negro resents his relegation to inferiority—but I doubt if he can do anything dangerous about it. Much as he may increase in the United States, his numbers will never be enough to give him a military advantage over the united white population. And his intelligence could never be equal to a contest with the strategic skill & experience of a massed Caucasian nation. Tragic overturns like that of Haiti could occur only in isolated & ill-protected colonies. All that could make a negro uprising succeed, would be the ardent cooperation of a large faction of the white population itself--& in America there is no white element aside from the numerically insignificant fringe of Marxian communists which advocates complete racial equality. The second generation of European immigrants seem to share the anti-negro attitude, while substantial sections of the Indian population—such as the Osage nation—are beginning to put up the bars against the black blood which has measurably tainted the so-called “civilised” tribes of Oklahoma—Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, &c.--& the pitiful aboriginal remnants (like the Seminoles of Florida, or our handful of Niantics & Narragansetts in southern Rhode Island) of the Atlantic coast. The Osages inflict the most drastic penalties on all members of the tribe forming alliances with Africans. Even if some desperate social crisis were to sweep America into communism, I doubt if the racial-equality plank of the Marxist programme would survive. Blood is thicker than doctrine—the reason the Russians can accept an equality programme with equanimity is that they are already largely mongrelised with Mongol blood, & also that they are not faced with the practical problem of dealing with vast hordes of beings as widely & utterly aberrant as the negro. Of the complete biological inferiority of the negro there can be no question—he has anatomical features consistently varying from those of other stocks, & always in the direction of the lower primates. Moreover, he has never developed a civilisation of his own, despite his ample contact with the very earliest white civilisations. Compare the way the Gauls took on the highest refinements of Roman culture the moment they were absorbed into the empire, with the way the negroes remained utterly unaffected by the Egyptian culture which impinged on them for continuously for thousands of years. Equally inferior--& perhaps even more so—is the Australian black stock, which differs widely from the real negro. This race has other stigmata of primitiveness—such as great Neanderthaloid eyebrow-ridges. And it is likewise incapable of absorbing civilisation. In dealing with these two black races, there is only one sound attitude for any other race (be it Indian, Malay, Polynesian, or Mongolian) to take--& that is to prevent admixture as completely & determinedly as it can be prevented, through the establishment of a colour-line & the rigid forcing of all mixed offspring below that line. I am in accord with the most vehement & vociferous Alabaman or Mississippian on that point, & it will be found that most Northerners react similarly when it comes to a practical showdown, no matter how much abstract equalitarian nonsense they may spout as a result of the abolitionist tradition inherited from the 1850’s. If a Russian-inspired communist dictatorship ever tried to force negro equality on the U. S., there is scant question but that the descendants of Wendell Phillips, Charles Sumner, & William Lloyd Garrison would stand side by side with those of Jefferson Davis & John C. Calhoun in fighting its ultimate implications to the death. Other racial questions are wholly different in nature—involving wide variations unconnected with superiority or inferiority. Only an ignorant dolt would attempt to call a Chinese gentleman—heir to one of the greatest artistic & philosophical traditions in the world—an “inferior” of any sort….& yet there are potent reasons, based on wide physical, mental, & cultural differences, why great numbers of the Chinese ought not to mix into the Caucasian fabric, or vice versa. It is not that one race is any better than any other, but that their whole respective heritages are so antipodal as to make harmonious adjustment impossible. Members of one race can fit into another only through the complete eradication of their own background-influences--& even then the adjustment will always remain uneasy & imperfect if the newcomer’s physical aspect forms a constant reminder of his outside origin. Therefore it is wise to discourage all mixtures of sharply differentiated races—though the colour-line does not need to be drawn as strictly as in the case of the negro, since we know that a dash or two of Mongolian or Indian or Hindoo or some such blood will not actually injure a white stock biologically. John Randolph of Roanoke was none the worse off for having the blood of Pocahontas in his veins, nor does any Finn or Hungarian feel like a mongrel because his stock has a remote & now almost forgotten Mongoloid strain. With the high-grade alien races we can adopt a policy of flexible common-sense—discouraging mixture whenever we can, but not clamping down the bars so ruthlessly against every individual of slightly mixed ancestry. As a matter of fact, most of the psychological race differences which strike us so prominently are cultural rather than biological. If one could take a Japanese infant, alter his features to the Anglo-Saxon type through plastic surgery, & place him with an American family in Boston for rearing—without telling him that he is not an American—the chances are that in 20 years the result would be a typical American youth with very few instincts to distinguish him from his pure Nordic college-mates. The same is true of other superior alien races including the Jew—although the Nazis persist in acting on a false biological conception. If they were wise in their campaign to get rid of Jewish cultural influences (& a great deal can be said for such a campaign, when the dominance of the Aryan tradition is threatened as in Germany & New York City), they could not emphasize the separatism of the Jew but would strive to make him give up his separate culture & lose himself in the German people. It wouldn’t hurt Germany—or alter its essential physical type—to take in all the Jews it now has. (However, that wouldn’t work in Poland or New York City, where the Jews are of an inferior strain, & so numerous that they would essentially modify the physical type.)
    His anti-Semitism, though based on cultural differences rather than biological, stayed with him as well. He did not believe that Jews were an inferior race, but that they tenaciously retained their own culture and were difficult to assimilate into his Anglo-centric ideal; that if they could be assimilated, as he considered his bride to be, they were of sufficiently good “racial stock” to be accepted. The fact that he married a Jew only proves that he practiced what he preached, not that he had reconsidered his anti-Semitism. He was critical of the Nazi’s methods and their racial fallacies (at least the ones that he did not share ), but was sympathetic to their desire to eliminate the Jewish cultural influence from Germany.

    Lovecraft on blacks and Jews

    July 30, 1933
    As for the negro question—I think that intermarriage ought to be banned in view of the vast number of blacks in the country. Illicit miscegenation by the white male is bad enough, heaven knows—but at least the hybrid offspring is kept below a definite colour-line & kept from vitiating the main stock. Nothing but pain and disaster can come from the mingling of black & white, & the law ought to aid in checking this criminal folly. Granting the negro his full due, he is not the sort of material which can mix successfully into the fabric of a civilised Caucasian nation. Isolated cases of high-grade hybrids prove nothing. It is easy to see the ultimate result of the wholesale pollution of highly evolved blood by definitely inferior strains. It happened in ancient Egypt--& made a race of supine fellaheen out of what was once a noble stock…
    As for New York—there is no question but that its overwhelming Semitism has totally removed it from the American stream. Regarding its influence on literary & dramatic expression—it is not so much that the country is flooded directly with Jewish authors, as that Jewish publishers determine just which of our Aryan writers shall achieve print & position. That means that those of us who least express our own people have the preference. Taste is insidiously moulded along non-Aryan lines—so that, no matter how intrinsically good the resulting body of literature may be, it is a special, rootless literature which does not represent us. The feelings & ideals presented are not our feelings & ideals—so that today our newest authors are as exotic to us as the French symbolists or Japanese hokku-writers. This, of course, applies to literature as a whole. Naturally, a good deal of representative stuff manages to get published. It is not difficult to point out what is meant by this insidious exoticism. What is happening is that books are preferred when they reflect an emotional attitude toward life which is profoundly foreign to the race as a whole. The preferred writers are detailedly interested in things which do not interest us, & are callous to the real impulses & aspirations which move us most. Anderson & Faulkner, delving in certain restricted strata, seldom touch on any chord to which the reader personally responds. We recognise their art, but admire them at a distance—as we admire Turgeniev & Baudelaire. Whether our own representative authors do as well in their art as their foreign-influenced types is beside the question. If they do not—as is entirely possible—then the thing to do is to stimulate better & freer expression among them; not to turn away from them & encourage expression in exotic fields. This can be done without injustice to the admitted intrinsic excellence of the exotics & decadents.
    The only xenophobic ideas that seem to have diminished somewhat were those that had prejudiced him against “lesser European” immigrants like the Italians and the Irish, though even they do not completely escape his racial wrath in late era letters to acquaintances.

    Lovecraft on Jews and lesser white races

    November 8, 1933
    As for his (Kopp-Davis) criticism of my allusion to Jewish newspaper control in New York—he missed the whole point. I didn’t say that Jews own all the papers, but merely that they control their policies through economic channels. The one great lever, of course, is advertising. Virtually all the great department stores of New York (except Wanamaker’s) are solidly Jewish even when they deceptively retain the names of earlier Aryan owners; & a clear majority of the large shops of other sorts are, as well. These Semitic merchants are clannish & touchy to the very limit, & will arrange to withdraw all their advertising at once whenever a newspaper displeases them. And, as Mencken has pointed out, their grounds of displeasure are limitless. They even resent the frequent use of the word “Jew” in the news, so that papers speak of “East Side agitators”, “Bronx merchants”, “Russian immigrants” &c. Let any N.Y. paper try to refer to these people in the frank, impartial, objective way a Providence or Pittsburgh or Richmond paper would, & the whole pack of synagogue-hounds is after it—calling down the vengeance of heaven, withdrawing advertising, & cancelling subscriptions—the latter a big item in a town where 1/3 of the population is Semitic in origin & feelings. The result is, that not a paper in New York dares to call its soul its own in dealing with the Jew & with social & political questions affecting them. The whole press is absolutely enslaved in that direction, so that on the whole length & breadth of the city it is impossible to secure any public American utterance—any frank expression of the typical mind & opinions of the actual American people—on a fairly wide & potentially important range of topics. Only by reading the outside press & the national magazines can New Yorkers get any idea of how Americans feel regarding such things as Nazism, the Palestine question (in which, by every decent standard, the Arabs are dead right & both England & the Jews intolerably wrong), the American immigration policy, & so on. This is what I mean by Jewish control, & I’m damned if it doesn’t make me see red—in a city which was once a part of the real American fabric, & which still exerts a disproportionately large influence on that fabric through its psychologically impressive size & its dominance both in finance & in various opinion-forming channels (drama, publishing, criticism, &c.). Gawd knows I have no wish to injure any race under the sun, but I do think that something ought to be done to free American expression from the control of any element which seeks to curtail it, distort it, or remodel it in any direction other than its natural course. As a matter of fact, I don’t blame the Jews at all. Hell, what can we expect after letting them in & telling them they can do as they please? It is perfectly natural for them to make everything as favourable for themselves as they can, & to feel as they do. The Italians & French Canadians in Rhode Island try the same thing (with less success, though the Dagoes are making alarming gains in Providence, where they must form nearly half the population despite their deceptive isolation in one vast quarter), & I blame them just as little. I criticise not Mr. Bernard Kopp-Davis—nor Sig. Giambattista Scagnamiglio nor M. Napoleon-Francois Laliberte—but merely the condition brought about by a reductio ad absurdum of the flabby idealism of the “melting pot” fallacy. Within the lifetime of people now middle-aged, the general tone of our northern cities has so changed that they no longer seem like home to their own inhabitants. Providence is something of an exception because of the continued pure-Yankeedom of the residence section atop the hill—but the downtown business section shews all the stigmata of Latin mongrelisation….Italian & Portuguese faces everywhere. One has to get down to Richmond to find a town which really feels like home—where the average person one meets looks like one, has the same type of feelings & recollections, & reacts approximately the same to the same stimuli. The loss of a collective life—of a sharing of common traditions & memories & experiences—is the curse of the heterogeneous northeast today. There is no real solution--& all the American can do is to forget about the foreigners as much as he can, be on guard against alienation from his own tradition (apart from which he is lost & deprived of that normal adjustment to a coherent fabric & continuous historic stream which is everyone’s right), & do his part toward cutting off further unassimilable immigration. I’d hardly advocate Nazi tactics, but I certainly would welcome a greater assertiveness & independence among the native stock. I think the (probable) 100,000 Yankees in Providence ought to be able to say what they choose about Italy without making apologies to Federal Hill (our local Nuova Napoli), & that the (perhaps) 1,000,000 Americans in New York ought to be able to discuss Hitler & Palestine & pork chops without glancing fearfully over their shoulders at a horde of fortune-seeking Yiddish newcomers. I have to hand it to the French-Canadians for putting up a fight for their language & institutions. While naturally I oppose their cultural encroachments outside their own Quebec province—their fights to make all Canada bi-lingual, & all that—I admire them down to the bottom line—as Gen. Murray & Sir Guy Carleton did at the very outset—for their staunch resolution to keep up the fabric of their forefathers. They were on the ground first, & by the time we licked them in 1759-60 their land was normally a French one—a spacious area with a thoroughly adjusted population, cultivated French towns, & a century & a half of local traditions. Clearly, they had every aesthetic right to demand the perpetuation of their own folkways instead of ours—yet how few have shewn any real guts in similar situations! Where is the spoken French of Louisiana, the spoken Dutch of New-Netherland, or the spoken Spanish of Texas, today? But the Canucks, by god, did have the guts! They kept an unbroken front, used every dignified in Parliament, & finally secured the passage of the Quebec Act of 1774, securing them an inviolate perpetuation of their laws, language, & religion. We respected their rights as the Romans respected the rights of the conquered Greeks--& today Quebec is still the cultivated French city it was in 1750…..just as Athens & Alexandria were still cultivated Greek cities after centuries of Roman rule. Of course, there are troublesome connotations. When the French overflow into other regions like Ontario & New England they carry their solidarity & unassimilability with them, remaining aloof & cohesive, & refusing to adopt the English speech they have so long fought on their own soil. They cannot understand why the tolerance & protection of French in Quebec Province cannot be duplicated in places only a few hours ride from Quebec—like Vermont or Ontario or Rhode Island. In this state they have overrun certain cities & villages & made them just as French as anything in Quebec or Normandy. When I first visited Quebec in 1930 I saw nothing I had not known all my life from travels in my own state. Here, as there, one can strike towns dominated by ornate French steeples; containing statues Erice par Societe Jacques-Cartier; sporting shop signs such as Elphege Carou, Epicier, or Hormisdas Bilodeau, Cardonnier; having Maison a vendre, Chambres a louer & Salle a louer window cards; displaying Gallic posters of some such cinema as Sous la Lune du Maroc; adapte de la Nouvelle par Andre Reuze. Les Cinq Gentlemen Mandite at Le Theatre Laurier; & harbouring crowds of black-clad parochial school children led by hooded nuns or shovel-hatted cures & jabbering in the French of their forefathers……all the hereditary things of France undiluted by transplantation & expansion. These Rhode Island French fight like hell whenever any attempt is made to deracinate them or to substitute English for French in their parochial schools. In other local foreign colonies one sees a gradual Americanisation—a younger generation speaking English, & a falling off of ancestral ways—but nothing of that pervades these French centres. The French newspapers continue to flourish, & every parent strives to keep his children true to La Tradition. It is really ironic to reflect that—despite all the utterly alien blood which has been dumped on New England—the one really persistent foreign challenge should come from none other than our oldest & most historic rival—the Frenchman of the North against whose menace old Cotton Mather thundered his Catonian invectives from Boston pulpits in the 1680’s. Did Wolfe fall in vain? Today, just as old Cotton feared, the spires & syllables of France rise thickly from the banks of New England’s rivers! But much as I hate any foreign influence, I’m damned if I don’t admire those tough little frog-eaters for their unbreakable tenacity! You can’t make a dent in them!......They’ll probably still be French, albeit on alien soil, years after we are hopelessly Italianated or Portuguesed or Yiddified or Polacked in our own back yards! If they’d only lend us a little of their guts, I wouldn’t begrudge them the New England towns they’ve overrun! Shake, Pierrre mon frère! You may be a rival, but you’re nobody’s football!
    None of this, however, in any way diminishes his contribution to weird literature in any way whatsoever…in fact, loathsome as many of his racial ideas were (honestly, his letters read like Mein Kampf) they are in very large part responsible for the mindset from which his fantastic fiction sprung. It is for this reason that I would disagree with the following:

    Quote Originally Posted by Yazman View Post
    However, none of his works were actually written in an attempt to convey racist ideals. The racism in his works was generally small and only incidental - i.e. it can be completely omitted without any impact on the literature itself.
    Last edited by Xenophiliac; 8th September 2011 at 05:47.

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    Michael Moorcock, "The Opium General" Harrap (1984), reprinted from Cienfuegos Press Anarchist Review 1978)

    In a writer like Lovecraft a terror of sex often combines (or is confused for) a terror of the masses, the 'ugly' crowd.
    While I am not familiar with all of the authors lambasted by Moorcock in this piece, I will say that with this statement the author definitely shows his ignorance, at least as far as his understanding of Lovecraft’s racial thought is concerned. His xenophobia does not stem from his anxieties regarding sex, but from what he perceived as the encroachment of alien blood and culture and into the United States and its subsequent dilution of what he considered to be superior racial stock.

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    Thanks for the very interesting discussion and Moorcock's very interesting article.

    I went to the preview showing of "Star Wars" in 1977, a few days before it opened.
    The cast and crew cheered wildly at the beginning and ending, but everyone was practically silent for the rest of the film.
    I remember thinking that it was going to be a big flop. It was silly and childish. Plotwise, it was an inartistic mess. The dialogue was laughably bad and the characters unlikeable and cartoonish. It had two or three great special effects, but who would want to sit two hours for two minutes of special effects. The film wasn't fun at all with just one good musical/visual joke in the alien bar band.
    The worst thing about it was its politics. It trivialized rebellion and revolution, ripping off and making fun of the recent youth rebellion. It promoted militarism and war in the old Hollywood way of making it look glamorous and heroic.

    At the time, I thought the American people had learned their lesson from Vietnam and Watergate. The success of "Star Wars" should have taught me that ignorance and idiocy was produced systematically in the culture. It took the success of Ronald Reagan and George Bush to prove this to me.

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    God, that article really does its utmost to strip all the fun out of the entire genre? And why place Asimov and Herbert in the same boat as Tolkein? And why put Tolkien in the same boat as Heinlein?

    I never 'got' the criticism of Heinlein. Ok, he depicted a fascist state in the future, but it is fiction. While Heinlein may have seen positives in the fantasy system he created (I don't know, I never met the man) it is still nothing more than escapism. It isn't real and was never supposed to be.

    And for the record the best critique of that book and its politics was the film, and the film treated it exactly how it needed to be treated, with comic irreverence.
    Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

    - Hanlon's Razor

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    Quote Originally Posted by Invader Zim View Post
    God, that article really does its utmost to strip all the fun out of the entire genre?
    I could not agree more!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Philosopher Jay View Post
    Thanks for the very interesting discussion and Moorcock's very interesting article.

    I went to the preview showing of "Star Wars" in 1977, a few days before it opened.
    The cast and crew cheered wildly at the beginning and ending, but everyone was practically silent for the rest of the film.
    I remember thinking that it was going to be a big flop. It was silly and childish. Plotwise, it was an inartistic mess. The dialogue was laughably bad and the characters unlikeable and cartoonish. It had two or three great special effects, but who would want to sit two hours for two minutes of special effects. The film wasn't fun at all with just one good musical/visual joke in the alien bar band.
    The worst thing about it was its politics. It trivialized rebellion and revolution, ripping off and making fun of the recent youth rebellion. It promoted militarism and war in the old Hollywood way of making it look glamorous and heroic.

    At the time, I thought the American people had learned their lesson from Vietnam and Watergate. The success of "Star Wars" should have taught me that ignorance and idiocy was produced systematically in the culture. It took the success of Ronald Reagan and George Bush to prove this to me.
    Yet Star Wars inspired Gundam that took the idea that took the ideas of Star Wars and grounded them in power struggle between space colonies and the imperial Earth yet space fascists use the grievances of spacenoids to exploit them and create a completing imperial power to Earth, and the defeat of the space fascists only lead to Earth turning towards fascism interpreting the problem being them being to liberal towards their colonies.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Invader Zim View Post
    God, that article really does its utmost to strip all the fun out of the entire genre? And why place Asimov and Herbert in the same boat as Tolkein? And why put Tolkien in the same boat as Heinlein?
    They all wrote pro-capitalist or conservative fantasy.

    Quote Originally Posted by Invader Zim View Post
    I never 'got' the criticism of Heinlein.
    Would it help if you knew that his novels were part of the stock in trade of the emerging libertarian right in the 70s?

    Quote Originally Posted by Invader Zim View Post
    Ok, he depicted a fascist state in the future
    And loved it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Invader Zim View Post
    but it is fiction.
    Carrying with it a right-wing ideology. Do you have the same feelings about the science fiction writings of Ayn Rand? Just fiction!

    Quote Originally Posted by Invader Zim View Post
    While Heinlein may have seen positives in the fantasy system he created
    He did.

    Quote Originally Posted by Invader Zim View Post
    (I don't know, I never met the man)
    Then do some research.

    Quote Originally Posted by Invader Zim View Post
    it is still nothing more than escapism. It isn't real and was never supposed to be.
    You are very naive about the political uses of fiction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Invader Zim View Post
    And for the record the best critique of that book and its politics was the film, and the film treated it exactly how it needed to be treated, with comic irreverence.
    One of the features of the film for me was its complete lack of irony. Personally, I wasn't able to get through the whole thing at one sitting.

    RED DAVE
    Last edited by RED DAVE; 5th September 2011 at 22:26.

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    To pick up on what IndependentCitizen wrote, the thing I remember about Starship Troopers is that, if you look closely, the troopers' uniforms come straight out of the Third Reich, right down to the positioning of the boards on the lapels. If I remember correctly, the troopers went to other planets to wipe out the bugs, which reminded me of the Reich's invasions of other countries and the Reich's characterization of anyone that got in the way of its expansion as "sub-human." So, yeah, given the troopers' fascist uniforms, I also thought it was kind of cool how the bugs fought back, defending their own territory.
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    Quote Originally Posted by eyeheartlenin View Post
    To pick up on what IndependentCitizen wrote, the thing I remember about Starship Troopers is that, if you look closely, the troopers' uniforms come straight out of the Third Reich, right down to the positioning of the boards on the lapels. If I remember correctly, the troopers went to other planets to wipe out the bugs, which reminded me of the Reich's invasions of other countries and the Reich's characterization of anyone that got in the way of its expansion as "sub-human." So, yeah, given the troopers' fascist uniforms, I also thought it was kind of cool how the bugs fought back, defending their own territory.
    The uniforms were created by Paul Verhoeven and it was because he already wanted to do a sci-fi movie mocking the Nazis and their exploits he just happened at last second to tack on the Starship Troopers story. He only read I think two or three chapters if I remember. Verhoeven is interesting because he has taken a rather hardline against the Far Right due to having lived under Nazi Rule himself as a child when his native Netherlands was invaded.

    Regardless Heinlein did sympathize with the Nazis and fascists in the book. The history/civics teacher Rasczak praises Hitler and Mussolini for showing the weakness of democracy and being men of action. Then basically goes on a long diatribe about how democracy made men weak and ineffectual and thus a new era was created by military men.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Dave
    They all wrote pro-capitalist or conservative fantasy.
    So do the vast majority of authors. If you proposing that leftist boycott ideologically inpure reading material then our collective library will not only dry as dust but also rather small.

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Dave
    Would it help if you knew that his novels were part of the stock in trade of the emerging libertarian right in the 70s?
    I already knew that. But Starship Troopers was written in 1959 and is actually highly critical of the majority of notion shared by Libertarians. So you aren't criticising Heinlein for what he wrote in Starship Troopers (which is arguably contains far more reactionary ideas that anything he would go on to write), but for what he would go on to write.

    To be honest if you read a novel like Starship Troopers and take it seriously, you've obviously not paid attention. It is a comic book without the pictures.

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Dave
    And loved it.
    Maybe he did, maybe he didn't, it matters not one iota.

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Dave
    Carrying with it a right-wing ideology. Do you have the same feelings about the science fiction writings of Ayn Rand? Just fiction!
    Yes, the difference in this case being that Atlas Shrugged, etc. is a load of overwrought, portentous, long winded, badly written and incredibly boring rubbish with pretentious philosophical ramblings, while starship troopers is practically a penny dreadful pulp piece about men in power armour cutting down laser toting giant insects. And, while nonsense, is at least readable and entertaining enough. yet, funnily enough, after having read it, I didn't feel the need to goose step down the highstreet telling passers by that they shouldn't be able to vote unless they get some sense of social responcibility and join the army.

    I would claim to be able to read Atlas Shrugged without feeling the need to go out and lecture individuals on the merits of "objectivism", but the novel is actually unreadable and I've never managed to get more than a couple of hundred pages into without falling into a near catatonic state brought on by crushing boredom. And I'm quite proud I got that far in, I feel it is a testiment to my willpower that I endured that much of it.

    Your argument holds the same element of snobbery that lies at the heart of every moral panic brought about by some objectional piece of 'art'. The difference is that you've to it from the other direction than is typical. Instead you go for insufferable moral and ideological purity that turns all innocence abused, and is one step away from cries of 'Oh, think of the Children!'. It all boils down to the idea that you think the rest of the audience is too stupid to be able to spot and rationally analyse the political subtext of the book and be able to measure it against their own outlook. While the moral crusaders of the video nasty era believed that a splash of gore would send the nations film views into a frenzy of violence, or turn them into gibbering rapists, you seem to believe that reading Starship Troopers will dupe people into accepting an element of fascist ideology. Well good news Dave, it won't. The audience isn't stupid.

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Dave
    You are very naive about the political uses of fiction.
    Actually I think I understand it, and far better than you do. You believe that media, literature and art, etc. actively change a persons view and, as a result, this kind of noval can be used as a tool of indoctrination. Thankfuly, however, you're wrong as plenty of research into the issue has proven time and time again. Media, literature art reinforces perexisting views and behavioral patterns, it doesn't actually have much impact when it comes to changing a person's view point or behavior. This is why violent literature, films and, in turn, video games have not turned each new generation into psychotic murders or even noticably increased violence. Similarly propaganda does not actually work in changing views. People who watch Fox news and believe it were not converted to conservatism. They watch Fox News because it reinforces what they already hold to be true. People like to have their views confirmed. So unless you're a champion of fascism already, the politics of Starship Troopers isn't going to have any impact on readers, beyond raising an eyebrow or two. Similarly Ayn Rand cultists were not converted by reading her books, they doubtless already shared many of her views prior to coming to the book, she just articulated them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Dave
    One of the features of the film for me was its complete lack of irony. Personally, I wasn't able to get through the whole thing at one sitting.
    The problem isn't that it wasn't ironic, the problem here is your utter failure to spot it, which is remarkable given how heavily it was plastered on. It was directed by Paul Verhoeven, who went on to direct the anti-Nazi film Black Book, who outright detested the politics of the book to the extent that he couldn't finish it. All the additions, such as dressing the Mobile Infantry like SS storm troopers were obviously supposed to be satirical. And even then, for the people who didn't get it he spelled it out in various intervews, such as this one:

    http://www.avclub.com/articles/paul-verhoeven,14078/
    Last edited by Invader Zim; 5th September 2011 at 22:15.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenophiliac View Post
    I adore the tales of HP Lovecraft but think many of you are being pretty charitable when you say that he abandoned his racism. It is true that he embraced socialism in the latter years of his life (he went from being a monarchist to a socialist via his own unique brand of fascism), but his racial views remained essentially unchanged, as can be easily seen in his correspondence even as late as 1934, less than three years before his death. These ideas may not have pervaded his tales as frequently as in his earlier years, but that does not necessarily mean that he had embraced a new egalitarian ideal.

    He went to his grave regarding blacks as biologically inferior (he once opined in a very early letter that he considered them a link between ape and man) to every other race of human beings. He was vehemently opposed to miscegenation and was adamant that a “color-line” be in place to prevent the dilution of quality blood with that of what he considered to be subhuman.

    His anti-Semitism, though based on cultural differences rather than biological, stayed with him as well. He did not believe that Jews were an inferior race, but that they tenaciously retained their own culture and were difficult to assimilate into his Anglo-centric ideal; that if they could be assimilated, as he considered his bride to be, they were of sufficiently good “racial stock” to be accepted. The fact that he married a Jew only proves that he practiced what he preached, not that he had reconsidered his anti-Semitism. He was critical of the Nazi’s methods and their racial fallacies (at least the ones that he did not share ), but was sympathetic to their desire to eliminate the Jewish cultural influence from Germany.

    The only xenophobic ideas that seem to have diminished somewhat were those that had prejudiced him against “lesser European” immigrants like the Italians and the Irish, though even they do not completely escape his racial wrath in late era letters to acquaintances.
    Additionally, he was a Felicentric Cat Supremacist!

    Cats And Dogs

    by H. P. Lovecraft

    Written November 23, 1926
    Published in Something About Cats and Other Pieces, Arkham House, 1949
    Being told of the cat-and-dog fight about to occur in your literary club, I cannot resist contributing a few Thomastic yowls and sibilants upon my side of the dispute, though conscious that the word of a venerable ex-member can scarcely have much weight against the brilliancy of such still active adherents as may bark upon the other side. Aware of my ineptitude at argument, a valued correspondent has supplied me with the records of a similar controversy in the New York Tribune, in which Mr. Carl van Doran is on my side and Mr. Albert Payson Terhune on that of the canine tribe. From this I would be glad to plagiarise such data as I need; but my friend, with genuinely Machiavellian subtlety, has furnished me with only a part of the feline section whilst submitting the doggish brief in full. No doubt he imagines that this arrangement, in view of my own emphatic bias, makes for something like ultimate fairness; but for me it is exceedingly inconvenient, since it will force me to be more or less original in several parts of the ensuing remarks.
    Between dogs and cats my degree of choice is so great that it would never occur to me to compare the two. I have no active dislike for dogs, any more than I have for monkeys, human beings, tradesmen, cows, sheep, or pterodactyls; but for the cat I have entertained a particular respect and affection ever since the earliest days of my infancy. In its flawless grace and superior self-sufficiency I have seen a symbol of the perfect beauty and bland impersonality of the universe itself, objectively considered, and in its air of silent mystery there resides for me all the wonder and fascination of the unknown. The dog appeals to cheap and facile emotions; the cat to the deepest founts of imagination and cosmic perception in the human mind. It is no accident that the contemplative Egyptians, together with such later poetic spirits as Poe, Gautier, Baudelaire and Swinburne, were all sincere worshippers of the supple grimalkin.
    Naturally, one's preference in the matter of cats and dogs depends wholly upon one's temperament and point of view. The dog would appear to me to be the favorite of superficial, sentimental, and emotional people -- people who feel rather than think, who attach importance to mankind and the popular conventional emotions of the simple, and who find their greatest consolation in the fawning and dependent attachments of a gregarious society. Such people live in a limited world of imagination; accepting uncritically the values of common folklore, and always preferring to have their naive beliefs, feelings, and prejudices tickled, rather than to enjoy a purely aesthetic and philosophic pleasure arising from discrimination, contemplation, and the recognition of austere, absolute beauty. This is not to say that the cheaper elements do not also reside in the average cat-lover's love of cats, but merely to point out that in ailurophily there exists a basis of true aestheticism which kynophily does not possess. The real lover of cats is one who demands a clearer adjustment to the universe than ordinary household platitudes provide; one who refuses to swallow the sentimental notion that all good people love dogs, children, and horses while all bad people dislike and are disliked by such. He is unwilling to set up himself and his cruder feelings as a measure of universal values, or to allow shallow ethical notions to warp his judgment. In a word, he had rather admire and respect than effuse and dote; and does not fall into the fallacy that pointless sociability and friendliness, or slavering devotion and obedience, constitute anything intrinsically admirable or exalted. Dog-lovers base their whole case on these commonplace, servile, and plebeian qualities, and amusingly judge the intelligence of a pet by its degree of conformity to their own wishes. Cat-lovers escape this delusion, repudiate the idea that cringing subservience and sidling companionship to man are supreme merits, and stand free to worship aristocratic independence, self-respect, and individual personality joined to extreme grace and beauty as typified by the cool, lithe, cynical and unconquered lord of the housetops.
    Persons of commonplace ideas -- unimaginative worthy burghers who are satisfied with the daily round of things and who subscribe to the popular credo of sentimental values -- will always be dog-lovers. To them nothing will ever be more important than themselves and their own primitive feelings, and they will never cease to esteem and glorify the fellow-animal who best typifies these. Such persons are submerged in the vortex of Oriental idealism and abasement which ruined classic civilisation in the Dark Ages, and live in a bleak world of abstract sentimental values wherein the mawkish illusions of meekness, gentleness, brotherhood, and whining humility are magnified into supreme virtues, and a whole false ethic and philosophy erected on the timid reactions of the flexor system of muscles. This heritage, ironically foisted on us when Roman politics raised the faith of a whipped and broken people to supremacy in the later empire, has naturally kept a strong hold over the weak and sentimentally thoughtless; and perhaps reached its culmination in the insipid nineteenth century, when people were wont to praise dogs "because they are so human" (as if humanity were any valid standard of merit!), and honest Edwin Landseer painted hundreds of smug Fidoes and Carlos and Rovers with all the anthropoid triviality, pettiness, and "cuteness" of eminent Victorians.
    But amidst this chaos of intellectual and emotional groveling a few free souls have always stood out for the old civilised realities which mediaevalism eclipsed -- the stern classic loyalty to truth, strength, and beauty given a clear mind and uncowed spirit to the full-living Western Aryan confronted by Nature's majesty, loveliness, and aloofness. This is the virile aesthetic and ethic of the extensor muscles -- the bold, buoyant, assertive beliefs and preferences of proud, dominant, unbroken and unterrified conquerors, hunters, and warriors -- and it has small use for the shams and whimperings of the brotherly, affection-slobbering peacemaker and cringer and sentimentalist. Beauty and sufficiency -- twin qualities of the cosmos itself -- are the gods of this unshackled and pagan type; to the worshipper of such eternal things the supreme virtue will not be found in lowliness, attachment, obedience, and emotional messiness. This sort of worshipper will look for that which best embodies the loveliness of the stars and the worlds and the forests and the seas and the sunsets, and which best acts out the blandness, lordliness, accuracy, self-sufficiency, cruelty, independence, and contemptuous and capricious impersonality of the all governing Nature. Beauty -- coolness -- aloofness -- philosophic repose -- self-sufficiency -- untamed mastery -- where else can we find these things incarnated with even half the perfection and completeness that mark their incarnation in the peerless and softly gliding cat, which performs its mysterious orbit with the relentless and obtrusive certainty of a planet in infinity?
    That dogs are dear to the unimaginative peasant-burgher whilst cats appeal to the sensitive poet-aristocrat-philosopher will be clear in a moment when we reflect on the matter of biological association. Practical plebeian folk judge a thing only by its immediate touch, taste, and smell; while more delicate types form their estimates from the linked images and ideas which the object calls up in their minds. Now when dogs and cats are considered, the stolid churl sees only the two animals before him, and bases his favour on their relative capacity to pander to his sloppy, uniformed ideas of ethics and friendship and flattering subservience. On the other hand the gentleman and thinker sees each in all its natural affiliations, and cannot fail to notice that in the great symmetries of organic life dogs fall in with slovenly wolves and foxes and jackals and coyotes and dingoes and painted hyaenas, whilst cats walk proudly with the jungle's lords, and own the haughty lion, the sinuous leopard, the regal tiger, and the shapely panther and jaguar as their kin. Dogs are the hieroglyphs of blind emotion, inferiority, servile attachment, and gregariousness -- the attributes of commonplace, stupidly passionate, and intellectually and imaginatively underdeveloped men. Cats are the runes of beauty, invincibility, wonder, pride, freedom, coldness, self-sufficiency, and dainty individuality -- the qualities of sensitive, enlightened, mentally developed, pagan, cynical, poetic, philosophic, dispassionate, reserved, independent, Nietzschean, unbroken, civilised, master-class men. The dog is a peasant and the cat is a gentleman.
    We may, indeed, judge the tone and bias of a civilisation by its relative attitude toward dogs and cats. The proud Egypt wherein Pharaoh was Pharaoh and pyramids rose in beauty at the wish of him who dreamed them bowed down to the cat, and temples were built to its goddess at Bubastis. In imperial Rome the graceful leopard adorned most homes of quality, lounging in insolent beauty in the atrium with golden collar and chain; while after the age of the Antonines the actual cat was imported from Egypt and cherished as a rare and costly luxury. So much for the dominant and enlightened peoples. When, however, we come to the groveling Middle Ages with their superstitions and ecstasies and monasticisms and maunderings over saints and their relics, we find the cool and impersonal loveliness of the felidae in very low esteem; and behold a sorry spectacle of hatred and cruelty shown toward the beautiful little creature whose mousing virtues alone gained it sufferance amongst the ignorant churls who resented its self-respecting coolness and feared its cryptical and elusive independence as something akin to the dark powers of witchcraft. These boorish slaves of eastern darkness could not tolerate what did not serve their own cheap emotions and flimsy purposes. They wished a dog to fawn and hunt and fetch and carry, and had no use for the cat's gift of eternal disinterested beauty to feed the spirit. One can imagine how they must have resented Pussy's magnificent reposefulness, unhurriedness, relaxation, and scorn for trivial human aims and concernments. Throw a stick, and the servile dog wheezes and pants and stumbles to bring it to you. Do the same before a cat, and he will eye you with coolly polite and somewhat bored amusement. And just as inferior people prefer the inferior animal which scampers excitedly because someone else wants something, so do superior people respect the superior animal which lives its own life and knows that the puerile stick-throwings of alien bipeds are none of its business and beneath its notice. The dog barks and begs and tumbles to amuse you when you crack the whip. That pleases a meekness-loving peasant who relishes a stimulus to his self importance. The cat, on the other hand, charms you into playing for its benefit when it wishes to be amused; making you rush about the room with a paper on a string when it feels like exercise, but refusing all your attempts to make it play when it is not in the humour. That is personality and individuality and self-respect -- the calm mastery of a being whose life is its own and not yours -- and the superior person recognises and appreciates this because he too is a free soul whose position is assured, and whose only law is his own heritage and aesthetic sense. Altogether, we may see that the dog appeals to those primitive emotional souls whose chief demands on the universe are for meaningless affection, aimless companionship, and flattering attention and subservience; whilst the cat reigns among those more contemplative and imaginative spirits who ask of the universe only the objective sight of poignant, ethereal beauty and the animate symbolisation of Nature's bland, relentless, reposeful, unhurried and impersonal order and sufficiency. The dog gives, but the cat is.
    Simple folk always overstress the ethical element in life, and it is quite natural that they should extend it to the realm of their pets. Accordingly, we hear many inane dicta in favour of dogs on the ground that they are faithful, whilst cats are treacherous. Now just what does this really mean? Where are the points of reference? Certainly, the dog has so little imagination and individuality that it knows no motives but its master's; but what sophisticated mind can descry a positive virtue in this stupid abnegation of its birthright? Discrimination must surely award the palm to the superior cat, which has too much natural dignity to accept any scheme of things but its own, and which consequently cares not one whit what any clumsy human thinks or wishes or expects of it. It is not treacherous, because it has never acknowledged any allegiance to anything outside its own leisurely wishes; and treachery basically implies a departure from some covenant explicitly recognised. The cat is a realist, and no hypocrite. He takes what pleases him when he wants it, and gives no promises. He never leads you to expect more from him than he gives, and if you choose to be stupidly Victorian enough to mistake his purrs and rubbings of self-satisfaction for marks of transient affection toward you, that is no fault of his. He would not for a moment have you believe that he wants more of you than food and warmth and shelter and amusement -- and he is certainly justified in criticising your aesthetic and imaginative development if you fail to find his grace, beauty, and cheerful decorative influence an aboundingly sufficient repayment for all you give him. The cat-lover need not be amazed at another's love for dogs -- indeed, he may also possess this quality himself; for dogs are often very comely, and as lovable in a condescending way as a faithful old servant or tenant in the eyes of a master -- but he cannot help feeling astonished at those who do not share his love for cats. The cat is such a perfect symbol of beauty and superiority that it seems scarcely possible for any true aesthete and civilised cynic to do other than worship it. We call ourselves a dog's "master" -- but who ever dared call himself the "master" of a cat? We own a dog -- he is with us as a slave and inferior because we wish him to be. But we entertain a cat -- he adorns our hearth as a guest, fellow-lodger, and equal because he wishes to be there. It is no compliment to be the stupidly idolised master of a dog whose instinct it is to idolise, but it is a very distinct tribute to be chosen as the friend and confidant of a philosophic cat who is wholly his own master and could easily choose another companion if he found such a one more agreeable and interesting. A trace, I think, of this great truth regarding the higher dignity of the cat has crept into folklore in the use of the names "cat" and "dog" as terms of opprobrium. Whilst "cat" has never been applied to any sort of offender more than the mildly spiteful and innocuously sly female gossip and commentator, the words "dog" and "cur" have always been linked with vileness, dishonor, and degradation of the gravest type. In the crystallisation of this nomenclature there has undoubtedly been present in the popular mind some dim, half-unconscious realisation that there are depths of slinking, whining, fawning, and servile ignobility which no kith of the lion and the leopard could ever attain. The cat may fall low, but he is always unbroken. He is, like the Nordic among men, one of those who govern their own lives or die.
    We have but to glance analytically at the two animals to see the points pile up in favour of the cat. Beauty, which is probably the only thing of any basic significance in all the cosmos, ought to be our chief criterion; and here the cat excels so brilliantly that all comparisons collapse. Some dogs, it is true, have beauty in a very ample degree; but even the highest level of canine beauty falls far below the feline average. The cat is classic whilst the dog is Gothic -- nowhere in the animal world can we discover such really Hellenic perfection of form, with anatomy adapted to function, as in the felidae. Puss is a Doric temple -- an Ionic colonnade -- in the utter classicism of its structural and decorative harmonies. And this is just as true kinetically as statically, for art has no parallel for the bewitching grace of the cat's slightest motion. The sheer, perfect aestheticism of kitty's lazy stretchings, industrious face-washings, playful rollings, and little involuntary shiftings in sleep is something as keen and vital as the best pastoral poetry or genre painting; whilst the unerring accuracy of his leaping and springing, running and hunting, has an art-value just as high in a more spirited way but it is his capacity for leisure and repose which makes the cat preeminent. Mr. Carl Van Vechten, in "Peter Whiffle," holds up the timeless restfulness of the cat as a model for life's philosophy, and Prof. William Lyon Phelps has very effectively captured the secret of felinity when he says that the cat does not merely lie down, but "pours his body out on the floor like a glass of water". What other creature has thus merged the aestheticism of mechanics and hydraulics? Contrast this with the inept panting, wheezing, fumbling, drooling, scratching, and general clumsiness of the average dog with his false and wasted motions. And in the details of neatness the fastidious cat is of course immeasurably ahead. We always love to touch a cat, but only the insensitive can uniformly welcome the frantic and humid nuzzlings and pawings of a dusty and perhaps not inodorous canine which leaps and fusses and writhes about in awkward feverishness for no particular reason save that blind nerve-centres have been spurred by certain meaningless stimuli. There is a wearying excess of bad manners in all this doggish fury -- well-bred people don't paw and maul one, and surely enough we invariably find the cat gentle and reserved in his advances, and delicate even when he glides gracefully into your lap with cultivated purrs, or leaps whimsical on the table where you are writing to play with your pen in modulated, seriocomic pats. I do not wonder that Mahomet, that sheik of perfect manners, loved cats for their urbanity and disliked dogs for their boorishness; or that cats are the favorites in the polite Latin countries whilst dogs take the lead in heavy, practical, and beer-drinking Central Europe. Watch a cat eat, and then watch a dog. The one is held in check by an inherent and inescapable daintiness, and lends a kind of grace to one of the most ungraceful of all processes. The dog, on the other hand, is wholly repulsive in his bestial and insatiate greediness; living up to his forest kinship of "wolfing" most openly and unashamedly. Returning to beauty of line -- is it not significant that while many normal breeds of dogs are conspicuously and admittedly ugly, no healthy and well-developed feline of any species whatsoever is other than beautiful? There are, of course, many ugly cats; but these are always individual cases of mongrelism, malnutrition, deformity, or injury. No breed of cats in its proper condition can by any stretch of the imagination be thought of as even slightly ungraceful -- a record against which must be pitted the depressing spectacle of impossibly flattened bulldogs, grotesquely elongated dachshunds, hideously shapeless and shaggy Airedales, and the like. Of course, it may be said that no aesthetic standard is other than relative -- but we always work with such standards as we empirically have, and in comparing cats and dogs under the Western European aesthetic we cannot be unfair to either. If any undiscovered tribe in Tibet finds Airedales beautiful and Persian cats ugly, we will not dispute them on their own territory -- but just now we are dealing with ourselves and our territory, and here the verdict would not admit of much doubt even from the most ardent kynophile. Such an one usually passes the problem off in an epigrammatic paradox, and says that "Snookums is so homely, he's pretty!" This is the childish penchant for the grotesque and tawdrily "cute" which we see likewise embodied in popular cartoons, freak dolls, and all the malformed decorative trumpery of the "Billikin" or "Krazy Kat" order found in the "dens" and "cosy corners" of the would-be-sophisticated yokelry.
    In the matter of intelligence we find the caninites making amusing claims -- amusing because they so naively measure what they conceive to be an animal's intelligence by its degree of subservience to the human will. A dog will retrieve, a cat will not; therefore (sic!) the dog is the more intelligent. Dogs can be more elaborately trained for the circus and vaudeville acts than cats, therefore (O Zeus, O Royal Mount!) they are cerebrally superior. Now of course this is all the sheerest nonsense. We would not call a weak-spirited man more intelligent than an independent citizen because we can make him vote as we wish whereas we can't influence the independent citizen, yet countless persons apply an exactly parallel argument in appraising the grey matter of dogs and cats. Competition in servility is something to which no self-respecting Thomas or Tabitha ever stooped, and it is plain that any really effective estimate of canine and feline intelligence must proceed from a careful observation of dogs and cats in a detached state -- uninfluenced by human beings -- as they formulate certain objectives of their own and use their own mental equipment in achieving them. When we do this, we arrive at a very wholesome respect for our purring hearthside friend who makes so little display about his wishes and business methods; for in every conception and calculation he shows a steel-cold and deliberate union of intellect, will, and sense of proportion which puts utterly to shame the emotional sloppings-over and docilely acquired artificial tricks of the "clever" and "faithful" pointer or sheep-dog. Watch a cat decide to move through a door, and see how patiently he waits for his opportunity, never losing sight of his purpose even when he finds it expedient to feign other interests in the interim. Watch him in the thick of the chase, and compare his calculating patience and quiet study of his terrain with the noisy floundering and pawing of his canine rival. It is not often that he returns empty-handed. He knows what he wants, and means to get it in the most effective way, even at the sacrifice of time -- which he philosophically recognises as unimportant in the aimless cosmos. There is no turning him aside or distracting his attention -- and we know that among humans this is the quality of mental tenacity, this ability to carry a single thread through complex distractions, is considered a pretty good sign of intellectual vigour and maturity. Children, old crones, peasants, and dogs ramble, cats and philosophers stick to their point. In resourcefulness, too, the cat attests his superiority. Dogs can be well trained to do a single thing, but psychologists tell us that these responses to an automatic memory instilled from outside are of little worth as indices of real intelligence. To judge the abstract development of a brain, confront it with new and unfamiliar conditions and see how well its own strength enables it to achieve its object by sheer reasoning without blazed trails. Here the cats can silently devise a dozen mysterious and successful alternatives whilst poor Fido is barking in bewilderment and wondering what it is all about. Granted that Rover the retriever may make a greater bid for popular sentimental regard by going into the burning house and saving the baby in traditional cinema fashion, it remains a fact that whiskered and purring Nig is a higher-grade biological organism -- something physiologically and psychologically nearer a man because of his very freedom from man's orders, and as such entitled to a higher respect from those who judge by purely philosophic and aesthetic standards. We can respect a cat as we cannot respect a dog, no matter which personally appeals the more to our mere doting fancy; and if we be aesthetes and analysts rather than commonplace-lovers and emotionalists, the scales must inevitably turn completely in kitty's favour.
    It may be added, moreover, that even the aloof and sufficient cat is by no means devoid of sentimental appeal. Once we get rid of the uncivilised ethical bias -- the "treacherous" and "horrid bird-catcher" prejudice -- we find in the "harmless cat" the very apex of happy domestic symbolism; whilst small kittens become objects to adore, idealise, and celebrate in the most rhapsodic of dactyls and anapaests, iambics and trochaics. I, in my own senescent mellowness, confess to an inordinate and wholly unphilosophic predilection for tiny coal-black kittens with large yellow eyes, and could no more pass one without petting him than Dr. Johnson could pass a sidewalk post without striking it. There is, likewise, in many cats quite analogous to the reciprocal fondness so loudly extolled in dogs, human beings, horses, and the like. Cats come to associate certain persons with acts continuously contributing to their pleasure, and acquire for them a recognition and attachment which manifests itself in pleasant excitement at their approach -- whether or not bearing food and drink -- and a certain pensiveness at their protracted absence. A cat with whom I was on intimate terms reached the point of accepting food from no hand but one, and would actually go hungry rather than touch the least morsel from a kindly neighbour source. He also had distinct affections amongst the other cats of that idyllic household; voluntarily offering food to one of his whiskered friends, whilst disputing most savagely the least glance which his coal-black rival "Snowball" would bestow upon his plate. If it be argued that these feline fondnesses are essentially "selfish" and "practical" in their ultimate composition, let us inquire in return how many human fondnesses, apart from those springing directly upon primitive brute instinct, have any other basis. After the returning board has brought in the grand total of zero we shall be better able to refrain from ingenuous censure of the "selfish" cat.
    The superior imaginative inner life of the cat, resulting in superior self-possession, is well known. A dog is a pitiful thing, depending wholly on companionship, and utterly lost except in packs or by the side of his master. Leave him alone and he does not know what to do except bark and howl and trot about till sheer exhaustion forces him to sleep. A cat, however, is never without the potentialities of contentment. Like a superior man, he knows how to be alone and happy. Once he looks about and finds no one to amuse him, he settles down to the task of amusing himself; and no one really knows cats without having occasionally peeked stealthily at some lively and well-balanced kitten which believes itself to be alone. Only after such a glimpse of unaffected tail-chasing grace and unstudied purring can one fully understand the charm of those lines which Coleridge wrote with reference to the human rather than the feline young -- page eleven
    ".... a limber elf,
    Singing, dancing to itself."
    But whole volumes could be written on the playing of cats, since the varieties and aesthetic aspects of such sportiveness are infinite. Be it sufficient to say that in such pastimes cats have exhibited traits and actions which psychologists authentically declare to be motivated by genuine humour and whimsicality in its purest sense; so that the task of "making a cat laugh" may not be so impossible a thing even outside the borders of Cheshire. In short, a dog is an incomplete thing. Like an inferior man, he needs emotional stimuli from outside, and must set something artificial up as a god and motive. The cat, however, is perfect in himself. Like the human philosopher, he is a self-sufficient entity and microcosm. He is a real and integrated being because he thinks and feels himself to be such, whereas the dog can conceive of himself only in relation to something else. Whip a dog and he licks your hand - frauth! The beast has no idea of himself except as an inferior part of an organism whereof you are the superior part -- he would no more think of striking back at you than you would think of pounding your own head when it punishes you with a headache. But whip a cat and watch it glare and move backward hissing in outraged dignity and self-respect! One more blow, and it strikes you in return; for it is a gentleman and your equal, and will accept no infringement on its personality and body of privileges. It is only in your house anyway because it wishes to be, or perhaps even as a condescending favour to yourself. It is the house, not you, it likes; for philosophers realise that human beings are at best only minor adjuncts to scenery. Go one step too far, and it leaves you altogether. You have mistaken your relationship to it and imagined you are its master, and no real cat can tolerate that breach of good manners. Henceforward it will seek companions of greater discrimination and clearer perspective. Let anaemic persons who believe in "turning the other cheek" console themselves with cringing dogs -- for the robust pagan with the blood of Nordic twilights in his veins there is no beast like the cat; intrepid steed of Freya, who can boldly look even Thor and Odin full in the face and stare with great round eyes of undimmed yellow or green.
    In these observations I believe I have outlined with some fullness the diverse reasons why, in my opinion and in the smartly timed title-phrase of Mr. Van Doren, "gentlemen prefer cats." The reply of Mr. Terhune in a subsequent issue of the Tribune appears to me beside the point; insomuch as it is less a refutation of facts than a mere personal affirmation of the author's membership in that conventional "very human" majority who take affection and companionship seriously, enjoy being important to something alive, hate a "parasite" on mere ethical ground without consulting the right of beauty to exist for its own sake, and therefore love man's noblest and most faithful friend, the perennial dog. I suppose Mr. Terhune loves horses and babies also, for the three go conventionally together in the great hundred-per-center's credo as highly essential likings for every good and lovable he-man of the Arrow Collar and Harold Bell Wright hero school, even though the automobile and Margaret Sanger have done much to reduce the last two items.
    Dogs, then, are peasants and the pets of peasants, cats are gentlemen and the pets of gentlemen. The dog is for him who places crude feeling and outgrown ethic and humanocentricity above austere and disinterested beauty; who just loves "folks and folksiness" and doesn't mind sloppy clumsiness if only something will truly care for him. (Tableau of dog across master's grave -- cf. Lanseer, "The Old Shepherd's Chief Mourner.") The guy who isn't much for highbrow stuff, but is always on the square and don't (sic) often find the Saddypost or the N.Y. World too deep for him; who hadn't much use for Valentino, but thinks Doug Fairbanks is just about right for an evening's entertainment. Wholesome -- constructive -- non-morbid -- civic-minded -- domestic -- (I forgot to mention the radio) normal -- that's the sort of go-getter that ought to go in for dogs.
    The cat is for the aristocrat -- whether by birth or inclinations or both - who admires his fellow-aristocrats. He is for the man who appreciates beauty as the one living force in a blind and purposeless universe, and who worships that beauty in all its forms without regard for the sentimental and ethical illusions of the moment. For the man who knows the hollowness of feeling and the emptiness of human objects and aspirations, and who therefore clings solely to what is real -- as beauty is real because it pretends to a significance beyond the emotion which it excites and is. For the man who feels sufficient in the cosmos, and asks no scruples of conventional prejudice, but loves repose and strength and freedom and luxury and sufficiency and contemplation; who as a strong fearless soul wishes something to respect instead of something to lick his face and accept his alternate blows and strokings; who seeks a proud and beautiful equal in the peerage of individualism rather than a cowed and cringing satellite in the hierarchy of fear, subservience, and devolution. The cat is not for the brisk, self-important little worker with a mission, but for the enlightened dreaming poet who knows that the world contains nothing really worth doing. The dilettante -- the connoisseur -- the decadent, if you will, though in a healthier age than this there were things for such men to do, so that they were the planners and leader of those glorious pagan times. The cat is for him who does things not for empty duty but for power, pleasure, splendour, romance, and glamour -- for the harpist who sings alone in the night of old battles, or the warrior who goes out to fight such battles for beauty, glory, fame and the splendour of a land athwart which no shadow of weakness falls. For him who will be lulled by no sops of prose and usefulness, but demands for his comfort the ease and beauty and ascendancy and cultivation which make effort worth while. For the man who knows that play, not work, and leisure, not bustle, are the great things of life; and that the round of striving merely in order to strive some more is a bitter irony of which the civilised soul accepts as little as it can.
    Beauty, sufficiency, ease, and good manners -- what more can civilisation require? We have them all in the divine monarch who lounges gloriously on his silken cushion before the hearth. Loveliness and joy for their own sake -- pride and harmony and coordination -- spirit, restfulness and completeness -- all here are present, and need but a sympathetic disillusionment for worship in full measure. What fully civilised soul but would eagerly serve as high priest of Bast? The star of the cat, I think, is just now in the ascendant, as we emerge little by little from the dreams of ethics and conformity which clouded the nineteenth century and raised the grubbing and unlovely dog to the pinnacle of sentimental regard. Whether a renaissance of power and beauty will restore our Western civilisation, or whether the forces of disintegration are already too powerful for any hand to check, none may yet say, but in the present moment of cynical world-unmasking between the pretence of the eighteen-hundreds and the ominous mystery of the decades ahead we have at least a flash of the old pagan perspective and the old pagan clearness and honesty.
    And one idol lit up by that flash, seen fair and lovely on a dream-throne of silk and gold under a chryselephantine dome, is a shape of deathless grace not always given its due among groping mortals -- the haughty, the unconquered, the mysterious, the luxurious, the Babylonian, the impersonal, the eternal companion of superiority and art -- the type of perfect beauty and the brother of poetry -- the bland, grave, compliant, and patrician cat.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenophiliac View Post
    Additionally, he was a Felicentric Cat Supremacist!
    That one is quite accurate as opposed to some of the other things. Dogs are vile things and the characterisation of dog-lovers is fairly accurate. Dog-lovers have a tendency to regard intelligence as being revealed by how obedient or not an animal is, which is why they think pigs are dumb.

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    I like cats and dogs, I've never gotten why there's supposedly a debate about which is the "better animal".

    A lot of "cat lovers" seem inverted and anti-social, the classic old marm cat lady charicature, if we're going with generalizations.
    "Win, lose or draw...long as you squabble and you get down, that's gangsta."

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