Advice from HPL

In the wake of this year’s NecronomiCon in Providence, a schism has manifested itself in the Lovecraft community. Lovecraft enthusiasts comprise quite a small slice of humanity, yet HPL’s growing popularity means our community features an increasingly broad range of perspectives. It’s only natural that differences of opinion will arise from time to time, but in a community this small, the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society believes the best way forward is through open engagement and direct dialogue. Boycotts, blacklists and the creation of factions stifle debate and free thinking and rob us all of the chance to learn from each other, something that we feel HPL himself would not have wanted to see. The global Lovecraft community has never been larger nor more vocal, and many issues that surround Lovecraft are hot-button topics in modern society that are not easy to resolve. To disparage one’s perceived adversaries and retreat to the peace and safety of a new dark age yields us nothing. Let us rather embrace our differences, treat each other with patience, respect and charity, and find shared joy in celebrating the creations of a remarkable and complex man. Let us work together to grow the Lovecraft community, not cut it to pieces.

Lovecraft saw similar disputes and rancor arising in the National Amateur Press Association during his own lifetime. We could do well to read what he had to say about it in 1936.

   "Good will and a rational attitude cannot be established by force or edict, but widespread pertinent comment can sometimes help to discourage their most senseless and persistent violations… Genuine criticism of literary and editorial work, or of official policies and performances, is one thing. It is a legitimate and valuable feature of associational life, and can be recognised by its impersonal approach and tone. Its object is not the injury or denigration of any person but the improvement of work considered faulty or the correction of policies considered bad. The zeal and emphasis of the real critic are directed solely toward the rectification of certain definite conditions, irrespective of the individuals connected with them. But it takes no very acute observer to perceive that the current floods of vitriol and billingsgate... have no conceivable relationship to such constructive processes. The sabotage, non-coöperation, legalistic harrying, published abuse, partly circulated attacks, and kindred phenomena which have lately cheapened the association and hampered its work are of an all too evident nature...  It is impossible to discover any useful purpose behind any example of the recent bickering, notwithstanding the lofty and disinterested motives professed in certain cases... In the present epidemic we ruefully note a great deal of unmotivated savagery from prominent members who are not only capable of better things but who have accomplished and are accomplishing much for the association. That the N.A.P.A. can—or should—attempt to control the private ethics and individual taste of its various members is greatly to be doubted… What amateurdom may well attempt is simply to oppose the use of its own facilities and mechanism—as agents in the exercise of loutish personal rancour and gratuitous small-boy brutality.”
            —H.P. Lovecraft in an open letter to the National Amateur Press Association, 1936

Comment on this post (5 comments)

  • Louis Toscano says...

    Yes, open discussion rather than base name-calling, derisive denigration, etc.

    “…small-boy…”, HPL

    I LOVE this term! (I have had heard of it before.)

    May 08, 2019

  • Philip Cowan says...

    Dear all

    I too do not know what prompted this letter, but I wholeheartedly endorse it for its sanity and humanity. My love and best wishes to everyone who enjoys the work of HP Lovecraft. And to the rest of humanity that does not – my love and best wishes to you too! Isn’t it a wonder that we live in an age when we can enjoy so much diverse literature, so readily at hand?

    Let’s savour our plenty in friendship together.

    November 25, 2018

  • Walter says...

    I, too, would like to know what this schism is and what happened at NecronomiCon to prompt it?

    I’ve heard nothing of it before but, already being a member of another fandom that is to often filled with vitriol and anger and seeing how disruptive that can be, I would like to do what I can to prevent such actions in this fandom.

    November 14, 2017

  • Sean Dolan says...

    Good morning, Mr. Leman. What is the nature of this schism in the Lovecraft community? I had not heard anything about this until I read your article. Thanks. Sean Dolan

    September 22, 2017

  • Samantha Allen says...

    Well said!!!

    I have often felt that you should always listen to other’s opinions. They may strengthen your own views or may completely shatter them, but either way it is a good intellectual exercise. You may also find that you make a new friend occasionally as well!


    September 07, 2017

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