Astute readers of Acid Logic have probably noted that I’ve been doing some writing on the horror author H.P. Lovecraft. As such, I’ve been reading materials other people have written on him, some of which collect his own commentary, and I can’t help but notice that so many of Lovecraft’s rants mirror my own thoughts. For example, here’s Lovecraft on the entertainment seeking general public.
Bourgeois capitalism gave artistic excellence & sincerity a death-blow by enthroning cheap amusement-value at the expense of that intrinsic excellence which only cultivated, non-acquisitive persons of assured position can enjoy. The determinant market for written, pictorial, musical, dramatic, decorative, architectural, & other heretofore aesthetic material ceased to be a small circle of truly educated persons, but became a substantially larger circle of mixed origin numerically dominated by crude, half-educated clods whose systematically perverted ideals (worship of low cunning, material acquisition, cheap comfort & smoothness, worldly success, ostentation, speed, intrinsic magnitude, surface glitter, &c.) prevented them from ever achieving the tastes and perspectives of the gentlefolk whose dress & speech & external manners they so assiduously mimicked. This herd of acquisitive boors brought up from the shop & the counting-house a complete set of artificial attitudes, oversimplifications, & mawkish sentimentalities which no sincere art or literature could gratify – & they so outnumbered the remaining educated gentlefolk that most of the purveying agencies became at once reoriented to them. Literature & art lost most of their market; & writing, painting, drama, &c. became engulfed more & more in the domain of amusement enterprises. (SL 5.397-98)
I’ve made similar comments, though using about 80% less adjectives, about the modern general public and their taste for morally simple stories, or childishly predictable music. I’m generally a defender of capitalism, but there’s no doubt that by giving voice to the common rabble (in the sense of giving them purchasing power) you’re dooming the appeal of the kinds of intellectually superior products both Lovecraft and I offer. He’s quite right that the “educated gentlefolk” who might appreciate the subtle nuance of my Acid logic writing, or my artfully produced music, are drowned out by the “acquisitive boors” and “half educated clods.” (I would argue that presuming they are even half educated is erring in kindness.)
Generally speaking, I think Lovecraft had a general disdain for pop culture; there I would probably part ways with him, though my fondness for pop culture is driven by an interest in the glittering oddities one can find within it, not the whole kit and caboodle.
It’s worth noting I interviewed the author who wrote the Lovecraft bio these quotes are drawn from.