This is a site for discussing roleplaying games. Have fun doing so, but there is one major rule: do not discuss political issues that aren't directly and uniquely related to the subject of the thread and about gaming. While this site is dedicated to free speech, the following will not be tolerated: devolving a thread into unrelated political discussion, sockpuppeting (using multiple and/or bogus accounts), disrupting topics without contributing to them, and posting images that could get someone fired in the workplace (an external link is OK, but clearly mark it as Not Safe For Work, or NSFW). If you receive a warning, please take it seriously and either move on to another topic or steer the discussion back to its original RPG-related theme.
The message boards have been upgraded. Please log in to your existing account by clicking here. It will ask twice, so that it can properly update your password and login information. If it has trouble recognizing your password, click the 'Forgot your password?' link to reset it with a new password sent to your email address on file.

Author Topic: "The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists"  (Read 1188 times)

John Morrow

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6254
    • View Profile
"The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists"
« on: February 13, 2011, 12:55:24 AM »
There is an article called The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists by Leo Grin on Andrew Brietbart's Big Hollywood.

It contains an interesting quote about Conan from a letter written by Robert Bloch (Hugo Award winning author of Psycho) to Weird Tales:

Quote
I am awfully tired of poor old Conan the Cluck, who for the past fifteen issues has every month slain a new wizard, tackled a new monster, come to a violent and sudden end that was averted (incredibly enough!) in just the nick of time, and won a new girlfriend, each of whose penchant for nudism won her a place of honor, either on the cover or on the inner illustration. Such has been Conan’s history, and from the realms of the Kushites to the lands of Aquilonia, from the shores of the Shemites to the palaces of Dyme-Novell-Bolonia, I cry: “Enough of this brute and his iron-thewed sword-thrusts — may he be sent to Valhalla to cut out paper dolls.”
Robin Laws' Game Styles Quiz Results:
Method Actor 100%, Butt-Kicker 75%, Tactician 42%, Storyteller 33%, Power Gamer 33%, Casual Gamer 33%, Specialist 17%

danbuter

  • setting junkie
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3882
    • View Profile
    • http://home.comcast.net/~danbuter
"The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists"
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2011, 09:39:48 AM »
So the guy was a dick. Just because he doesn't like Conan, he thinks the character should be put away so no one else can enjoy the stories.

I also strongly suspect he was saying "MY stories are BETTER. BUY and READ THEM."

This Leo character is using that to support his own biases.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2011, 09:42:13 AM by danbuter »
Sword and Board - My blog about BFRPG, S&W, Hi/Lo Heroes, and other games.
Sword & Board: BFRPG Supplement Free pdf. Cheap print version.
Bushi D6  Samurai and D6!
Bushi setting map

John Morrow

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6254
    • View Profile
"The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists"
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2011, 11:33:51 AM »
Quote from: danbuter;440030
So the guy was a dick. Just because he doesn't like Conan, he thinks the character should be put away so no one else can enjoy the stories.


Isn't that the norm for geek rage?  If a geek doesn't like something, then it shouldn't be made because its very existence and the fact that other people may enjoy it offends them?

Quote from: danbuter;440030
I also strongly suspect he was saying "MY stories are BETTER. BUY and READ THEM."


Or maybe he was just saying, "Isn't the same pattern getting a little old?"

Quote from: danbuter;440030
This Leo character is using that to support his own biases.


His point about bankrupt nihilism isn't that different from opinions expressed by RPGPundit.
Robin Laws' Game Styles Quiz Results:
Method Actor 100%, Butt-Kicker 75%, Tactician 42%, Storyteller 33%, Power Gamer 33%, Casual Gamer 33%, Specialist 17%

ggroy

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • g
  • Posts: 5823
    • View Profile
"The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists"
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2011, 12:22:14 PM »
Quote from: John Morrow;440036
Isn't that the norm for geek rage?  If a geek doesn't like something, then it shouldn't be made because its very existence and the fact that other people may enjoy it offends them?


Definitely.

No argument here.

:pundit:

Insufficient Metal

  • Housewares
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1130
    • View Profile
"The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists"
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2011, 01:04:39 PM »
Er... didn't Robert Bloch write a whole stainload of H.P. Lovecraft pastiches?

I like the guy's work, but what the shit.

Benoist

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 22049
    • View Profile
"The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists"
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2011, 04:44:11 PM »
I find myself in complete agreement with the column.

hanszurcher

  • utopian pirate
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 344
    • View Profile
"The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists"
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2011, 07:16:29 PM »
To be fair to Bloch, one of my favorite authors of the macabre, he was only 17 when he wrote that letter in 1934. It did cause a fierce uproar among fans of Conan.

Bloch was a fan of Howard's work, although he retained his opinion of Conan throughout his life. I believe he thought the author's talent was wasted by Weird Tales demand for a constant stream of Conan stories.

A more appropriate quote to sum Bloch's feeling for Howard's work may be:

Quote
"[Behind Howard's stories] lurks a dark poetry and the timeless truth of dreams."
~ Robert Bloch


-Hans
« Last Edit: February 14, 2011, 04:39:25 AM by hanszurcher »
Hans
May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house. ~George Carlin

Insufficient Metal

  • Housewares
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1130
    • View Profile
"The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists"
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2011, 08:11:09 PM »
Quote from: hanszurcher;440101
To be fair to Bloch, one of my favorite authors of the macabre, he was only 17 when he wrote that letter in 1934. It did cause a fierce uproar among fans of Conan.


Oh, well. That does mitigate my surprise quite a bit.

hanszurcher

  • utopian pirate
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 344
    • View Profile
"The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists"
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2011, 08:39:09 PM »
Quote from: Insufficient Metal;440052
Er... didn't Robert Bloch write a whole stainload of H.P. Lovecraft pastiches?

I like the guy's work, but what the shit.


Yes, matter of fact Bloch was the youngest member of the Lovecraft Circle of correspondents. He actually appears as Robert Blake in Lovecraft's "The Haunter of the Dark"...which is dedicated to Bloch.

Bloch's Lovecraft pastiches are not numbered among his best work...often lacking his trademark dark humor.


-Hans
Hans
May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house. ~George Carlin

Insufficient Metal

  • Housewares
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1130
    • View Profile
"The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists"
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2011, 09:24:05 PM »
Quote from: hanszurcher;440107
Yes, matter of fact Bloch was the youngest member of the Lovecraft Circle of correspondents. He actually appears as Robert Blake in Lovecraft's "The Haunter of the Dark"...which is dedicated to Bloch.

Bloch's Lovecraft pastiches are not numbered among his best work...often lacking his trademark dark humor.


Yeah, I remember that -- didn't Bloch retaliate by killing off someone named Howard Philips in one of his stories? Or did Bloch strike first?

hanszurcher

  • utopian pirate
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 344
    • View Profile
"The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists"
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2011, 09:34:39 PM »
Quote from: Insufficient Metal;440120
Yeah, I remember that -- didn't Bloch retaliate by killing off someone named Howard Philips in one of his stories? Or did Bloch strike first?


Bloch did indeed strike first, but with Lovecraft's signed permission, in "The Shambler from the Stars".

I am suddenly in the mood for revisiting those two stories. And Bloch's "The Shadow From the Steeple", which picks up where "The Haunter of the Dark" ends.

-Hans
Hans
May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house. ~George Carlin

Pseudoephedrine

  • BANNED
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5927
    • View Profile
"The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists"
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2011, 10:53:44 PM »
The column uses the most stupid and histrionic way it can to express an otherwise sensible point: Lots of shitty authors rely on overblown and grotesque descriptions to shock an audience that is neither shocked nor impressed by such stuff.

Also, he, and most of the reviewers he quotes, misuse the word "nihilistic".

He's over-generalising from a few cherry-picked examples though. Martin's more well known than any of the stuff he mentions, and his Song of Ice and Fire includes plenty of rough, grim stuff in it, but it's neither nihilistic nor badly-written.
Running
The Pernicious Light, or The Wreckers of Sword Island;
A Goblin's Progress, or Of Cannons and Canons;
An Oration on the Dignity of Tash, or On the Elves and Their Lies
All for S&W Complete
Playing: Dark Heresy, WFRP 2e

"Elves don't want you cutting down trees but they sell wood items, they don't care about the forests, they''re the fuckin' wood mafia." -Anonymous

hanszurcher

  • utopian pirate
  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 344
    • View Profile
"The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists"
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2011, 03:02:04 AM »
Quote from: Pseudoephedrine;440572
The column uses the most stupid and histrionic way it can to express an otherwise sensible point: Lots of shitty authors rely on overblown and grotesque descriptions to shock an audience that is neither shocked nor impressed by such stuff.


I have to admit I did not finish reading the article. I just could not get past...

Quote
In the case of the fantasy genre, the result is a mockery and defilement of the mythopoeic splendor that true artists like Tolkien and Howard willed into being with their life’s blood.~Leo Grin


...without coffee shooting out my nose.

And holy Hanna!...
Quote
...who try to shake things up with what can best be described as postmodern blasphemies against our mythic heritage.~Leo Grin

...and then later...
Quote
Soiling the building blocks and well-known tropes of our treasured modern myths is no different than other artists taking a crucifix and dipping it in urine, covering it in ants, or smearing it with feces.~Leo Grin

...is it just me or is he equating the symbol of Jesus' sacrifice with The Hobbit! That sounds pretty close the definition of blasphemy.

Largely this seems to be an example of the more things change the more they stay the same. Many of his criticisms echo the early responses to Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, Grimm's Fairy Tales and Les Misérables among others.
I have to wonder if this is a symptom of some kind of cultural nostalgia. Or maybe he just wants to see more Tolkien Imitators in bookstores.

Quote from: Pseudoephedrine;440572
Also, he, and most of the reviewers he quotes, misuse the word "nihilistic".


What is Bankrupt Nihilism anyway?

Quote from: Pseudoephedrine;440572
He's over-generalising from a few cherry-picked examples though. Martin's more well known than any of the stuff he mentions, and his Song of Ice and Fire includes plenty of rough, grim stuff in it, but it's neither nihilistic nor badly-written.


Not one of the authors he mentions is familiar to me. But Joe Abercrombie sounds interesting.:)

-Hans
« Last Edit: February 16, 2011, 09:35:11 AM by hanszurcher »
Hans
May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house. ~George Carlin

Age of Fable

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1845
    • View Profile
    • http://www.ageoffable.net
"The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists"
« Reply #13 on: February 17, 2011, 01:38:24 AM »
The author of this article seems to think that Robert E. Howard was a lot less nihilistic than I think he was.

Also, I suspect that the authors he's talking about have sold far less put together than either the Harry Potter or Twilight series, and so don't really represent most people's experience of fantasy, even if you limit 'fantasy' to books.
free resources:
Teleleli The people, places, gods and monsters of the great city of Teleleli and the islands around.
Age of Fable 'Online gamebook', in the style of Fighting Fantasy, Lone Wolf and Fabled Lands.
Tables for Fables Random charts for any fantasy RPG rules.
Fantasy Adventure Ideas Generator
Cyberpunk/fantasy/pulp/space opera/superhero/western Plot Generator.
Cute Board Heroes Paper 'miniatures'.
Map Generator
Dungeon generator for Basic D&D or Tunnels & Trolls.

John Morrow

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6254
    • View Profile
"The Bankrupt Nihilism of Our Fallen Fantasists"
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2011, 12:51:29 AM »
Quote from: hanszurcher;440101
To be fair to Bloch, one of my favorite authors of the macabre, he was only 17 when he wrote that letter in 1934. It did cause a fierce uproar among fans of Conan.


I thought the quote was interesting but the context you provide is interesting, too.
Robin Laws' Game Styles Quiz Results:
Method Actor 100%, Butt-Kicker 75%, Tactician 42%, Storyteller 33%, Power Gamer 33%, Casual Gamer 33%, Specialist 17%