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Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy [Paperback]

Graham Harman
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

28 Sep 2012
As Hölderlin was to Martin Heidegger and Mallarmé to Jacques Derrida, so is H.P. Lovecraft to the Speculative Realist philosophers. Lovecraft was one of the brightest stars of the horror and science fiction magazines, but died in poverty and relative obscurity in the 1930s. In 2005 he was finally elevated from pulp status to the classical literary canon with the release of a Library of America volume dedicated to his work. The impact of Lovecraft on philosophy has been building for more than a decade. Initially championed by shadowy guru Nick Land at Warwick during the 1990s, he was later discovered to be an object of private fascination for all four original members of the twenty-first century Speculative Realist movement. In this book, Graham Harman extracts the basic philosophical concepts underlying Lovecraft's work, yielding a 'weird realism' capable of freeing continental philosophy from its current soul-crushing impasse. Abandoning Heidegger's pious references to Hölderlin and the Greeks, Harman develops a new philosophical mythology centered in such Lovecraftian figures as Cthulhu, Wilbur Whately, and the rat-like monstrosity Brown Jenkin. The Miskatonic River replaces the Rhine and the Ister, while Hölderlin's Caucasus gives way to Lovecraft's Antarctic mountains of madness.

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Weird Realism: Lovecraft and Philosophy + In the Dust of This Planet (Horror of Philosophy) + The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror
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Product details

  • Paperback: 277 pages
  • Publisher: Zero Books (28 Sep 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780992521
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780992525
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.6 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 206,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Graham Harman is Associate Provost for Research Administration and Professor of Philosophy at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. He was born in Iowa in 1968. He received his undergraduate degree from the classical liberal arts program at St. John's College, Annapolis (1990). His Master's Degree was done at Penn State (1991) under the renowned philosopher Alphonso Lingis, and focused on Levinas. He completed his Ph.D. at DePaul University in Chicago (1999), with a dissertation that became his first book. While finishing his doctoral studies, he worked as a Chicago sportswriter from 1996-98. In September 2000 he began work in the Department of Philosophy at the American University in Cairo. Egypt has become his base for travel to more than 60 countries and the composition of ten books in less than a decade. He is a vegetarian for ethical reasons.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lovecraft and OOP 11 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback
This is not a work on Lovecraft and philosophy. Nor is it, as one Amazon.com reviewer has it, "a philosopher really thinking with a literary work". If you're familiar with Harman's work, you'll know what you're getting. If not, be aware that what is here presented as philosophy is not uncontroversial in its assertions.

In section one Harman sketches some philosophical background, and "sketch" is being charitable. His division of philosophers into those who produce or destroy gaps is ersatz and done without any supporting argument. I am also inclined to think that if you can dismiss a philosophical tradition in one sentence, you haven't done them justice and they shouldn't be in your book.

Section two, where Harman takes sections from Lovecraft, contains much enjoyable and thought-provoking literary criticism. However, the sections are organised chronologically, rather than by theme, and the repetition of technique and argument becomes predictable.

Section three aims to tie the exposition of Lovecraft's rhetorical devices together with Harman's object-oriented philosophy. If that's what you're interested in, I'd suggest Harman's other works. Lovecraft doesn't really get a look in here, and when he is discussed it comes as no surprise that Harman thinks him "a writer tailor-made for object-oriented philosophy".

The best bits of this work are Harman's thoughts on rhetoric, riffing on Aristotle and Edmund Wilson.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Unnameable 13 Mar 2013
By Garrett Cook - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I intend to expound on the merits of this text elsewhere at greater length, but I shall say right now that Harman has done a great job examining the aesthetics of our favorite misanthropic pulpsmith. Harman does not examine the philosophical implications of Lovecraft's work but of his language and how he uses language, an examination that takes us to the core of what good writing can and cannot do and what the weird should actually be used for in fiction. The word Weird does not just mean strange, but the unknowable, as in the blank Viking rune Wyrd or The Weird Sisters of Shakespeare's Macbeth. How does an author make known the unknowable? Why is it important for us to do so? Read on and find out much more. There's a lot to gain from this book.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A philosopher thinks with a literary work 24 Nov 2012
By Juan Duchesne-Winter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I give five stars to this book because it is an instance of a philosopher really thinking with a literary work instead of applying his philosophical system on it as some kind of testing instrument of truth, or using the work to illustrate a point or two about his system. Philosophy and Literature converge here on a tangential, but fruitfull encounter.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book 27 July 2013
By P K - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The combination of philosophy and literary criticism is very interesting and original. I thought I knew a lot about Lovecraft, but this opened new ways of reading.
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