As for love of Truth, it never occurred to me to doubt that you were motivated by a desire to establish truth. I supposed it was a fact that everybody took for granted, that the aim of every intelligent man was Truth. I knew it was your aim, and it did not occur to me to make the formal statement that my aims were similar. I did not suppose it was necessary.
- Robert E. Howard, letter to H.P. Lovecraft, January 1935
Mark Finn's New Manifesto was bound to rankle some folks, but the net had been unusually quiet.
But fear not, for James Nicoll has come to the rescue with a post called "By Crom, they seem thin-skinned." If you met some of us in person, you'd find that very little about a substantial subset of Howard fans can be called "thin." But I kid.
We get the usual sort of gems, like mistaking what the Manifesto was about (that apparently Mark is rallying against literary criticism when it's quite clear that he's rallying against bad literary criticism), a deCampista leaping to the Spraguester's defense (in the form of James Enge, who wrote a review of Almuric that utterly beggars belief in some respects), and the pop culture reference posing as gag (Leave
It's a shame most of the criticism of Mark's piece is essentially a misunderstanding of what it was all about. As is clear in the article, Mark is not against new ideas on Howard's writing and their approach to sex, gender, race, class and whatnot. What he is against is the silly nonsense based on absolutely no concrete foundations that somehow get touted as fact. It isn't about being unable to cope with criticism of REH as a man and an author - it's about not putting up with inaccuracy and shoddy or non-existent research.
The New Manifesto is not just about defending REH from those meanies who throw silly insults his way, or come up with crazy ideas about his work: it's about establishing the truth. Even if you don't know, like or care about Robert E. Howard and his work, surely one can sympathise with the desire to lift the obfuscating veil of rumour and groundless speculation to reveal the light of knowledge and truth?
But then, failing - or even refusing - to understand things is the hallmark of the deCampista.
There seems to be a conviction among modems that anything which seems to fall outside the narrow lines of their personal experience is impossible. They are like colorblind men who deny the existence of colors because they are unable to detect them. Like you, I prefer an open mind. I do not think that I have such a grasp on cosmic truth that a thing is necessarily false because I fail to understand the reason of it; I am willing to believe that things very possibly may exist outside my limited range of comprehension.
- Robert E. Howard, Letter to Clark Ashton Smith, 14th December, 1933