Lovecraft Country As Nostalgia

Westworld Telegraph

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Hi Gene and Ash,I started writing this email before episode 7 and all the fallout occurred. I wanted to capture why I was enjoying the show on a personal level. It got put to one side but feel it needed finishing and sending. Before getting back into the original purpose of this email, I must admit to looking at the Trump news and thinking about a relationship between the presidential election and Lovecraft Country beyond just monsters and racism. My mind wandered to War of the Worlds and how that ends with a virus. The Martian machines did feature in Tic’s fantasy sequence at the beginning of episode 1. It’s weird though because we went through this situation in the UK. It was quite Pravda like in claims of the Prime Minister being in good spirits as he was in intensive care and very close to being ventilated. On the other hand, Trump has had very early treatment whereas Johnson was left to it in his flat in Downing Street. Treat all claims with skepticism. Anyway onto something a bit more cheerful:as you know, I like TV shows that make me think and challenge my thought processes. So your latest deep dive discussion about the producers of Lovecraft Country challenging their audience to work for their education as Socratic method rather than just spoonfeeding Wikipedia articles spoke to me. This is a show that demands your engagement while using traditional TV tropes. Yet I am also having another experience where I am reflecting on past educational encounters and how they help me engage with the show. This is quite a reflective mood that I am currently in so this email is likely to be long, personal and rambling. One influence was Hilary Hinds who taught English at Fircroft College that I attended. This wasn’t a college as being part of a university but rather a humanities college that offered second chances to adults who needed an escape from the real world. 50 of us lived on site for a year and received a grant for attending and another two dozen attended part time. It was a pretty unique experiment in the education system sadly no longer available. Although a majority were in our 20s and 30s, the oldest resident student was in his 70s. The college had a radical tradition to it. So much so that in the late 70s it got closed down for a few years for being a hotbed of revolutionary activity. Rumour was that the then caretaker was in the pay of MI5. So a radical college filled with, let’s face it slightly battered from life men and women escaping into a fantasy academic setting, allowed lecturers to build their own bespoke courses. Hilary was no different. She was a politically active lesbian who designed her English literature course to include themes of identity, culture, empire, race, sexuality and queer theory. Even though it’s nearly thirty years, I recall studying Jack London’s Heart of Darkness, bell hooks, Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter, Victim (1961 film about being blackmailed for being homosexual) and having the poet Jackie Kay (black, Scottish and a lesbian) run a session amongst other topics. So watching Lovecraft Country gives me a warm nostalgic feeling for that period of my life albeit it was a very British lens rather than an American lens. Lovecraft Country also has a bit of a Doctor Who sensibility to it which endears itself to me. Okay it’s a bit wonky in its delivery and I can’t help but think that if these were 80 minutes episodes, it would have a bit more time to breathe with their themes. Nevertheless, I truly appreciate the ambition of the show. I have nothing but warmth towards the joy that black people have towards seeing representation in a mainstream sci-fi series. I won’t ever be able to fully empathise or understand but that’s okay. It would just be nice if playing with ideas that the show gives us wasn’t seen as a threat to that representation. Sadly Shat can’t be the playful bubble that Fircroft was. Actual university was a disappointment after the rowdiness of ideas that I was exposed to. Considerably less bravery and exploration of ideas. It’s one of the reasons why I enjoy the wide ranging discussions and ideas from the community. So here’s hoping that Lovecraft Country knocks it out of the park in the final three episodes and that we can have fun! Take care Shat family during these odd timesJohn Lish

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