Shut your eyes a moment–not your actual eyes, your eyes–the glasses with which you look upon our modern world and say this is this and that is that. Shut those eyes and open the ones in the past, or the future–surprisingly you have multiple sets of eyes, but you don’t know how to use them.
A hint: reading.
An example: H.P Lovecraft, renowned horror story scribe but also a racist.
In his stories there are causal remarks to the vileness of black people; most of the time they are the bearers of bad news or the villains themselves in the stories. Also when Lovecraft was alive civil rights would not be a pressing issue for another hundred years; so white people were extremely opinionated on black people.
While Lovecraft may have been prejudiced most of his readers are not; and when they read a Lovecraft story they drown out the racist overtones in favoring the world in which we currently live, which is good practice, but not helpful to reading with your eyes closed; or as Foster calls it, “don’t read with your eyes…”
Take a second look at the racist overtones. There is evidence for their presence.
As said before the idea of civil rights was in its youth, the area of America where Lovecraft lived was a restrictive area; and as a socially awkward individual Lovecraft scarcely had connections with actual humans…
There is something now–that is evidence. Feels like taking a trip into his world a little. Are your eyes closed? You may open them now…yes, shut your copy of The Dunwich Horror…does Lovecraft’s racism seem more realistic?
Keep those eyes open for this next bit, a chapter called It’s Never Just Heart Disease…And Rarely Just Illness…certainly that produces some pondering; it has a tad philosophical turn to it.
Take The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka–an illness if not an inhibition. Everyone knows the story: the tirelessly laboring Gregor Samsa wakes up in his bedroom turned into a giant beetle overnight; this is a satirical commentary on the labor force and a stressful life.
Through the story Gregor is abandoned and ostracized by his parents and his boss and his sister. He is beaten with brooms. His pincer is broken by a thrown apple. And at last he is kicked out of his house, where he dies in a garbage heap.
Sounds a depressing illness; but it is not an illness.
That’s contradictory, but bear with me and remember the social commentary, which, when expanded upon allows the reader to find an underlying message: the deterioration of an average working individual as he is continually stressed and literally beaten to the point of mortal exhaustion. It is death by overworking.