About "Concerning Fun"

Max José Dreysse Passos de Carvalho

Concerning Fun is a regularly published series of essays that critically examines texts from a variety of medial forms, with a focus on games. “Fun” serves as a metaphor for the qualities that are prescribed to the forms through which culture manifests itself. In as much as fun is something that games supposedly ought to be, to “concern” ourselves with it implies a commitment to challenging the norms by which cultural production and reception are usually structured. What has any of this to do with Lovecraft? “Lovecraftian” adaptation is a natural place to start this endeavor for various reasons. Among genre-ascriptions, the “Lovecraftian” stands out as a particularly plastic signifier. The term can refer to grand, coherent and supernatural story-worlds, to horror, to the ominous Weird, to adventure, mystery and all things pulp, to reactionary politics cloaked in imagery of the fantastic, all the way to cults and elder gods. Sometimes, the Lovecraftian means a vaguely-specified but profound philosophical stance; sometimes it just means tentacles. Lovecraft adaptation, both as a mode of cultural production as well as an interpretative mode of reception, thus has to face the problem of what Lovecraft is being adapted in the first place. The question of what makes Lovecraft Lovecraft functions analogously to the questions of what makes games games, films films, or books books. Adaptation as a field of theoretical debate is where these questions intersect, producing a host of productive tensions. Concerning Fun will not stick to Lovecraft forever, but take him as an instructive problem that serves as a starting point for the ongoing analysis of our preconceptions about media.