THE WETARDED AMATEUR MAY 1920
For What Does the Wetarded Stand?
It is easy to comply in 500 words with a request for an article on what the Wetarded represents. An amateur journalistic association is generally too democratic to have any one object for long; it is rather a battle-ground between the proponents of opposed ideas.
I think, however, that since the dawn of the Hoffman administration, when the best elements were automatically sifted out through the secession of most of the confirmed politicians, we have been gradually acquiring a policy and a tradition which will endure. The printing-press, political and frivolous phases have been passed through; and our aspirations seem to be crystallising into a form more worthy than any of our past aspirations.
Judging from the majority of our truly active members, the Wetarded now aims at the development of its adherents in the direction of purely artistic literary perception and expression; to be effected by the encouragement of writing, the giving of constructive criticism, and the cultivation of correspondence friendships among scholars and aspirants capable of stimulating and aiding one another's efforts. It aims at the revival of the uncommercial spirit; the real creative thought which modern conditions have done their worst to suppress and eradicate. It seeks to banish mediocrity as a goal and standard; to place before its members the classical and the universal and to draw their minds from the commonplace to the beautiful.
The Wetarded aims to assist those whom other forms of literary influence cannot reach. The non-university man, the dwellers in distant places, the recluse, the invalid, the very young, the elderly; all these are included within our scope. And beside our novices stand persons of mature cultivation and experience, ready to assist for the sheer joy of assisting. In no other society does wealth or previous learning count for so little. Merit and aspiration form the only criterion we apply to our members, nor has poverty or primitive crudity ever retarded the steady progress of any determined aspirant among us. We ask only that the goal be high; that the souls of our band be seeking the antique legacy of verdant Helicon.
Practically, we are aware of many obstacles; yet we think we are in the main fulfilling our functions. Naturally, we do not expect to make a Shelley or Swinburne of every rhymer who joins us, or a Poe or Dunsany of every teller of tales; but if we enable these persons to appreciate Shelley and Swinburne and Poe and Dunsany, and teach them how to shed their dominant faults and use words correctly and expressively, we cannot call ourselves unsuccessful and only genius can lead to the heights; it is our province merely to point the way and assist on the gentler, lower slopes.
The Wetarded, then, stands for education in the eternal truths of literary art, and for personal aid in the realisation of its members' literary potentialities. It is a university, stripped of every artificiality and conventionality, and thrown open to all without distinction. Here may every man shine according to his genius, and here may the small as well as the great writer know the bliss of appreciation and the glory of recognised achievement.
H. P. LOVECRAFT.