Thomas Ligotti (born 9 July 1953) is a contemporary American horror author and reclusive literary cult figure. His writings, while unique in style, have been noted as major continuations of several literary genres – most prominently Lovecraftian horror – and have overall been described as works of "philosophical horror," often written as short stories and novellas with a "darker" undertone which is similar to gothic fiction.
- We are each either among the demoralized showing the way to a future of eternal nightmare, or we are losers celebrating our moment in hell.
- The Spectral Link
- The only value of this world lay in its power - at certain times - to suggest another world.
- Songs of a Dead Dreamer
- 'For as long as I can remember,' I said, continuing to speak to the figure standing in the archway, 'I have had an intense and highly aesthetic perception of what I call the icy bleakness of things. At the same time I have felt a great loneliness in this perception. This conjunction of feelings seems paradoxical, since such a perception, such a view of things, would seem to preclude the emotion of loneliness, or any sense of a killing sadness, as I think of it. All such heartbreaking sentiment, as usually considered, would seem to be on its knees before artworks such as yours, which so powerfully express what I have called the icy bleakness of things, submerging or devastating all sentiment in an atmosphere potent with desolate truths, permeated throughout with a visionary stagnation and lifelessness. Yet I must observe that the effect, as I now consider it, has been just the opposite. If it was your intent to evoke the icy bleakness of things with your dream monologues, then you have totally failed on both an artistic and an extra-artistic level. You have failed your art, you have failed yourself, and you have also failed me. If your artworks had really evoked the bleakness of things, then I would not have felt this need to know who you are, this killing sadness that there was actually someone who experienced the same sensations and mental states that I did and who could share them with me in the form of tape-recorded dream monologues. Who are you that I should feel this need to go to work hours before the sun comes up, that I should feel this was something I had to do and that you were someone that I had to know? This behavior violates every principle by which I have lived for as long as I can remember. Who are you to cause me to violate these long-lived principles?'
- The Bungalow House
- "Since I was a child, I’ve used my imagination to escape from life. At the same time, my imagination has plagued me with both reality-based anxieties as well as anxieties based entirely in the imagination, such as the fear of Hell I was taught to have by the Catholic Church. Paired with a talent for literary composition, a talent that it took me over ten years to refine, I became a writer of horror stories. To my mind, writing is the most important form of human expression, not only artistic writing but also philosophical writing, critical writing, etc. Art as such, especially programmatic music such as operas, seems trivial to me by comparison, however much pleasure we may get from it. Writing is the most effective way to express and confront the full range of the realities of life. I can honestly say that the primary stature I attach to writing is not self-serving. I’ve been captivated to some degree by all forms of creativity and expression—the visual arts, film, design of any sort, and especially music. In college I veered from literature to music for a few years, which is the main reason it took me six years to get an undergraduate degree in liberal arts. I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember. Since my instrument is the guitar, I know every form and style in its history and have written the classical, acoustic, and electric forms of this instrument. I think because I have had such a love and understanding of music do I realize, to my grief, its limitations. Writing is less limited in the consolations it offers to those who have lost a great deal in their lives. And it continues to console until practically everything in a person’s life has been lost. Words and what they express have the best chance of returning the baneful stare of life."
The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror
- If we vanished tomorrow, no organism on this planet would miss us. Nothing in nature needs us.
- ...one must take into account the shocking fact that we live on a world that spins. After considering this truth, nothing should come as a surprise.
- Optimism has always been an undeclared policy of human culture- one that grew out of our animal instincts to survive and reproduce- rather than an articulated body of thought. It is the default condition of our blood and cannot be effectively questioned by our minds or put in grave doubt by our pains. This would explain why at any given time there are more cannibals than philosophical pessimists.
- Also worthy of mention is a clique among the suicidal for whom the meaning of their act is a darker thing. Frustrated as perpetrators of an all-inclusive extermination, they would kill themselves only because killing it all is closed off to them. They hate having been delivered into a world only to be told, by and by, “This way to the abattoir, Ladies and Gentlemen.” They despise the conspiracy of Lies for Life almost as much as they despise themselves for being a party to it. If they could unmake the world by pushing a button, they would do so without a second thought. There is no satisfaction in a lonesome suicide. The phenomenon of “suicide euphoria” aside, there is only fear, bitterness, or depression beforehand, then the troublesomeness of the method, and nothingness afterward. But to push that button, to depopulate this earth and arrest its rotation as well—what satisfaction, as of a job prettily done. This would be for the good of all, for even those who know nothing about the conspiracy against the human race are among its injured parties.
- The major part of our species seems able to undergo any trauma without significantly re-examining its household mantras, including “everything happens for a reason,” “the show must go on,” “accept the things you cannot change,” and any other adage that gets people to keep their chins up.
- We, as licensed protectors of the species and members in good standing of the master-class of the race, by the power invested in us by those who wish to survive and reproduce, vow to enforce the fiction that life is worth having and worth living come hell or irreparable brain damage.
- For the rest of the earth’s organisms, existence is relatively uncomplicated. Their lives are about three things: survival, reproduction, death—and nothing else.
- This is the tragedy: Consciousness has forced us into the paradoxical position of striving to be unself-conscious of what we are—hunks of spoiling flesh on disintegrating bones.
- As for procreation, no one in his right mind would say that it is the only activity devoid of a praiseworthy incentive. Those who reproduce, then, should not feel unfairly culled as the worst conspirators against the human race. Every one of us is culpable in keeping the conspiracy alive, which is all right with most people.
- One cringes to hear scientists cooing over the universe or any part thereof like schoolgirls over-heated by their first crush. From the studies of Krafft-Ebbing onward, we know that it is possible to become excited about anything—from shins to shoehorns. But it would be nice if just one of these gushing eggheads would step back and, as a concession to objectivity, speak the truth: THERE IS NOTHING INNATELY IMPRESSIVE ABOUT THE UNIVERSE OR ANYTHING IN IT.
- Nature proceeds by blunders; that is its way. It is also ours. So if we have blundered by regarding consciousness as a blunder, why make a fuss over it? Our self-removal from this planet would still be a magnificent move, a feat so luminous it would bedim the sun. What do we have to lose? No evil would attend our departure from this world, and the many evils we have known would go extinct along with us. So why put off what would be the most laudable masterstroke of our existence, and the only one?”
- As an aphorist, Cioran has no rivals other than perhaps Nietzsche, and many of his philosophies are echoed by Ligotti. But Ligotti is far more disturbing than Cioran, who is actually very funny. In exploring these philosophies, nobody I’ve read has expressed the idea of humanity as aberration more powerfully than Cioran and Ligotti.
- Nic Pizzolatto, as quoted by Michael Calia (2014) "Writer Nic Pizzolatto on Thomas Ligotti and the Weird Secrets of ‘True Detective’", Speakeasy blog on the Wall Street Journal