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13 of 41 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mr Ligotti, I presume you have a front door. Feel free to use it., 14 Jun 2011
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This review is from: The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror (Paperback)
I was getting mighty angry with the relentless absurdity of this book until I noticed something that may explain it all. The author - Thomas Ligotti -hardly ever refers to real life. He is an avid reader and makes great recommendations - Jorge Luis Borges and Thomas Bernhard are now nestling splendidly on my shelves thanks to Ligotti. He also talks an awful lot about films, drawing "profound" insights from Sweeney Todd, Se7en, Dr Strangelove etc.

But.....

The actual world out there? You know - that thing you see when you go out your door? Or the news bulletins about, you know, actual events? No. Nowhere to be found in Mr Ligotti's tome.

In any case, Mr Ligotti has only the utmost contempt for all these mundane aspects of everyday life. And all those everyday people are mere combinations of chemical reactions. Of course Mr Ligotti himself is a combination of chemical reactions. But HIS chemical reactions are more "meaningful" than THEIR chemical reactions.

His conclusion from all his researches in paper and celluloid: life is a hideous thing and we should never have been born. But since we have, the sooner we die the better. He recommends non-existence. His non-existence is an attractive proposition as we find on page 47: "....forever lazing in nonexistence...." So there. Nonexistence is something you can LAZE in. Presumably with some cocktail drinks and plumped up cushions.

On page 246 he unequivocally states that there is nothing "inherently impressive" about the universe. It seems that the universe is not impressed by itself. Well - you wouldn't expect it to be.

But I'm being a bit unfair. Ligotti does mention some actual people: a curious group who have experienced "ego death" (p141). It happens like this: your ego dies. And you experience that. But obviously not via your ego. You experience this ego death via...something that isn't you. Therefore it isn't you that, in fact, experiences it. It must be someone else that experiences it. So it's not, in fact YOUR experience. So that....ummmm...let's just move on.

Anyway there's this group called the "ego dead" (yes, I know I didn't explain that bit but just accept that this group is there). The ego dead are fed up with UNintelligently submitting to Nature. They want to INtelligently submit. Why? So that "Nature's way would be restored in all its mindlessness..."....ummmmm....so they want to intelligently submit to mindlessness?

......

....let's just move on.

P151: Leo Tolstoy discovers the hideous truth: too much consciousness is a terrible thing. So he retreats into a peasant life. Contemptible, says Ligotti. But - consciousness is bad? Yes. So retreat from consciousness must be an improvement? No, that's bad. So, to recap....consciousness is bad and lack of consciousness is bad...let's move on.

P125: Humanity is forever unchanging. Except that we have changed ourselves. But we only changed ourselves because that's the kind of beings we were made to be i.e. beings who change themselves. So even though we changed we didn't change. The fact that we changed proved that we can never change. (Let's move....well, you know.)

Page 145 - All is revealed. Death. Decay. Such beautiful things. THAT is what we want. ...Well perhaps from an aesthetic point of view?....No! He's serious about making it REAL!

(Edging nervously towards the exit.) Move on. QUICK
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Oct 2011 21:58:45 BDT
Last edited by the author on 10 Oct 2011 21:59:50 BDT
Well "the world out there" is just an eventual (corporate) compromise anyway. Is a fulltime job what you define as "the real world"? Ligotti is just adressing existance itself in his own manner. I don't see the problem with that. Then again; I don't see why his conclusion wouldn't just be suicide.

Posted on 16 Feb 2012 19:57:02 GMT
T. J. Ramage says:
Considering Mr Ligotti has severe agoraphobia/anxiety disorder perhaps the title of your review could have been slightly better chosen. It surprises me that you enjoy the same literature as the author, but seem to have missed not the *entire* point of the book, but you seem to misinterpreted the author's voice. Contradictions like 'consciousness is bad and lack of consciousness is bad' are made purposefully in order to highlight the impossible and inescapable situation we human beings are put in by merely existing. However, I do agree that despite his particular anxiety handicap, more could have been made of the political/social aspect of the themes he discussed. That probably would have made it a lot more boring for me personally (fiction lights up parts of my brain that current affairs don't), but it certainly would have made it more traditionally academic.

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Dec 2013 13:43:24 GMT
M. Lea says:
He's probably explored suicide as a theme and rejected it as an invalid action for the same reason as Schopenhauer. Also his act of creating this work and his novels is definitely the Sublimation defence mechanism described by Peter Wessel Zapffe in The Last Messiah.
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