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enthusiast
11-22-2006, 03:49 AM
Do you share Ligotti's pessimism? As for me, as much as I'm fascinated with Ligotti's fiction, my personal philosophy occupies a middle ground between pessimism and optimism. In spite of the tremendous amount of suffering and misery throughout human history, I believe (or want to believe) in the inherent goodness of most people and a hope for a brighter future for humankind, aided by advances in science and technology. I like to think that Walt Whitman's enthusiasm and celebration of nature and human life can co-exist with an acknowledgement of the world's bleaker realities.

Nemonymous
11-22-2006, 05:04 AM
From my own point of view (as far as I can assess it), I do not really know my own philosophy of life, let alone TL's, so as to be able to compare them.

I can only *know* the published fiction of both. I include ostensible public pronouncements within this observed 'fiction'. Including this message.

des

Dr. Zirk
11-22-2006, 08:23 PM
I'm a middle-grounder myself. Ligotti's pessimism is persuasive and compelling, but then again so is a view of snow on distant mountains on a sunny winter's day (not to mention puffy clouds and puppy dogs).

So I'd say that my personal philosophy is similar to Ligotti's, but acknowledges that pessimism simply doesn't answer the entire question. So I have to include elements of optimism as well. I think the movie I Heart Huckabees (brilliant!) captures my personal philosophy best - life is indeed "cruelty, manipulation, and meaninglessness." But then again, not all human connections are based exclusively on sorrow and pain, and anyone who has really experienced any manifestation of love knows that the species is not a total write-off.

simon p. murphy
11-22-2006, 08:53 PM
I've been a moral/ethical nihilist since the end of my first year studying Philosophy. I'm not sure why TL is reluctant to call himself a nihilist - the term is only self-defeating if accepted as a global view, ie that 'everything is meaningless' - which is a clear example of the Liar Paradox - and to crudely paraphrase Ligotti, nobody is that retarded.

But I adhere to a much less extravagant nihilism that simply holds that there is no moral/ethical objectivity - 'common sense' realism concerning logic, external minds and objects is fine. By objectivity, I mean that moral values are neither divinely ordained, or universal in orientation. I believe that what moral sentiments that we humans (and possibly some other gregarious animals) do have are the contingent result of evolution by natural selection. Human psychology (at least, the heritable part of it) evolved as a result of differential survival and reproduction, 'ultimately' (Ernst Mayr's usage) to to track our biological interests. This is extended to morality in highly social animals in order to direct our in-group behaviour.

The emphasis here is contingency - as the somewhat muddled but brilliant biologist E.O. Wilson rightly said, we could have evolved like the termites, among whom eating dung is a biological necessity, in which case the practice would be revered among us. But we evolved the way we are contingently - it could have just as easily been otherwise. Morality rests ultimately (not proximately) on biology, which is itself a HUGE cosmic accident.

These views are based on the strength of current evidence in psychology and evolutionary biology. I'm prepared to defend them with arguments, but I also accept that I am often wrong or misinformed.

Otherwise, I don't believe in free-will (check out Benjamin Libet's experiments), and I sympathise strongly with most existentialist philosophers.

So that's my semi-Ligottian take on things.

Yours in Kali,

-D.

simon p. murphy
11-22-2006, 08:58 PM
Oh, and I forgot to add this:

Despite the apparent grimness of my views, I love life. I've been a nervous wreck since I was a child, and had some pretty damn bad experiences, but I'm happy; I'm married and I have two children who I'd die for. Just because I don't believe in a grand design (or at least, in its relevance) doesn't mean I can't value friendship, love and sincerity.

- D.

ventriloquist
11-22-2006, 11:56 PM
I will also say, "I do not really know my own philosophy of life." There are countless versions of me, long-dead yet still living, that had names for what they thought and for what they thought they were, but their beliefs are even deader than they are (and still floating out there, just the same.) Some of them are even writing this message, and keep in mind that one ought never to trust a dead man.

Dollglove: your point of view confuses me, I must admit. First of all, to say something like, "there is no moral/ethical objectivity," strikes me as an assertion of a "global view." And how does a nihilist manage to base his beliefs on psychology and biology? Since the rejection of one belief (Belief A) is, inevitably, to pose another (Belief B,) it makes no sense to me why one should define oneself in terms of opposition to Belief A, rather than support of Belief B. That is, if one is interested in defining oneself at all (see above.)

simon p. murphy
11-23-2006, 01:40 AM
good points, ventriloquist.

What I mean by 'global nihilism' is a robust version of nihilism, which so far as I know, is the traditional meaning of the term, and can be vaguely defined as 'nothing is true' or 'everything is false'. In epistemology this is known as Irrealism, or non-realism. Such a view asserts itself over ontology (existence, being reality), metaphysics, logic - you name it. Of course, as I said above, the view is pragmatically self-defeating.

The reason a moral nihilist such as myself can still operate intellectually within biology and psychology, for example, is because the only truths I hold particularly in doubt are moral ones. Moreover, it is objectivity of these values I question, rather than their relevance to various aspects os society. A moral nihilist needn't either remove himself from moral discourse - in fact, I think it would be ridiculous; it isn't that moral principles (culturally developed) and moral sentiments (mostly biological, I would argue) aren't present in society, because they obviously are - just that they lack the kind of philosophical justification that would give them the status of facts in the same way that 'Australia is bigger than New Zealand' is a fact.

A moral proposition such as 'to kill human is always and everywhere wrong' or 'it is wrong to torture cats' is a different kettle of meat. You can demonstrate that torture is painful, and you can even demonstrate that cats feel pain, perhaps through some kind of brain scan; but as Hume noted, the 'wrongness' as a fact is elusive. In fact, the 'wrongness' isn't even necessary for someone to experience moral disapprobation upon witnessing an act of cat-torture. We can explain the etiology of their reaction (more simply, I hasten to add) with reference to their culture, their upbringing and their personal psychology. A moral fact plays no obvious causal role in such an event, so why postulate it as a cause?

Hence my moral skepticism.

Sorry for the lengthy rant, but I hope this does something to clarify my position.

Nemonymous
11-23-2006, 04:33 AM
I think my post is the only nihilistic position it is possible to take if one considers oneself to be a nihilist.

I formed Zeroism in 1967 and Nemonymity in 2000. But I am pessimisitic about these concepts ... and about negative reactions to my posts on this thread.

Pessimism for me is to be positive and optimisitic - logically - that it (my pessimism) will self-fulfil and make a neat synergy or pattern with my life and my death. A pure art form with inner logic as well as outer illogic to disguise it.

I am interested by the posts above. But we can only infer TL's 'pessimism'. I often find myself to be in tune with his fiction and interviews. I don't know TL to talk to or to email to, so that is all I have got to go on. That discontact is neat and synergistic with Nemonymity.

Through all this, I find myself a person of this world with a career (now retired) and a family. The outer illogic?

unknown
11-23-2006, 01:35 PM
I'm not entirely sure what my philosophical stance on life is. I remember reading the works of existentialists back in high school and feeling a really good connection with them.

The only two maxims for life that I've come up with that I think sum up my views on life are:
Life is too important to be taken seriously
and
I try to live the happiest, most ethical life I can.

ventriloquist
11-24-2006, 03:23 PM
Hi, Dollglove, and thanks for the reply.

I think I understand where you're coming from, but I suppose my question is more of a semantic one, i.e., why "moral nihilist," instead of "moral relativist," "moral skeptic," or some other designation? I'm wary of the baggage that comes with this particular n-word, and it strikes me that it is often used in places where another, positively descriptive term might be used instead.

On a side note, I tend to reject all forms of objectivity, so I am no less skeptical of scientific demonstrations and explanations of phenomena than I am of moral absolutes. But that opens up a whole other can of worms.

Karnos
11-24-2006, 08:56 PM
Somewhat, yes.

I do think everything's absurd and I'm just a hairless ape who happens to think is "human", so being pissed off or happily ignorant doesn't change anything in the long run, so why bother? Take the mood swings as they come.

Besides, in my line of work I can't give myself the luxury of being so openly pessimist....

Karnos
11-24-2006, 09:12 PM
But I adhere to a much less extravagant nihilism that simply holds that there is no moral/ethical objectivity -

I call it "The natural world" :D Good/Evil/Morals have no objective existence out of the human experience and we play morals in order to keep up with the societies that we've created for better or for worse. For example, in black Sub-Saharan Africa some tribes practice the costume of leaving sick or/and deformed children to fend for themselves in the wilderness so that Nature takes care of what human emotions cannot. This is criminal in the Western system of values, but we’re not talking about the West here…

The how some people can easily change their moral views without flinching ought to speak volumes. Quite frankly I don't believe there are any "good guys" and "bad guys" anywhere on this world, just a conflict of interests... (But we do have some sick people, though)

simon p. murphy
11-24-2006, 09:44 PM
Ventriloquist: I can certainly understand your concern.

It really isn't all that helpful of me calling the position 'nihilism', since as you quite correctly point out, it does carry a lot of unwanted connotations.

And I think I agree with your skepticism towards everything; absolutes ftl.

- Simon

ventriloquist
11-26-2006, 04:59 AM
I've got a few friends who are devout Christians, and more than once I've had debates in which I basically said, "If no one on Earth had ever heard of or believed in the Christian God and His Word, then those things would simply not exist." Obviously, any good Christian would disagree with such a statement, and when I would propose that they use a little imagination and answer the question as if they were one of the ignorant pagans in my example, then they would invariably cop out and say, "It doesn't matter." Then I'd try to tell them that we may be in a comparable state of ignorance right now, and the next revelation that'll trump all the rest could be somewhere around the corner, or never to come. To deny the possibility is weak; wouldn't the ignorant pagan do the same?

I'm just blabbing, but the objectivity vs. subjectivity question intrigues me, and I'm inclined to say that "pure subjectivity" is a character trait of reality, although it's an idea that must not sit well with most people.

What's really interesting to me is when belief begins to affect us in pragmatic ways. Whether or not I believed in Santa when I was a kid, the presents were going to be under the tree; the only thing that changed as I got a bit older was the explanation for how those boxes got there. Well, the idea that there are objectively "real" things called "languages," "universities," "countries," "economies," etc., is no less "delusional" than a belief in Santa, but because we acquiesce to these things on a broader and more thorough level, they begin to influence us more than we influence them. It's all magick, but on a scale as large as nations and religions, I suspect that to stop believing en masse would be to find nothing but coal in our stockings!

Karnos
11-26-2006, 05:31 AM
I've got a few friends who are devout Christians, and more than once I've had debates in which I basically said, "If no one on Earth had ever heard of or believed in the Christian God and His Word, then those things would simply not exist." Obviously, any good Christian would disagree with such a statement, and when I would propose that they use a little imagination and answer the question as if they were one of the ignorant pagans in my example, then they would invariably cop out and say, "It doesn't matter." Then I'd try to tell them that we may be in a comparable state of ignorance right now, and the next revelation that'll trump all the rest could be somewhere around the corner, or never to come. To deny the possibility is weak; wouldn't the ignorant pagan do the same?

I'm just blabbing, but the objectivity vs. subjectivity question intrigues me, and I'm inclined to say that "pure subjectivity" is a character trait of reality, although it's an idea that must not sit well with most people.

What's really interesting to me is when belief begins to affect us in pragmatic ways. Whether or not I believed in Santa when I was a kid, the presents were going to be under the tree; the only thing that changed as I got a bit older was the explanation for how those boxes got there. Well, the idea that there are objectively "real" things called "languages," "universities," "countries," "economies," etc., is no less "delusional" than a belief in Santa, but because we acquiesce to these things on a broader and more thorough level, they begin to influence us more than we influence them. It's all magick, but on a scale as large as nations and religions, I suspect that to stop believing en masse would be to find nothing but coal in our stockings!

All of these are very good points, Ventriloquist. I'll coment on them tomorrow, I'm actually a zombie right now.

Good night.

yellowish haze
02-19-2007, 07:02 PM
I myself am not sure if I share Ligotti's grim worldview these days. The last two years of my life have been so beautiful that they have totally changed the way I perceive things.

When I discovered Ligotti two years ago I agreed on very many points of his philosophy. Now that has changed a little bit I think...

But I still love reading dark, nihilistic horror fiction and Ligotti still remains my favorite writer! We need to feed the dark past that lives inside us in order to prevent it from invading the present.

Nemonymous
02-20-2007, 03:55 PM
I find myself over the years precariously attuned to an inference of TL's philosophy and, more reliably, to his fiction / interviews which may or may not reflect his own philosophy.

I even have intentionality doubts about myself and I can't go further than that.

HeavensBlade23
03-04-2007, 07:41 PM
My outlook is vaguely similar to the protagonist of The Bungalow House. The universe is rotten and crummy, but that doesn't bother me.

actualwolf
03-07-2007, 09:13 PM
While I ultimately believe that there's no purpose---moral or otherwise---in the universe, I try not to let it bother me too much. Joy is as much a fact as is suffering, though it may be far less prevalent. Still it exists and should be accepted. When I feel happy I try to appreciate it, and when I don't it's nice to have my perspective reflected in well written fiction.

Mr. D.
03-08-2007, 09:15 PM
I see that this topic keeps coming back. It seems to me that Thomas Ligotti doesn't have a worked out philosophy but rather has an artistic vision. Whatever he may or may not believe is not that closely related to his writings. As a tale teller he has particularly bleak and sinister way of looking at things and I'm sure that the basis for his creative vision is related to his doubts and fears.

If someone really believed beyond any doubt that the world was the way that Ligotti depicted it I doubt that they would be capable of creating such a powerful body of work. All artistic activities require some minimum amount of hope. If someone truely believed that all was hopeless and random they would be much more likely to commit suicide than to start a writing career.

I've been a Catholic all of my life, so my own views of the world are a little different than Ligotti's views. (I only speak for Catholics. I've known other kinds of Christians and they just make me wonder. I've been in some churches where everyone looked like cousins. That seems to me to be more like a private club than a church. I've also been in churches where nobody seems to believe in much of anything. It's like a they're big debating societies or some kind of feel good New Age scam. If someone doesn't believe in much of anything that's fine by me but I don't think that they should pretend that they do believe. Also, if you believe in something stand up for it and take the abuse. We get plenty of abuse in life anyway; we might as well take our knocks for what's important to us.)

Catholice have a very dim view of this world. The pain is real and the pleasures are fleeting. We look to another world for our Salvation. This world is full of wonder and terror, joy and suffering, but we are ultimately hopeful. The idea that this universe came about by chance over time is basically statistically impossible. At 10 to the x power there aren't enough zeros to calculate the chances that this is how it all came about. A rational prime mover is a much simpler theory and I have seen evidence to support the theory, though much is veiled in mystery.
Death is supposed to have come about because of Original Sin. I'm not so sure about Adam and Eve, but living in Los Angeles for the last 20 years has made me a firm believer in the concept. There is no other logical conclusion.

One of the best things about TLO is that there are so many different points of view from what is truely a small number of people. My opinion is that we needn't worry so much about what Ligotti thinks but, rather that we should marvel at how he has touched so many different readers. He will never be one of those popular writers but he will be in print centuries after the Scott Turows of the world have disappeared.

paeng
05-29-2007, 04:09 PM
I only found out about Ligotti and his work yesterday, so whatever I write is based only on what I've read in this website.

I cannot recall any online site where I felt more at home. When I look at the lists of books, art works, and musical works that influenced Ligotti and the various members of this site, I can't help but be amazed by the fact that I enjoy all of these works as well. Perhaps that is why my personal philosophy is a mix of what many have written in this thread.

My view is a complex combination of hedonism taken from aesthetic pleasure, nihilism but retaining moral philosophy, and an appreciation of science but retaining a fascination with what is spiritual.

That is probably why I remain Catholic but see salvation in light of a life of suffering (and it helps if you read CS Lewis and Augustine's Confessions, especially in a Third World country). I see the universe as neutral and impersonal through astronomy but remain bothered by its existence. I find pleasure in works of art, including Dante's and English Romantic poetry, academic realist paintings, and Romantic classical music, and would share them with others, but I live in a country filled with crime and poverty, which tempers that pleasure with incredible sadness.

When I realize that and read my "four horsemen" (Darwin, Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud), I begin to see man as a crazy, economic, amoral being, and I go back to reading Kafka and Camus (mixed with Swift and Voltaire). In the background, I'll sometimes play Chopin's Nocturnes, or if intoxicated, tracks from Fields of the Nephilim.

Odalisque
05-27-2008, 02:22 PM
I doubt whether it is. This appears on the title page (as currently constituted) of my novel:

Is the existence of a rock preferable to that of a candle flame? My feeling is that truly living is better than merely existing – however brief its span. Rather a single night as my mistress’ odalisque than a long life free from trouble.

A. Northman
03-05-2012, 06:47 PM
I have been a member here for months now, but I've not been active. Sorry about that. Nevertheless, I've been reading Ligotti and browsing this page a lot and developed a desire to join the interesting conversation here. I think it's the time now. I'll tell briefly about the things going on inside my head right now. It seems that this topic has been dead for a while, but I didn't find anything else concerning one's personal philosophy, so let me reanimate this one.

For Ligotti, ”to exist” is ”to suffer”. I don't actually know what existence means for me – maybe nothing. For me, existence is something so absurd and incomprehensible that I don't think I can or have to tell accurately about my views about it. The phenomenon that is more familiar to me is life.

Existence is absurdity, and life is based on existence, but in the end, life is completely private phenomenon. There is darkness outside every house (and who knows how hideous creatures dwell in that darkness?). I – like every friend of weird fiction – often take a look through the window. That glimpse of the darkness is one of my greatest – if not the greatest – enjoyments in life. I just don't let those creatures inside my house. They exist in the darkness of existence, but I live in my house, keeping the lights on.

I like what Albert Camus said: only when the individual accepts the absurdity of existence, he can truly be free and lead an enjoyable life in the absurd world.

I also like what Odalisque said in the previous post.

Conclusion: my philosophy is probably not similar to Ligotti's. I mostly enjoy my life, and one of my greatest enjoyments is reading Ligotti.

NealJansons
03-05-2012, 07:32 PM
Do you share Ligotti's pessimism? As for me, as much as I'm fascinated with Ligotti's fiction, my personal philosophy occupies a middle ground between pessimism and optimism. In spite of the tremendous amount of suffering and misery throughout human history, I believe (or want to believe) in the inherent goodness of most people and a hope for a brighter future for humankind, aided by advances in science and technology. I like to think that Walt Whitman's enthusiasm and celebration of nature and human life can co-exist with an acknowledgement of the world's bleaker realities.

For the most part, yes. I hold an extremely pessimistic view of the human situation. It seems hard to be informed and not hold such a view. I personally don't understand how the presence of beauty, love, and chocolate chips cookies is supposed to outweigh the massive amount of suffering built in to the experience of living.

The big picture is always the same...we are a species that, for all our deep, philosophical explanations of why we do what we do, does exactly what every other species tries to do...reproduce, survive, and take over environments. I not only don't think that your posited Star Trek future is possible, I don't think we, as a species, deserve it. We cause more suffering than is necessary, then consider ourselves superior to the animals who only engage in necessary suffering. We cause suffering on grand scales knowingly and willingly, and (for those of us in developed nations like the US), we do it all so we can become gluttons. We created a technological culture to get rid of the drudgery of life, but then created new forms of drudgery, all so a few people can get a little richer. And what is the easiest way to gain power among humans? Start a campaign based on hatred. The fact that Nixon's Southern Strategy worked as well as it did says all we need to know about humanity's moral status: we're monsters.

We can't even manage to engage in reform without creating enemies, declaring new people to be the "Other" and putting the target of hate upon them. And the result of every attempted reformist revolution is more suffering, more hatred, more disgusting people doing disgusting things to each other.

However, this is the big picture. In the little picture, where we all live our day to day lives, I do my best to enjoy whatever I can. When the various phenomena that allow for that cease, I will put my affairs in order and commit suicide in as clean a fashion as possible so that no one else will have to deal with my mess.

So I live, I laugh, I love...but the story of my day to day life, since the moment I was born and given to my abusive grandparents so my real mother could distract them long enough for her to escape, to the spinal disease that is slowly grinding the nerves leading to my extremities into pulp, my existence is oriented around suffering. The little picture, of flowers and orgasms and ice cream and love, doesn't somehow make up for the big picture of suffering, death, and misery. I both try to have the best day I can, every day, and acknowledge that existence is suffering and I would have been better off if I had never existed.

gryeates
03-05-2012, 09:09 PM
The little picture, of flowers and orgasms and ice cream and love, doesn't somehow make up for the big picture of suffering, death, and misery. I both try to have the best day I can, every day, and acknowledge that existence is suffering and I would have been better off if I had never existed.

Eloquently and succinctly put.

Michael
03-05-2012, 10:09 PM
I can't legitimately say I accept Ligotti's philosophy wholesale. I also don't think he's asking me (or any of us) to. One of many things I respect about him is that he presents his worldview without apology or compromise. Ligotti refuses to qualify his philosophy and I find this a show of incredible intellectual courage. He does not say "we are born in this world to suffer but . . . x, y, and z make it all better." He says the first and then lets us sit in it, appreciating its vast and profound implications. I firmly believe that human beings refusal to sit in those implications for even the briefest amount of time ends up perpetuating far more suffering that we are born to experience. A great example of this is child abuse and neglect. You can get people to admit that this exists but when you pin them down in a conversation, they would never admit that it can happen to people they know or even that it is as prevalent as statistics show. This, and other horrors of the world, are always something that happens to "someone else, somewhere else." The refusal to engage with the darkness beneath the surface perpetuates it. Furthermore, there are many aspects of his philosophy which my own personal experiences have confirmed. As Neal succinctly and accurately put it "we're monsters." I have witnessed things that confirm this assessment of us as a species. And it leaves me convinced that there is no intrinsic, inherent value in the perpetuation of our species since we are creating victims for monsters. As I can change none of this, it motivates me to fight monsters, even those within myself.

Lastly, the antinatilist current running through his philosophy (concisely summed up as "better to never have been") was something I felt for as long as I could remember. I grew up in a household that believed in heaven for the "good" and hell for the "evil." As Lovecraft said so eloquently, "unhappy is he for whom the memories of childhood are filled with fear and sadness." The kindest thing I can say about mine is that I survived it. "Hell" was already a reality, so for a long time nonexistence seemed a blessing. Yet, at this point in my life I find that I no longer yearn for that nonexistence as deeply as I did when I was a child. To rip off another work of art, I guess my current stance can be summed up like the last line of "Seven", "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for . . . I agree with the last part."

NealJansons
03-05-2012, 11:15 PM
As Lovecraft said so eloquently, "unhappy is he for whom the memories of childhood are filled with fear and sadness." The kindest thing I can say about mine is that I survived it. "Hell" was already a reality, so for a long time nonexistence seemed a blessing. Yet, at this point in my life I find that I no longer yearn for that nonexistence as deeply as I did when I was a child. To rip off another work of art, I guess my current stance can be summed up like the last line of "Seven", "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for . . . I agree with the last part."

This is quite apt. I remember agreeing with Lovecraft's words, as a teen caught in the "System" and being passed from mental health residential treatment facilities to youth homes to hospitals and back again. The Outsider was my favorite story during those years. It was only after I had gained my emancipation, at about 17-18, that the Dunsanian Dream Cycle stories became my favorites.

Childhood and the early teens are naturally the most carefree and have the potential to be our most happy years, and to have these made into horror is a great loss. Even while I should have been most free to enjoy my imagination (and life for a fantasist was good in the late 70s through the 80s), I was most afraid and most tormented. My wife routinely says that my childhood is more accurately described as being terrorized; abuse is just too small a word to cover it.

Though this is only recently the case; check out the book The Origins of War in Child Abuse by Lloyd deMause (full text here: http://www.psychohistory.com/ near the bottom of the page). I've been reading what was once the normal methods of child-rearing in my ancestors and realize that, despite my love of antiquity, I am quite lucky to have been born during the modern era.

Nonetheless, here we are just talking about a matter of degree. The point is that childhood, in our era, is supposed to be the period where you have the most unconditional love, encouragement, security, and the least responsibilities. The only real responsibility is school, and that can be quite enjoyable under some circumstances. I was lucky enough to go to an experimental magnet school for "gifted and talented" children, but unlucky enough to have it be my fifth grade year, right before I went to junior high, and right after that, into treatment. I still look back at that year as one of my fondest memories, and when I was 20 and back in my home town to deal with some business, I called my teacher from that year, Mr. Harris, to tell him just how wonderful a teacher he was and how much that nine months had meant to me.

I realize, of course, that having such a childhood colors my view of life. I went in to my philosophical evaluations with a definite bias. However, I believe that the quite impersonal events all over the world that I have been made aware of through my study of history and my staying informed my entire adult life of politics and world affairs quite effectively confirm my pessimistic view.

However, there is one thought that has occurred to me, one tiny bit of optimism which is also informed by my studies of history and trends. We are, no doubt about it, getting better over time. However awful things look in many ways right now, there is a definite trend over time towards more personal freedom, less exploitation, and overall better personal living conditions for a greater percentage of the species. Statistically, we are immensely less murderous than we once were, we abuse our children far less, far fewer groups are systematically disenfranchised than ever before, and this process seems to be increasing in it's speed as time goes on. It took centuries to address racism, sexism, class struggles, etc...but as we have done so, the speed with which we are abandoning those behaviors and working to make things better overall is increasing; in just ten years we have gone from "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to an ever-increasing domino-effect of states legalizing gay marriage. In my meager lifetime, a mere 34 years, I have watched conditions for people of color, women, and GLBT improve immensely.

In fact, things are getting changing so fast that it has set off many people's regression and security alarms. While I myself am as progressive, liberal, and neophiliac as one could wish, I still possess a certain nostalgia and love of the past, which manifests as a deep appreciate of the poetry, literature, art, and music of the 17th,18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries (cutting off roughly at WWII). Admittedly, I watch those old movies on my big screen HDTV through a streaming service (Hulu+ or Netflix Watch Instantly), listen to that classical music on my computer using another streaming service (Spotify), look at most of those art pieces on BackToClasssics.com Virtual Art Gallery (http://www.backtoclassics.com), and most of those classics of literature and poetry on my phone or computer, but what can I say...I'm still a geek.

My general point is that while we are monsters, as I said before, more and more we seem to be improving. This is due to many causes, I am sure, and while a study of them might prove beneficial, it is beyond the scope of a forum post. My only desire is to point out that, despite everything else, we do seem to be getting better. Cruelties and barbarities no one even batted an eye at a mere century ago are now condemned and the perpetrators jailed. Just in my own lifetime, the abuse that I suffered as a child and teen has gone from mostly acceptable, especially where I grew up, to mostly unacceptable. Most parents when I was a kid "spanked" their children, at least, while now most parents use non-physical forms of discipline such as time outs.

This doesn't change much for us, here and now, but it does mean that if the human race survives long enough, they might just about become civilized enough to deserve the Star Trek future I spoke of earlier. Now, all that would really mean is that the scales of suffering vs. pleasure would be more even, it would not do away with all possible suffering, because suffering is simply built in to the sort of entity we are. I don't personally believe that it will ever make existence better than non-existence, but it could, at least, be more acceptable to live.

There is, I would also argue, some hope to be found in the Posthumanism ideas...remaking humanity into an entity that did not experience suffering might well be possible.

The problem is, off course, that I just don't see how we can get from here to there. Class issues and immense levels of disenfranchisement seem to be so intrinsic to the current mode of existence that I just can't see how we can get to a laudable and worthwhile promise of existence such that I could say to a young couple "Yes, by all means, breed! Give this wonderful life to another psyche!"

sundog
03-06-2012, 12:27 AM
Huh?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXZKFmwnjlI

DoktorH
03-06-2012, 02:31 AM
Probably not, no. as much as I enjoy the worldview depicted in The Conspiracy Against The Human Race and agree on an intellectual level that Life Is Not Alright, i am never moved to act on this, because life as i actually experience it is alternating periods of fun and frustrating, and i am far too much of a hedonist. The absence of anything to do, anyone to know, anything to be, and anything to know, to me, creates a perfect opportunity for drunken movie-watching, spending all day in bed, or whatever other early delight strikes my fancy at the time.

A sufficiently prolonged bout of frustrating in which it appears that the universe is against me in personal and professional matters can, on occasion, leave me convinced that no amount of booze or cartoons or indulgent edibles or costly collectibles will brighten my spirits, but I always manage to prove myself wrong.

upon describing my views to others, I have been called a Moral Nihilist. I don't disagree with that. I do refuse to do things if I think they're the wrong thing to do, and insist upon doing things if they strike me as the right thing to do, but I also use the "if I thought it was wrong, I wouldn't want to do it" argument. Nihilism? definitely. Misanthropic, sort-of antinatalist (it's not that i am bothered by human suffering so much as that i am bothered by the sheer volume of humans out there), apolitical (I don't always vote, but when I do, it's for the craziest candidate on the ballot, as crazy = more entertaining).

I'm not terribly familiar with philosophy-jargon, and i tend to think of issues like this more in terms of Alignment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alignment_%28Dungeons_%26_Dragons%29) from the tabletop RPG Dungeons and Dragons, and if i am being realistic, I put myself smack in the middle at True Neutral, even though I do like to imagine that i'm Chaotic Evil and doing a good job restraining myself.

Draugen
03-06-2012, 04:28 AM
Short answer, without writing a wall of text, is no. It's probably the reason I haven't read CATHR yet.

I read Ligotti for his fiction, not his philosophy. I appreciate the aesthetics of the breath of nihilism which runs through his works.

But if I wanted philosophical literature, I'd be far more inclined to read the likes of Hermann Hesse (off the top of my head), which is closer to my own temprement, more of this mystic about it.

qcrisp
03-06-2012, 07:46 AM
Huh?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXZKFmwnjlI

Presumably they meant 'FALSE' as the answer to the first question. Must have forgotten that they phrased the question negatively - "decreases".

sundog
03-06-2012, 08:02 AM
Huh?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXZKFmwnjlI

Presumably they meant 'FALSE' as the answer to the first question. Must have forgotten that they phrased the question negatively - "decreases".

You're right about that. Pictures speak louder than words in this case. And ultimately the destruction caused by modern technology will far outweigh any civilizing impact it has. The digital dark-age is coming.

Gray House
03-06-2012, 06:07 PM
Huh?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXZKFmwnjlI

Presumably they meant 'FALSE' as the answer to the first question. Must have forgotten that they phrased the question negatively - "decreases".

You're right about that. Pictures speak louder than words in this case. And ultimately the destruction caused by modern technology will far outweigh any civilizing impact it has. The digital dark-age is coming.

"As technology advances the difficulty with which individuals or small groups can wreak havoc on the world decreases."

Two negatives = a positive. If the difficulty decreases of wreaking havoc, wreaking havoc becomes less difficult. So they meant TRUE.

I agree with the basic messages of the video (that the human race should go extinct, and that there are plenty of reasons to be pessimistic about the future) but the video is pure propaganda.

sundog
03-06-2012, 06:37 PM
Huh?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXZKFmwnjlI

Presumably they meant 'FALSE' as the answer to the first question. Must have forgotten that they phrased the question negatively - "decreases".

You're right about that. Pictures speak louder than words in this case. And ultimately the destruction caused by modern technology will far outweigh any civilizing impact it has. The digital dark-age is coming.

"As technology advances the difficulty with which individuals or small groups can wreak havoc on the world decreases."

Two negatives = a positive. If the difficulty decreases of wreaking havoc, wreaking havoc becomes less difficult. So they meant TRUE.


Ahhh! Thanks for clearing that up. It must be the spring-time dizziness which is causing cognitive laziness around these parts.

qcrisp
03-06-2012, 08:35 PM
Two negatives = a positive. If the difficulty decreases of wreaking havoc, wreaking havoc becomes less difficult. So they meant TRUE.

I agree with the basic messages of the video (that the human race should go extinct, and that there are plenty of reasons to be pessimistic about the future) but the video is pure propaganda.

My misreading. For some reason I read it as something like "... the possibility of wreaking havoc decreases".

I've recently despaired at how common it is for people not to read e-mails (in a business context) properly - I should be more careful myself.

I couldn't really work out what the video was about apart from a general prediction that we're all going to die and that technology will help us reach this end faster. Is the author of the video for or against? The impression is that he is against the destructive use of technology, hence the intrusive use of creepy music, etc. What I don't get is the stuff about, "Someone in this picture wants the human race to become extinct", etc. The author? Or someone else? And who is the man with no head or hands in the empty newsagent's?

Didn't get that at all.

Sam
03-06-2012, 10:02 PM
I'm not terribly familiar with philosophy-jargon, and i tend to think of issues like this more in terms of Alignment (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alignment_%28Dungeons_%26_Dragons%29) from the tabletop RPG Dungeons and Dragons, and if i am being realistic, I put myself smack in the middle at True Neutral, even though I do like to imagine that i'm Chaotic Evil and doing a good job restraining myself.

Ha, I've always thought of myself as Chaotic Good but doing a rather poor job of both the "chaotic" and "good" parts.

I have stopped trying to figure out if I would be better off never having been; since I already exist, I may as well make a go of it. I'm a fairly simple person with simple pleasures, and I'm fortunate enough to have the means to achieve a number of them. I certainly appreciate Mr. Ligotti's perspective, and I take great joy (!) in reading his works, but I do not feel the existential pain nearly as deeply as he does.

Gray House
03-07-2012, 12:34 AM
Didn't get that at all.

It seemed nonsensical, and not in an interesting way!

qcrisp
03-07-2012, 08:50 AM
But is even the personal philosophy of the Thomas Ligotti who is not an author similar to the Thomas Ligotti who is an author? What day by day activities does the not-writing Thomas Ligotti endure, or enjoy?

Isn't there an interview somewhere, in which Ligotti is asked what his personal philosophy is, and he says that one's personal philosophy has nothing to do with anything? Presumably this is why literature is either, as he has put it, entertainment or nothing. The question then is, is TCATHR entertaining? If it's not entertaining, I'd guess it's nothing.

qcrisp
03-07-2012, 09:08 AM
But is even the personal philosophy of the Thomas Ligotti who is not an author similar to the Thomas Ligotti who is an author? What day by day activities does the not-writing Thomas Ligotti endure, or enjoy?

Isn't there an interview somewhere, in which Ligotti is asked what his personal philosophy is, and he says that one's personal philosophy has nothing to do with anything? Presumably this is why literature is either, as he has put it, entertainment or nothing. The question then is, is TCATHR entertaining? If it's not entertaining, I'd guess it's nothing.

Just to add to this, it seems to me at least unusual that the question is asked whether a reader's philosophy is similar to that of an author's. I can't think, off the top of my head, of any other author of whom the question is more likely to be asked. Lovecraft presents a philosophy through his fiction (which he confirms in his lesser known non-fiction) of cosmic indifference, but I cannot remember ever being subject to the question - implied, or actual as in the case of this thread - of whether my philosophy is the same as Lovecraft's or not.

The question, I think, usually applies where there is some strong political stance, or where an author is known to be (for instance), misogynist, right-wing, etc., and people are expected to disavow that philosophy and say, "I just enjoy the stories", or something. I have generally felt it a good thing that fiction is distinct from philosophy in the sense of being non-didactic, and, at a ridiculously early age, I remember how puffed up with indignation I would get at 'a message', and how I would consider myself to hate all didacticism. Later I realised that at least Burroughs, one of my favourite writers, could be reasonably accused of didacticism, though his claim was that he created conflict and did not take sides.

In any case, fiction seems to me to contain possibilities at least not so apparent in philosophy, since it is explicitly speculation and imagination, and does not even have to claim to be related to the truth. I feel that an unusual aspect of Ligotti's status as a writer is that people seem to find it odd if you don't share his philosophy (in distinction to the kind of 'political' writers mentioned above, whose messages one is expected to disavow). If my memory of the interview that I have referred to above is correct, and the Ligottian philosophy is that one's philosophy has nothing to do with anything, then why on Earth would you share his philosophy just because you read his work? Your philosophy would presumably have nothing to do with that as it has nothing to do with anything else. Even if I'm remembering the interview incorrectly, I'm guessing that's the implication of the more famous statement that literature is entertainment or nothing, anyway.

qcrisp
03-07-2012, 04:01 PM
My previous comments have actually set a chain of thought into motion that I've had before, so I thought I might as well set it down, if I can, since this is a philosophy thread.

My impression is that there is a paradox at the heart of Ligotti's work, and that it is this from which the work derives its power of provocation. There's a kind of perpetual motion to the work, even in its apparently static conclusions, because those conclusions work in endless self-opposition. Is human identity just meaningless show business? Well then, so is a philosophical assertion of/complaint against this meaninglessness. But the failure of the assertion/complaint feeds back into the assertion/complaint.

It seems to me that Ligotti's work is an extended koan. Koans often worked by paradox (the sound of one hand clapping, etc). If I may be allowed a flight of fancy, it is a neutron star koan, forever threatening to become, but not yet becoming, a black hole.

The question of whether my own philosophy is similar to this (and a koan is, in a sense, anti-philosophy, anyway) is, first of all, as my comments above suggest, irrelevant, secondly, too complicated to try and explain, and thirdly, I'm a bit suspicious of a mass confessional of personal philosophies anyway. However, I'll venture the following:

It seems to me that in the present literary landscape, and in the present time generally, it's impossible to travel to a horizon beyond which Ligotti's koan is no longer visible. Ligotti's work is something that I have often seen as a gate. A gate to what? A gate through which none have passed.

There's a novel by Natsume Soseki called Mon (which means 'gate'). I have a notion that some TLO members would find this novel of particular interest. The gate of the title is exactly the kind of gate I have in mind here.

EemeliJ
03-07-2012, 07:38 PM
This aroused my interest, Crisp. Koan? Koans? I've been reading some cosmology and physic theories out of curiosity, which I find—more or less—just as interesting as Ligotti's fiction. A maximum enthrophy of fictional work? I had a feeling this could be something we are coming to here? (though I could be all wrong, since I am drunk) I'd be most interested in the mentioned novel—it might turn out to be something of the sort as my current pursuit of Dazai.

DoktorH
03-07-2012, 10:59 PM
It seems to me that in the present literary landscape, and in the present time generally, it's impossible to travel to a horizon beyond which Ligotti's koan is no longer visible. Ligotti's work is something that I have often seen as a gate. A gate to what? A gate through which none have passed.

I like this. I do get the sensation that Ligotti's work is a gate to something. maybe something in my own head, maybe something that is in everyone's heads, but nobody knows it's there until they've read enough of Ligotti's work to see the gate.

I don't think it's a gate through which none have passed, though, I just think it's a gate that can only be passed through once.

NealJansons
03-07-2012, 11:24 PM
It seems to me that in the present literary landscape, and in the present time generally, it's impossible to travel to a horizon beyond which Ligotti's koan is no longer visible. Ligotti's work is something that I have often seen as a gate. A gate to what? A gate through which none have passed.

I like this. I do get the sensation that Ligotti's work is a gate to something. maybe something in my own head, maybe something that is in everyone's heads, but nobody knows it's there until they've read enough of Ligotti's work to see the gate.

I don't think it's a gate through which none have passed, though, I just think it's a gate that can only be passed through once.

I think there is definitely something to that.

Some art is sacramental. It causes a change in state.

EemeliJ
03-08-2012, 04:55 AM
It seems to me that in the present literary landscape, and in the present time generally, it's impossible to travel to a horizon beyond which Ligotti's koan is no longer visible. Ligotti's work is something that I have often seen as a gate. A gate to what? A gate through which none have passed.

I like this. I do get the sensation that Ligotti's work is a gate to something. maybe something in my own head, maybe something that is in everyone's heads, but nobody knows it's there until they've read enough of Ligotti's work to see the gate.

I don't think it's a gate through which none have passed, though, I just think it's a gate that can only be passed through once.

I think there is definitely something to that.

Some art is sacramental. It causes a change in state.

"like a tiny voice in a radio"

Malone
03-08-2012, 11:39 AM
I believe Ligotti's philosophy can be more easily discerned from his interviews than directly from TCATHR itself. The latter, as a work of narrative designed to hold the reader's attention and to tease out ambiguities, doesn't state as baldly some of the opinions expressed by Ligotti in his interviews, such as his regret at his own birth, the existence of organic and conscious life on earth, his revulsion at the thought of procreation and so on. Insofar as this constitues a coherent philosophy, (and I believe it does) then I can only offer my assent.

qcrisp
03-08-2012, 07:59 PM
This aroused my interest, Crisp. Koan? Koans? I've been reading some cosmology and physic theories out of curiosity, which I find—more or less—just as interesting as Ligotti's fiction. A maximum enthrophy of fictional work? I had a feeling this could be something we are coming to here? (though I could be all wrong, since I am drunk) I'd be most interested in the mentioned novel—it might turn out to be something of the sort as my current pursuit of Dazai.

Soseki is a bit of a different kettle of fish to Dazai, but if there's one Soseki work - that I know of - that might be of interest to those particularly interested in Ligotti's fiction, I'd guess it's Mon. It's a long dirge of a novel (well, not that long), well sustained and ominous. Soseki has the ability in his fiction somehow to give depth of shadow to the surface and chance events of life, and there is plenty of this in Mon.

I like this. I do get the sensation that Ligotti's work is a gate to something. maybe something in my own head, maybe something that is in everyone's heads, but nobody knows it's there until they've read enough of Ligotti's work to see the gate.

I don't think it's a gate through which none have passed, though, I just think it's a gate that can only be passed through once.

I suppose it depends how the metaphor is intended. It makes sense to me, but I realise I'm struggling to make it exactly clear. In my metaphor, the gate has not been passed through, just as the neutron star has not become a black hole. In fact, the gate metaphor pretty much comes from Mon.

Acutely decayed
03-08-2012, 08:36 PM
forever threatening to become, but not yet becoming

This discussion has reminded me a lot of Amery's - On suicide (the final chapter - the road to the open) - I have not really comprehended/assimilated this book (needs a re-read) - but part of it seems to suggest - the subjective freedom coming from rejecting the burden of life is never a road with an endpoint to be achieved (as at that point for the renouncer everything including freedom is lost) but freedom may be experienced on the road up to this point. - maybe like the gate that cannot be passed through - anyway - you may enjoy this book Quentin if you have not read it already...

Strangely while reading it I kept returning to the idea of Fairyland originally having much in common with the land of the dead and was thinking that those on the "road" of the final chapter may be in or close to this place in spirit... sort of a place where binding ties are loosened but nothing is stable...I am not phrasing any of this very well..

back on topic - my philosophy is not congruent with Ligotti's I can't help a senseless desire to keep the story going at all and any cost... I will concede there is no logical justification for doing this however.

Mr. Templeton
03-09-2012, 02:13 PM
After having read TCATHR six times and the earlier version posted here twice (which was no longer available on this site but a member was kind enough to send a print out to me from overseas), as well as pouring over all of the interviews repeatedly, and having a brief correspondence with the man himself - I would like to say to the question of is my personal philosophy similar to Ligotti's; to a T.

Also, as Jean Amery's "On Suicide" has just been mentioned, it just so happens that that is the only other book I have read just as many times as I have TCATHR.

And, I would also like to add that, I am pleased to see Dazai mentioned in this thread, as I consider "No Longer Human" to be my favorite work of mostly fiction and have re-read that a few times as well.

qcrisp
03-09-2012, 07:53 PM
Just been reading some of the early comments on this thread and I see that some of the ideas I had tried to gesture towards have already been covered. I suppose that's what comes of arriving late.

I was going to write more, but it's too late tonight when I have work to do.

Maybe just a bit. There are some interesting binaries in Ligotti's writing. One of them is that (can't quote it verbatim), since the dawn of time, madness has been flying off the shelves, but no one is in the market for nothing. The binary: madness v. nothing.

Compare that to: "Literature is entertainment or it is nothing."

Looks like the same binary, right? Entertainment v. nothing. Entertainment here takes the place of "madness" and this is consistent with the metaphor of show business and sideshows used in much of Ligotti's work.

But... the binary is not quite the same here. Why? In "madness v. nothing", nothing is the morally favoured half of the binary. In "entertainment v. nothing", however, entertainment appears to be the morally favoured half of the binary, although it corresponds with "madness". One can observe that "nothing" is being used in a different sense here, and perhaps so, but the similarity between the binaries is striking to me.

As I said, no time to explore this further, and not sure what the conclusions, if any, might be. I don't actually think TCATHR is nothing (just my personal view), but if we apply that maxim about literature being entertainment or nothing, would it be a bad thing for TCATHR to be nothing?

Evans
08-22-2012, 08:27 AM
Is my philosophy similar to Ligotti's? No. I am certainly pessimistic and becoming more so but in a totally different sense. Ligotti's philosophy says that Life is inherently bad: I say that Life it in itself is good but has been corrupted and distorted by what Rene Guenon referred to as 'The Grand Parody'.

A brief look at comparative history and the history of philosophy suffices to show that modern Western civilisation is a hideous necrosis, a disease which has spilled out and contaminated the rest of the world. The ultra-montane counter-revolutionary Joseph de Maistre quipped that God would punish the French revolutionaries by leaving them an absolute free reign to do as they aimed: now, while I don't agree with such a crude concept of Providence, this prophecy has been for filled on a far greater scale than he should ever have imagined. And that worst is that we are eternally expected to be grateful for it!

I would not wish to bring a child into this society knowing that the darkness of this era will always be surpassed by that of the following. If one wants to have children I recommend they feel to what remains of traditional civilisation while there still is time. Bring them up in one of the great sacred traditions, and educate them on classic philosophy, classical and sacred art, the works of the Greek Church Fathers and Advaita Vedanta. Even then I'm not sure if having children is right as this just gives a good sense of what has and is being lost.

Nicole Cushing
08-28-2012, 01:45 PM
I tend to vacillate between a pretty bleak pessimism very much in tune with Ligotti's own and a Carl Sagan-esque humanism. My writing tends to influenced much more by the former than the latter.

I can't really claim to have one consistent personal philosophy. There's always more data to examine. Always another way to look at the world.

Malone
08-31-2012, 06:06 AM
Evans, why have kids at all if you think things are just going to get worse and worse? Personally, I'm an Antinatalist, and while I have sympathy with your leanings toward tradition, that too is ultimately just another ephemeral defence against the horror of existence. Taking refuge in tradition and culture is fine for those who already exist, but doesn't give anyone grounds for actually creating new people.

darthbarracuda
03-10-2016, 10:21 PM
Yeah, I think I'd qualify as a pessimist. Better yet, an absurdist. I do not think that life is inherently good or bad, but rather it's just a risky, unnecessary drama with an unknown amount of positive and negative. There does seem to be an awful lot of the negative, though.

One thing I disagree with Ligotti on is his general nihilistic angst. To me, the cause of angst is an undefined expectation being disappointed. I remember a line by him in CATHR in which he says that the lack of any "self" is nightmarish (drawing from Metzinger's philosophy). I don't see why this is inherently bad. It just means that you're existentially narcissistic...I mean what were you expecting?

Overall I tend to try to look for the good in people, even if it is increasingly difficult to.

teguififthzeal
03-11-2016, 01:24 AM
I personally don't think any two people actually have the same philosophy in the same two ways.

I absolutely sympathize with everything Ligotti wrote and has written, and sometimes when I am overstimulated I read "TCATHR" and feel like I just took a wonderful narcotic. On the other hand, I think he sometimes engages in oversimplification, most of which are understandable because he completely identifies with philosophical pessimism. It may be the case that he is completely right and any positive or mystical experiences we have are illusory; but I don't believe that. Not only am I a Catholic, I just don't sense a template in phenomenological reality that can be reduced to that under any circumstances. Even if human beings are nothing put marionettes, puppets, etc etc, that in no way negates the lived experience of reality. These are very hard things to articulate unless you're a poet or a neurosurgeon. Experiential reality is way too complex--and here I am doing precisely what Ligotti accuses most people of doing, "always keeping a door open on possibility". But that door exists just by virtue of our complexity.

ToALonelyPeace
03-11-2016, 01:29 AM
I don't have a 'philosophy' in life, but I share many of Ligotti's visions. I think it's partly due to a biological error somewhere in our brains. At time, I'm suffocated by the noise life makes. I hate noise. I used to think that if I cut my ears I wouldn't be able to hear the noise anymore. But then I realize that there's still a voice inside my head, always narrating, always demanding. That's consciousness for you. On days like these, sunshine is a slap to the face and laughter the nails scratching on chalkboard. On other days, I forget about the noise. Existence isn't horrible, because I'm not conscious about it. Some days I might even be happy. However, if you ask me during my happiest moment "If you have a button to push that can end it all, or reverse everything to primordial slush, would you do it?" I wouldn't hesitate for a moment. I believe this example is also in Ligotti's The Conspiracy Against the Human Race.

Of course, I never share this question (or answer) with anyone. My mother will probably be the first one bringing me the straitjacket or Prozac. My best friends will be disgusted, especially when they realize I love unhappiness and am willing to kill something for the daily-blue (it's like learning your best friends enjoys eating feces in their private time :D).

James
03-11-2016, 05:47 AM
My worldview could be accurately considered nihilist and extremist agnostic. I'm not sure I commit to antinatalism (largely through indifference about whether the species survives or not), but I think most of what could be considered the optimistic worldviews strike me as pure tradition for the sake of tradition (particularly monotheism), rather than philosophies that say anything meaningful to me about my experience with existence. I don't consider nihilism to be a 'negative' or 'pessimist' philosophy at all. To do so would be playing the game by the rules of the more deluded. There is no reason to attach greater significance or meaning to any of this; the burden of proof is on those who seek do so, rather than the alleged pessimists.

As an extremist agnostic, I am however open to the possibility I am wrong about everything and am aware of this at every moment.

Fenris Technique
03-11-2016, 02:11 PM
No. Thank God(s).

I can appreciate his work though, while simultaneously acknowledging that his interviews make his entire existence sound like a long, pointless, act of miserable drudgery.

Still . . . the alternative is a happy, contented, socially-engaged Thomas Ligotti . . . and what kind of stories would he produce?

Matthias M.
10-08-2016, 04:07 AM
As an extremist agnostic, I am however open to the possibility I am wrong about everything and am aware of this at every moment.

I love this quote.

Nirvana In Karma
10-08-2016, 08:51 AM
Herr Ligotti and I are pretty in-line with our thinking, though I give less credence to Buddhism than he does.

Mr. Veech
10-08-2016, 09:49 AM
If I were to describe my own personal philosophy, it would probably be a sort of demythologized Gnosticism similar in tone to what you would find in Schopenhauer, Leopardi, Hardy et al. Ligotti's philosophy, as it is presented in CATHR, is somewhere within the same region.

I do, however, have a residual attachment to Christianity which doesn't seem to play a role in Ligotti's worldview. I feel that I am a reluctant atheist most days of the week.

ToALonelyPeace
10-08-2016, 05:23 PM
Some of my thoughts align very much with Ligotti, though I'm more of a child-free person than an antinatalist. I am more partial to Cioran though, since his tendency for vacillation is similar to mine.

Pharpetron
10-08-2016, 05:56 PM
I'm very much on the same page as Ligotti in terms of his unremittingly bleak assessment of the human condition. I've always been an antinatalist and long before I discovered Ligotti I was already steeped in the ancient Greek pessimistic tradition that affirms as its basic position the wisdom of Silenus: "For humans, the best is not to be born at all, not to partake of nature’s excellence; not to be is best, for both sexes. This should be our choice, if choice we have; and the next to this is, when we are born, to die as soon as we can." For me, Ligotti is simply the greatest living representative of a tradition of literary and philosophical pessimism that goes back as far as The Epic of Gilgamesh four thousand years ago.

paeng
10-09-2016, 03:12 PM
Similar in light of what I realized concerning limits to growth. Some details are shared in a study discussed here:

Limits to Growth was right. New research shows we're nearing collapse | Cathy Alexander and Graham Turner | Opinion | The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/02/limits-to-growth-was-right-new-research-shows-were-nearing-collapse)

Mr. Veech
10-09-2016, 03:23 PM
Truth be told, I oscillate between cold atheism and a relentless bitterness and hostility towards God. I read Scripture and attend church services every so often with the intent of finding some hope, but I always fall back to the dirt. This contradiction will probably tear me in half in the future if it hasn't already. I believe there's some merit to Nietzsche's claim (simplified) that a pessimist is a disappointed Christian.

It's embarrassing but also very painful, though I feel I won't be judged here. And to think that there's no cure for such a thing.

Pharpetron
10-09-2016, 03:51 PM
I can relate to your struggle, Mr. Veech. In spite of always having been an atheist and nihilist, I've also always found myself drawn towards Christianity. Not only do I read the Scriptures regularly, my interest in them is such that I've spent thousands of hours learning Koine Greek so that I can read the Gospels in the original. I constantly wrestle with my longing to join a local church, and always feel ridiculous and profoundly alienated for actually wanting to join the church in spite of the fact that I'm an atheist and nihilist.

It's nice to know I'm not the only one struggling with this kind of stuff, Mr. Veech.

Michael
10-09-2016, 05:26 PM
Mr. Veech (and Pharpetron) thank you so much for your comments. I think I struggle with a, for lack of a better word, shame for wanting to believe in the tenets of Christianity, a shame for thinking I could believe in something that (when I start deeply critiquing it) appears contradictory at best and cruel at worst. I have the experience (as I'm guessing many of you) of seeing "Christians" act cruel and callous and gleeful in this cruelty towards me personally and people I deeply loved. I have also had the opposite experience, seeing people who identify as Christian (and those who identify as Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist/Agnostic, etc) act deeply compassionate, charitable, and truly forgiving without any ulterior motive. I have no clear data. I grew up Catholic and thought (like maybe many here have) at some point that Buddhism would be a very live option for me. I never pulled the trigger on that (maybe because I use metaphors like "pull the trigger") but find myself struggling with this "shame," a shame I know is deeply rooted in a deep, deep anger towards what I experienced and witnessed in my past. I don't feel a shame for not wanting to believe in the tenets of Christianity. I feel a shame FOR wanting to believe in them as I've seen them used firsthand for so so many cruelties, seen them divide more than unite, seen them hurt more than heal and I think "how could I believe in something like that, that does such a thing" but then I go to the people I've known (regardless of their religious affiliations or lack thereof) who were truly "Christian."

All that's to say, that Ligotti's Philosophy personally resonates with me. It gives me a cosmology and epistemology that speaks to me on a guttural and day to day level. It helps me make sense of this world. It speaks to experiences I do not know, myself, how to articulate and to vastly oversimplify it tells me "it's okay to have this internal struggle and to believe or not believe the nightmare you see before you."

James
10-09-2016, 06:01 PM
The story of Jesus Christ largely doesn't speak to me, but the ideas of eternal damnation and sin do as a very depressive person who has always felt tainted on a spiritual level and that the waveform of pain is without end. I have become obsessed with religious ideas and iconography recently regarding suffering and hell. I might pop into a church some time.

Malone
10-10-2016, 03:51 AM
I'm not sure why people would feel embarrassed about wanting to believe in Christianity, or any other salvific worldview for that matter. The world as is is a hellhole, an abattoir, with no sign of justice anywhere. Who in their right mind, or with an ounce of empathy would not want it otherwise? This is not, of course, to say there is another way, but it certainly legitimises the quest.

qcrisp
10-10-2016, 07:32 AM
On a recent thread, which I can't now find, someone mentioned Camus' affirmation in spite of absurdity. In a way, this looks increasingly inevitable to me. What I mean is that 'meaninglessness', if it is total, collapses in on itself.

For instance, if I say that all that exists is matter, then I have essentially made it impossible ever to understand what matter is, and therefore I have said nothing; there is nothing other than 'matter' by which matter might be understood.

The case is similar if I say everything is meaningless.

Meaninglessness can never been used as a (moral) motivation, for instance, to end existence. It can allow for end or continuation, but it doesn't compel either.

If I positively want an end, I am already on the path of moral meaning. What could compel me to leave it? Only moral meaning itself. Therefore to leave the path is nonsensical. Therefore I submit to the path of moral meaning and see where it leads.

For me, it doesn't lead to procreation, but I will say no more.

Ibrahim
10-10-2016, 08:52 AM
...and what if we create two web sites instead of this one? One dedicated to the artistry and craft of mr. Ligotti's unique fictions, where the contributors can dream and infer and extrapolate from the fictions all that they like about the author's philosophies and their own; and another one, devoted to mr. Ligotti's philosophy alone, with his fiction interpreted as a direct mirror of it? And then perhaps yet a third site where asessment can be made or debated as to which of the former two gives more to our much-maligned humanity- the art or the philosophy?
By which i mean to say- i would like, as a reader, to retain the right to interpret art & fictions without too much help from their maker, and i believe the original post kind of muddles that prerogative, or evades it.
By which, again, i mean to say, i think, that it's difficult to answer the question because it implies mr. Ligotti is not an artist but a philosopher...

Ibrahim
10-10-2016, 03:40 PM
All my vacillating up there is because i am surprised that ( unless i am mistaken and have overlooked certain previous posts) we are not discussing aesthetic philosophy at all; i think mr. Crisp gestured at this by pointing out what he calls a basic contradiction between mr. Ligotti's work and philosophy, and i was merely attempting to steer the discussion in that direction again. Or is there no aesthetic philosophy at work in his oeuvre?

Robert Adam Gilmour
10-10-2016, 06:00 PM
I find it kind of surprising to hear atheists say they're attracted to their old religion. I like a lot of the ideas and art of Christianity, Hinduism and various pagan religions but I'm never attracted to the thing as a whole.

I think I'm like a lot of British protestants, brought up by a family who might as well have been atheists but they never gave it much thought, just going through the motions of social expectations and their level of belief was the same as their bigotry: it changed like the weather, based on whatever their emotional needs were at any given moment. No regard for consistency. Christianity for people in my area was just like a tv show people watched while eating their dinner but they didn't think about it, just a meaningless familiar routine. Saying you don't believe in God is not wholly unlike saying you don't watch X-Factor to some of these people. And Protestantism vs Catholicism was often pure sectarian soccer gang culture. Catholics were mocked for not wearing condoms and other vague prejudices that were probably not based on what most local Catholics actually did.

As a child, The Devil (never "Satan", always "The Devil") was just a folkloric bogeyman old people tried to scare you with and heaven was just pure wishful thinking (I used to ask people why don't we just kill ourselves and go to heaven, the idea that you'd be punished by God for this seemed too assholish to fit in with this wishful thinking) and the characters and stories of Christianity were no different from Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or Easter Bunny, you didn't really know if you believed in them and didn't give it much thought. Deciding to be an atheist as a teenager wasn't remotely eventful or any kind of big step.

Mr. Veech
10-15-2016, 10:55 PM
"There are basically two ways a pessimist can view the world. The first is to see it as fundamentally evil. It goes without saying that this perspective is usually accompanied by a great deal of religious assumptions. There are, for instance, strong echoes of this idea in Christianity, especially in its Gnostic form. Although this way of perceiving things is closer to the truth than most worldviews, I’ve found it ultimately unhealthy because it opens the mind to all sorts of anxieties regarding a deity who actively seeks to create as much suffering as possible. It is, I believe, far better to view the world as fundamentally “stupid.” Reason, or intelligence in the broadest sense, is not a primary feature of the everyday course of things. Instead of positing some evil intention behind our sufferings, we should recognize them as a sign of the world’s pitiless indifference with regard to human endeavors. If one adopts such a stance, it’s possible to avoid unnecessary disappointment simply because one’s expectations are lowered significantly."

~ Thoughts of an Incurable Pessimist

bendk
10-16-2016, 12:01 AM
"There are basically two ways a pessimist can view the world. The first is to see it as fundamentally evil. It goes without saying that this perspective is usually accompanied by a great deal of religious assumptions. There are, for instance, strong echoes of this idea in Christianity, especially in its Gnostic form. Although this way of perceiving things is closer to the truth than most worldviews, I’ve found it ultimately unhealthy because it opens the mind to all sorts of anxieties regarding a deity who actively seeks to create as much suffering as possible. It is, I believe, far better to view the world as fundamentally “stupid.” Reason, or intelligence in the broadest sense, is not a primary feature of the everyday course of things. Instead of positing some evil intention behind our sufferings, we should recognize them as a sign of the world’s pitiless indifference with regard to human endeavors. If one adopts such a stance, it’s possible to avoid unnecessary disappointment simply because one’s expectations are lowered significantly."

~ Thoughts of an Incurable Pessimist

I sincerely wish humanity would get over itself in terms of self-importance.

"Instead of positing some evil intention behind our sufferings, we should recognize them as a sign of the world’s pitiless indifference with regard to human endeavors."

Of course, this is obvious. But I object to the last phrase "with regard to human endeavors." As if the world shows any less "pitiless indifference" to any other organism. Ligotti clearly recognized this in his sympathy with Sakutaro's poem "The Face at the Bottom of the World."

Mr. Veech
10-16-2016, 12:12 AM
"There are basically two ways a pessimist can view the world. The first is to see it as fundamentally evil. It goes without saying that this perspective is usually accompanied by a great deal of religious assumptions. There are, for instance, strong echoes of this idea in Christianity, especially in its Gnostic form. Although this way of perceiving things is closer to the truth than most worldviews, I’ve found it ultimately unhealthy because it opens the mind to all sorts of anxieties regarding a deity who actively seeks to create as much suffering as possible. It is, I believe, far better to view the world as fundamentally “stupid.” Reason, or intelligence in the broadest sense, is not a primary feature of the everyday course of things. Instead of positing some evil intention behind our sufferings, we should recognize them as a sign of the world’s pitiless indifference with regard to human endeavors. If one adopts such a stance, it’s possible to avoid unnecessary disappointment simply because one’s expectations are lowered significantly."

~ Thoughts of an Incurable Pessimist

I sincerely wish humanity would get over itself in terms of self-importance.

"Instead of positing some evil intention behind our sufferings, we should recognize them as a sign of the world’s pitiless indifference with regard to human endeavors."

Of course, this is obvious. But I object to the last phrase "with regard to human endeavors." As if the world shows any less "pitiless indifference" to any other organism. Ligotti clearly recognized this in his sympathy with Sakutaro's poem "The Face at the Bottom of the World."

I would personally make a distinction between pain and suffering. Pain is felt by all organisms to some degree. Suffering, however, is pain which is accompanied by self-reflection or self-consciousness, a phenomenon unique to humanity. The "why" concerning pain is what is important, not so much the pain itself. I think Nietzsche, as much as I feel threatened by some of his criticisms, understood this better than most other thinkers. Pain is only intrinsically bad when it lacks a proper framework for understanding it.

I know that's not a very kind thing to say given that it implies that the rest of the animal kingdom doesn't suffer. Regardless, I believe the aforementioned distinction is partially why humanity occupies a special place with regard to these matters. I suppose I'm also fascinated by the fact that human consciousness can hold existence as a whole in contempt; but I'm sure that's only a false form of transcendence.

bendk
10-16-2016, 12:55 AM
"There are basically two ways a pessimist can view the world. The first is to see it as fundamentally evil. It goes without saying that this perspective is usually accompanied by a great deal of religious assumptions. There are, for instance, strong echoes of this idea in Christianity, especially in its Gnostic form. Although this way of perceiving things is closer to the truth than most worldviews, I’ve found it ultimately unhealthy because it opens the mind to all sorts of anxieties regarding a deity who actively seeks to create as much suffering as possible. It is, I believe, far better to view the world as fundamentally “stupid.” Reason, or intelligence in the broadest sense, is not a primary feature of the everyday course of things. Instead of positing some evil intention behind our sufferings, we should recognize them as a sign of the world’s pitiless indifference with regard to human endeavors. If one adopts such a stance, it’s possible to avoid unnecessary disappointment simply because one’s expectations are lowered significantly."

~ Thoughts of an Incurable Pessimist

I sincerely wish humanity would get over itself in terms of self-importance.

"Instead of positing some evil intention behind our sufferings, we should recognize them as a sign of the world’s pitiless indifference with regard to human endeavors."

Of course, this is obvious. But I object to the last phrase "with regard to human endeavors." As if the world shows any less "pitiless indifference" to any other organism. Ligotti clearly recognized this in his sympathy with Sakutaro's poem "The Face at the Bottom of the World."

I would personally make a distinction between pain and suffering. Pain is felt by all organisms to some degree. Suffering, however, is pain which is accompanied by self-reflection or self-consciousness, a phenomenon unique to humanity. The "why" concerning pain is what is important, not so much the pain itself. I think Nietzsche, as much as I feel threatened by some of his criticisms, understood this better than most other thinkers. Pain is only intrinsically bad when it lacks a proper framework for understanding it.

I know that's not a very kind thing to say given that it implies that the rest of the animal kingdom doesn't suffer. Regardless, I believe the aforementioned distinction is partially why humanity occupies a special place with regard to these matters. I suppose I'm also fascinated by the fact that human consciousness can hold existence as a whole in contempt; but I'm sure that's only a false form of transcendence.

I have to disagree. There are many examples in the animal kingdom of "suffering". Two examples that I can think of offhand are of chimpanzees. One chimpanzee's mother was killed for bushmeat and was put on a spit over a fire to roast. The child clung to her body over the fire until it also died. Another just stayed by it's mother, who was killed, until it starved to death. Humanity views our inability to understand other species as a failure on their part to communicate, and as a sign of our superiority. I find it contemptible.

Druidic
10-16-2016, 01:00 AM
I speak from experience.

When you experience pain that not even morphine can touch there is NO self-reflection. Your identity is GONE. Simple as that.

Animals experience monstrous pain the same as humans--at least from my observations.

bendk
10-16-2016, 01:05 AM
I speak from experience.

When you experience pain that not even morphine can touch there is NO self-reflection. Your identity is GONE. Simple as that.

Animals experience monstrous pain the same as humans--at least from my observations.

I have experienced the same, Druidic. The best articulation in literature that I have read was in Charlotte Delbo's Holocaust memoir Auschwitz and After.

Mr. Veech
10-16-2016, 01:11 AM
I speak from experience.

When you experience pain that not even morphine can touch there is NO self-reflection. Your identity is GONE. Simple as that.

Animals experience monstrous pain the same as humans--at least from my observations.

I'm open to the possibility that I'm working with a very narrow conception of suffering. I suppose my experience with mental pain has clouded my vision to some extent.

I realize I'm boring when it comes to debating. I'd rather learn something new from someone than defend any specific position.

Druidic
10-16-2016, 01:24 AM
Self-reflection can even make human pain more bearable...at a certain level of pain. You think to yourself, "This won't last forever, I have people who love me, there are good things in my life," whatever. An animal is trapped in an 'eternal' moment of pain.

Of course this human trick doesn't work if the pain is monstrous. At that point your consciousness is just a screaming nonentity.

Druidic
10-16-2016, 01:31 AM
You are NOT boring Mr. Veech, I find your posts very interesting. Keep 'em coming.

Mr. Veech
10-16-2016, 01:36 AM
Self-reflection can even make human pain more bearable...at a certain level of pain. You think to yourself, "This won't last forever, I have people who love me, there are good things in my life," whatever. An animal is trapped in an 'eternal' moment of pain.

Of course this human trick doesn't work if the pain is monstrous. At that point your consciousness is just a screaming nonentity.

That's a very good point. Human beings have at least the capacity to "situate" their pain within an intelligible framework. I like to think of human beings as storytelling animals, so I think "narrative" can actually be substituted for "framework." I also suspect that every narrative is tantamount to a theodicy.

I guess my opinions on these matters is probably too informed by my former interest in both hermeneutics and the so-called problem of evil.

Zaharoff
05-07-2017, 06:27 PM
Late post. Still working my way through old threads.

Can’t say I buy into Ligotti’s philosophy where I am on my path.
When I was younger, oh sure, catch phrase of “Life sucks, then you die,” was funny and relevant.
Ligotti’s morbidity was a bracing change coming out of the hedonistic 70s, going into the glossy, shallower 80s, when few of us grasped the ramifications of Reagan and Thatcher.
Now, like I care.
The shadow behind me lengthens, my future offers less and sorrier choices.
Ligotti and I are very close in age, and I wonder if one of the reasons his output has slacked is because his worldview has softened. Perish the thought if he penned an inspirational tome. Consequences to future reprints could be dire. So he's quiet. (Just a thought.)
Everyone hears in silence what they want.
Kinda like the Afterlife.
My belief is that people “get" what they believe they will get.
Harps, prayers, the family gathered on the far shore.
Or gliding into the great golden belt.
Or nothingness.
The potentialities are boundless.
But I ain’t rollin’ with the gloomsters.

James
05-07-2017, 07:55 PM
The story of Jesus Christ largely doesn't speak to me, but the ideas of eternal damnation and sin do as a very depressive person who has always felt tainted on a spiritual level and that the waveform of pain is without end. I have become obsessed with religious ideas and iconography recently regarding suffering and hell. I might pop into a church some time.

I still need to do this. Seems awkward just turning up.

gveranon
05-07-2017, 08:37 PM
Ligotti and I are very close in age, and I wonder if one of the reasons his output has slacked is because his worldview has softened. Perish the thought if he penned an inspirational tome. Consequences to future reprints could be dire. So he's quiet. (Just a thought.)


There is fairly recent evidence that he hasn't changed his mind. In an interview (https://www.pixartprinting.co.uk/blog/interview-with-thomas-ligotti/) published a little over a year ago, he said, "In my opinion, which is based on my particular experience and nothing more, life is fundamentally a nightmare that ends only when we die."

On the subject of interviews, I think Yellowish Haze mentioned that a new interview was recently published in Poland. I haven't seen that one. And there will be a new interview in Matt Cardin's Horror Literature through History, to be published in September.

Dr. Locrian
05-07-2017, 11:24 PM
Tom's worldview definitely has not lightened. I can verify that.

Jeff Matthews
05-08-2017, 12:10 AM
The story of Jesus Christ largely doesn't speak to me, but the ideas of eternal damnation and sin do as a very depressive person who has always felt tainted on a spiritual level and that the waveform of pain is without end. I have become obsessed with religious ideas and iconography recently regarding suffering and hell. I might pop into a church some time.

I still need to do this. Seems awkward just turning up.

As someone who grew up going to several churches, take my word that, unless it's a tiny tiny congregation, it won't be awkward in the least. New people attend every single service. Which denomination did you have in mind?

Frater_Tsalal
05-08-2017, 01:23 AM
While on the subject, a number of years ago (I think it may have been the year 2010) I decided to attend Mass at a local church one Sunday. I was very nervous about this because I was worried that I would look out of place, but no one really seemed to take notice... it was still an unusual experience though as it was the first time I had ever attended Mass by myself (rather than with my family), and I still felt out of place. I think I went again a few weeks later but never felt compelled to return to that particular church again after that.

There is another local church I've been drawn to, though I've never set foot inside the building yet: from the outside it's very impressive to look at, one of those old-timey big churches that they just don't make anymore (but which are fairly common where I live). I think the main reason why I haven't done so yet (well, there are many reasons) is I worry that I might get attached to the place, and I have a feeling that it's one of those parishes that is on its way out: it doesn't even have a permanent priest, and whenever parishes are closed down or consolidated, it's always the beautiful old churches that suffer (whereas the smaller, uglier ones aren't effected at all). The city where I live was once a bastion of French-Canadian immigrants (and for this reason it was shunned by Lovecraft), and back in the early-to-mid 20th century had quite a vibrant Catholic community... it's all slowly been ebbing away, though, from the early 1970's on. I don't know why that depresses me, but it does... the vanishing of one's childhood and all that (though I was born in 1980).

Malone
05-08-2017, 05:28 AM
I don't have any religious faith (I stopped using the word 'Atheist' when it became synonymous with ignorant, self-righteous a**hole), but I too am saddened by the destruction of churches and other places of worship. To my mind, it's just another sign of the complete crass materialisation of absolutely everything, and the fact that only money matters now. Regardless of one's philosophical views, the aspiration toward transcendence and the desire for something higher has always struck me as a noble and perfectly rational thing. To see everything being leveled for the pig-pit depresses me deeply.

Zaharoff
05-08-2017, 12:36 PM
There is fairly recent evidence that he hasn't changed his mind. In an interview (https://www.pixartprinting.co.uk/blog/interview-with-thomas-ligotti/) published a little over a year ago, he said, "In my opinion, which is based on my particular experience and nothing more, life is fundamentally a nightmare that ends only when we die."

You are right, and I am wrong.
I was overlaying a mis-assumption that people change as they age.
That is not necessarily true, and I know that.
I personally know many individuals who have not changed their behavior, opinions, outlook, since their middle school days.
In some ways, this is reassuring.
When I visit, they are as predictable as a McDonald's menu.
In other ways, they sadden me.
Our residency here is brief; I hold the hope that everyone has the chance to grow and flower.

ToALonelyPeace
05-08-2017, 02:53 PM
I've been reading Ligotti's interviews. My favorite is this one (http://mumpsimus.blogspot.com/2007/10/conversation-with-thomas-ligotti.html) where he stated many of the things I want to say but never could formulate.

This absence of understanding on the part of others is something that a great many people must live with. There are plenty of forms of suffering for which an individual is accorded all kinds of concern and benefits. The reason for this is that most people have suffered in a multitude of the same or similar ways, even it’s just a broken bone. Others get nothing simply because what they suffer is relatively rare. I’m not saying that this state of affairs is just or unjust, deserved or undeserved. It’s just the way it is. Mr. Ligotti and I have much more in common than I previously thought when I posted in this thread. My pessimism stems from childhood suffering which as much as I tried to explain over and over again, can never be adequately expressed. I was born poor and sick in a third world country. I remembered in first grade there was a lesson where we had to cut a cat out of colored papers. I didn't have any paper or scissor and was terribly worried because the teacher would beat you up if you had nothing. I looked around and finally found some scraps in the trashcan to cut the cat out but I was still worried whether that was considered stealing or not (I got into trouble stealing a colored eraser before). If the teacher found out and reported it to my dad, I would get beaten up again. Sometimes I would get beaten up for reasons I didn't understand. If I had any reprieve, it was due to my severe asthma and stomach problems making me unable to breath or eat. The adults left me alone, since they thought I faked my sickness and if I was left alone I would stop faking it. And what could I do? Where to turn when society's design was to crush me? I couldn't place all the faults on my parents either, because they were poor and beaten themselves. Poverty made their love brutal but they didn't understand that and it wasn't because of stupidity. They were teachers, educated members of society, and didn't lack understanding in history, logic, or philosophy. So why?

And I have many more "Why?" for the world, such as Why poverty? Why injustice? Ligotti mentioned in an interview he wished people would be more concerned with justice. I am a pessimist because the impossibility of justice haunts me. I know the saying "only idealists become pessimists" but this seems to suggest everyone should be born with the preconceived view that this world is impossibly ####ed up and one shouldn't expect anything. How could I have known in the womb the torture and death I would witness and I myself would suffer? That when I ask "What was it all for?" I can only receive the answer "It is the way the world is" ? Sometimes my disgust with life is too much to swallow and I feel I would scream like a lunatic and they would lock me away for good. I envy the stone for its everlasting silence without effort because any moment now I might explode and everything would fall apart again.

Frater_Tsalal
05-08-2017, 02:54 PM
Well, I think that most people fall into two dominant categories: those who look towards the future and those who look towards the past. And though I try to move with the times I've always pretty much fallen into the latter category, being prone to nostalgia, though I'm aware that it's easy to look at the past with rose-colored glasses. I can't really say that I idealize the past... sometimes I just miss it.

The city where I live (Woonsocket, Rhode Island) came to prominence due to a number of textile mills and factories that sprung up along the sides of the Blackstone River back in the 19th century. By the time I was born in 1980, many of those mills had fallen into decline and a great majority of them were boarded up and abandoned. I always thought those buildings had a derelict glamor, and perhaps the fact that my grandfather worked at one for so many years has something to do with it (though I wouldn't have wanted to actually work in one, as they were very dangerous: one shift my grandfather saw someone's arm get ripped off by one of the machines). I think that's one reason why, when I discovered Lovecraft's work in college, I responded to it so much, because in some ways the seedy and derelict towns he described (such as Innsmouth: essentially, 19th century industrial cities that had fallen on hard times) reminded me of the city I myself lived in. Sadly Woonsocket is now a "city on the move" (to quote a loathsome slogan adopted by the place), and many of those old and abandoned mills have been torn down and replaced with generic office buildings: I can see why the city would want to do so because they were eyesores and fire hazards, and yet... and yet...

One of my favorite buildings in Woonsocket is a place known as St. Ann's Church, another of those old-time churches. The place closed down around the year 2000 and there was talk of it being destroyed. Luckily a number of years ago some non-profit group purchased the place, renovated it, and now they hold tours there every Sunday. I went on one of these tours years ago (again, back in 2010), and I'm really glad it wasn't torn down because while the exterior is impressive, the interior is even more amazing. It houses the largest collection of fresco paintings in North America, and has even been dubbed "The Sistine Chapel of America" (for the curious, here's a link to the place's website: http://www.stannartsandculturalcenter.org/) The fact that this incredible church is located in Woonsocket, Rhode Island (of all the places in the world) is even more astonishing: I liken it to wandering through a dump and stumbling across a Salvador Dali painting. Shortly after the tour I took I managed to get my hands on a copy of a book that was put out by the church (in 1990) to celebrate the parish's 100 year anniversary. It was through that book that I found out a lot of details about what the city was like back in the day, and it made me sad when I realized how much of that's been lost: practically an entire culture.

One more nostalgic digression. I've never been a big fan of my parent's church, despite attending Mass there religiously every Sunday for the first 18 years or so of my life (by the time I was around 18 or 19 I no longer considered myself a Catholic). It's very bland-looking in terms of architecture: I joke that it looks like a typical post-Vatican II church, despite the fact it was actually built back in the 1950's. I try to avoid going there as often as I can, but I make a few exceptions: Easter, Christmas, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and sometimes anniversary masses done in tribute to my deceased grandparents. My least favorite aspect of the church is the music director, who has an extremely nasal and grating voice. I do, however, enjoy going to the midnight Mass with my family at Christmas every year. Mainly because that Mass is the one time of the year they have a special guest singer. This guest singer is an old gentleman, always immaculately dressed in a suit and tie, and he only has one role: after Communion, the band plays "O Holy Night," and at one point during this song the old gentleman sings the version of the song in French, and he has a really beautiful voice, almost like an opera singer. It's something I've always found intensely moving, and it strikes me as sad and out of place in some ways... of course, back in the early 20th century, more people in Woonsocket spoke French than English, so I assume that all of the Masses must have had singing like that. To me the old gentleman is both symbolic of the city's fading French-Canadian heritage, and also of the fading nobility of the Catholic Church... two relics of the old school. I don't know... maybe one needs to be a lapsed Catholic to truly find it poignant.

Druidic
05-08-2017, 03:25 PM
Only on really bad days. And I have my share.

But I prefer the wisdom of "The Happy Pessimist."

gveranon
05-08-2017, 03:53 PM
Our residency here is brief; I hold the hope that everyone has the chance to grow and flower.

This makes me think of Ligotti's Chymist: "Now rose of madness--BLOOM!"

cannibal cop
05-09-2017, 05:45 PM
When I first discovered antinatalism, years ago, my initial reaction was skepticism. I still held some naïve hope for the future, still believed that, against all the odds, there was something worthwhile to strive for. All that homely wisdom about how life, in itself, was a gift, and something to be cherished and preserved at all costs.

Now I finally understand how hilariously, hopelessly wrong I had been all along.

James
05-09-2017, 06:12 PM
My own personal philosophy is that I can not trust my senses or stores of information about anything and that I have no reason to prioritise matter over mood or history over the imagined or to believe in anything merely because I believe in it.

A common question I get asked is how do I function with this belief without falling into a type of schizophrenic breakdown of self, and the answer is that it's ####ING DIFFICULT.