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“ In the end, of course, we remain puppets and our smiles are still painted ones. But now at least we have moistened them with our own blood. ”
  Thomas Ligotti - “Professor Nobody's Little Lectures on Supernatural Horror”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 01-25-2009 #413

“ On a December morning, about an hour before sun-up, the artist was released from work and began his walk home through a narrow alley that ran behind several blocks of various stores and businesses along the suburb's main avenue. A light snow had fallen during the night, settling evenly upon the pavement of the alley and glowing in the light of a full moon which seemed to hover just at the alley's end. The artist saw a figure in the distance, and something about this figure, this winter-morning vision, made him pause for a moment and stare. Although he had a trained eye for sizing and perspective, the artist found this silhouette of a person in the distance of the alley intensely problematic. He could not tell if it was short or tall, or even if it was moving - either toward him or away from him - or was standing still. Then, in a moment of hallucinated wonder, the figure stood before him in the middle of the alley.

The moonlight illuminated a little man who was entirely unclothed and who held out both of his hands as if he were grasping at a desired object just out of his reach. But the artist saw that something was wrong with these hands. While the little man's body was pale, his hands were dark and were too large for the tiny arms on which they hung. At first the artist believed the little man to be wearing oversized mittens. His hands seemed to be covered by some kind of fuzz, just as the alley in which he stood was layered with the fuzziness of the snow that had fallen during the night. His hands looked soft and fuzzy like the snow, except that the snow was white and his hands were black.

In the moonlight the artist came to see that the mittens worn by this little man were actually something like the paws of an animal. It almost made sense to the artist to have thought that the little man's hands were actually paws which had only appeared to be two black mittens. Then each of the paws separated into long thin fingers that wriggled wildly in the moonlight. But they could not have been the fingers of a hand, because there were too many of them. And the hands were not paws, nor were the paws really mittens. And all of this time the little man was becoming smaller and smaller in the moonlight of that alley, as if he were moving into the distance far away from the artist who was hypnotized by this vision. Finally a little voice spoke which the artist could barely hear, and it said to him: 'I cannot keep them away from me anymore, I am becoming so small and weak.' These words suddenly made this whole winter-morning scenario into something that was too much even for the self-styled 'visceral artist.'
  Thomas Ligotti - “Teatro Grottesco”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 01-25-2009 #414

“ 'Now will you leave me?' she said. 'Even for myself there is nothing I can do any longer. You know what I am saying, child. All those years the dreams had been kept away. But you have consorted with them, I know you did. I have made a mistake with you. You let my angel be poisoned by the dreams which you could not deny. It was an angel, did you know that? It was pure of all thinking and pure of all dreaming. And you are the one who made it think and dream and now it is dying. And it is dying not as an angel, but as a demon. Do you want to see what it is like now?' she said, gesturing toward a door that led into the cellar of her house. 'Yes, it is down there because it is not the way it was and could not remain where it was. It crawled away with its own body, the body of a demon. And it has its own dreams, the dreams of a demon. It is dreaming and dying of its dreams. And I am dying too, because all the dreams have come back.' ”
  Thomas Ligotti - “Mrs. Rinaldi's Angel”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 01-25-2009 #415

“ Around Christmastime these many-faceted windows took on a candied glaze in the pink, blue, green, and other-colored lights strung about their perimeters. More often in the old days - Remember them, Jack - a thick December fog rolled off the not-yet-frozen lake and those kaleidoscopic windows would throw their spectrums into the softening mist. This, to my child's senses, was the image and atmosphere defining the winter holiday: a serene congregation of colors whose confused murmurings divulged to this world rumors of strange and solemn services that were concurrently taking place in another. This was the celebration, this the festival. ”
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Christmas Eves of Aunt Elise”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 01-25-2009 #416

“ He was one of them now, crying like a baby! But I have kept the best part, all his beautiful memories, all those lovely times we had - the children, the presents, the colors of those nights! Anyhow, they are mine now. Tell us of those years, Old Jack, the years that were never yours. They were always mine, and now I have them to play with like toys according to my will. Oh, how nice and lovely to have my little home. How nice and lovely to live in a land where it's always dead with darkness, and where it's always alive with lights! And where it will always, forever after, be just like Christmas Eve. ”
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Christmas Eves of Aunt Elise”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 01-25-2009 #417

“ And while I am being accosted by people who need cures or aids for their worldliness, I am watching you, dear somnambule. Watching you waltz about this remarkable room. It is not like the other rooms in this great house. Someone let Fancy have its wild way in here. It harkens back to a time, centuries ago, when your somnambulating predecessors did their sleepwalking act for high society. You fit in so well with this room of leftover rococo. It's a delight to see you make your way about the irregular circumference of this room, where the wall undulates in gentle peaks and hollows, its surface sinewed with a maze of chinoiserie. The serpentine pattern makes it difficult to distinguish the wall’s recesses from its protrusions. Some of the guests shift their weight wallwards and find themselves leaning on air, stumbling sideways like comedians from an old movie. But you, my perfect sleepwalker, have no trouble; you lean at the right times and in the right places. And your eyes play beautifully to whatever camera focuses on you; indeed, you take so many of your cues from others that one might suspect you of having no life of your own. Let's sincerely hope not!

Now I watch as you are encouraged to be seated in an elegant chair of blinding brocade, its delicate arms the texture of cartilage and its color like some powdery disc in a woman's cosmetics case. Your high heels make subtle points in the intricate scheme of the carpet, puncturing its arabesque flights of imagination. Now I watch as our host draws you over to the bar he has hospitably set up in this cornerless room. He waves his hand and indicates to you the many bottleshapes to choose from, shapes both normale and baroque. The baroquely shaped bottles are doing more interesting things with light and shadow than their normal brothers, and you select one of these with a gesture of robotic finesse. He pours two drinks while you watch, and while you watch I am watching you watch. Guiding you to another part of the room, he shows you a tableful of delicate figurines, each one caught in a paralyzed stance of some ancient dance. He places one of them in your hand, and you pass it back and forth before your unfocused eyes, as if trying to awaken yourself with this distraction of movement. But you never will, not without my help.
  Thomas Ligotti - “Drink to Me Only with Labyrinthine Eyes”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 01-25-2009 #418

“ 'Enough,' said the mage without raising his voice.

'Enough,' the madman repeated. 'And so have I said numberless times. But there is no end, there is no hope. And this endless, hopeless torment incites me with a desire to turn its power on others, even to dream of turning it on all. To see the world drown in oceans of agony is the only vision which now brings me any relief from my madness, from a madness which is not of this world.'

'Though neither is it of any other world,' said the mage in the same quiet voice.

'But I have also had visions of butchering the angels,' replied the madman, as if to argue the absolute hopelessness of his mania.

'You have envisioned precisely what you believe you have not envisioned. But how could you have known this, when it is the nature of what you have seen - this anima mundi of the oldest philosophers and alchemists - to deceive and to pose as the soul of another world, not the soul of the world we know? There is only one world and one soul of that world, which appears in beauty or in boredom or in madness according to how deeply anima mundi has revealed itself to you. It is something which is not there when you look and there again when you look away.'
  Thomas Ligotti - “Masquerade of a Dead Sword”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 01-25-2009 #419

“ As always, there was no one else in the church at this time of day (and with hours remaining of it). Everything was very simple inside, very solemn and quiet and serenely lighted. The dark-paned windows along either wall confused all time, bending dawns into twilights, suspending minutes in eternity. Alb Indys slid into a pew at the back and rested his hands at his sides. His eyes were fixed on the distant apse, where everything - pillars, pictures, pulpit - appeared as an unfocused fragment of itself, folded within shadows that seemed to be the creation of dark hours. But his insomnia was not at issue here: suffering and transgressions alike were reprieved in this place that shut out time. He followed each moment as it tried to move past him: each was smothered by the stillness, and he watched them die. 'But trouble feeds in the wind and hides in the window,' he drowsily said to himself from somewhere inside his now dreaming brain. ”
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Troubles of Dr. Thoss”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 01-25-2009 #420

“ Just so is she attired when the glitter-browed villain peers in her apartment window, accursing the casement and her dreams. What can she do but shrink with terror? Soon she is only doll-size in dark doll's costume. Nevertheless, quivering bones and feverish blood are the stuffings of this doll, its entrails tickled by fear's funereal plume. It flies to a corner of the room and cringes within enormous shadows, sometimes dreaming there throughout the night - of carriage wheels rioting in a lavender mist or a pearly fog, of nacreous fires twitching beyond the margins of country roads, of cliffs and stars. Then she awakes and pops a mint into her mouth from an unravelled roll on the nightstand, afterwards smoking half a cigarette before crawling out of bed and grimacing in the light of late afternoon. ”
  Thomas Ligotti - “Eye of the Lynx”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 01-25-2009 #421

“ The singing abruptly stopped and the towering white-haired figure began to speak. He was welcoming those of the new generation - twenty winters had passed since the 'Pure Ones' had expanded their ranks. The word 'pure' in this setting was a violence to what sense and composure I still retained, for nothing could have been more foul than what was to come. Thoss - and I employ this defunct identity only as a convenience - closed his sermon and drew closer to the dark-skinned altar. Then, with all the flourish of his former life, he drew back the topmost covering. Beneath it was a limp-limbed effigy, a collapsed puppet sprawled upon the slab. I was standing toward the rear of the congregation and attempted to keep as close to the exit passage as I could. Thus, I did not see everything as clearly as I might have. ”
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Last Feast of Harlequin”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 01-25-2009 #422

“ And even when I abandoned my home, with its hideous attic storeroom, Plomb still followed me in my dreams. He now travels with me to the ends of the earth, initiating me night after night into his unspeakable wonders. I can only hope that we will not meet in another place, one where the mysteries are always new and dreams never end. Oh, Plomb, will you not stay in that box where they have put your riven body? ”
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Spectacles in the Drawer”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 01-25-2009 #423

“ As I reached the first landing of the stairway, I nearly overlooked the figure standing motionless in a corner. This was certainly the newcomer to the school whose presence had been foretold to me. He was almost naked and his skin was of a darkness, an excremental darkness, that made him blend into the obscurity of the stairwell. His face was leathery and deeply lined, incredibly old, while the hair surrounding it was stringy and had been hung with objects that looked like tiny bones and teeth. They were tied up within long strands of hair and jangled in the darkness. Around the neck of this figure was a rope or thin strap which was strung with little skulls, dismembered claws, and whole withered bodies of creatures I could not name. Although I stood for some moments quite near to the ancient savage, he took no notice of me. His large, fierce eyes stared upwards, fixed upon the heights of the stairwell. His thin peeling lips were alive with a silent language, mouthing words without sound. But I could not read his speech and so turned away from him. ”
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Night School”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 01-25-2009 #424

“ At certain times I could almost dissolve entirely into this inner realm of awful purity and emptiness. I remember those invisible moments when in disguise I drifted through the streets of Mirocaw, untouched by the drunken, noisy forms around me: untouchable. But instantly I recoil at this grotesque nostalgia, for I realize what is happening and what I do not want to be true, though Thoss proclaimed it was. I recall his command to those others as I lay helplessly prone in the tunnel. They could have apprehended me, but Thoss, my old master, called them back. His voice echoed throughout that cavern, and it now reverberates within my own psychic chambers of memory.

'He is one of us,' it said. 'He has always been one of us.'

It is this voice which now fills my dreams and my days and my long winter nights. I have seen you, Dr. Thoss, through the snow outside my window. Soon I will celebrate, alone, that last feast which will kill your words, only to prove how well I have learned their truth.
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Last Feast of Harlequin”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 01-25-2009 #425

“ The greatest secret, which appears in no religious doctrine and is found nowhere in the world's overburdened library of myths and fables nor receives the slightest mention in any philosopher's system or scientist's speculation... The greatest secret, perhaps the only secret, is that the universe, all of creation, owes its existence to a degenerate little town. ”
  Thomas Ligotti - “This Degenerate Little Town”
Added by: Steve Dekorte on 03-01-2010 #426

“ And if it were possible to strip away the scenery that surrounds us, to pull up the landscape of every planet, to rip away the skies and shove away the stars and sun, to tear from ourselves our own flesh and delve deep into our bones, we would find it standing their eternal, the origin of all things visible or invisible, the source of everything that is or can be, this degenerate little town. ”
  Thomas Ligotti - “This Degenerate Little Town”
Added by: Steve Dekorte on 03-01-2010 #427

“ And then we would discover it's twisted streets and titling houses. It's decaying ground and rotting sky. And with our own eyes we would see the diseased faces peeking from grimy windows. Then we would realize why it is such a secret. The greatest and most vile secret. This degenerate little town where everything began and from whose core of corruption everything seeps out... ”
  Thomas Ligotti - “This Degenerate Little Town”
Added by: Steve Dekorte on 03-01-2010 #428

“ There are those among us who claim to have seen this degenerate little town, although they may be unaware of it's true nature. There are those who have emerged from some painful ordeal of the body or of the mind, and then come speaking of how they saw in the distance an outline of crooked houses tilting this way or that, or walked along some twisted street, and felt the ground soft with decay beneath their steps, or even glimpsed those diseased faces, their skin rough and pale as plaster, peeking from behind grimy windows. But those who have claimed to have seen such things always tell a somewhat different story - failing to compose a consistent picture of what they may have seen, or imagine they have seen. And so we stare at them suspiciously for a moment, and then start to walk away, leaving them to their lies or their illusions, which of course are the very essence of this degenerate little town. ”
  Thomas Ligotti - “This Degenerate Little Town”
Added by: Steve Dekorte on 03-01-2010 #429

“ Yet how much slack do you give to what you believe is a lie, even a lie that holds steady the social order and braces up everything you have become accustomed to your most cherished image of yourself, your country, your loved ones, and the value you place on your work, your hobbies, your possessions, your "way of life"?

How much slack do you give to what you believe to be a lie before you say you have had it with lies, before you forsake everything to live with what you really think and feel about the way things are? How much slack? Answer: all the slack in the world.
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Conspiracy Against the Human Race”
Added by: Steve Dekorte on 03-01-2010 #430

“ The earth is not our home. We came from nothing, and to that condition our nostalgia should turn. ”
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Conspiracy Against the Human Race”
Added by: Steve Dekorte on 03-01-2010 #431

“ Depressing" is the adjective that ordinary persons affix to the life-perspectives expressed by men such as Zapffe, Schopenhauer, and Lovecraft. The doctrines of any world-class religion, dolorous as some of them are, will never be similarly defamed. The world dotes on its lunatics, whether saintly or sadistic, and commemorates their careers. Psychopaths make terrific material for news agencies and movie studios; their exploits always draw a crowd. But the moment a discouraging word is spoken, some depressing knowledge, that crowd either disperses or goes on the attack. It is depression not madness that cows us, demoralization not insanity that we dread, disillusionment of the mind not its derangement that imperils our culture of hope. ”
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Conspiracy Against the Human Race”
Added by: Steve Dekorte on 03-01-2010 #432

“ Newsflash: anyone who must receive instruction in morality will not benefit from it. Those concerned with morality are not the ones who need concern themselves with morality. The ones who need to be concerned with morality are those who will never be concerned with morality.

Ask any sociopath, whose deficit of fellow-feeling is evened out by others with a hyper-developed, unhealthy sense of moral responsibility. The latter group will take on the guilt from which the remorseless are spared, blaming themselves for tragedies they cannot lawfully or logically be connected with. One is as helpless as the other to be anything but what they are, morally speaking. Everyone in between these groups will go with the wind.

The majority cannot be taught how to feel about their behavior, only bludgeoned or cajoled into doing one thing or another. Rewards and punishments may be effective, but there can never be a mathematics of morality. Either the chemistry and neurology are there or they are not.
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Conspiracy Against the Human Race”
Added by: Steve Dekorte on 03-01-2010 #433

“ Effigies of ourselves made by our own hands and minds, puppets were created to be actors in a world of their own, one that exists inside of ours and reflects back upon it. What do we see in that reflection? Only what we want to see, what we can stand to see. Through the prophylactic of self-illusion, we hide from what we fear to let into our heads. But puppets have nothing to hide. They are more than willing to betray a secret too terrible for us to know.

Our lives are full of baffling questions that virtuosos of speculation trifle with and the rest of us forget about. Naked apes or embodied angels we perhaps may be, but not self-conscious nothings. We are somebodies who move freely about and think what we choose. Puppets are not like that. They have nothing in their heads. They are unreal. When they are in motion, we know they are moved by an outside force. When they speak, their voices come from elsewhere. Their orders come from somewhere behind and beyond them. And were they ever to become aware of that fact, they would collapse at the horror of it all, as would we.
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Conspiracy Against the Human Race”
Added by: Steve Dekorte on 03-01-2010 #434

“ One gasps to hear scientists swooning over the universe or any part thereof like schoolgirls overheated by their first crush. (Albert Einstein, Karl Popper, Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, many others.) From the studies of Krafft-Ebbing onward, we know that it is possible to become excited about anything - from shins to shoes. But it would be nice if just one of these gushing eggheads would step back and, as a concession to objectivity, speak the truth: THERE IS NOTHING INATELY IMPRESSIVE ABOUT THE UNIVERSE OR ANYTHING IN IT. ”
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Conspiracy Against the Human Race”
Added by: Steve Dekorte on 03-01-2010 #435

“ While writing is a solitary business, few writers are solitaries. Most write as members of society and witnesses of the times in which they live. They respond to the heads around them and put their heads together with theirs. If their works seem bizarre to the general reader, it is because they are writing from within a social circle of bizarre heads. (Example: participants in literary movements with or without manifestos.) These are not solitaries, who write from inside their own heads and whose writing cannot be understood solely within the compass of a specific place or by the clock of a specific time.

Solitary writers come out of nowhere and do not belong anywhere. They are not domesticated or socialized, not as writers. Their subject is not the world about them but the one within them. From story to story or poem to poem, they repeat themselves because all they have to work with are themselves and their dreams, which are strange dreams and often bad dreams. As anyone knows, nothing is more troublesome to communicate than yourself and your dreams, the feelings and visions that have molded you into what you are. So solitaries such as Lovecraft and Poe had their work cut out for them . . . and only them.
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Conspiracy Against the Human Race”
Added by: Steve Dekorte on 03-01-2010 #436

“ For all practical purposes almost no one is concerned with THE BIG NEWS. They have other things, more urgent matters inscribed within their skulls and all kinds of business to carry out. Their heads are just too heavy with so many plans and schemes, thousands of tasks that will not allow them to focus on anything that is so strange, anything that is so uncertain. They have no time to confront some ultimate revelation. They have no desire to find out so incredibly BIG NEWS. Such a thing would take everything they know and arrange it in another way altogether, telling a story so different from the one that is already familiar to them. NO ONE KNOWS THE BIG NEWS.
Yet THE BIG NEWS is always there. Like a tiny voice on a radio it chatters away through heavy static in a darkened room where people are trying to sleep, filling their heads with plans and schemes, inscribing thousands of tasks and urgent matters inside of their skulls, all kinds of business to carry out - fools errands, odd jobs, atrocities both great and small - all of which when taken together arrange things a different way that compose a secret story that no one cares to make their concern, yet THE BIG NEWS is always there. And so few will ever seek to discover, and none of them will ever be allowed to tell, that we ourselves are the dark language in which THE BIG NEWS is forever being written.
  Thomas Ligotti - “NO ONE KNOWS THE BIG NEWS”
Added by: sundog on 02-11-2012 #437

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