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“ Even when we ventured to lay our hands on that mass of darkness, we found only greater mysteries. For there was almost no tangible aspect to it, merely a hint of material sensation, barely the feel of wind or water. It seemed to possess no more substance than a few shifting flames, but flames of only the slightest warmth, black flames that have curled together to take on the molten texture of spoiled fruit. And there was a vague sense of circulation, as though a kind of serpentine life swirled gently within. ”
 
 
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Shadow at the Bottom of the World”
Added by: Dr. Bantham on 06-09-2007 #12

“ Now he directs you to a part of the room where there is soft music and dancing. But there are no windows in this room, only tall smoky mirrors, and as you pass from one end to the other you are caught between foggy looking-glasses facing their twins, creating endless files of somnambules in a false infinity beyond the walls. Then you dance with our host, though while he is gazing straightforwardly at you, you are gazing abstractly at the ceiling. O, that ceiling! In epic contrast to the capricious volutions of the rest of the room--designs tendriled to tenebrosity--the ceiling is a dark, chalky blue without a hint of flourish. In its purity it suggests a bottomless pool or an infinite sky wiped clean of stars. You are dancing in eternity, my quadrillioning mannequin. And the dance is indeed a long one, for another wants to cut in on our gracious host and become your partner. Then another. And another. They all want to embrace you; they are all taken in by your frigid elegance, your postures and poses like frozen roses. I am only waiting until everyone has had bodily contact with your powers of animal magnetism. ”
 
 
  Thomas Ligotti - “Drink to Me Only With Labyrinthine Eyes”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #20

“ It seems as if neither the company nor our temporary supervisor will ever be done with us. Yet we are only human beings, or at least physical beings, and one day we must die. This is the only retirement we can expect, even though none of us is looking forward to that time. ”
 
 
  Thomas Ligotti - “Our Temporary Supervisor”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #44

“ At first there seemed to be only a single note wavering alone in a universe of darkness and silence, coaxing its hearers to an understanding of its subtle voice, to sense its secrets and perhaps to hear the unheard. The single note then burst into a shower of tones, proliferating harmonies, and at that exact moment a second note began to follow the same course; then another note, and another. There was now more music than could possibly be contained by that earlier silence, expansive as it may have seemed. Soon there was no space remaining for silence, or perhaps music and silence became confused, indistinguishable from each other, as colors may merge into whiteness. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Music of the Moon”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #65

“ It was one of the Mirocaw clowns. Its clothes were shabby and nondescript, almost in the style of a tramp-type clown, but not humorously exaggerated enough. The face, though, made up for the lackluster costume. I had never seen such a strange conception for a clown's countenance. The figure stood beneath a dim streetlight, and when it turned its head my way I realized why it seemed familiar. The thin, smooth, and pale head; the wide eyes; the oval-shaped features resembling nothing so much as the skull-faced, screaming creature in that famous painting (memory fails me). This clownish imitation rivalled the original in suggesting stricken realms of abject horror and despair: an inhuman likeness more proper to something under the earth than upon it. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Last Feast of Harlequin”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #74

“ The other worlds portrayed in these books inevitably served as annexes of this one; they were imposters of the authentic unreality which was the only realm of redemption, however gruesome it might appear. And it was this terminal landscape that he sought, not those rituals of the 'way' that never arrives, heavens or hells that are mere pretexts for circumnavigating the real and revelling in it. For he dreamed of strange volumes that turned away from all earthly light to become lost in their own nightmares, pages that preached a nocturnal salvation, a liturgy of shadows, catechism of phantoms. His absolute: to dwell among the ruins of reality. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “Vastarien”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #91

“ Hope leaks into our lives by way of spreading cracks we always meant to repair but never did. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Consolations of Horror”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #96

“ And at that moment I was sure that I was still living in some way--that even if I was not entirely alive, neither was I wholly dead. Somehow I was caught in between these two worlds--caught in a place where I had made a rare connection with that Great Black Swine, that thrashing and vicious blackness which flowed like a river through every living thing, and possibly in the spaces around everything that lived, allowing me to be wherever the blackness flowed, to become one with this agitated force that was everywhere and inside everything, that moved and manipulated all the created life of this world and gave me the power to move and manipulate things according to my will, which was nevertheless only the lower-case will of an isolated being--a cockroach elevated to human form, a small swirling of that flowing blackness that was as great and enduring as the world itself, that was the secret face of the living world, the shadow within all life, the thing that would live on and on as each one of us died our deaths alone. Because whatever life we had was only its life, and when our bodies, our cockroach bodies, became too damaged to accommodate it... this blackness flowed away, leaving behind a dead vine, a bug's crushed carapace, or a human corpse--things that had no life of their own, nothing real at all about them. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “My Work Is Not Yet Done”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #105

“ In sleep he might thus find himself standing at the rim of a great gorge filled with pointed evergreens, and in the distance were the peaks of hills appearing in black silhouette under a sky chaotic with stars. Sublime scenery of this type often recurred in those books forbidden to him, sometimes providing the subject for one of the engraved illustrations accompanying a narrative. But he had never read in any book what his dream showed him in the sky above the gorge and above the hills. For each of the bright, bristling stars would begin to loosen in the places where the blackness held them. They wobbled at first, and then they rolled over in their bed of night. Now it was the other side of the stars that he saw, which was unlike anything ever displayed to the eyes of the earth. What he could see resembled not stars but something more like the underside of large stones one might overturn deep in damp woods. They had changed in the strangest way, changed because everything in the universe was changing and could no longer be protected from the changes being worked upon them by something that had been awakened in the blackness, something that desired to remold everything it could see... and had the power to see all things. Now the faces of the stars were crawling with things that made them gleam in a way that stars had never gleamed before. And then these things he saw in his dream began to drip from the stars toward the earth, streaking the night with their gleaming trails. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Tsalal”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #125

“ On the calendars which hung in so many of our homes, the monthly photograph illustrated the spirit of the numbered days below it: sheaves of cornstalks standing brownish and brittle in a newly harvested field, a narrow house and wide barn in the background, a sky of empty light above, and fiery leafage frolicking about the edges of the scene. But something dark, something abysmal always finds its way into the bland beauty of such pictures, something that usually holds itself in abeyance, some entwining presence that we always know is there. And it was exactly this presence that had gone into crisis, or perhaps had been secretly invoked by small shadowy voices calling out in the midst of our dreams. There came a bitter scent into the air, as of sweet wine turning to vinegar, and there was an hysteric brilliance flourished by the trees in town as well as those in the woods beyond, while along the roads between were the intemperate displays of thornapple, sumac, and towering sunflowers that nodded behind crooked roadside fences. Even the stars of chill nights seemed to grow delirious and take on the tints of an earthly inflammation. Finally, there was a moonlit field where a scarecrow had been left to watch over ground that had long been cleared yet would not turn cold. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Shadow at the Bottom of the World”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #127

“ His body remained unmoving upon the floor in a state of sleepy paralysis, and yet he heard the sound of the jangling bells. Crumm thought that if he could just open his eyes and roll over on the floor he could see what was making the sound of the bells. But soon he lost all confidence in this plan of action, because he could no longer feel his own body. The sound of the bells became even louder, jangling about his ears, even though he was incapable of making his head move in any way and thus shake the bells on his two-pronged fool's cap. Then he heard a voice say to him, 'Open your eyes... and see your surprise.' And when he opened his eyes he finally saw his face in the wardrobe mirror: it was a tiny face on a tiny fool's head... and the head was at the end of a stick, a kind of baton with stripes on it like a candy cane, held in the wooden hand of Mrs. Pyk. She was shaking the striped stick like a baby's rattle, making the bells on Crumm's tiny head go jingle-jangle so wildly. There in the mirror he could also see his body still lying helpless and immobile upon the attic floor. And in his mind was a single consuming thought: to be a head on a stick held in the wooden hand of Mrs. Pyk. Forever... forever. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Bells Will Sound Forever”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #132

“ 'To know, to understand in the fullest sense, is to plunge into an enlightenment of inanity, a wintry landscape of memory whose substance is all shadows and a profound awareness of the infinite spaces surrounding us on all sides. Within this space we remain suspended only with the aid of strings that quiver with our hopes and our horrors, and which keep us dangling over the gray void. How is it that we can defend such puppetry, condemning any efforts to strip us of these strings? The reason, one must suppose, is that nothing is more enticing, nothing more vitally idiotic, than our desire to have a name - even if it is the name of a stupid little puppet - and to hold on to this name throughout the long ordeal of our lives, as if we could hold on to it forever. If only we could keep those precious strings from growing frayed and tangled, if only we could keep from falling into an empty sky, we might continue to pass ourselves off under our assumed names and perpetuate our puppet's dance throughout all eternity...' ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “A Soft Voice Whispers Nothing”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #133

“ At this point, and many others on the tape (as I recall), the voice became nearly inaudible. 'The bungalow house,' it said, 'was such a bleak environment in which to make a stand: the moonlight through the dusty blinds, the bodies on the carpet, the lamps without any lightbulbs. And the incredible silence. It was not the absence of sounds that I sensed, but the stifling of innumerable sounds and even voices, the muffling of all the noises one might expect to hear in an old bungalow house in the dead of night, as well as countless other sounds and voices. The forces required to accomplish this silence filled me with awe. The infinite terror and dreariness of an infested bungalow house, I whispered to myself. A bungalow universe, I then thought without speaking aloud. Suddenly I was overcome by a feeling of euphoric hopelessness which passed through my body like a powerful drug and held all my thoughts and all my movements in a dreamy, floating suspension. In the moonlight that shone through the blinds of that bungalow house I was now as still and as silent as everything else.' ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Bungalow House”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #136

“ If things are not what they seem - and we are forever reminded that this is the case - then it must also be observed that enough of us ignore this truth to keep the world from collapsing. Though never exact, always shifting somewhat, the proportion is crucial. For a certain number of minds are fated to depart for realms of delusion, as if in accordance with some hideous timetable, and many will never be returning to us. Even among those who remain, how difficult it can be to hold the focus sharp, to keep the picture of the world from fading, from blurring in selected zones and, on occasion, from sustaining epic deformations over the entire visible scene. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Mystics of Muelenburg”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 11-22-2007 #199

“ He seeks refuge in a chaotic dreamworld where no one really notices the dead and no one even looks twice at the disgusting. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Fabulous Alienation of the Outsider, Being of No Fixed Abode”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 11-22-2007 #208

“ 'Where is the writer,' he began, 'who is unstained by any habits of the human, who would be the ideal of everything alien to living, and whose own eccentricity, in its darkest phase, would turn in on itself to form increasingly more complex patterns of strangeness? Where is the writer who has remained his entire life in some remote dream that he inhabited from his day of birth, if not long before?' ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Journal of J.P. Drapeau”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 11-22-2007 #212

“ When all the landscape is dying, descending fragrantly to earth, we alone rise up. After light and warmth have passed from the world, when everyone stands melancholy at the graveside of nature, we alone return to keep them company. This is our season to be reborn. The supple swish of summer trees has become a dry rattle in a cooling wind, and our ears begin to tingle as we lie dark and deep in our beds. Crinkled leaves scratch against our doors, calling us from our lonely houses. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “Autumnal”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 11-22-2007 #214

“ The all-pervasive purple coloration could now be seen as emanating from the labyrinth of a living anatomy: a compound of the reddish, bluish, palest pink structures, all of them morbidly inflamed and lesioned to release a purple light. We were being guided through catacombs of putrid chambers and cloisters, the most secreted ways and waysides of an infernal land. Whatever these spaces may once have been, they were now habitations for ceremonies of a private sabbath. The hollows in their fleshy, gelatinous integuments streamed with something like moss, a fungus in thin strands that were threading themselves into translucent tissue and quivering beneath it like veins. It was the sabbath ground, secret and unconsecrated, but it was also the theater of an insane surgery. The hair-like sutures stitched among the yielding entrails, unseen hands designing unnatural shapes and systems, weaving a nest in which the possession would take place, a web wherein the bits and pieces of the anatomy could be consumed at leisure. ”
 
 
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Glamour”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 12-03-2007 #234

“ Although I formerly believed myself to be the consummate knower of the town's secrets, the following day was one of unforeseen discovery. The streets that I looked upon that motionless morning were filled with new secrets and seemed to lead me to the very essence of the extraordinary. And a previously unknown element appeared to have emerged in the composition of the town, one that must have been hidden within its most obscure quarters. I mean to say that, while these quaint, archaic facades still put on all the appearance of a dreamlike repose, there now existed, in my sight, evil stirrings beneath this surface. The town had more wonders than I knew, a secreted cache of blasphemous offerings. Yet somehow this formula of deception, of corruption in disguise, served to intensify the town's most attractive aspects: a wealth of unsuspected sensations was now provoked by a few slanting rooftops, a low doorway, or a narrow backstreet. The mist spreading evenly through the town early that morning was luminous with dreams. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Sect of the Idiot”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 07-06-2008 #273

“ So I took Mary out of the range of vast empty fields and beautifully gutted buildings, dropping her off at a place known as The Mechanic Street Museum. This nominal 'museum' was spread out along a block of abandoned houses not far from a railroad overpass and across the road from a dumping ground for old sofas and chairs, old tires, old medicine cabinets, and any other expired object you cared to name. The exhibits of the museum consisted entirely of old dolls and mannikins, or the various parts of same. These human simulations inhabited both the interior spaces of each abandoned house as well as populating their front yards. Behind any given window, often shattered, of the houses along this section of Mechanic Street, one might see an entire mannikin - sometimes clothed and sometimes not - or at least part of a mannikin, such as a slim forearm and hand held in place by some putty on the inside window sill. Additionally, these windows might display a doll hanging by its neck as if from a gibbet, or simply the head of a doll dangling at the end of a wire.

This community of dolls and mannikins also lounged upon the wooden porches, or the steps leading up to these porches, and sometimes peered out from the exposed crawlspaces beneath a number of the abandoned houses. Most interesting were the dolls and mannikins that had been set up in old chairs or sofas taken from the dumping ground across the street. The dolls leaned crookedly in chairs that were invariably too large for them, while the mannikins lay in twisted postures upon sofas without cushions. No one had ever claimed credit for creating this museum, which had attained modest renown in both local publications and nationally distributed art journals. Nor had anyone ever been caught, though many had tried, in the act of augmenting its exhibitions, filling the Mechanic Street houses and their yards with still more dolls and mannikins and replacing the ones that had become too damaged, either by vandals or the elements, to remain on display.
”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “My Work Is Not Yet Done”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 07-26-2008 #292

“ I had learned through the years to follow the puppet creature's cues obediently. At one time, years before the visit at the medicine shop, I was crazy or foolish enough to call the puppet and its visits exactly what they were - outrageous nonsense. Right to the face of that clown puppet I would say, 'Take your nonsense somewhere else,' or possibly, 'I'm sick of this contemptible and disgusting nonsense.' But none of these outbursts counted for anything. The puppet simply waited until my foolhardy craziness had passed and then continued through the motions which had been prepared for that particular visit. So I examined the prescription form the creature had passed across the counter to me, and I noticed immediately that what was written upon it was nothing but a chaos of scrawls and scribbles, which was precisely the sort of nonsense I should have expected during the medicine-shop visit. I knew that it was my part to play along with the clown puppet, although I was never precisely certain what was expected of me. From previous experience I learned that it was futile to determine what would eventually transpire during a particular visit, because the puppet creature was capable of almost anything. For example, once it visited me when I was working through the night at a skid-row pawn shop. I told the thing that it was wasting my time unless it could produce an exquisitely cut diamond the size of a yo-yo. Then it reached under its pale smock-like garment and rummaged about, its hand seeking deep within its pantaloons. 'Well, let's see it,' I shouted at the clown puppet. 'As big as a yo-yo,' I repeated. Not only did it come up with an exquisitely cut diamond that was, generally speaking, as large as a yo-yo, but the object that the puppet thing flashed before my eyes - brilliant in the pawn-shop dimness - was also made in the form of a yo-yo... and the creature began to lazily play with the yo-yo diamond right in front of me, spinning it slowly on the string that was looped about one of those pale puppet-fingers, throwing it down and pulling it up over and over while the facets of that exquisitely cut diamond cast a pyrotechnic brilliance into every corner of the pawn shop. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Clown Puppet”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 08-30-2008 #314

“ I am an offspring of the dead. I am descended from the deceased. I am the progeny of phantoms. My ancestors are the illustrious multitudes of the defunct, grand and innumerable. My lineage is longer than time. My name is written with embalming fluid in the book of death. A noble name is mine. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Lost Art of Twilight”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 08-30-2008 #315

“ I tell you, no one worships this city as I do. Especially its witticisms of proximity, one strange thing next to another, adding up to a greater strangeness. One of the more grotesque examples of this phenomenon occurs when you observe that a little shop whose display window features a fabulous array of prosthetic devices is right next-door to Marv's Second Hand City. Then there are those places - you've noticed them, I'm sure - that are freakishly suggestive in a variety of ways. One them is that pink and black checkerboard box on Bender Boulevard that calls itself Bill's Bender Lounge, where a garish marquee advertises Nightly Entertainment. And if you stare at that legend long enough, the word 'Nightly' will begin to connote more than the interval between dusk and dawn. Soon this simple word becomes truly evocative, as if it were code for the most exotic and unspeakable entertainments of the infinite night. And speaking of entertainment, I should cite that establishment whose owner, no doubt an epicure of musical comedy, gave it the title of Guys and Dolls, Inc. What a genius of vulgarity, considering that this business is devoted solely to the sale and repair of mannikins. Or is it really a front for a bordello of dummies? No offense intended, Rosalie. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Chymist”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 08-30-2008 #316

“ Whatever else we may be as creatures that go to and fro on the earth, we are also just meat. A cannibalistic tribe that once flourished had a word to describe what they ate. That word translates as ' the food that talks.'

Most of the food that humans have eaten over the course of our history has not talked. But it does make other noises, terrible sounds as it transitions from living prey to dead carcass on the slaughterhouse floor. If we could hear these sounds every time we ate a meal, would we still be the proficient gobblers of flesh that most of us are now?
”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Clown Puppet”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 09-28-2008 #340

“ And now I do understand what the old man told me as I never could on that autumn day some forty years ago.

It was toward the end of that same sullen day, in the course of a bleak twilight, that they began to appear. Like figures quietly emerging from the depths of memory, they struggled in the shadows and slowly became visible. But even if the transition had been subtle, insidiously graduated, it did not long go unnoticed. By nightfall they were distractingly conspicuous throughout the town, always framed in some high window of the structures they occupied: the rooms above the shops in the heart of the town, the highest story of the old hotel, the empty towers of civic buildings, the lofty turrets and grand gables of the most distinguished houses, and the attics of the humblest homes.

Their forms were as softly luminous as the autumn constellations in the black sky above, their faces glowing with the same fixed expression of placid vacuity. And the attire of these apparitions was grotesquely suited to their surroundings. Buried many years before in antiquated clothes of a formal and funereal cut, they seemed to belong to the dying town in a manner its living members could not emulate. For the streets of the town now lost what life was left in them and became the dark corridors of a museum where these waxen nightmares had been put on exhibition.
”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “Dr. Locrian's Asylum”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 09-28-2008 #359

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