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“ A: There is no grand scheme of things.
B: If there were a grand scheme of things, the fact - the fact - that we are not equipped to perceive it, either by natural or supernatural means, is a nightmarish obscenity.
C: The very notion of a grand scheme of things is a nightmarish obscenity.
”
 
 
  Thomas Ligotti - “My Work Is Not Yet Done”
Added by: Dr. Locrian on 06-09-2007 #1

“ De Plancy's Dictionnaire Infernal characterizes these demons, in the words of an unknown translator, as the one who glistens horribly like a rainbow of insects; the one who quivers in a horrible manner; and the one who moves with a particular creeping motion. ”
 
 
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Lost Art of Twilight”
Added by: Dr. Bantham on 06-09-2007 #4

“ ... these hypothetical houses, the ones now absent, may at some point change places with those which can be seen, in order to enrich the lapses in the landscape and give the visible a rest within nullity. And of these houses now stretching high or spreading low there will remain nothing to be said, for they will have entered the empty space, which are merely blank faces waiting to gain features. ”
 
 
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Greater Festival of Masks”
Added by: Juan Borgia on 06-09-2007 #9

“ 'I have noticed that certain experiences are allowed to languish in the corners of life, are not allowed to circulate as freely as others. My own, for example. Since childhood, not one day has passed in which I have failed to hear the music of graveyards. And yet, to my knowledge, never has another soul on earth made mention of this phenomenon. Is the circulation of the living so poor that it cannot carry these dead notes? It must be a mere trickle!' ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Journal of J.P. Drapeau”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #59

“ There was a great sense of escape, as if I could exist serenely outside the grotesque ultimatums of creation, an entranced spectator casting a clinical gaze at the chaotic tumult both around and within him. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Cocoons”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #75

“ I remember working in an office where the atmosphere of tension had become so severe and pervasive that one could barely see more than a few feet in any direction. This resulted in considerable difficulties for those of us who were trying to perform the tasks which our jobs required. For instance, if for some reason we needed to leave our desks and negotiate our way to another part of the building, it was not possible to see beyond a certain distance, which was at most a few feet. Outside of this limited perimeter--this 'cocoon of clarity,' as I thought of it--everything became obscured in a kind of quivering blur, an ambience of agitation within which the solid and dreary decor of the company offices appeared quite distorted. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “I Have a Special Plan for This World”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #89

“ These things have been perennially threatened by disorder and oblivion. Anyway, all of it was bound to end somehow, at sometime. What difference did it make when the world was lost, or to whom? ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Blasphemous Enlightenment of Prof. Francis Wayland Thurston of Boston, Providence, and the Human Race”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #92

“ 'The challenges and obstacles facing me in that bungalow house were becoming more and more oppressive,' whispered the voice on the tape. 'There was something so desolate about being in that place in the dead of night, even if I did not know precisely what time it was. And to see upon the pale, threadbare carpet those verminous bodies, some of which were still barely alive; then to try each of the lamps and find that none of them was in working order--everything appeared in opposition to my efforts, everything aligned against my taking care of the problems I faced in the bungalow house.' ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Bungalow House”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #97

“ All space is virtual; the infinite is illusory. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Eternal Mirage”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #114

“ 'We should give thanks,' the voice said to me, 'that a poverty of knowledge has so narrowed our vision of things as to allow the possibility of feeling something about them. How could we find a pretext to react to anything if we understood... everything? None but an absent mind was ever victimized by the adventure of intense emotional feeling. And without the suspense that is generated by our benighted state - our status as beings possessed by our own bodies and the madness that goes along with them - who could take enough interest in the universal spectacle to bring forth even the feeblest yawn, let alone exhibit the more dramatic manifestations which lend such unwonted color to a world that is essentially composed of shades of gray upon a background of blackness. Hope and horror, to repeat merely two of the innumerable conditions dependent on a faulty insight, would be much the worse for an ultimate revelation that would expose their lack of necessity. At the other extreme, both our most dire and most exalted emotions are well served every time we take some ray of knowledge, isolate it from the spectrum of illumination, and then forget it completely. All our ecstasies, whether sacred or from the slime, depend on our refusal to be schooled in even the most superficial truths and our maddening will to follow the path of forgetfulness.' ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “A Soft Voice Whispers Nothing”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #135

“ The room in the tower seemed to have closed in upon him while he slept, so he measured it off again and found its dimensions to be unchanged. His mind still uneasy, he measured it a second time, and then a third. Then he awoke and measured it off a fourth time, pacing between the walls of the room in the tower. 'I am measuring my own coffin,' he whispered to himself while staring intently at the splotched stones of the floor. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “Salvation by Doom”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 06-09-2007 #150

“ The language in which the book was written resisted all but imaginary identifications by one who was as limited in years and learning as I was then. Even now, memory will not permit me to improve upon my initial speculation that the book was composed in some exotic tongue of antiquity. But its profusion of pictures alleviated many frustrations and illuminated the darkness of the book's secret symbols. In these examples of the art of the woodcut, I could almost read that collection of sermons, of prayers and homilies, every one of which devoted itself with a single-minded insistence to wearing away at a single theme: salvation through suffering. ”
 
 
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Library of Byzantium”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 11-22-2007 #220

“ 'It was written in the hieroglyphics of humble things, things humble to the point of mockery, all the lonesome pathetic things, all the desolate dusty things, all the misbegotten things, ruined things, failed things, all the imperfect semblances and deteriorating remnants of what we arrogantly deign to call the Real, to call... Life. In brief, the entire realm of the unreal - wherein He abides - is what He loves like nothing in this world. And haven't we ourselves at some time come face to face with this blessed realm? Can you recall ever having travelled down a deserted road and coming upon something like an old fairground: a desolate assemblage of broken booths and sagging tents, all of which you glimpsed through a high arcing entranceway with colors like a rusted rainbow? Didn't it seem as if some great catastrophe had struck, leaving only lifeless matter to molder in silent anonymity? And were you sad to see a place of former gaiety lying in its grave? Did you attempt to revive it in your imagination, start up the dead machinery, and fill the midway once again with fresh colors and laughing faces? We have all done this, all attempted to resurrect the defunct. And this is precisely where we have separated ourselves from the law and the truth of the Creator. Were we in harmony with Him, our gaze would fall upon a thriving scene and perceive nothing there but ruins and the ghosts of puppets.' ”
 
 
  Thomas Ligotti - “Mad Night of Atonement”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 12-08-2007 #235

“ So it was that the Red Tower put into production its terrible and perplexing line of unique novelty items. Among the objects and constructions now manufactured were several of an almost innocent nature. These included tiny, delicate cameos that were heavier than their size would suggest, far heavier, and lockets whose shiny outer surface flipped open to reveal a black reverberant abyss inside, a deep blackness roaring with echoes. Along the same lines was a series of lifelike replicas of internal organs and physiological structures, many of them evidencing an advanced stage of disease and all of them displeasingly warm and soft to the touch. There was a fake disembodied hand on which fingernails would grow several inches overnight, every night like clockwork. Numerous natural objects, mostly bulbous gourds, were designed to produce a long deafening scream whenever they were picked up or otherwise disturbed in their vegetable stillness. Less scrutable were such things as hardened globs of lava into whose rough igneous forms were set a pair of rheumy eyes that perpetually shifted their gaze from side to side like a relentless pendulum. And there was also a humble piece of cement, a fragment broken away from any street or sidewalk, that left a most intractable stain, greasy and green, on whatever surface it was placed. But such fairly simple items were eventually followed, and ultimately replaced, by more articulated objects and constructions. One example of this complex type of novelty item was an ornate music box that, when opened, emitted a brief gurgling or sucking sound in emulation of a dying individual's death rattle. Another product manufactured in great quantity at the Red Tower was a pocket watch in a gold casing which opened to reveal a curious timepiece whose numerals were represented by tiny quivering insects while the circling 'hands' were reptilian tongues, slender and pink. But these examples hardly begin to hint at the range of goods that came from the factory during its novelty phase of production. I should at least mention the exotic carpets woven with intricate abstract patterns that, when focused upon for a certain length of time, composed themselves into fleeting phantasmagoric scenes of the kind which might pass through a fever-stricken or even permanently damaged brain. ”
 
 
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Red Tower”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 12-26-2007 #239

“ Moonlight shone down through a window somewhere above me and spread dimly across a dirty concrete floor. I could see that I was standing at the bottom of an empty stairwell. I heard faint sounds of something dragging itself directly toward me. Then I saw what it was that emerged from a shadowy area of that dismal place. It was a head supported by a short length of neck on which it pulled itself along like a snail, moving by inches upon the concrete floor. Its features were indistinct yet nonetheless seemed deformed or mutilated, and it was making sounds whose meaning I could not comprehend, its angular jaw opening and closing mechanically. Before the head moved very close to me I noticed there was something else in another, even more shadowy corner of that bleak, moonlit stairwell. Not much larger than the head that was approaching me across the floor, this other object was to my eyes an almost wholly shapeless mass, quite pale, which I was able to identify as animated tissue only because, every so often, it opened itself up like a giant bivalved mollusk found at great suboceanic depths. And it made the same sound as the crawling head was making, both of them crying out at the bottom of that dim and empty stairwell, the place, I had been informed, where I might confront the source of all existential phenomena. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “Sideshow and Other Stories”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 07-26-2008 #281

“ Cheev looks vaguely distressed, apparently unsure just how much longer they should loiter in this place. Not being privy to what is supposed to occur, if anything, what action should he take? All he can do at the moment is stall. But everything is soon brought to a conclusion, very quickly yet without a sense of haste or violence.

One moment Cheev is drowsily conversing with his two companions, both of them looking sternly suspicious at this point; the next moment it is as if they are two puppets who have been whisked upwards on invisible strings, into the fog and out of sight. It all happens so suddenly that they do not make a sound, though a little later there are faint, hollow screams from high above. Cheev has fallen to his knees and is covering his face with his bony hands.

Two went up, but only one comes down, suspended a few inches from the ground and swinging a little in the wind. Cheev uncovers his eyes and looks at the thing. Yes, there is only one, but this one has too many... there is too much of everything on this body. Two faces sharing a single head, two mouths that have fallen silent forever with parted lips. The thing continues to hang in the air even after Cheev has completely collapsed on the Street of Wavering Peaks.
”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “Dr. Voke and Mr. Veech”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 07-26-2008 #285

“ 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

“ By all accounts that old institution was a chamber of horrors, if not in its entirety then at least in certain isolated corners. It was not simply that a particular room attracted notice for its atmosphere of desolation: the gray walls pocked like sponges, the floor filthied by the years entering freely through broken windows, and the shallow bed withered after supporting so many nights of futile tears and screaming. There was something more.

Perhaps one of the walls to such a room would have built into it a sliding panel, a long rectangular slot near the ceiling. And on the other side would be another room, an unfurnished room which seemed never to have been occupied. But leaning against one wall of this other room, directly below the sliding panel, would be some long wooden sticks; and mounted at the ends of these sticks would be horrible little puppets.

Another room might be completely bare, yet its walls would be covered with pale fragments of weird funereal scenes. By removing some loose floorboards at the center of the room, one would discover several feet of earth piled upon an old, empty coffin. And then there was a very special room, a room I had visited myself, that was located on the uppermost floor of the asylum and contained a great windowless skylight. Positioned under that opening upon the heavens, and fixed securely in place, stood a long table with huge straps hanging from its sides.
”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “Dr. Locrian's Asylum”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 08-02-2008 #295

“ The attractions varied from sideshow to sideshow, and Quisser said he was unable to remember all of the ones he had seen. He did recall what he described as the Human Spider. This was a very brief spectacle during which someone in a clumsy costume scuttled from one side of the stage to the other and back again, exiting through a slit at the back of the tent. The person wearing the costume, Quisser added, was presumably the attendant who pumped gas, washed windows, and performed various services around the filling station. In many sideshow performances, such as that of the Hypnotist, Quisser remembered that a gas station attendant's uniform (greasy gray or blue coveralls) was quite visible beneath the performer's stage clothes. Quisser did admit that he was unsure why he designated this particular sideshow act as the 'Hypnotist,' since there was no hypnotism involved in the performance, and of course no marquee or billboard existed either outside the tent or within it that might lead the public to expect any kind of mesmeric routines. The performer was simply clothed in a long, loose overcoat and wore a plastic mask which was a plain, very pale replica of a human face, with the exception that instead of eyes (or eyeholes) there were two large discs with spiral designs painted upon them. The Hypnotist would gesticulate chaotically in front of the audience for some moments, no doubt because his vision was obscured by the spiral-patterned discs over the eyes of his mask, and then stumble off stage.

There were numerous other sideshow acts that Quisser claimed to have seen, including the Dancing Puppet, the Worm, the Hunchback, and Dr. Fingers. With one important exception, the routine was always the same: Quisser and his parents would enter the sideshow tent and sit upon one of the rotted benches, soon after which some performer would appear briefly on the small stage that was lit up by two ordinary floor lamps. The single deviation from this routine was an attraction that Quisser called the Showman.
”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “Gas Station Carnivals”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 09-28-2008 #329

“ According to first-hand witnesses (that is, persons who had actually made the pilgrimage to that isolated and crumbling shack), Severini could be quite talkative about his personal history, particularly the motives and events that most directly culminated in his present life. Nevertheless, these persons also admitted that the 'marvelous hermit' (Severini) displayed a conspicuous disregard for common facts and for truths of a literal sort. Thus he was often given to speaking about himself by way of ambiguous parables and metaphors, not to mention outrageous anecdotes the facts of which always seemed to cancel out one another, as well as outright lies which afterward he himself would sometimes expose as such. But much of the time - and in the opinion of some, all of the time - Severini's speech took the form of total nonsense, as though he were talking in his sleep. Despite these difficulties in communication, all of the individuals who spoke to me on the subject somehow conveyed to my mind a remarkably focused portrait of the hermit Severini, an amalgam of hearsay that attained the status of a potent legend. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “Severini”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 09-28-2008 #342

“ Darkness. Bed.

But he could not sleep, not to say he did not dream. Hypnagogic horrors settled into his mind, a grotesque succession of images resembling lurid frames from old comic strips. Impossibly distorted faces painted in garish colors frolicked before his mental eye, all entirely beyond his control. These were accompanied by a series of funhouse noises which seemed to emanate from some zone located between his brain and the moonlit bedroom around him. A drone of half-thrilled, half-horrified voices filled the background of his imagination, punctuated by super-distinct shouts which used his name as an excuse for sound. It was an abstract version of his mother's voice, now robbed of any sensual quality to identify it as such, remaining only a pure idea. The voice called out his name from a distant room in his memory. Samuel, it shouted with a terrible urgency of obscure origin. Then suddenly - trick or treat. The words echoed, changing in sense as they faded into silence: trick or treat - down the street - we will meet - ashes, ashes. No, not ashes but other trees. The boy walked behind some big maples, was eclipsed by them. Did he know a car was following him that night? Panic. Don't lose him now. Don't lose him. Ah, there he was on the other side. Nice trees. Good old trees. The boy turned around, and in his hand was a tangled web of strings whose ends extended up to the stars which he began working like kites or toy airplanes or flying puppets, staring up at the night and screaming for the help that never came. Mother's voice started shouting again; then the other voices mixed in, becoming a foul babbling unity of dead voices chattering away. Night of the Dead. All the dead conversed with him in a single voicey-woicey.

Trick or treat, it said.
”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “Conversations in a Dead Language”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 09-28-2008 #355

“ 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

“ Was it not some deranged poet who began to eat truth as one partakes of a strange and perhaps deadly food? Little nibbles to start off, tiny nips which cause the tongue to tingle, a weird but not yet unpleasant sensation. He continues munching, full-grown mouthfuls now. But already the meal is overwhelming in its oddity, an experience that is unreal yet hellishly tangible. Unfortunately the deranged poet has also learned that he must keep eating away if he doesn't want to end up a permanent resident of one of those intolerably eerie dreams his feast has induced. He wanders from dream to dream, hoping to find a way out of this maze of psychic indigestion he has found within. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Deranged Poet”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 09-28-2008 #366

“ Ideal horror tales: a thoroughly symbolic universe, its every aspect contemplated and expressed in the Symbolist manner, portraying the horrific essence of things and creating with the greatest possible intensity the dream-sense of the world's horror. Tales not told to reader, but overheard by reader, indirect tone, dreaming, narrating in your sleep. Everything transformed, mundane and exotic elements alike, the two often exchanging qualities. Remoteness: no waking morals, concerns, ideologies, philosophies, messages of any kind. Pure vision without judgments, inspiring only dread and awe, a sardonic exuberance, grim exaltation. Metaphors drawn from the realm of dreams, death, disease. Behavior of characters always betrays their lurid knowingness anent the nightmarish nature of their world, although some are more knowing than others. The waking world requires a superficial sense of cause and effect, which occultism provides; dreams, the true occult realm, need no such ersatz rationalism, only the sensation of revelations that feel horribly true. Minimal dialogue. Plots make a kind of surface sense, as in 'Greater Festival of Masks' and 'Music of the Moon.' Maximum atmosphere - focus on seemingly irrelevant background, often swamping the actors in the foreground. Objective, unemotive description as contrast to dominant metaphorical dreaminess. Vulgar, puppet-show melodrama and artificiality. World populated exclusively by vile creatures like Aubrey Beardsley's ideally grotesque world. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “We Can Hide from Horror Only in the Heart of Horror: Notes and Aphorisms”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 09-28-2008 #385

“ I myself have never seen the Red Tower - no one ever has, and possibly no one ever will. And yet wherever I go people are talking about it. In one way or another they are talking about the nightmarish novelty items or about the mysterious and revolting hyper-organisms, as well as babbling endlessly about the subterranean system of tunnels and the secluded graveyard whose headstones display no names and no dates designating either birth or death. Everything they are saying is about the Red Tower, in one way or another, and about nothing else but the Red Tower. We are all talking and thinking about the Red Tower in our own degenerate way. I have only recorded what everyone is saying (though they may not know they are saying it), and sometimes what they have seen (though they may not know they have seen it). But still they are always talking, in one deranged way or another, about the Red Tower. I hear them talk of it every day of my life. Unless of course they begin to speak about the gray and desolate landscape, that hazy void in which the Red Tower - the great and industrious Red Tower - is so precariously nestled. Then the voices grow quiet until I can barely hear them as they attempt to communicate with me in choking scraps of post-nightmare trauma. Now is just such a time when I must strain to hear the voices. I wait for them to reveal to me the new ventures of the Red Tower as it proceeds into ever more corrupt phases of production, including the shadowy workshop of its third subterranean level. I must keep still and listen for them; I must keep quiet for a terrifying moment. Then I will hear the sounds of the factory starting up its operations once more. Then I will be able to speak again of the Red Tower. ”
   
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Red Tower”
Added by: G. S. Carnivals on 01-25-2009 #394

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