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Old 05-14-2012   #31
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Re: Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

Wow!

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 05-14-2012   #32
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Re: Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

Quote Originally Posted by DoktorH View Post
I've described Ligottian as being Lovecraftian minus the tentacle-monster window dressing. Things are not bleak because of some ancient space-monster manipulating people for generations, but because that is simply the natural state of things and the presence or absence of monsters, cults, atavistic humans, old spellbooks, etc makes no real difference on the final outcome. Should you find yourself trapped in a Lovecraft story, you can always get out okay by remaining ignorant. In a Ligotti story, ignorance will not save you.
A year ago, this is how I defined "Ligottian."

now? I have a slightly different definition

everything is Ligottian on a long enough timeline, or strong enough magnification if it is not Ligottian overtly. I base this largely on This Degenerate Little Town, which is, in its own way, every town.
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Old 05-16-2012   #33
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Re: Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

Explorations of dysphoric psychological disassociation.

"The failed magician waves his wand, and in an instant the laughter is gone." - Martin Gore
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Old 05-16-2012   #34
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Re: Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

Fascinating thread, folks. I don't think I have anything unsaid to add, but I doubly appreciate these sorts of ad hoc definitions.

Putting Ligotti's name against established adjectives like Kafkaesque and Lovecraftian seems like the better path to take. Both words have succinct explanations, so something like [to paraphrase] bendk's "characterized as facing inevitable, impending doom" seems about right. Though I'm not sure if my insertion of "impending" is quite the right note.

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Old 05-18-2012   #35
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Re: Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

The following fragment by modernist poet Guiseppe Ungaretti seems to me to capture a quality authentically Ligottian:

Already autumnal dryness
Has sunk into my bones,
But, lengthening from shadow,
A demented never-ending
Radiance arrives:
Hidden torment of the sunken
Twilight...

-- from "Day by Day" (trans. Andrew Frisardi)

A demented never-ending radiance.

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Old 08-03-2013   #36
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Re: Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

In the strangely shining light of Grimscribe's Puppets, I thought we might revisit this thread. What elements did the authors use to make their story Ligottian?

I haven't finished the book yet, but I have applied one author's keen insight into this definition:

Ligottian - The realization, or an atmosphere, situation, or experience that gives rise to the suspicion that we're all dummies unwittingly participating in a Greater Ventriloquism.

or more succinctly:

Ligottian - The realization that we are all dummies unwittingly participating in a Greater Ventriloquism.

(Thanks, Jon!)

Last edited by bendk; 02-10-2014 at 06:19 PM..
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Old 12-12-2016   #37
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Re: Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

One word that hasn't come up in this thread yet to define Ligottian is 'disenchantment.' I recently finished reading the essay "The Ruins of Reality: Thomas Ligotti and the uses of disenchantment" by Joel Lane. (Wormwood Number 14 Spring 2010).

One passage particularly strikes me as being true in regards to TL's work.

"This transition from twilight to night is one of Ligotti's favourite images. It is explored in 'The Lost Art of Twilight' and provides Noctuary with its underlying structural metaphor. Ligotti is concerned at all times with a process of disenchantment, of loss of illusions, that is as profound and life-changing as a religious conversion."

Many of Tom's stories exhibit this theme. Assumptions of normalcy give way. Everything collapses into profound disappointment, untruth, and horror.

'Disenchantment' is a word I will always associate with Tom's work now. Thanks, Joel. Sadly missed here at TLO.
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Old 12-12-2016   #38
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Re: Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

Quote Originally Posted by bendk View Post
One word that hasn't come up in this thread yet to define Ligottian is 'disenchantment.' I recently finished reading the essay "The Ruins of Reality: Thomas Ligotti and the uses of disenchantment" by Joel Lane. (Wormwood Number 14 Spring 2010).

One passage particularly strikes me as being true in regards to TL's work.

"This transition from twilight to night is one of Ligotti's favourite images. It is explored in 'The Lost Art of Twilight' and provides Noctuary with its underlying structural metaphor. Ligotti is concerned at all times with a process of disenchantment, of loss of illusions, that is as profound and life-changing as a religious conversion."

Many of Tom's stories exhibit this theme. Assumptions of normalcy give way. Everything collapses into profound disappointment, untruth, and horror.

'Disenchantment' is a word I will always associate with Tom's work now. Thanks, Joel. Sadly missed here at TLO.
I agree with you that the term "disenchantment" is essential for understanding Ligotti's worldview. In fact, I recently made a post regarding this same subject elsewhere.

"In a less scientific age, he would have been a devil-worshipper, a partaker in the abominations of the Black Mass; or would have given himself to the study and practice of sorcery. His was a religious soul that had failed to find good in the scheme of things; and lacking it, was impelled to make of evil itself an object of secret reverence."

~ Clark Ashton Smith, "The Devotee of Evil"
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Old 12-13-2016   #39
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Re: Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

For me, I'd say the defining character of Ligottian is

melancholic madness in the unraveling chaos that is the world



"So in the end it remains advisable to accept whatever comes, to behave like an inert mass even if one feels oneself being swept away, not to be lured into a single unneccesary step, to regard others with the gaze of an animal, to feel no remorse, in short to crush with one's own hand any ghost of life that subsists, that is, to intensify the final quiet of the grave still further and let nothing beyond that endure." ---Franz Kafka, Resolutions
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Old 05-10-2017   #40
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Re: Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

Others have already touched on this, but the word "decay" always comes to mind when I ponder Ligotti.

Crashing waves near a seaside town sound like decaying radio static. An aging author's face or "ancient mask" is devoured by the starving shadows of time. A town's fašade is repeatedly torn away and rebuilt. A mysterious scarecrow even seems to magically affect the natural stages of decomposition. And, of course, in nearly every protagonist there is a kind of decay of the psyche--- sanity itself becomes frayed and fragmented.

I don't know this to be the case, but I imagine Ligotti as a man who is frightened by the ravenous appetite of time, and of the natural decay we see all around us as things grow old and die. I think many horror authors fear death, and that their imaginations are a kind of coping mechanism, although this may or may not be the case with Thomas Ligotti.
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