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Old 12-06-2009   #1
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Topic Winner Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

I believe the distinctiveness of Ligotti's stories - both in style and content - will eventually elevate him to the status of adjective-hood. How would you define Ligottian/Ligottiesque?

Here are a few examples of authors that have achieved that status.


Kafkaesque
adjective
Marked by a senseless, disorienting, often menacing complexity: Kafkaesque bureaucracies

Lovecraftian
adjective
Frighteningly monstrous and otherworldly.



I think one word that is essential in a definition of Ligottian is "nightmarish".

I also think this line from Crampton is defining: "There is no escape and everything is lies."

So a pervasive and inevitable sense of doom; but also a vividly nightmarish atmosphere. Things are not as they seem. Other words that come to mind: imposture, fraudulence, derelict, abandoned, decrepit, etc.

A definition of Ligottian/Ligottiesque could also be separated into a description of his prose style and a real life Ligottian experience or atmosphere. A Ligottian atmosphere could be anything from a derelict factory to something more elaborate like "The Mechanic Street Museum" as described in My Work is Not Yet Done.

"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 or partially 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 widnow sill. Additionally, these windows might dispaly 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 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 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 been 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 thad had become too damaged, either by vandals or the elements, to remain on display."

Last edited by bendk; 12-07-2009 at 12:10 PM..
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Old 12-06-2009   #2
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Re: Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

Ligottian

adjective

That which expresses existential nonsense in a metaphorical manner.

"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 12-06-2009   #3
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Re: Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

I tried to contrast Lovecraftian and Ligottian for a friend (who has not read the work of either - yet somehow we are still friends).

I described Lovecraftian as nightmarish and rational and Ligottian as nightmarish and surreal.
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Old 12-06-2009   #4
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Re: Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

Whenever I try to describe Ligotti's work I always end up saying he is the Kafka of the weird/horror genre. In fact, the two notions I think mesh into the nightmarish writings of Ligotti is Kafka and Lovecraft.

Btw--good subject, bendk!

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Old 12-06-2009   #5
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Re: Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

No one word sums up Ligotti'd work but adjectives that come to my mind are: unsettling, disconcerting, hopeless, bleak and pointless. For example we could talk about the pointless activities of the hopeless protagonist in the bleak and disconcerting work. Helpless and chilly come to mind as well.

"A Mad World, MY Masters"
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Old 12-06-2009   #6
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Re: Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

I agree with all the words listed by Mr. D. I'd also like to add another: unreality. The unfortunate denizen of a Ligottian universe often ends up discovering that the reality outside their head as well as the one within is just a crude farce. Sometimes this revelation comes through a surrealistic shift of dreamlike quality. Other times, it's just by shuffling among a nightmare gallery of derelict buildings, or confronting mannikans.

Ligotti's unreality is one that doesn't lead his monsters and men to "question everything," as certain political and philosophical ideas might when they latch onto unreality. Instead, this unreality tends to be a total unraveling of sanity, self, and purpose in the ultimate existential whirlpool. At least this is what I've felt comes through the pages over the years when I'm taking in a Ligotti tale.

A side note: this terrible unreality and the means by which it is revealed has already been adapted wonderfully by Ligotti's apparent literary disciples. I would argue that unreality is at the forefront of the most "Ligottian" works by Mark Samuels, Simon Strantzas, Richard Gavin, and others. In my opinion, it's a large part of what makes their Ligottian stories Ligottian in the same way that forbidden knowledge and cosmicism make other writers' works Lovecraftian.
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Old 12-06-2009   #7
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Re: Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

An unheimlich that was never heimlich.

Apart from that, I agree with all of you, especially starrysothoth.
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Old 12-06-2009   #8
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Re: Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

At the risk of giving a short response to something that I could write extensively about, one hallmark of Tom's work is that the "reality" created in any given piece, while seemingly uncanny, is presented as no stranger, more peculiar or nonsensical than what might be considered consensus reality, a fleeting, subjective, if not entirely ephemeral notion in its own right. Therefore, the unsettling if not downright chilling implication is that what you think is, in the grand scheme of things (In Tom's own words, "There is no grand scheme"), may not, in fact, actually be. Ligotti's work is deceptively subversive in this regard.

What greater horror could there be for anyone married to the idea that there is only one definitive way or set of ways of perceiving the world or interpreting that which takes place in it, versus a world of seemingly infinite variation? In this way Tom's work transcends the physical and enters into the realms of the metaphysical.

I tell you everything that is really nothing, and nothing of what is everything, do not be fooled by what I am saying. Please listen carefully and try to hear what I am not saying. ~Charles C. Finn

Last edited by Ascrobius; 12-07-2009 at 06:49 AM..
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Old 12-06-2009   #9
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Re: Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

Ligottian

adjective

A disorienting sense or suspicion that reality consists of nothing more than a meaningless series of façades, each one more horrific than the previous, and often met with a degree of resigned acceptance.

or

Ligottian

adjective

A term used exclusively to describe the crème de la crème of contemporary horror fiction.

"Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough." Mark Twain
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Old 12-07-2009   #10
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Re: Define Ligottian/Ligottiesque

Ligottian:
Of a transcendental absurdity crafted into truth, often laced with an ominous imagination.
or
Ligottian:
Pertaining to a ligottus n. a knot, esp. a tangle of puppet-strings
Plural: ligotti


LATER EDIT: ligottus as 'knot' is more common on Google as 'ligottum', it seems.

MY WEBSITE: www.nemonymous.com

Last edited by Nemonymous; 12-07-2009 at 09:09 AM..
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