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Old 02-03-2005   #1
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Post A Revolution Of All Matter And Energy

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“ Your eyes are now fused with those fantastic lenses, and your sight is one with its object. And what exactly is that object? Obviously, it is everything that fascinates, everything that has power over your gaze and your dreams. You can not even conceive the wish to look away. And even if there are no simple images to see, nonetheless there is a vision of some kind, an infinite and overwhelming scene expanding before you. And the vastness of this scene is such that even the dazzling diffusion of all the known universes cannot convey its wonder. Everything is so brilliant, so great, and so alive: landscapes without end that are rolling with life, landscapes that are themselves alive. Unimaginable diversity of form and motion, design and dimension. And each detail is perfectly crystalline, from the mammoth shapes lurching in the outline against endless horizons to the minutest cilia wriggling in an obscure oceanic niche. Even this is only a mere fragment of all that there is to see and to know. There are labyrinthine astronomies, discrete systems of living mass which yet are woven together by a complex of intersections, at points mingling in a way that mutually affects those systems involved, yielding instantaneous evolutions, constant transformations of both appearance and essence. You are witness to all that exists or ever could exist. And yet, somehow concealed in the shadows of all that you can see is something that is not yet visible, something that is beating like a thunderous pulse and promises still greater visions: all else is simply its membrane enclosing the ultimate thing waiting to be born, preparing for the cataclysm which will be both the beginning and the end. To behold the prelude to this event must be an experience of unbearable anticipation, so that hope and dread merge into a new emotion, one corresponding perfectly to the absolute and the wholly unknown. The next instant, it seems, will bring with it a revolution of all matter and energy. But the seconds keep passing, the experience grows more fascinating without fulfilling its portents, without extinguishing itself in revelation. And although the visions remain active inside you, deep in your blood - you now awake. ”
 
 
  Thomas Ligotti - “The Spectacles in the Drawer”
Added by: Dr. Bantham on 06-09-2007 #2

I fancy that Tom wrote this from the direct insight derived from his experience with LSD. When I was nineteen, I had a horrific LSD trip which nearly decimated my fragile mind. Even now, I often feel the sensation of a flashback lurking in the shadows. Mr. Plomb, I daresay, is on the edge of such a bad trip at this point in the story. Does anyone else care to comment on hallucinogenic elements in this or other Ligotti stories? Are there any more among you that have also glimpsed The Heart of The Beast?

THOMAS LIGOTTI ONLINE
A Shining Brainless Beacon Of Elegant Mutations And Cunning Annihilations
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Old 02-03-2005   #2
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This is really an amazing quotation. I personally have 'glimpsed the Heart of The Beast' through chemical means more often than I care to admit, but my first reaction to reading this one here on TNN was quite different (as I haven't re-read this story recently so I was approaching it out of context). After about the third sentence I was reminded of an experience I had this past weekend while climbing Mt. Diablo (in the SF bay area). It was a foggy and generally gloomy day (the kind I absolutely love!), and we started off hiking through the mud closing in on the mountain from the north. My party eventually broke through the clouds and climbed up over the ridge, and suddenly the scene overlooking the south side of the mountain (and landscape beyond) leaped into view. Since the weather below was wonderfully morose, we looked upon an endless sea of churning clouds parted only by the occasional hilltop peaking through the canopy, suddenly illuminated by the shining sun which had been largely absent up to this point. The initial few seconds observing this glorious vista felt exactly like Ligotti's description here, but in a life-affirming and (dare I say it) inspirational way rather than doomed hopelessness and descent into madness. Time stopped for a few seconds until I returned to "reality" only to discover that the dream WAS "reality." Reading the quotation thrust me back into that moment in all its hallucinogenic glory. I was presented with limitless potential, but what is the nature of this potential? Before me were the endless possibilities of the cosmos, from the good and uplifting to the dark and ominous as well as everything in between, bascially a glimpse of eternal and untouchable wonder. What I find so incredible about this quote is exactly this ambiguity, the ability to describe both the upper bounds of joy and very pit of despair with the idential set of words. Without its context within the story, it conjures images and brings to life experiences in a deeply personal way. Much like an LSD trip (or other hallucinatory event), it can bring to the reader visions of his (or her) own "Special Plan," which become obscured by our own rational minds and often we are not yet prepared to grapple with it. But it remains that each of us will get out of it something different, something very personal. I was not prepared for this experience coming from Ligotti's prose, as the intention seems to be quite the opposite of the feelings of optimism and hope with which I responded (this time at least). But maybe that is why I continue to immerse myself in visions of darkness, for out of darkness comes light.

I'll need to reread the story again of course, which will more than likely force me to reinterpret the quotation again (presumably through much darker glasses). But this does illustrate that the quotation database here has lots of potential for examining passages in different ways than we normally think of them. Also, I apologize for the off-beat interpretation; I was just recounting a strange experience I had caused by this quotation even though it is likely to be very different than Ligotti's original intent.
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Old 02-03-2005   #3
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I don't know if this is a 'glimpsing the heart of the beast' story or a 'I have seen the face of god and it is hideous' story, or simply a tale of suburbia. I'll let the reader decide.
Many years ago, on a very hot summer morning, I walked to the back of my apartment complex to throw out a bag of trash in the dumpster. The trash truck must have come in the middle of the night, because the only thing in the dumpster was an animal. It was a raccoon that was going out of its mind due to the heat, and probably hunger. And its eyes were rolling like mad marbles - I kid you not. The bottom of the dumpster was completely matted with maggots, both alive and dead. It was a very memorable image: A feral hunger combined with a feverish delirium, superimposed on a canvas of writhing maggots. For a brief moment, I sensed something profound gazing at me from out of that image. It was an abysmal apathy or an ageless insensate awareness that seemed to say: 'the world does not care, and knows it'. Perhaps, the underlying hostility of a deliberate indifference, or the silence of consent. Years later, I heard an interview with Elie Wiesel that echoed the meaning of this image. He said: "The enemy of life is not death, but indifference to life and death". He was referring to the attitudes of people, but I think the same can be applied to existence. Well, that's what it meant to me. Of course, it was probably just a raccoon caught in a dumpster.
The story has a happy ending. I put a branch in the dumpster and splashed the raccoon with some water, and he came right out of it. He climbed up the branch, out of the dumpster, over the fence, down the tree, and into the woods. Hollywood couldn't have scripted it better.
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Old 03-19-2005   #4
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"I'm back from my trip." That gave me chills.
But just for the sake of contributing, I find the hypnosis scene fascinating in its possibilities. Although perhaps a bad experience with hallucinogenics most likely inspired it. But did anyone notice the references to Masquerade of a Dead Sword? I'm just curious.

"And into his dreams he fell...and forever."
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Old 03-19-2005   #5
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Primus:

"A Revolution of All Matter and Energy"...what a wonderful phrase! Yours, Doc B? It's so...Teslan...so...Quantum AetherDynamic!

Secondus:

Chemically fuelled trips into the Tenebrae are MOST unsettling...particularly when one is of a sudden THRUST from a serene and placid idyll into the most atrocious of nightmarish quasi-realities. Doc, I must confess to having a similar experience upon a time, and like you, I feel fortunate to have retained a tenuous hold upon my sanity before the Rent Veils mercifully allowed my perceptions a more-or-less safe return to the mundane world. Even so, that night left an indelible imprint upon my worldview. I cannot say that I'd EVER recommend such chemically fuelled experimentation to anyone, even though in retrospect it was an interesting night...

Tertius:

Silent, I did note the reference to those spectacles, and don't doubt that there is a connection between them and those from MoaDS. Good observation.

Y'know, SPECulations ( hmmm...a portmanteau! Spectacles & Ululations : how very THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS) about LSD inspired "trips" leading from dreamlike wonder into realms of inimical and paralyzing horror always remind me of HPL's HYPNOS. Some barriers, perhaps, shouldn't be trespassed beyond....Again, mere speculation on my part...

From the Workshop of the Telescopes,
Aether

ps- Silent! I maintain your avatar is uncannily Ghroth-like!

"The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane."

-Nikola Tesla, July of 1934
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Old 08-18-2005   #6
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Re: A Revolution Of All Matter And Energy

Dr. Bantham,
Yes, I have met the Beast. My encounter was more with Its Mind rather than Its Heart. My maiden voyage was not bad in the long run, just unearthly. I later found out that I had ingested a four-way hit. To steal a Farmer title, sketches among the ruins of my mind: High school, 1974?, Friday night, Mahavishnu Orchestra on "In Concert", it's kickin' in, go upstairs & make a tuna sandwich, pour a glass of orange juice at a 45 degree angle, stare in the bathroom mirror just steps away from Mom & Dad sleeping, go back downstairs to my room, interval, try to read to focus (come down), Double Star by Heinlein, interval, eventual acid sleep?, dreams?, I heard bombers (which were most likely the sound of the furnace in the next room), I flew with bats outside (out-of-body?), I dreamt of being in French class where the verb mourir was being conjugated. I do not consciously recall ever encountering this word prior to my "dream". This really happened.
Phil

"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 08-19-2005   #7
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Re: A Revolution Of All Matter And Energy

I've never had an LSD experience, although I've probably eaten close to my weight in psilocybin mushrooms in the past (not all at once, mind.) By all accounts, of course, they're entirely different experiences, even if there's ostensibly some qualitative overlap. As a result, though, I've never had an unequivocally bad trip, what with psiloc(yb)in being a little softer around the edges. Still, there is a handful of moments I experienced under the influence of these and similar drugs (and some ill-advised cocktails) that I may count as my most paranoid or terrified.

To wit: that bit in "The Mystics of Muelenburg," where an acquaintance of the narrator's had the experience of solid objects being suddenly replaced by "cheap substitutes"? When I first read the story, I had to laugh, because that pretty much sums up one of my most absurd and horrific experiences, drug-induced or otherwise. I had taken a "heroic dose," as they say, of Hawaiian shrooms, and for the first few hours, the trip was of the spiritually ecstatic variety. But, ha-ha, just when I was convinced that all creation was love and light, the chemical carpet was pulled out from under me.

To cut a long story short, I quickly concluded that none of my clothes were my own, that they had been somehow replaced with cheap knock-offs (I was even sure that the tags were different, and the words on them appeared to be covered in bizarre diacritical marks, as if the fabric were from some Baltic state.) It's kind of petty and ridiculous as delusions go (it's provided many a good laugh since,) but as anyone who's dosed significantly on hallucinogens can probably imagine, it seemed to be very real and to carry some rather dire implications. My hands never turned to putty, but for a while it seemed as if the appearances of objects were somehow "detached" from their essences, as if reality itself were dangling by a thread, as it were. This was true of people, as well. I had vague suspicions that I was being plotted against, that there was some demiurgic hive mind behind every face that was trying to drive me insane by throwing me metaphysical curveballs. (sounds like a Beefheart album....) Fortunately, by the time the paranoia got that baroque, I had come down enough that I could rationalize myself out of it, even if things didn't seem quite right for several days. Amazing to think that I've dealt with episodes of crippling depression and anxiety, and yet the most helpless and alone I've ever felt was when all my T-shirts went Estonian for a few hours. Bizarre thing, the human brain.

I thought about sharing another drug story that's actually got a punchline, but as it is I've veered far off the course of discussing Ligotti's fiction. Perhaps next time.
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Old 08-20-2005   #8
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Re: A Revolution Of All Matter And Energy

My previous post in this thread mentions an interval. This was the peak of my experience. It is that which I have chosen to blot from my memory for 30 years. It is a memory of the Ineffable. My interval is expressed most eloquently by Mr. Ligotti in the massive quote at the beginning of this thread. His words will do. The interval was madness, a constant struggle for dominance and sanity, on both my part and the Beast's. I like to think that I ultimately won the stare-down. The Beast, though, I'm sure, has had the last laugh. (To the uninitiated: avoid true understanding of the Ligotti quote above if you can. There's no turning back....)

"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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