Gateway to the Real: Lovecraft, Ligotti, and the Inhuman

Perhaps this gives us a minimal definition of materialism: the irreducible distance between the two vacuums.
……– Slavoj Žižek, Less Than Nothing

In Michael W. Clune’s excellent essay Loving the Alien: Thomas Ligotti and the Psychology of Cosmic Horror (LA Review of Books: Jan 26 2016) I find what many would affirm a non-human reading of these two masters of Horror. As Clune will remark, “perhaps Lovecraft’s most ardent recent lovers have been philosophers like Graham Harman, Quentin Meillassoux, and Eugene Thacker, who approach his work with a new kind of intellectual intensity. These philosophers see Lovecraft as effecting a kind of Copernican revolution. In story after story, he depicts the invasion of the human world by a monstrous perspective, embodied in hideous forms of alien life. But what makes Lovecraftian horror genuinely cosmic is the capacity of the monstrous perspective to put humans in their place.”

In a recent book The Nonhuman Turn (Richard Grusin, Series Editor) Grusin will delimit this field of thought telling us the “nonhuman turn more generally, is engaged in decentering the human in favor of a turn toward and concern for the nonhuman, understood variously in terms of animals, affectivity, bodies, organic and geophysical systems, materiality, or technologies”.1  Clune for his part speaks to the monstrousness of things, saying of Lovecraft: the monstrous perspective of Lovecraft’s invention presents the ultimate challenge to anthropomorphism, which these thinkers argue became endemic to philosophy with the work of Immanuel Kant. It’s this decentering of the humanist and Judeo-Christian heritage locked in its fantasy of Man as the exception in the grand scheme of things, as the being created by God – a “little lower than the angels, only to ultimately rule over them” (KJB). In Kant’s time Enlightenment Reason was the central motif of the human, the light that guided thought and politics, that brought emancipation and the sciences, gave us the truth of the universe of things, etc. Some call this era the “great disenchantment”. Nietzsche’s “Death of God” or the nihilist liberation of the universe from its significations and meanings. An age when the universe lost its human meaning and regained its own truth: the truth of meaninglessness, impersonalism, and indifference to human wants or needs. The universe was devoid of human meaning or gods and would hence forth be ruled by the mastery and power of Reason alone. Yet, the bourgeoisie would take this as meaning the universe could be stripped bare of its resources for the utilization of men for profit and gain: the capitalist credo.

So as Clune tells us these “philosophers imitate Lovecraft by resolutely pushing to the margins our own interest in the world, our own desire for the world, our own experience of the world. They tell us that we should strive to see ourselves as the puny and fundamentally insignificant beings we are. We need to abandon our comforting illusions of a human-centered world and orient our thought to the vast cold universe of things. We must inquire how things look from the perspective of the things themselves; we must attend to the world without us.”

Yet, I wonder sometimes about this nonhuman turn and whether it is just another academic bandwagon pop-philosophy of the moment that seeks to corner some niche in the scholarly grist-mill. What I mean by this is the simple fact that we may talk of perceiving things from their own perspective – the nonhuman perceiving on its own autonomously, but isn’t this, too, just a fantasy; a way of speaking, rhetoric and nothing more. After reading for several years in Speculative Realism from Quentin Meillassoux through Harman, Bogost, Morton, Bryant; as well as DeLanda and the vitalist materialists or any number of new Media-Theorists of nonhuman or other decenterments of the human I have yet to see how this is more than a linguistic trick, a game of poetry and words rather than something we could actually know by way of experience or intellect (intuition or understanding), etc. Who exactly is it that would “look from the perspective of things themselves”? Not you or I, and certainly not those nonhuman philosophers. So would those things-in-themselves suddenly rise up and speak, tell us just what they perceive? Isn’t this change of perspective just a way of “speaking,” a trope, a turn of phrase, a mere piece of sophistry; pure rhetoric and spin on a conceptual notion that is actually a non-concept, since only humans that we know of have epistemic or ontological capacities and powers to reflect or even self-reflect upon third or first person singular actions and activities?

As much as I’ve enjoyed all this fantasy of nonhuman objects, hyperobjects, and the dance of sentient perspective form panpsychist to polypsychist notions that things have perceptions, there is as yet no way to prove this – at least scientifically. But this is the stickler for most of these nonhumanists, science is reductionary and based on an outmoded methodology of Objectivity and description that they see as just wrongheaded and out of joint. I keep asking myself: if that is so, then why do the sciences work? How did the atom bomb ever split on that infamous day? How has a an AI recently beat a GO champion at his own best game. How did a scientist and entrepreneur recently implant himself with electrodes and manipulate wirelessly a computer? Science works. What about philosophy?

Most of philosophy has returned to metaphysics in search of sustenance and a new path forward. Yet, even Clune wonders out loud: “Can it be that this strict avoidance of anthropomorphism is itself a mystification? Are we afraid to peer too deeply into our experience of the Lovecraftian abyss? Do we fear learning the nature of our desire for what Lovecraft offers?”

Exactly! Maybe instead of peering into that abyss we are so busy filling it up with dreams and fantasies of speaking objects, and nonhuman things with lives and perceptions of their own that we forget just what it is that drove us away from the human center to begin with. What if what we fear is the abyss in ourselves? That we seek to cover up this wild mistake, this accident of the human, consciousness, this strange and disquieting guest and “vanishing mediator” between all those nonhuman Things-in-themselves and the fantasy worlds of our cultural and symbolic realms of the human. What if what we seek to escape is not the human, but its lies, its fictions, its fantasies? To reenter the gap of self-reflecting nothingness – the abyss of our own being, our freedom – free of the rhetorical garbage heap of culture that has overdetermined our worlds for far too long.

Maybe what we’re afraid of is looking into that Lovecraftian abyss and discovering the rude truth: that the abyss is empty, a Void, a great vastation of nothingness in which the monstrous quantum flux of immaterial sparks flash in and out of existence. That underneath the mask of appearances lies nothingness, a great empty Void:

What if we posit that “Things-in-themselves” emerge against the background of the Void of Nothingness, the way this Void is conceived in quantum physics, as not just a negative void, but the portent of all possible reality? This is the only true consistent “transcendental materialism” which is possible after the Kantian transcendental idealism. For a true dialectician, the ultimate mystery is not “Why is there something rather than nothing?” but “Why is there nothing rather than something?” (Zizek, Less Than Nothing: p. 239).

In fact as Clune tells it this is the central vision of Thomas Ligotti, inheritor of the crown from Lovecraft: “Ligotti gives this wild impulse to surrender our human way of seeing things its proper name: vice. His protagonists voluptuously give themselves over to it. They seek disciplines and practices that will give them the capacity to see the human world as a deceptive veil, “an ornamented void.” ” He’ll further quote Ligotti, of those who wish to live “…in unwavering acceptance of the spectral nature of things.” Organic and inorganic matter pushes through the familiar shapes of the human world and warps them. Our world dissolves in fantastic shapes and unreal colors, “appearances cast out of emptiness.” Zizek will speak of the two vacuums or voids and the Higgs field, saying,

“…introduc[ing] a distinction between two vacuums”: first, there is the “false” vacuum in which the Higgs field is switched off, i.e., there is pure symmetry with no differentiated particles or forces; this vacuum is “false” because it can only be sustained by a certain amount of energy expenditure. Then, there is the “true” vacuum in which, although the Higgs field is switched on and the symmetry is broken, i.e. there is a certain differentiation of particles and forces, the amount of energy spent is zero. In other words, energetically, the Higgs field is in a state of inactivity, of absolute repose. At the beginning, there is the false vacuum; this vacuum is disturbed and the symmetry is broken because, as with every energetic system, the Higgs field tends towards the minimization of its energy expenditure. This is why “there is something and not nothing”: because, energetically, something is cheaper than nothing. (LTN, p. 240)

The realms of quantum pre-ontological vacuums out of which the phenomenological baryonic worlds of matter all around us arises. What is crucial to note with the Higgs field is that the two vacuums whose existence it posits are not by any means equal: rather than encountering a mere polarity, a two-sided principle that brings together a delicate dance of opposites like light and day, life and death, fullness and lack, into equilibrium, we see a constitutive imbalance. 2 As Carew relates it:

Once we apply this principle cosmologically as a metaphysical principle, instead of having an eternal repetition of creation (breaking of the symmetries) and its destruction (return to the void), reality and its disappearance into the abyss, we come across a “displaced One, a One which is, as it were, retarded with regard to itself, always already ‘fallen,’ its symmetry always already broken.” (Carew, p. 240)

Almost as if in contradistinction to the Christian creationists who see the universe as fallen in sin, lost within the sorrows of ancient chaos and time. Or the Gnostics who saw the universe as the catastrophic creation of a demon god, the Demiurge, fallen son of Sophia, a blind god bound immanently with the particles of the churning ocean of time, the very embodiment of pain and suffering, the infernal desires of the death drive in all its endless “rotary” of drives in the ocean of Being. A nod to the later Spinozistic God of substance and blind determinism. Yet, against these two readings above Zizekian metaphysics relates us to the two voids: out of this blind universe of determinism and Ananke, or Necessity, something strange and uncanny arises: a gap is opened in the darkness of being and time, a self-reflecting nothingness born out of a traumatic event: an antagonistic freedom: the ‘false vacuum’ cannot simply be dismissed as a mere illusion, leaving only the ‘true’ vacuum, so that the only true peace is that of incessant activity, of balanced circular motion—the ‘true’ vacuum itself remains forever a traumatic disturbance.” (Carews, p. 241) Zizek says, But why? –

For the precise reason that without this primordial antagonism we could not explain the minimal distinction between the void and its vibrations, between the nothing and the ontologically incomplete realities barely distinguishable from it—in short, how the symmetries between particles and forces could have been broken in the first place. (C, p. 241)

So here we are in the gap between the Real and the Symbolic bound between the two like an engine of fright, terrified of the one, comforted by the illusory worlds of fantasy of the other, restless and full of that melancholy light of freedom that keeps us striving to know and understand. The reason Žižek can say that if “[t]he answer to ‘Why is there Something rather than Nothing?’ is thus that there is only Nothing, and all processes take place ‘from Nothing through Nothing to Nothing,’” then “this nothing is not the Oriental or mystical Void of peace, but the nothingness of a pure gap (antagonism, tension, ‘contradiction’), the pure form of dislocation ontologically preceding any dislocated content,” thus radically changing our very notion of nothingness itself. (C, p. 241)

Clune in his essay will mention the critic Rei Terada tells us about Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Romantic, proto-Ligottian practice of certain optical illusions that lift the burden of reality slightly: a squint in the eyes in which things are seen in the right way, the streetlamp outside looks like it is submerged beneath flowing water. He’ll say: What happened? – “A little gap opened between appearance and reality. For a moment, the streetlamp looked different. It looked as if it belonged to another world than the one I know. At such moments I am like the protagonist of Ligotti’s greatest story, “Vastarien”: “a votary of that wretched sect of souls who believe that the only value of this world lies in its power — at certain times — to suggest another.””

What is this other world? The very void of which we’ve been speaking, the nothingness out of which all pre-ontological things become part of our universe of ontologically real entities. What Ligotti more than even Lovecraft tries to reveal is the visible darkness of this Void of the Real. As Clune mentions, in Ligotti’s the “The Dreaming in Nortown” the antagonist will say: “All that was needed to shatter this acceptance waited outside — something of total unacceptability atop a rickety scaffold of estrangement.” What is needed Zizek tells us is to “traverse the fantasy,” to allow ourselves to work through the symbolic codes and illusions of the Symbolic Order that has pulled its ideological blinkers over our minds, its defense mechanisms against the truth, and then to wander free of this human(ist) world into the inhuman world of the Real around us. Yet, do not wonder too closely, for it might just burn you beyond recall. Insofar as this gap or crack in things cannot be mediated with the absolute, it presents itself as “the non-dialectical ground of negativity,” so that “[t]he old metaphysical problem of how to name the nameless abyss pops up here in the context of how to name the primordial gap: contradiction, antagonism, symbolic castration, parallax, diffraction, complementarity, up to difference.” But the name that is perhaps best suited to this is the subject. (C, p. 242)

As Clune reminds us Ligotti’s tales are “allegories of a style of writing that carries out guerilla warfare against the familiar world”. To free ourselves of the Symbolic Order of illusions, the ideological constructs of political, the socio-cultural systems of signification and meaning is to join the war for the Real. What we need is a politics of the Real. Not one that would lead us into it, but one that would allow us to know it for what it is, to unbind our minds from the illusions that have been imposed on us from childhood by our authoritarian worlds of education, and national or global systems. To as Zizek has said repeatedly “tarry with the negative”. Not to transcend it in some rapture of the Real which would only destroy us, but to situate ourselves in the gap of freedom without grasping after some fantasy of safety, truth, myth to fill that gap up again and fall back into the illusions of comfort and the sleep of reason.

In fact as Clune asks: “Who is it that feels liberation when the weight of life is lifted? Who is it that feels infinity flower as the appearances of the human world drift free of the things?” His answer:

If in Ligotti’s cosmic horror “unreal” names the desired object of perception, then “unborn” names the desired subject of perception. The one who opens himself to the uncanny experience of the disintegration of the human world, discovers in himself a trace of someone or something that is not human.

Is this not the Subject as self-reflecting nothingness, free of the Symbolic Order of humanism, all the fantasies and illusory comforts of those apotropaic charms of society and civilization, literature, philosophy, science, poetry, etc. shorn from our being, left with the bare minimum the “homo sacer” where at last we discover that abyss within ourselves of the inhuman core. As Zizek says in Less Than Nothing:

This, perhaps, is how one can imagine the zero-level of creation: a red diving line cuts through the thick darkness of the void, and on this line, a fuzzy something appears, the object-cause of desire—perhaps, for some, a woman’s naked body (as on the cover of this book). Does this image not supply the minimal coordinates of the subject-object axis, the truly primordial axis of evil: the red line which cuts through the darkness is the subject, and the body its object? (C, p. 243)

This is the empty place between the void and the void, a slight perturbation and fluctuation between two realms: the brokenness of Being and Void in which the Subject arises in freedom.


  1. The Nonhuman Turn (Richard Grusin, Series Editor)  Center for 21st Century Studies. (21st century studies) 2015 (Page iv).
  2. Carew, Joseph. Ontological Catastrophe: Zizek and the Paradoxical Metaphysics of German Idealism (New Metaphysics). (Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library, October 29, 2014)

 

12 thoughts on “Gateway to the Real: Lovecraft, Ligotti, and the Inhuman

  1. My nature is not to be polemical or develop an argument except when it comes to Zizek I put aside my precarious little garden with fledgling ideas watered by my sunshine and empathy that being on the verge of understanding remain to be thought :-). Yeah, the Buddhist void thing or objet a that is a little too comfortable, well, it is not necessarily a peaceful harmony and it depends on who you read what it means. Zizek seems critical as I remember him saying in a video, sorry forget the link, because CEO’s turn to Buddhism to relax from the pressures of their exploits. That is not a reason to question it and neither is it that it can have a soothing quality. A little while ago Juan Arnau gave me the best insight into the notion of Sunyata as understood by Nagarjuna (Mahayana Buddhism) while I was reading his “La Palabra Frente Al Vacio”. Aranau is a Sanskrit translator who has written an interesting book on translation in Benjamin, Foucault, Blanchot. For him translation or reading for that matter is a kind of defamiliarizing contraband. He is an Eastern philosopher and has written books on Spinoza and Berkeley that are a hybridization of fiction and non-fiction. To get across how it works as a descriptive pointer of impermanence or the flux of things he uses the metaphor of an insect that changes itself according to its environment. Mostly this is for defensive purposes but it can be an offensive strategy depending on the angle you look like in an anamorphic image. He has read French philosophy so I took him to be referring to Callois’ article on the praying mantis that he would have discussed with people like Bataille and Blanchot. Callois understood mimicry as a kind of luxury that could be spent without getting anything from it. So it can be said to be a sort of refrain between the human and non-human that dispossesses or expropriates the human understood as a narcissistic consumerist subject to be trusted with credit. A refrain is like a lullaby or the repetition of a phrase that allows us to avoid, re-frain from a possible danger or anxiety. It is a transitional object in Winnicott’s sense of helping us to liberate ourselves from being dependents of some authority that we take to be a momy or daddy making possible the capacity to go on with our own analysis because the analyst has in fact been introjected as a sort of inner guide somewhat like how Dante internalized and partnered up with Virgil and was able to be wounded by the frisson that he describes at the beginning of his descent into hell, into decathecting depression;– as the experience that someone has who has barely avoided shipwreck at sea when he first steps on solid ground while the memory of possible death still looms strongly in his mind. When I get nervous about something I turn to a little refrain, I start whistling or repeating non-sense words. Franco “Bifo” Berardi writes in “The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance” that “Insurrection is a refrain helping to withdraw the psychic energies of society from the standardized rhythm of compulsory competition-consumerism, and helping to create an autonomous collective sphere.” He puts emphasis on poetry but really anything that defamiliarizes our habitual ways of understanding or questions our memory works. Anything from sci-fi, horror, poetry, or unsual blogs and commentary is immediately a form of transformative shaking loose that can open a space that spaces, gaps enough to allow for something more unusual to posses us that doesn’t lead to a recognizable identity or group-synthesis or any authoritarian organization of mental pictures where discussions become more like listening to a bunch of parrots than singletons working on their own style and organization where the insolvency of a frivolous decorative drift over the emptiness of the screen becomes a graceful line of flight from the standard organization of mental pictures, from the symbolic order, from a normalized academic mentality.

    Like the Nothing in Heidegger Sunyata is not a void but a flux of constantly changing states and phases where anything that would take itself as permanent is experienced as more precarious, fragile… captured beautifully in this verse of the Diamond Sutra: ” “Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream; Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream.” Indeed, another name for the void, is the precarious. Something appears to disappear like a wink and a drifting cloud veiling memories with just enough doubt to make one pause, sit back, and loose all wonder and curiosity for the alien tongue.

    This a far cry from what Zizek says which is surely a caricature that is in fact being constructed by the way his understanding of things and ideas has become a habit for him. He does this all the time in his polemics. He constructs a straw man, a mental picture, in other words, a FANTASY, which apparently need not be traversed? At least when he is being polemical he reminds me of Don Quixote which discusses all these issues when in a scene where he is watching a puppet show he is overcome with passion and comes to the aid of the Christian puppets and starts assaulting Master Pedro’s “moorish puppets” nearly cutting off his fingers. Zizek’s Buddhist void is like a windmill for Don Quixote and doesn’t quite fit reality because it is a fantastic caricature.

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    • I’ve said the below in a matter of minutes so its not perfect:

      Before I get started I’ll admit that Zizek has a superficial view of Buddhism, and seems to imply and confuse what he terms “Western Buddhism” with the various forms of the two schools and traditions of the Greater and Lesser Paths, etc. Northern and Southern, Hinayana and Mahayana. That being said I wish to clarify my own years of study on the matter as a practioner of Martial Arts and student of various aspects of Buddhism under a Korean Master. I’ll not go into depth of the three schools of Mahayana (i.e., Dharmalaksana Sects, schools of Tien Tai, Xian Shou and Chan (Zen), and School of Madhyamika. Rather just stick with the notion of sunyata.

      Simplest statement: Sunyata – is referred to as “Dharma-nature”, and hence there is a distinction between “phenomena” and “Dhamma-nature”. However, this is only an expedient explanation that helps us to realise the truth of sunyata through the phenomena of all existences.

      We should not think that “existence” and “nature”; or the “phenomena of Dharma” and “Dharma-nature” are something contradictory. They are just concepts needed to understand the implication of sunyata.

      We may analyse the expedient explanation of “existence” and the “nature (voidness)” from two aspects:

      a) The truth of sunyata is the nature of each individual existence. Each step we make in understanding that each minor form has a nature that is not describable by words, are steps to the realisation of the truth of sunyata. The sunyata of Dharma nature is the same for all, it is non distinguishable. However, from our deluded viewpoint, we assume that it is the nature of each individual existence and not an abstract common nature.

      b) Dharma-nature is best described as the characteristic of equanimity of sunyata. It cannot be described as many or one and absolute. (One is relative to many!) We cannot say that the Dharma-nature is different to existence. But at the same time, we cannot say that it is equal to existence. All in all, sunyata is the nature of existence. Although the realisation of supreme wisdom may seem to be abstract superficially, it embodies very substantial and compelling ideas.

      Obviously from the above one could see parallels and divergences from Western philosophical traditions, but to explicate that would take me too far afield and make the post an essay too long and not needed.

      Having practiced and studied Northern Mantis systems under Master Chul Woo Jung for many years when younger, I was introduced to and made a life long study of both Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism as part of my Martial Arts heritage. In Mahayana’s Prajna Sutra it says “That which is profound, has sunyata and non-attachment as its significance. No form nor deeds, no rising nor falling, are its implications.” Again in the Dvadasanikaya Sastra (composed by Nagarjuna, translated to Chinese by Kumarajiva A.D. 408) it says: “The greatest wisdom is the so-called sunyata.”

      This sunyata, no creation, calmness and extinction (s. nirvana) is of a profound significance in the Mahayana teachings. The Buddha always used the terms void, no rising and falling, calmness and extinction to explain the profound meaning of sunyata and cessation. For example, sunyata and the state of nirvana where there is no rising nor falling, are interpreted by most people as a state of non-existence and gloom. They fail to realise that quite the opposite, sunyata is of substantial and positive significance. The sutras often use the word “great void” to explain the significance of sunyata. In general, we understand the “great void” as something that contains absolutely nothing. However, from a Buddhist perspective, the nature of the “great void” implies something which does not obstruct other things, in which all matters perform their own functions. Materials are form, which by their nature, imply obstruction. The special characteristic of the “great void” is non-obstruction. The “great void” therefore, does not serve as an obstacle to them. Since the “great void” exhibits no obstructive tendencies, it serves as the foundation for matter to function. In other words, if there was no “great void” nor characteristic of non-obstruction, it would be impossible for the material world to exist and function.

      [One might by analogy see this as in modern physics where phenomenal existence is baryonic matter, the “great void” or support for baryonic phenomenalism is the mathematical model of Dark Energy/Dark Matter which cannot be direct detected accept as the needed mathematical equations (models) that help us construct the missing mass in the Universe, etc. One may call this the X.]

      Sunyata does not imply the “great void”. Instead, it is the foundation of all phenomena (form and mind). It is the true nature of all phenomena, and it is the basic principle of all existence. In other words, if the universe’s existence was not empty nor impermanent, then all resulting phenomena could not have arisen due to the co-existence of various causes and there would be no rising nor falling. The nature of sunyata is of positive significance! Calmness and extinction are the opposite of rising and falling. They are another way to express that there is no rising and falling. Rising and falling are the common characteristics of worldly existence. All phenomena are always in the cycle of rising and falling. However, most people concentrate on living (rising). They think that the universe and life are the reality of a continuous existence.

      [So in this sense the ontological universe around us is already split into phenomenal/noumenon or baryonic matter and X (i.e., Dark Energy and Dark Matter, etc.)]

      Yet, this does not fully address the pre-ontological. I’ve telescoped most of the above, which is obviously a reduction of probably thousands of pages (of which I’ve read but a smattering, and am no expert!). My expertise is in the practice of yogic and martial arts techniques, rather than in the full gamut of Buddhist teaching and literature. So forgive my lack of complete knowledge. Others will provide more in depth understanding.

      —————————

      In the Less Than Nothing Zizek understands the Real in the way Buddhists describe this positive form of sunyata as pure unadulterated activity and self-lacerating rotary drives of rising and falling: the noumenon of the Real that cannot be brought into language – the Symbolic Order (which as we know is the idealism of Lacan/Zizek) … While the Void is energetic flux of pre-ontological quantum flux: the formlessness before ontological emergence of mind and form, etc., that might be compared to those mathematical non-entities Dark Matter and Dark Energy which are the pre-ontological soup that supports all the known baryonic matter we see in the phenomenal universe.

      The Real is for Zizek the first aspect implied in the positive flux of quantum physics, while the second Greater Void – which like the empty Set in Badiou’s more Platonic notion is an empty place holder, or the pure negation of this positivation. As the first Real trys to reach toward Absolute Zero, while this second Void kicks in just at that point before the heat-death commences: subtraction of nothing comes the something, and the spark that produces baryonic matter, that we see all around us in the universe splits from the Dark Energy/Matter aspect of what current models speak of as the 84% or so of unknown information in the universe – Dark Energy and Dark Matter as X. The unknown X is the Real. All of this by way of analogy in his physics section in Less Than Nothing…

      Of course I’m not trying to convince you. I see you are more of a Deleuze/Guattari/Berardi/Lazzarato promotor, which I too have read and have many essays on my site if you do a search… Obviously there are different strokes for different folks. But it always seems people get confused over Zizek’s provocateur statements rather than the details in his works… He is himself careless in his videos at times, not going into detail but reducing arguments to jokes, and non-such… bad, but inevitable. He assumes people will have read the details, when in fact many do not. Sad.

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  2. “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.” — Nietzsche

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      • So, why did Lovecraft (and now Ligotti) paint this Abyss as such a dark place? Was it for their stories … or because they actually thought it “exists” in that manner?

        (I am aware of Ligotti’s self-admitted inability to feel happiness, but logic could still paint this abyss differently etc…).

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      • So, why did Lovecraft (and now Ligotti) paint this Abyss as such a dark place? – Isn’t that the 64,000 dollar question? Take your pick:
        Same reason Kant saw it as the great “unruliness and diabolical Evil,” and Hegel as the “night of the world”… some people see our external and extensive cosmos as chaotic and unruly, monstrous and excessive. A metaphysical bent or mood, disposition toward the gothic and vampiric nature of things… Obviously moderns might say “uncanny” etc. after Freud as the realm of Schellings “rotary drives”, of Freud’s “death drives”… a sort of Mask for Death… for Ligotti, the infernal paradise, etc.

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      • Okay, then what if it were posed that ALL of this “world” that Kant, Hegel, Ligotti, Lovecraft portrayed … was in fact entirely light.

        I suppose the underlying question to ask that might lead here is:

        Why is reality considered dark at all?

        If all of this “Cosmos” simply exists, meaningless as it may seem, but in fact only was reality … why is it considered evil?

        Does the community of Lions consider anything evil? (Sort of using a Panpsychism angle when considering “What is evil?”)

        It all “has” to exist … so maybe there is not a light and a dark … maybe it all just “is.” (The meaning lies in knowing we get the opportunity to explore it).

        This is fun stuff. 🙂

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      • Go out tonight and look between the stars and tell me what you see? Do you see light or darkness? Are not Lovecraft and Ligotti only following all those ancient naturalists like let’s say the Taoists who separated and split the world into dark and light, and the dark became associated with evil, death, horror, fright, witches, goblins, etc. throughout mythology. Are these men who though being atheistic any more prone to circumvent the symbolic core of our ancient tropes? No. That’s about the simplest reason for their appropriation of the gothic heritage of Romanticism and German Idealism.

        Obviously the Greeks saw the Cosmos as harmonious, bound in concentric circles dangling from the Chain of Being which worked up till the advent of the sciences and Renaissance thought began to dismantle these tropes and Enlightenment modernism began the slow disenchantment of thought…

        The evil came in for these philosophers and horror writers for the simple reason that the outer cosmos is unruly, chaotic, contingent, inconsistent, antagonistic, catastrophic (meteors and asteroids, sun bursts, etc. can at any moment wipe our planet out). Yes, it may all be meaningless, but that’s the point of their horror: the universe is totally indifferent to the human race, whether it lives or dies, it could care less. That’s the kernel of the excess that is evil, evil is the positive excess of the energetic universe of pure contingency that we cannot understand or control. This evil has nothing to do with Biblical or religious, normative or ethical deontological notions. This is the pure excess of the Real that cannot be brought into the Symbolic Order of human meaning, that which escapes our thoughts and leaves us speechless against the power of the unknown and impossible. This is metaphysical darkness and horror, not religious and ethical.

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