“I wanted to believe that this artist had escaped the dreams and demons of all sentiment in order to explore the foul and crummy delights of a universe where everything had been reduced to three stark principles: first, that there was nowhere for you to go; second, that there was nothing for you to do; and third, that there was no one for you to know. Of course, I knew that this view was an illusion like any other, but it was also one that had sustained me so long and so well — as long and as well as any other illusion and perhaps longer, perhaps better.”
My greatest love, my Lady and my Light, Linda Marie died on this day in the year 1999 which left an empty hole in my being which I know will remain unfilled for the rest of my life. It was just after this that in my ghost and zombie phase I ran into the work of Thomas Ligotti’s Nightmare Factory. I don’t even know why I picked it up in the local drugstore. The blue cover with all the bleak figures seeming to be as lost as I was in this tormented world of desire awakened something in me, a slight stirring of dark revelations at hand, something that might if even for a moment alleviate my strange torpor. I must say I engulfed these stories over one long weekend. They spoke to me from somewhere deep within, awakened those dark fires that haunt us all, left me bewildered and even more estranged and alien than I was already. And, yet they seemed to say things I was already thinking about life and my own existence and experience. His works would become immersed in my rereading’s of Schopenhauer, Bataille, Land, Cioran, Lem, Dick, Ballard, Twain, Vonnegut, Shakespeare, Borges, Pessoa and so many others… In Ligotti I found a questioning being, a being tired of the same old round of optimistic shibboleths that are tossed about by the self-help gurus and metaphysical clap track of sunny days and reasons why life is so grand and magnificent. No. I was done with that. The one thing that had given my life any meaning at all was lying six feet in the ground because of the viciousness of humans. I’ll not go into that. Ligotti opened up that dark world like a torrent and yet he gave it the stamp of an aesthetic appeal rooted in horror of both self and others, of this thing we are conscious beings aware of our (in)existence. This alone should send us all to that brink of suicidal madness, but it doesn’t; instead, it offers us art, the excellence of time-bound discipline in the oldest form of survival on this planet – the thought of a thinking being in the face of an inexplicable mystery. Ligotti’s insight was to look at the Medusa eyes wide open and live… that is, if you can call this life – Life.
I remember even as a child I began separating people into the artificial imbeciles – the bots with their cheery smiles and optimistic outlooks; and us others, the tormented beings like myself, who knew all too well that the world and the universe were hell and we’d been caged in its darkness, trapped by its alien agents of despair to live out a life of utter hopelessness. The only thing that helped me bluff my way through this bleak existence was my ability to make people laugh: the comic nihilist par excellence. I probably don’t let that out too much here. But in life when faced with all these sleepers, these happy bots roaming around the periphery of one’s existence what else do we have?