The consolation of horror in art is that it actually intensifies our panic, loudens it on the sounding-board of our horror-hollowed hearts, turns terror up full blast, all the while reaching for that perfect and deafening amplitude at which we may dance to the bizarre music of our own misery.
I am an offspring of the dead. I am descended from the deceased. I am the progeny of phantoms. My ancestors are the illustrious multitudes of the defunct, grand and innumerable. My lineage is longer than time. My name is written with embalming fluid in the book of death. A noble name is mine.
We know we are alive and know we will die. We also know we will suffer during our lives before suffering - slowly or quickly - as we draw near death. This is the knowledge we “enjoy” as the most intelligent organisms to gush from the womb of nature. And being so, we feel shortchanged if there is nothing else for us than to survive, reproduce, and die. We want there to be more to it than that, or to think that there is. This is the tragedy: Consciousness has forced us into the paradoxical position of striving to be unself-conscious of what we are - hunks of spoiling flesh on disintegrating bones. Nonhuman occupants of this planet are unaware of death. But we are susceptible to startling and dreadful thoughts, and we need some fabulous illusions to take our minds off them. For us, then, life is a confidence trick we must run on ourselves, hoping we do not catch on to any monkey business that would leave us stripped of our defense mechanisms and standing stark naked before the silent, staring void.
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against The Human Race, P. 29
The clown figure has had so many meanings in different times and cultures. The jolly, well-loved joker familiar to most people is actually but one aspect of this protean creature. Madmen, hunchbacks, amputees, and other abnormals were once considered natural clowns; they were elected to fulfill a comic role which could allow others to see them as ludicrous rather than as terrible reminders of the forces of disorder in the world. But sometimes a cheerless jester was required to draw attention to this same disorder, as in the case of King Lear’s morbid and honest fool, who of course was eventually hanged, and so much for his clownish wisdom. Clowns have often had ambiguous and sometimes contradictory roles to play.
Thomas Ligotti, from The Last Feast of Harlequin
While I no longer have a copy of the letter, I recall that I told him that I thought he and I shared a similar view of the world and its heart, though we had drawn different conclusions. Both Tom and I saw a fallen world, but I believe in redemption. Tom had gone to that terrible place beyond worlds, beyond redemptions, beyond words, where even the silence was ferocious and painful.
David Tibet, “Soft Black Star: Some Thoughts on Knowing Tom Ligotti”
The human phenomenon is but the sum
Of densely coiled layers of illusion
Each of which winds itself on the supreme insanity
That there are persons of any kind
When all there can be is mindless mirrors
Laughing and screaming as they parade about
in an endless dream