ligotti

Antinatalism is based on the principle that suffering of whatever kind or degree should not be caused or perpetuated, and that human existence necessarily entails suffering that we can neither escape nor justify, least of all by experiencing pleasures. Thus, the only way to end all suffering would be to cease producing beings who suffer.
—  Thomas 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
—  Thomas Ligotti

So you’re looking for a spooky read, and maybe you’ve heard a few whispers of Ligotti, he of the terrifying dreams of masks, puppets, clowns, and so so much more. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with a round-up. Don’t say we didn’t warn you, though!

Caveat lector! 

And then we would discover its twisted streets and titling houses. Its decaying ground and rotting sky. And with our own eyes we would see the diseased faces peeking from grimy windows. Then we would realize why it is such a secret. The greatest and most vile secret. This degenerate little town where everything began and from whose core of corruption everything seeps out…
—  Thomas Ligotti - “This Degenerate Little Town”
Although I formerly believed myself to be the consummate knower of the town’s secrets, the following day was one of unforeseen discovery. The streets that I looked upon that motionless morning were filled with new secrets and seemed to lead me to the very essence of the extraordinary. And a previously unknown element appeared to have emerged in the composition of the town, one that must have been hidden within its most obscure quarters. I mean to say that, while these quaint, archaic facades still put on all the appearance of a dreamlike repose, there now existed, in my sight, evil stirrings beneath this surface. The town had more wonders than I knew, a secreted cache of blasphemous offerings. Yet somehow this formula of deception, of corruption in disguise, served to intensify the town’s most attractive aspects: a wealth of unsuspected sensations was now provoked by a few slanting rooftops, a low doorway, or a narrow backstreet. The mist spreading evenly through the town early that morning was luminous with dreams.
—  Thomas Ligotti - “The Sect of the Idiot”
.We need to know that puppets are puppets. Nevertheless, we may still be alarmed by them. Because if we look at a puppet in a certain way, we may sometimes feel it is looking back, not as a human being looks at us but as a puppet does. It may even seem to be on the brink of coming to life. In such moments of mild disorientation, a psychological conflict erupts, a dissonance of perception that sends through our being a convulsion of supernatural horror.
—  Thomas Ligotti, ‘The Conspiracy Against the Human Race’
By means of supernatural horror we may evade, if momentarily, the horrific reprisals of affirmation. Every one of us, having been stolen from nonexistence, opens his eyes on the world and looks down the road at a few convulsions and a final obliteration. What a weird scenario. So why affirm anything, why make a pathetic virtue of a terrible necessity? We are destined to a fool’s fate that deserves to be mocked. And since there is no one else around to do the mocking, we will take on the job. So let us delight in the Cosmic Macabre. At least we may send up a few bitter laughs into the cobwebbed corners of this crusty old universe.
— 

 ~Thomas Ligotti (on preferring Cosmic Horror to the Supernatural) 

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Collapse artwork by Andrey Kunin (see Collapse IV for some interesting content on Horror, including Ligotti’s work)

Like the rest of the world, I have spent my life searching for a way to annihilate myself. Others might prefer to characterise this more or less futile project as using such expressions as ‘to lose oneself,’ or 'to get out of oneself.’ I have no objection to these variant wordings and have even called on them myself to explain what I mean by the phrase 'to annihilate myself,’ although these explanations are also more or less futile.
—  John B. Ford and Thomas Ligotti - “The Mechanical Museum”
Meanwhile, the morbid man keeps putting his time to no good use, until in the end—amidst mad winds, moonlight, and craving spectres—he uses his time exactly like everyone else uses theirs: all up.
—  Thomas Ligotti, “On Morbidity” from “Professor Nobody’s Little Lectures on Supernatural Horror” published in Songs of a Dead Dreamer
If you want to alienate someone whose pain you cannot see or do not understand, just tell him that the problem is all in his head. This works both ways, naturally, and ensures an abiding impasse between the disgruntled and the contented…as well as between any groups or individuals that do not see eye to eye with one another.
—  Thomas Ligotti
People will accept a short horror story that ends badly. They won’t accept this in a horror novel… not after they’ve read so many hundreds of pages. […] Nevertheless, I think there’s a great potential in horror fiction that isn’t easily available to realistic fiction. This is the potential to portray our worst nightmares, both private and public, as we approach death through the decay of our bodies. And then to leave it at that—no happy endings, no apologias, no excuses, no redemption, no escape. Some horror writers have done this consistently, but not very many. I’ve been entertained by the works of these writers—it’s all show business after all—and beyond that I’ve felt a momentary satisfaction that someone could be so audacious as to speak ill of the precious gift of life when we’re all brainwashed from childhood never to utter a discouraging word. […] Best-selling horror fiction is indeed necessarily conservative because it must entertain a large number of readers. It’s like network television. I’m your local cable access station.
—  Thomas Ligotti, from an interview with Neddal Ayad entitled, Literature Is Entertainment or It Is Nothing (2004)