Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror by Thomas Ligotti

Ligotti, who usually pens works of grim and terrifying horror fiction, has written his first book-length essay, which is a non-fiction study of the horrors of humanity. Mostly it is an interesting survey of philosophical and literary thought that celebrates nihilism and pessimism. Two of my favorite things.

I really enjoyed it, but Conspiracy is hard to recommend because it's either going to confirm your depression or shatter your joie de vivre. At best, it is a sobering work of disillusionment and an utter rejection of consciousness and reproduction. At worst, it a depressing reminder that we should all just kill ourselves and be done with it. One day, I will work up the motivation to leave print outs of this around college dorms, doctors offices, grocery stores, hair salons, and bus stops. This is the sort of thing that only people of a certain taste will appreciate, but anyone who fits the description of "lowest common denominator" should be forced to read.

Ligotti's essay is well written, but rambling and does not stand as a good example of his typical work. There are many sections that are elegantly woven together, but in other parts he sounds like a raving teenager throwing a temper tantrum. It also is not useful if you're looking for much original thought, but is good as a resource for older, more obscure works on similar subjects. Conspiracy is sort of a compendium of who's who in the list of philosophers and writers that recognize humanity is meaningless, even malignant, like Schopenhauer and Zapffe.

Unfortunately the book has been woefully neglected. For awhile it was hard to find, but because it received a Bram Stoker horror literary awards nomination it is available in a cheap paperback edition. The out of print hardcover is still pretty pricey. The torrent is readily available, but I'm hoping to find an affordable copy soon or, better yet, someone will get their shit together and reprint it.

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