The 12+12 Books of Christmas #15


I once heard a male comic say: “I’m not a lesbian, but I can see their point.” The same could be said for nihilists. It’s been a really rough day, so I’ll just get right to it. Ligotti writes:

Simply put: We are not from here. If we vanished tomorrow, no organism on this planet would miss us. Nothing in nature needs us […] We have no business being in this world.

Ligotti thinks life is not alright, even though most people insist it is. Instead, life is “malignantly useless”. Consciousness forces us to think that there is something intrinsically good about our lives when there really isn’t. It takes a lot to shake a person awake from this Pollyanna fantasy:

Being alive is all right, or so most of us say. But when death walks through the door, nothing is all right. As some believe that life is that which should not be, the bulk of the rest of us believe the same of death.

Life is a horror show from beginning to end. There is no hope that your life will get better before it ends. The best you can expect is a peaceful death, but it will probably be something way more gruesome. Unspeakable pain and suffering before life puts you out of your misery. And once you’re gone, you will probably be forgotten in two generations. Your life will amount to nothing in the grand scheme of things and this is yet another fact of life that will cause you pain. If you have children, they will go through the same mayhem and you will have to bear the guilt of bringing them into this world.

Is there anything in life worth saving, anything that redeems it? Ligotti and other nihilists would say no, there really isn’t. Reading them is a gorefest of violent ideas that will leave you raw. Nevertheless, I did buy the book. I actually bought the Kindle edition as well. Not only that, I designed a university course on nihilism that was deeply inspired by Ligotti’s book. The course was a great experience and all the students were really into it. Watching this as someone who isn’t a nihilist–none of my students were nihilists either–was really rewarding. Ligotti’s brutal message seems to be the one we want to hear these days. We’re done with the endless bullshit of postmodernism, the jargon of philosophers, religion and pretty much everything else that does not tell the story as it is. I think it’s because we see that after we have spoken sincerely about the dark side of the human condition, we can finally get some actual work done. Nihilism is a starting point, a foundation on which to build. Even though Ligotti does not say this out loud, that’s what many thoughtful people I have met have taken away from his book.

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