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doctorcath

Bookivorous

I read books, I write about books, I would probably marry a book if I could find one who liked me enough. Three words to describe me mature, irresponsible, contradictory, unreliable...oh...that's four...

Don't make the mistake of taking this too seriously

The Conspiracy Against the Human Race - Thomas Ligotti, Ray Brassier

OK so if you look at the cover and title of this book and perhaps know something about Ligotti's reputation as a writer of weird and twisted horror fiction, and from that deduce that this is going to be the kind of read which sinks you into a morass of despair, then think again.

 

It's true that Ligotti's main premise is that consciousness, that quality of self-awareness that only humans seem to possess, is not so much a gift as a horrible affliction. Consciousness, he argues, allows us knowledge of our own death. It allows us to reflect, to wonder, to doubt. Instead of just going about our business, like other animals do, consciousness means we spend time worrying over things we cannot change, like death or whether we are as nice and pretty as we believe we are. Humans would be better off without consciousness, thinks Ligotti, but for some reason, nature has decided to burden us with it and turn our existence into one huge cosmic joke.

 

Yes, that sounds depressing, but only if you make the mistake (which I think Ligotti kind of wants you to) of taking it at all seriously. In other words, he's probably right that dogs are happier than humans, because they don't have the capacity to self-reflect or that having children is an act of selfishness, destined only to bring more unhappy adults into the world, but the fact is that if our whole existence is futile and pointless, then so is getting upset about it. Ligotti is a wind-up merchant. With an evil gleam in his eye, he's pointing out some disturbing facts with the obvious hope that he'll make his reader get all riled up about them. Combined with that is his other obvious hope that you'll see the joke and start laughing instead.

 

Which is what I did. Yes, existence is absurd. What else can you do but laugh about it?