‘An unapologetic pessimist’ – First review of Ligotti interview book

Born_to_Fear_Interviews_with_Thomas_Ligotti

I just stumbled across the first review of Born to Fear that I’ve yet seen.It was published today at PopMatters, and the reviewer’s take is positive. He also leads with something I’ve been meaning to mention here for the past month or two: that Tom’s work was a significant influence on the recent first season of HBO’s True Detective, and in fact served as the main inspiration for the icy cosmic pessimism that proved so hypnotic to so many viewers as they heard it articulated by Matthew McConaughey.

I’ll say more about that in some future post, but for now here’s a nice excerpt from the review:

In the 25 years that the interviews span, Ligotti’s take on life has remained constant. If for Shakespeare life is a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, for Ligotti “it’s a tragedy that consumes us and makes the world what it is — an inane and grotesque puppet show,” and he would disabuse us of any notion that it might possibly be otherwise.

. . . . In the interviews, Ligotti comes across as a learned man whom one might easily converse with, even disagree with, and still get along. He tells one of his interlocutors, for example, “let me pause a moment and acknowledge the obvious, namely, that my celebration of Poe and Lovecraft, and my derogation of writers who are unlike them, is a pure outpouring of personal temperament — and nothing more.”

Personal temperament, or something akin to it, was exactly what drew me to Camus, and what has made reading his books, along with those of Cioran, Ligotti and others, such a solace. Ligotti has a name for this effect: “This is what I call the ‘I thought I was the only one who felt that way’ syndrome. The farther your thoughts and feelings are from those of the mainstream, the more attached you will become to the writer who speaks for you so. You will feel lucky to have found that writer. And that writer will feel even luckier to have found you.”

With a new collection of interviews with Ligotti to read, hot on the heels of the successful first season of True Detective, pessimists have much to feel lucky about all around.

FULL REVIEW: “Hooked on True Detective? Check Out Its Influence, Thomas Ligotti

About Matt Cardin

Teeming Brain founder and editor Matt Cardin is the author of DARK AWAKENINGS, DIVINATIONS OF THE DEEP, A COURSE IN DEMONIC CREATIVITY: A WRITER’S GUIDE TO THE INNER GENIUS, and the forthcoming TO ROUSE LEVIATHAN. He is also the editor of BORN TO FEAR: INTERVIEWS WITH THOMAS LIGOTTI and the academic encyclopedias MUMMIES AROUND THE WORLD, GHOSTS, SPIRITS, AND PSYCHICS: THE PARANORMAL FROM ALCHEMY TO ZOMBIES, and HORROR LITERATURE THROUGH HISTORY.

Posted on June 2, 2014, in Arts & Entertainment and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. you might need to tweak the link to the full review (comes up with Teeming Brain url before Pop Matters)

  2. I have read a few of those interviews and it is extraordinary to observe that Ligotti has not changed his outlook in the slightest in three decades. I wonder to what extent this inability/unwillingness to reconsider anything should be praised as honesty and consistency or should be maligned for limiting the themes/styles of a great writer.

    Another thing I always found refreshing in his interviews is the implicit acceptance that his views are the result of disposition and psychopathologies. There is no preaching about discovered truths. In any case, this is a worthwhile project and once again, well done, Matt.

  3. Yes Im always impressed with how much of a gentleman he is as he advances the most extreme viewpoints, and then qualifies them with that caveat about personal pathology. I sometimes wonder what would happen if Lovecraft, Poe and Ligotti got together; I think Poe and Ligotti would hit it off, and both would be annoyed by Lovecraft’s eccentricities; perhaps this could be a sitcom.

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