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The Conspiracy Against the Human Race The Conspiracy Against the Human Race by Thomas Ligotti
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The Conspiracy Against the Human Race Quotes (showing 1-30 of 58)
“This is the great lesson the depressive learns: Nothing in the world is inherently compelling. Whatever may be really “out there” cannot project itself as an affective experience. It is all a vacuous affair with only a chemical prestige. Nothing is either good or bad, desirable or undesirable, or anything else except that it is made so by laboratories inside us producing the emotions on which we live. And to live on our emotions is to live arbitrarily, inaccurately—imparting meaning to what has none of its own. Yet what other way is there to live? Without the ever-clanking machinery of emotion, everything would come to a standstill. There would be nothing to do, nowhere to go, nothing to be, and no one to know. The alternatives are clear: to live falsely as pawns of affect, or to live factually as depressives, or as individuals who know what is known to the depressive. How advantageous that we are not coerced into choosing one or the other, neither choice being excellent. One look at human existence is proof enough that our species will not be released from the stranglehold of emotionalism that anchors it to hallucinations. That may be no way to live, but to opt for depression would be to opt out of existence as we consciously know it.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“For the rest of the earth’s organisms, existence is relatively uncomplicated. Their lives are about three things: survival, reproduction, death—and nothing else. But we know too much to content ourselves with surviving, reproducing, dying—and nothing else. We know we are alive and know we will die. We also know we will suffer during our lives before suffering—slowly or quickly—as we draw near to death. This is the knowledge we “enjoy” as the most intelligent organisms to gush from the womb of nature. And being so, we feel shortchanged if there is nothing else for us than to survive, reproduce, and die. We want there to be more to it than that, or to think there is. This is the tragedy: Consciousness has forced us into the paradoxical position of striving to be unself-conscious of what we are—hunks of spoiling flesh on disintegrating bones.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“No other life forms know they are alive, and neither do they know they will die. This is our curse alone. Without this hex upon our heads, we would never have withdrawn as far as we have from the natural—so far and for such a time that it is a relief to say what we have been trying with our all not to say: We have long since been denizens of the natural world. Everywhere around us are natural habitats, but within us is the shiver of startling and dreadful things. Simply put: We are not from here. If we vanished tomorrow, no organism on this planet would miss us. Nothing in nature needs us.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“As history confirms, people will change their minds about almost anything, from which god they worship to how they style their hair. But when it comes to existential judgments, human beings in general have an unfalteringly good opinion of themselves and their condition in this world and are steadfastly confident they are not a collection of self-conscious nothings.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“For optimists, human life never needs justification, no matter how much hurt piles up, because they can always tell themselves that things will get better. For pessimists, there is no amount of happiness—should such a thing as happiness even obtain for human beings except as a misconception—that can compensate us for life’s hurt. As a worst-case example, a pessimist might refer to the hurt caused by some natural or human-made cataclysm. To adduce a hedonic counterpart to the horrors that attach to such cataclysms would require a degree of ingenuity from an optimist, but it could be done. And the reason it could be done, the reason for the eternal stalemate between optimists and pessimists, is that no possible formula can be established to measure proportions and types of hurt and happiness in the world. If such a formula could be established, then either pessimists or optimists would have to give in to their adversaries.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“As a survival-happy species, our successes are calculated in the number of years we have extended our lives, with the reduction of suffering being only incidental to this aim. To stay alive under almost any circumstances is a sickness with us. Nothing could be more unhealthy than to “watch one’s health” as a means of stalling death. The lengths we will go as procrastinators of that last gasp only demonstrate a morbid dread of that event. By contrast, our fear of suffering is deficient.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“Within the hierarchy of fabrications that compose our lives—families, countries, gods—the self incontestably ranks highest. Just below the self is the family, which has proven itself more durable than national or ethnic affiliations, with these in turn outranking god-figures for their staying power. So any progress toward the salvation of humankind will probably begin from the bottom—when our gods have been devalued to the status of refrigerator magnets or lawn ornaments. Following the death rattle of deities, it would appear that nations or ethnic communities are next in line for the boneyard. Only after fealty to countries, gods, and families has been shucked off can we even think about coming to grips with the least endangered of fabrications—the self.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“Also worthy of mention is a clique among the suicidal for whom the meaning of their act is a darker thing. Frustrated as perpetrators of an all-inclusive extermination, they would kill themselves only because killing it all is closed off to them. They hate having been delivered into a world only to be told, by and by, “This way to the abattoir, Ladies and Gentlemen.” They despise the conspiracy of Lies for Life almost as much as they despise themselves for being a party to it. If they could unmake the world by pushing a button, they would do so without a second thought. There is no satisfaction in a lonesome suicide. The phenomenon of “suicide euphoria” aside, there is only fear, bitterness, or depression beforehand, then the troublesomeness of the method, and nothingness afterward. But to push that button, to depopulate this earth and arrest its rotation as well—what satisfaction, as of a job prettily done. This would be for the good of all, for even those who know nothing about the conspiracy against the human race are among its injured parties.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“As the ego-dead, so we might imagine, we would continue to know pain in its various forms—that is the essence of existence—but we would not be cozened by our egos to take it personally, an attitude that converts an individual’s pain into conscious suffering. Naturally, we would still have to feed, but we would not be omnivorous gourmands who eat for amusement, gorging down everything in nature and turning to the laboratory for more. As for reproduction, who can say? Animals are driven to copulate, and even as the ego-dead we would not be severed from biology, although we would not be unintelligently ruled by it, as we are now. As a corollary of not being unintelligently ruled by biology, neither would we sulk over our extinction, as we do now. Why raise another generation destined to climb aboard the evolution treadmill? But then, why not raise another generation of the ego-dead? For those who do not perceive either their pleasures or their pains as belonging to them, neither life nor death would be objectionable or not objectionable, desirable or not desirable, all right or not all right. We would be the ego-dead, the self-less, and, dare we are, the enlightened.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“As a fact, we cannot give suffering precedence in either our individual or collective lives. We have to get on with things, and those who give precedence to suffering will be left behind. They fetter us with their sniveling. We have someplace to go and must believe we can get there, wherever that may be. And to conceive that there is a 'brotherhood of suffering between everything alive' would disable us from getting anywhere. We are preoccupied with the good life, and step by step are working toward a better life. What we do, as a conscious species, is set markers for ourselves. Once we reach one marker, we advance to the next — as if we were playing a board game we think will never end, despite the fact that it will, like it or not. And if you are too conscious of not liking it, then you may conceive of yourself as a biological paradox that cannot live with its consciousness and cannot live without it. And in so living and not living, you take your place with the undead and the human puppet.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“As for procreation, no one in his right mind would say that it is the only activity devoid of a praiseworthy incentive. Those who reproduce, then, should not feel unfairly culled as the worst conspirators against the human race. Every one of us is culpable in keeping the conspiracy alive, which is all right with most people.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“One cringes to hear scientists cooing over the universe or any part thereof like schoolgirls over-heated by their first crush. From the studies of Krafft-Ebbing onward, we know that it is possible to become excited about anything—from shins to shoehorns. But it would be nice if just one of these gushing eggheads would step back and, as a concession to objectivity, speak the truth: THERE IS NOTHING INNATELY IMPRESSIVE ABOUT THE UNIVERSE OR ANYTHING IN IT.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“Nature proceeds by blunders; that is its way. It is also ours. So if we have blundered by regarding consciousness as a blunder, why make a fuss over it? Our self-removal from this planet would still be a magnificent move, a feat so luminous it would bedim the sun. What do we have to lose? No evil would attend our departure from this world, and the many evils we have known would go extinct along with us. So why put off what would be the most laudable masterstroke of our existence, and the only one?”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“Perhaps the greatest strike against philosophical pessimism is that its only theme is human suffering. This is the last item on the list of our species’ obsessions and detracts from everything that matters to us, such as the Good, the Beautiful, and a Sparking Clean Toilet Bowl. For the pessimist, everything considered in isolation from human suffering or any cognition that does not have as its motive the origins, nature, and elimination of human suffering is at base recreational, whether it takes the form of conceptual probing or physical action in the world—for example, delving into game theory or traveling in outer space, respectively. And by “human suffering,” the pessimist is not thinking of particular sufferings and their relief, but of suffering itself. Remedies may be discovered for certain diseases and sociopolitical barbarities may be amended. But those are only stopgaps. Human suffering will remain insoluble as long as human beings exist. The one truly effective solution for suffering is that spoken of in Zapffe’s “Last Messiah.” It may not be a welcome solution for a stopgap world, but it would forever put an end to suffering, should we ever care to do so. The pessimist’s credo, or one of them, is that nonexistence never hurt anyone and existence hurts everyone. Although our selves may be illusory creations of consciousness, our pain is nonetheless real.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“Look at your body— A painted puppet, a poor toy Of jointed parts ready to collapse, A diseased and suffering thing With a head full of false imaginings. —The Dhammapada”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror
“To say that some kind of god might exist is to vivify its being with mystery. To define a god into existence because it meets certain criteria for godhood is to kill that god by turning it into a cheapjack idol with a publicity team of theologians behind it. This would explain why so many deities—all of them, in fact—have fallen apart or are in the process of doing so: eventually every god loses its mystery because it has become overqualified for its job. After a god’s mystery is gone, arguments for its reality begin. Logic steps in to resuscitate what has been bled of its healthful vagueness. Finally, another “living god” is consigned to the mortuary of scholars.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“So they trust in the deity of the Old Testament, an incontinent dotard who soiled Himself and the universe with his corruption, a low-budget divinity passing itself off as the genuine article. (Ask the Gnostics.) They trust in Jesus Christ, a historical cipher stitched together like Frankenstein's monster out of parts robbed from the graves of messiahs dead and buried - a savior on a stick. They trust in the virgin-pimping Allah and his Drum Major Mohammed, a prophet-come-lately who pioneered a new genus of humbuggery for an emerging market of believers that was not being adequately served by existing religious products. They trust in anything that authenticates their importance as persons, tribes, societies, and particularly as a species that will endure in this world and perhaps in an afterworld that may be uncertain in its reality and unclear in its layout, but which states their craving for values "not of this earth" - that depressing, meaningless place their consciousness must sidestep every day.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“But even if ego-death is regarded as the optimum model for human existence, one of liberation from ourselves, it still remains a compromise with being, a concession to the blunder of creation itself. We should be able to do better, and we can. To have our egos killed off is second-best to killing off death and all the squalid byplay that flitters around it. So let all lands be small, and grower smaller and smaller until no lands are left where any human footstep need press itself upon the earth.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“Most people learn to save themselves by artificially limiting the content of consciousness.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror
“The point that in the absence of birth nobody exists who can be deprived of happiness is terribly conspicuous. For optimists, this fact plays no part in their existential computations. For pessimists, however, it is axiomatic. Whether a pessimist urges us to live “heroically” with a knife in our gut or denounces life as not worth living is immaterial. What matters is that he makes no bones about hurt being the Great Problem it is incumbent on philosophy to observe. But this problem can be solved only by establishing an imbalance between hurt and happiness that would enable us in principle to say which is more desirable—existence or nonexistence. While no airtight case has ever been made regarding the undesirability of human life, pessimists still run themselves ragged trying to make one. Optimists have no comparable mission. When they do argue for the desirability of human life it is only in reaction to pessimists arguing the opposite, even though no airtight case has ever been made regarding that desirability. Optimism has always been an undeclared policy of human culture—one that grew out of our animal instincts to survive and reproduce—rather than an articulated body of thought. It is the default condition of our blood and cannot be effectively questioned by our minds or put in grave doubt by our pains. This would explain why at any given time there are more cannibals than philosophical pessimists.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“Officially there are no fates worse than death. Unofficially, there is a profusion of such fates. For some people, just living with the thought that they will die is a fate worse than death itself.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“No one in a productive society wants you to know there ways of looking at the world other than their ways, and among the effects drugs may have is that of switching a mind from the normal track. Reading the works of certain writers has a corresponding effect. When receptive individuals explore the writings of someone such as Lovecraft, they are majestically solaced to find articulations of existence countering those to which the heads around them have become habituated.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“Love? What is it? The most natural painkiller what there is.” You may become curious, though, about what happened to that painkiller should depression take hold and expose your love—whatever its object—as just one of the many intoxicants that muddled your consciousness of the human tragedy. You may also want to take a second look at whatever struck you as a person, place, or thing of “beauty,” a quality that lives only in the neurotransmitters of the beholder. (Aesthetics? What is it? A matter for those not depressed enough to care nothing about anything, that is, those who determine almost everything that is supposed to matter to us. Protest as you like, neither art nor an aesthetic view of life are distractions granted to everyone.) In depression, all that once seemed beautiful, or even startling and dreadful, is nothing to you. The image of a cloud-crossed moon is not in itself a purveyor of anything mysterious or mystical; it is only an ensemble of objects represented to us by our optical apparatus and perhaps processed as a memory.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror
“For better or worse, pessimism without compromise lacks public appeal. In all, the few who have gone to the pains of arguing for a sullen appraisal of life might as well never have been born. As history confirms, people will change their minds about almost anything, from which god they worship to how they style their hair. But when it comes to existential judgments, human beings in general have a unfalteringly good opinion of themselves and their condition in this world and are steadfastly confident they are not a collection of self-conscious nothings”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
“Our common preference as a species is for difference rather than unity. (Vive la différence. Vive la guerre.) Nobody designed us to be this way—it just happens to be how we blundered into the nightmare of being. Life preys on life, per Schopenhauer”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror
“How much nonsense can we take in our lives? And is there any way we can escape it? No, there is not. We are doomed to all kinds of nonsense: the pain nonsense, the nightmare nonsense, the sweat and slave nonsense, and many other shapes and sizes of insufferable nonsense. It is brought to us on a plate, and we must eat it up or face the death nonsense.7”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror
“optimism, where it is not merely the thoughtless talk of those who harbor nothing but words under their shallow foreheads, seems to me to be not merely an absurd, but also a really wicked, way of thinking, a bitter mockery of the most unspeakable sufferings of mankind”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror
“one must take into account the shocking fact that we live on a world that spins. After considering this truth, nothing should come as a surprise.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror
“The major part of our species seems able to undergo any trauma without significantly re-examining its household mantras, including “everything happens for a reason,” “the show must go on,” “accept the things you cannot change,” and any other adage that gets people to keep their chins up.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror
“We, as licensed protectors of the species and members in good standing of the master-class of the race, by the power invested in us by those who wish to survive and reproduce, vow to enforce the fiction that life is worth having and worth living come hell or irreparable brain damage.”
Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror

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