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The Conspiracy Against the Human Race

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  4,568 ratings  ·  506 reviews
His fiction is known to be some of the most terrifying in the genre of supernatural horror, but Thomas Ligotti's first nonfiction book may be even scarier. Drawing on philosophy, literature, neuroscience, and other fields of study, Ligotti takes the penetrating lens of his imagination and turns it on his audience, causing them to grapple with the brutal reality that they a ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published June 25th 2010 by Hippocampus Press
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J Realizing that life is objectively meaningless is the best, most liberating thing in this life and is exactly, paradoxically, what gives it meaning (t…moreRealizing that life is objectively meaningless is the best, most liberating thing in this life and is exactly, paradoxically, what gives it meaning (though totally illusory, subjective meaning), and therefore, helps me with happiness. Happiness itself, though, is ephemeral. Our emotional state is not consistent.(less)
Marko Momčilović If there are no objective meaning, there is no objective meaninglessness. It's all equally subjective.

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Bill Kerwin
Apr 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: weird-fiction

Are you one of those hardcore True Detective fans held in thrall by Detective Rust Cohle's rants about the bleakness of the universe? Did you wonder where all that weird stuff was coming from? Here. From this book. That's where it was coming from. Sometimes even verbatim.

This is an impressionistic survey by weird fiction writer Thomas Ligotti of the bleakest practitioners of modern philosophy, the guys who make Cioran look like a stand-up comic and Schopenhauer and Camus like irresponsible polly
Aug 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ligotti is a pessimist—and not some namby-pamby, equivocating, of course it will rain every day of my vacation! kind of doubting dude: Ligotti's pessimism is old school, pure, richly endowed with the ichor of nullity. Ligotti believes, firmly and avowedly, that, as the human race would have been better off never having come into existence in the first place, the most beneficial and sensible outcome for our species, as constituted at this particular point in the space/time continuum, would be to ...more
Neither Positive Nor Equivocal: The Malignant Uselessness of Being

Fear is an instinctual response to threat common to all animals. Horror, the self-generation of fear without threat, is unique to human beings. The Conspiracy Against the Human Race is an extended meditation on this remarkable fact. And its conclusions are even more remarkable: that the faculty we call consciousness, and consider as the apotheosis of evolutionary genetics, is profoundly destructive, not because we possess it but b
Nicole Cushing
Jul 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Darkest book I've ever read; and perhaps the most convincing. Highly recommended for all readers, except those with sanity or self-delusions left to lose.
Lighten up, Francis.

I was very tempted to leave it at that, but I do have more to say.

I should be the perfect audience for this book. I love Lovecraft's work, my worldview could best be summed up as "life is mostly pain, punctuated by moments of joy," and I'm congenitally pessimistic as was my father before me. At least, by the standard definition, but that's not far enough for Ligotti, who restricts the ranks of the true pessimist to those who believe that life is fundamentally not worth living
Aug 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
A remarkable if sometimes exasperating work of philosophy. Let me begin by saying that I agree with essentially all of the core assumptions of this book. As a Buddhist practitioner, I was especially moved by his treatment of suffering and of the Buddhist tradition, which I feel is mostly very perceptive, even if far from the platitudes of contemporary Buddhism. Further, the book spoke very directly to the sense of profundity I have occasionally experienced in the horror genre (HP Lovecraft and L ...more
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
The pessimist’s credo, or one of them, is that nonexistence never hurt anyone and existence hurts everyone.

Remember when you were 16 and you thought too much about life and its implications that you wound up in a "dark valley", got so depressed and borderline-suicidal that you decided to leave the "valley" and never look back? Thomas Ligotti has built himself a nice house in that valley.

To summarize the thesis of this non-fiction book/treatise: being alive is not alright, optimists are deceiving
Tim Pendry

A disappointment but perhaps not an unexpected one. Thomas Ligotti happens to be one of the greatest exponents of uncanny fiction, equal to his earlier masters Poe and Lovecraft - but in small doses.

We have already reviewed some of his short stories which are magnificently disturbing and thought-provoking but have also noted that he has difficulty in developing them to novella length.

His art is that of the short story. This foray into non-fiction is little more than an opinionated, often repeti
Aug 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: the brave
Thomas Ligotti is currently the best writer of English prose. Cormac McCarthy was better till the detestable Border Trilogy, and maybe The Road is up there with his best. Until McCarthy tops The Road, however, the honor goes to Thomas Ligotti. It doesn't matter at all you've never heard of him: I believe he prefers it that way.

I do not agree with the ... what? ... the anti-metaphysics of this, Ligotti's first nonfiction book. The fact I don't agree does not diminish the dark grandeur of this boo
Sep 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
If you are happy-go-lucky, optimistic, and think that life is a wonderful thing & happy to pop out human offspring because it makes you smile to think of continuing human life, then this is NOT the book for you. If, however, you see human life as a cruel joke that we know the fatal punch line to, then read & feel like slightly less of a freak, knowing that the genius literary mind of Thomas Ligotti knows your pain as well. He can't do anything about it, of course, but he makes a fine case for a ...more
Sep 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The fundamental thesis of Ligotti's philosophical work, is that life is MALIGNANTLY USELESS. The words malignantly and useless are capitalized because this is the most obvious reality, an absolute truth. Once the banal masks of idealized religiosity and morality are taken off, the real germ of life reveals itself. this germ is that life truly is MALIGNANTLY USELESS. We are essentially clockwork automatons, devoid of free will. Consciousness is an absurd mistake. Life is a deadly paradox. Our onl ...more
James Curcio
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Years of meditating and reading books on philosophy, psychology, years of lucid dreams and night terrors, do not make a person unique. But it is singularly unique to find what feels like your own thoughts reflected back at you when you didn't pen them. As I read The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, I had a strange feeling, as if Deja vu and vertigo had somehow been blended together. Had I read this before, if I hadn't written it?

Yet that disturbing familiarity regards an utterly useless proce
Apr 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tony Robbins
Recommended to Alexander by: Ryan
Mr. Ligotti has generously compiled his unexpurgated liner-notes to Titannica’s maxi-single “Try Suicide” and “Try Again (Adam’s Song)” in The Conspiracy Against the Human Race, a trade paper edition released on the Hippocampus imprint. (I’ve customized my own copy with an embedded sound-chip that plays S & G’s 59th Street Bridge Song each time I turn the page.)

So throw away those useless orange bottles of Paxil and Lexapro and let Happy Tom’s magic rainbow swirl of antihumanist glee explode out
Mar 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
I read this because Nic Pizzolatto mentioned it in one of his interviews about books that influenced his writing for TRUE DETECTIVE.

To be accurate, I should write that I "read" it. I found Ligotti's book to be unreadable: haranguing, desperate, and bloated. Once I realized that I couldn't stand to read the book cover-to-cover, I tried to read each section separately. Each time I started another section, I was simultaneously bored and irritated by the style, the cynicism, and the constant insiste
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Consider the following postulation: ‘Schopenhauer concurs that hypothesizing a thing-in-itself as the cause of our sensations amounts to a constitutive application and projection of the concept of causality beyond its legitimate scope, for the concept of causality only supplies knowledge when it is applied within the field of possible experience’. Now, imagine this psycho-babble oops, sorry, this aesthetic perception as a mode of transcendence, spread over 500 pages, and try reading it through. ...more
Aung Sett Kyaw Min
I found myself basically agreeing with Ligotti's fulminations against the cult of affirmationism, with one exception. I don't think the carnival has been going on quite long enough. I mean, have we really seen everything? Who among us really has the guts to say that they aren't at least remotely excited by the prospect of plumbing the ever more irredeemable depths of depravity that the future holds for our race? This book is not out to convert you, but it will leave profound lacerations on your ...more
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nudged up to five stars just for how damn readable it was....We are not ad idem on everything, not least because where he sees horror, I see the hilariously absurd, but he provides an excellent overview of the more extreme pessimistic position, and has introduced me to some very interesting thinkers of whose work I was unaware...

Well worth a gander...
David Mcangus
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Whenever I have the misfortune of turning the television on and coming across Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss or another of their pop atheist peers. I hope that instead of again arguing their materialistic perspective by denouncing religion, they might actually get to the heart of the matter of what that denouncement means. They don't however. Instead, like all humans (materialistic and religious alike) they try to force their subjective experience on the objective and call it a day.

The first
If you're anything like me, Ligotti's tone in this peculiar nihilistic screed will creep into daily life. Your girlfriend's listening to celebrity gossip Youtube videos in bed? MALIGNANTLY USELESS. Having to wait for three trains before you can finally cram onto the subway? MALIGNANTLY USELESS. The difference in your pool skills between your second and your fourth beer? MALIGNANTLY USELESS.

Is Ligotti a profoundly elegant writer? Yes. Does he successfully defend philosophical pessimism? Yes. Does
C. Varn
Nov 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ligotti's anti-humanism is far more profound that the utilitarian influenced anti-natalism it is often naively linked to. Ligotti explores the anti-human and cosmic perspective that has often been expressed in weird fiction, and not just his own, but he may be its most articulate and interesting spokesperson. Ligotti themes around the terror of nihilism and the inability to accept a lesser role in the universe after wrapped in delicious aphorism and almost jet black humor: "Life is a confidence ...more
Literatures Movies
Oct 21, 2018 marked it as ahh-how-about-no

Still not enough brain cells to handle reading philosophy on a lengthy amount of time.

I'll come back when I'm older and wiser –– and have picked up an interest on philosophy.

Until then, my happy ass is outta here.

Blog : I vomit out words here

Youtube : and talk about weird nonsense here

IG : and post firstworld problem Instagram stories here
Ville Johannes Pajala
Jan 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book was a weird experience. One of the most pessimistic reads of my life, yet written so well that the text kept mesmerizing me. I haven't yet read any Ligotti's fiction but I'm already impressed with his ability to use words and guide the reader effortlessly through this 'negative' journey.

I got the feeling that the point of the book was to show that although we deny the existence of supernatural horror and only enjoy it as fiction, the real horror lives in reality. He also shows that the
How do you rate a book like this? A brilliant exposition of Ligotti's philosophy and the most credible description of what the uncanny and horror are about. But I reject the ultimate life-view in the end and Ligotti would ridicule me for it. So be it. The difference between the optimist and the pessimist. I couldn't go on living if I embraced his philosophy. It would be illogical. Maybe I am a coward. So be it. Ultimately I embrace my short journey here as a worthwhile endeavor as far as my self ...more
poorvi cowkur
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Too preoccupied with striving to achieve a good life, we are all too resolute in repressing any dreadful thoughts that can potentially threaten our intrinsic belief that being alive is alright. Ligotti is a genius in his writing and expounds a powerful argument about the bleakness of human existence and its unremitting struggle with consciousness, the mother of all horrors.Being a novice in the field of philosophical pessimism, this book was- while a little difficult at times to wrap my head aro ...more
Apr 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Before reading this book I came to terms with, and embraced the implications of the following: We are merely collections of matter, given temporary animation via various bio-chemical processes which will decay, return to the earth, and be forgotten forever.

Because of this I really found I agreed with most of what Ligotti has to say in this book, and unlike most readers I didn't find the book depressing, not even a little! I've experienced depression, and to me what Ligotti is doing is stripping
Leo Robertson
Ugh, this was such a slog, as it is reading any tedious ideology. Something about almost being told the truth always has that stultifying, soporific feel to it.

I obviously won't be able to contend with all of this book's points simply in a review, so I will just give my main thoughts having recently tossed it aside. (They're for my own records—I have no interest in debating this bullshit with anyone.)

That consciousness is a mistake and life is not worth living strikes me as a profoundly ungratef
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)

Regular readers will remember that I recently read the new In the Mountains of Madness by W. Scott Poole, which is not just a biography of horror writer HP Lovecraft but also an examination of the "Lovecraftian" culture that has built up around his work since his death; and that got me interested not o
Peter Landau
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Life stinks and so do you, the Penetrators sang (look them up, they’re the best we can hope for in this hopeless existence). That sort of sums it up for me, and yet I still consider myself an optimist. What can I say, I don’t think much. I figure that things could always be worse. Life’s not so bad. It's better than the alternative.

Thomas Ligotti thinks a lot more than me. He’s a horror writer and I picked up his first book of nonfiction, THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE HUMAN RACE, to maybe get some
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Do not read this book. It's the most negative thing you'll read and might make you cry. I picked up a copy based solely on the grotesque cover art and the interesting note on the back about the nightmare of existence. It's basically a philosophical work on the meaning of life written by a horror writer who probably thinks that Stephen King is a hopeless romantic. King always seemed to have so much hope that things would work out. The good guy wins, but a skeleton hand would pop out of the ground ...more
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Thomas Ligotti is a contemporary American horror author and reclusive literary cult figure. His writings, while unique in style, have been noted as major continuations of several literary genres—most prominently Lovecraftian horror—and have overall been described as works of "philosophical horror", often written as philosophical novels with a "darker" undertone which is similar to gothic fiction. ...more

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“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.” 267 likes
“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.” 204 likes
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