Thomas Ligotti: The Book I Would Like To Be Buried With…

May 24, 2010 by
Filed under: Bury Me With This Book, Interviews 

Deep within Bury Me With’s… eleventh one-book posthumous library* lie insidious and whispering words from the doyen of cosmic hopelessness, Thomas Ligotti:

Philipp_Mainlaender“The book I would like to be buried with is a book I have never read, and likely never shall read. Its title is Die Philosophie der Erlösung (The Philosophy of Redemption) by Philipp Mainländer (born Philip Batz). The Philosophy of Redemption was published in German in 1876 and has not yet been translated into English. Perhaps it will be so translated before I die; perhaps not. I own a selection of Philipp Mainländer’s works in German that I would like to pay someone to translate, but translators are expensive. I’ve thought about taking on the task myself, but I know enough about the German language not to attempt to become so intimate with it that I could translate the words of a nineteenth-century German philosopher. (See Mark Twain’s The Awful German Language).

While I have not read the massive Philosophy of Redemption, I know its main points from reading others’ writings on it to be absolutely certain that this is the book I want to be buried with. Most of these writings are cited in my book The Conspiracy against the Human Race, which contains a section on Mainländer and his philosophy. Basically, the German pessimist believed in the goodness of the prospect that the human race should become extinct. This good thing would happen, according to Mainländer’s metaphysics, because there exists within humanity a gradually mounting Will-to-die, the mirror image of Arthur Schopenhauer’s Will-to-live as elucidated in his World as Will and Representation (which fortunately has been translated into English three times). Here I quote from Conspiracy:

Mainländer was confident that the Will-to-die he believed would well up in humanity had been spiritually grafted into us by a God who, in the beginning, masterminded His own quietus. It seems that existence was a horror to God. Unfortunately, God was impervious to the depredations of time. This being so, His only means to get free of Himself was by a divine form of suicide.

God’s plan to suicide himself could not work, though, as long as He existed as a unified entity outside of space-time and matter. Seeking to nullify His oneness so that He could be delivered into nothingness, he shattered Himself—Big Bang-like—into the time-bound fragments of the universe, that is, all those objects and organisms that have been accumulating here and there for billions of years. In Mainländer’s philosophy, “God knew that he could change from a state of super-reality into non-being only through the development of a real world of multiformity.” Employing this strategy, He excluded Himself from being. “God is dead,” wrote Mainländer, “and His death was the life of the world.” Once the great individuation had been initiated, the momentum of its creator’s self-annihilation would continue until everything became exhausted by its own existence, which for human beings meant that the faster they learned that happiness was not as good as they thought it would be, the happier they would be to die out….

Rather than resist our end, as Mainländer concludes, we will come to see that “the knowledge that life is worthless is the flower of all human wisdom.” Elsewhere the philosopher states, Life is hell, and the sweet still night of absolute death is the annihilation of hell.”

More beautiful and soothing words I’ve never heard in my life than the above two quotes from Mainländer’s book — the book that I would like to be buried with.”

More information about Philip Mainländer can be found at Wikipedia.

* Thomas Ligotti’s words.


thomas-ligottiAbout Thomas Ligotti:

Thomas Ligotti is often cited as the most curious and remarkable figure in horror literature since H. P. Lovecraft. His work is noted by critics for its display of an exceptionally grotesque imagination and accomplished prose style. In his stories, Ligotti has followed a literary tradition that began with Edgar Allan Poe, portraying characters that are outside of anything that might be called normal life, depicting strange locales far off the beaten track, and rendering a grim vision of human existence as a perpetual nightmare. His works include:

Songs of a Dead Dreamer (1986, rev. & exp. 1989), Grimscribe: His Lives and Works (1991), Noctuary (1994), The Agonizing Resurrection of Victor Frankenstein and Other Gothic Tales (1994), The Nightmare Factory (1996), In a Foreign Town, in a Foreign Land (1997, accompanying CD by Current 93), I Have a Special Plan for This World (2000, accompanying CD by Current 93), This Degenerate Little Town (2001, accompanying CD by Current 93), My Work Is Not Yet Done: Three Tales of Corporate Horror (2002), Crampton: A Screenplay (2003, with Brandon Trenz), Sideshow, and Other Stories (2003), Death Poems (2004), The Shadow at the Bottom of the World (2005), Teatro Grottesco (2006, reprinted in 2008), The Conspiracy Against the Human Race (published in April, 2010 by Hippocampus Press).


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