Notes on Absolute Inhumanism


From My Work is not yet Done:

“A: There is no grand scheme of things.

B: If there were a grand scheme of things, the fact – the fact – that we are not equipped to perceive it, either by natural or supernatural means, is a nightmarish obscenity.

C: The very notion of a grand scheme of things is a nightmarish obscenity.”

The logic above is a kind of anti-metaphysical metaphysics – that if there is such a metaphysics it is obscene and given the thrust of Ligotti’s work, generally unfriendly to human egocentrism.  Ligotti’s antihumanist assertion is that one’s life is simply of no mater (The Sect of the Idiot).  In addition to the general pessimistic anti-humanism of Ligotti’s philosophical texts there is a rampant ecological horror aspect.

From “The Shadow at the Bottom of the World”:

“In sleep we were consumed by the feverish life of the earth, cast among a ripe, fairly rotting world of strange growths and transformation. We took a place within a darkly flourishing landscape where even the air was ripened into ruddy hues and everything wore the wrinkled grimace of decay, the mottled complexion of old flesh. The face of the land itself was knotted with so many other faces, ones that were corrupted by vile impulses. Grotesque expressions were molding themselves into the darkish grooves of ancient bark and the whorls of withered leaf; pulpy, misshapen features peered out of damp furrows; and the crisp skin of stalks and dead seeds split into a multitude of crooked smiles. All was a freakish mask painted with russet, rashy colors—colors that bled with a virulent intensity, so rich and vibrant that things trembled with their own ripeness.”

The dark (bio) vitalism of Ligotti’s creeping nature is also found in the fungoid creatures of Lovecraft’s pantheon as well as William Hope Hodgson’s “The Derelict” and especially “The Voice in the Night.”  The creeping life problematizes (but not in a merely somatic post-modern way) the interior and exterior – in that the surface of the earth is stabilized mostly in human thought – its porosity ignored or trivialized.

The ultimate counter example to such decisional solidity is the muck monster – the creatures taken from the tradition of  the Judaic golem but exorcised of religiousity – such as the heap, man-thing, swamp thing and so forth.  Ligotti is all too aware of this tradition in his “Severini” discussing the putrid blackness from where we all come and where we all end.

To  be continued with a discussion of the creep of life…


7 Responses to “Notes on Absolute Inhumanism”

  1. This is a remarkable post Ben. Will post something appropriate in response soon. The limitropic porosity of merger sponge seems to be apposite here. Rather than associating decay to downright disintegration or dismantling to originary discontinuities, one can also consider the reverse of this process: how many holes or sites of emptiness one can take without being fundamentally erased? The limitropic riddling of an ontological continuity with irruptive discontinuities produces something akin to the Ligottian life-gunk, an ubiquitous emptiness which has inconsistently glossed with an ontological fabric of some sort. This also seems to be an obsession for Leibniz as calculus is essentially a tool for tackling with ontological discontinuities or indeterminates through an expression of continuity or gradational determination: all those slimy things that differentiate and blur into all sorts of messy monstrosities.

  2. 2 Ben Woodard


    I think Leibniz is interesting in that his attack on absolute time and space creates an endless well spring of mutations – reading Pare’s on Monsters and Marvels – I was struck by how even the productivity of God and Nature is constrained by time and space – with Leibniz life becomes a succession of horrid mutations. The menger sponge is interesting – as it is the limit of dividing life – one can immediately think of the terrfying seemingly infinite divisions and so forth…but this I’ll talk about next entry.

    Have you read much Whitehhed – there’s a lot of darker themes in his work then I thought and he’s the process heir of Leibnniz. I don’t know much about Leibniz’s calculus however but it seems very interesting.

  3. 3 kvond

    I love the phrase “nightmarish obscenity”. In invokes the thing looked at, and the thing that cannot be looked at, and all the inescapability of the toggle between the two.

    I wonder what happens when we turn “grand scheme of things” into “grand skein of things”.

  4. Apologies for the delay in responding. Actually Pare reflects, more or less, a Renaissance reading of the scholastic / medieval theology; it is probably for this reason that God is confined by space and time. But for example Cusa holds that God (posset) is beyond time. This kind of scholastic disjunction between God and Time circumvents the teratological conception of life that Pare had in mind but instead makes the explicatio of God (the world of beings) a putrid involution or differential form of hollowness that even God cannot erase (ex. different depictions of hollowness or convoluted emptiness as representations of the earthly life in the late medieval art / literature). Haven’t really read Whitehead in detail, just process and reality and modes of thought; the latter title is a condensed summary of process and reality. As for Leibniz’s calculus ratiocinator, it is really the backbone of Leibniz’s philosophy as it puts all of Leibniz’s tiniest philosophical preoccupations in one matheme-oriented philosophical framework. But even more significantly, it is really calculus that brings out and accentuates the consequences of Leibniz’s philosophy in full force. If you would like to read more about calculus, there are a few helpful sources which succinctly explain calculus from the perspective of the history of philosophical ideas and the mathesis universalis project: Mathematics in Western Culture by Morris Kline and The History of the Calculus and Its Conceptual Development by Carl Boyer.

  5. Speaking of in-volution, my intuition here is that this line of thinking is going towards decay as theosis, or world as a monstrous auto-hollowing of a there is that produces/becomes God. A theory of such theosis could be worked out, for instance, as a translation or breakdown across the substance/accident distinction, the accident of cosmos becoming its substance (God). Here decay as mutual perforation between substance and accident seems to makes sense and presumably the scholastics have something to say along those lines (Incognitum?). Ontological decay of course, decay of habit as the “original synthesis of time” (D&G). Cusa’s understanding of divine unfolding and how “the plurality of things arises from the fact that God is present in nothing” (De doc. ig.) seems very relevant here. Likewise Pseudo-Dionysius divine ec-stasis, which I related to dialetheic divinity and could be translated into terms of positive disintegration: “the very cause of the universe in the beautiful, good, superabundance of his benign yearning for all is also carried outside of himself in the loving care he has for everything. He is, as it were, beguiled by goodness, by love, and by yearning and is enticed away from his transcendent dwelling place and comes to abide within all things, and he does so by virtue of his supernatural and ecstatic capacity to remain, nevertheless, within himself.”

    More radically speculative and aplatonic (‘To do rigorous theology is to perforate the Divine’s corpus with heresies’–Cyclonopedia) is the account in God Speaks of what is happening as an spontaneous infinite ironically divine self-entanglement:

    “Thus it is, that the original infinite whim of God in the state of infinitude once surged; and it surged both spontaneously and all of a sudden in absolutely independent God Who is eternally Eternal. Hence this whim, which once surged, once began the Beginning of all things in Creation.

    In short, this original infinite latent whim of God in the state of infinitude, once it surged in God Who is absolutely independent, made itself manifest, and simultaneously with its manifestation, it manifested the latent-all that was of the Nothing as Nothingness. Thus the whim created the Nothing.

    Let us recapitulate how infinite Nothing came out of most finite Everything:

    God Beyond is infinite Everything. Infinite Everything may be compared to an infinite, limitless ocean. Therefore this limitless ocean is infinite Everything. Thus every drop in the ocean is most finite Everything. In short, if infinite ocean is infinite Everything then every drop of the ocean is most finite Everything.

    Before the whim surges in the limitless ocean and before Creation is manifested, the creation point (Om point) through which the Creation is ejected is itself in the limitless ocean as infinite Everything because, prior to the surging of the whim, perfect tranquility prevailed and pervaded the limitless ocean; there was no question of “drops” of the ocean and there was no separateness. There was limitless ocean as infinite Everything.

    At the instant when the whim surged in the infinite Everything the creation point or Om point manifested as most finite Everything. Infinite Nothing was latent in the infinite Everything, but when the whim surged the infinite Nothing got manifested through most finite Everything, which is the Om point.

    Thus, through the most finite Everything, the infinite Nothing is ejected gradually, manifesting itself as expanding ad infinitum.

    Simultaneously with the projection of the latent Nothing and with the manifestation of Nothingness, the consciousness which existed as Nothing, latent in the infinitude of the God-Is state, also got projected and manifested itself gradually as the consciousness of God, and made God experience Himself as God the Creator of all the things that projected out of His state of the Everything as Nothingness.

    Whereupon, gradually gaining full consciousness, God in the state of Creator became entangled in the maze of most-finite Nothingness found as infinite, stretched out and upheld through His own infinite trio-nature.

    The paradoxical irony is that the infinity itself of God makes it infinitely difficult for God to escape the false apparent infinity of Nothingness which goes on expanding ad infinitum through the closely linked infinite trio-nature of God which is infinite power, infinite knowledge and infinite bliss.

    But this entanglement is absolutely necessary in order that God in the infinitude of the God-Is state should gain consciousness fully and completely for Himself and of His infinite reality, and in this way experience consciously His unbounded, unlimited, infinite trio-nature of infinite power, infinite knowledge and infinite bliss.”

  6. “the closely linked infinite trio-nature of God which is infinite power, infinite knowledge and infinite bliss”

    Name that Superhero’s Powers for $50, please.

    My favorite superpower is found between these lines:

    “After all, the true test of God’s omnipotence would be His ability to save us even if He didn’t exist.”

  1. 1 Darkening Life/Notes on Henry « Naught Thought

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: