Lighthearted Thoughts on Darkness and Death


How do I sum up my philosophy? It is, in reality, more of a non-philosophy. At its root is complete agnosticism. This totalizing agnosticism is not limited to the theological. Everything for me is open to question. All answers are provisional, subject to change as new information and evidence becomes available. I cannot believe in human access to universal truths. Man is much too limited to deal in universal truths, whatever the status of such truths.

Ernest Becker wrote, in The Denial of Death, “We are gods with anuses.” The self-awareness of humans make them like gods. But this self-awareness also makes us aware of our animal nature- born dependent, we shit, piss, sweat, bleed, and, ultimately, decay. Death will inevitably eliminate this self-awareness I call myself. And I must live my life aware of it. This is the great horror – the awareness of our impending mortality. Death is like a freight train heading right for us, a train we know is coming but about which we can do nothing. Nature has designed us in such a way that we appear to be the only animals that are capable of this self-awareness of our own mortality.

John Gray’s Straw Dogs emphasizes that we are first and foremost animals, self-aware as we might be. There is no evidence that there is anything progressive in this self-awareness. Human moral progress is a myth. We know more information now than we once did. But it has done nothing to improve the human “spiritual” condition. We are driven by the same unconscious drives and emotions as our most “primitive” ancestors, the unconscious, irrational need to survive and other unconscious desires. Self-awareness is merely a tool at the disposal of the animal instincts and desires. What we call “reason” appears to simply be rationalization for what we feel.

I agree with Ligotti and Lovecraft that there is no reason to believe the universe or any part of it gives a damn about us. Existence appears to be an accident. A little adjustment here and there and nothing would have existed at all. Life is an accident. Humanity is an accident. There is no reason to think we will not go extinct, like the dinosaurs, at some point in the future. Existence is absurd, particularly human existence. In reality, all existence for a human is human existence since the mere concept of existence does not exist without humans to make it so.

That’s why Thomas Ligotti’s horror is the ultimate for me. At its best, it is truly weird, dreamlike. I experience life this way. I sometimes feel like I am witnessing an absurd play or movie. The detachment is disconcerting. Have you ever experienced derealization, where your unease takes you to the point of perceiving things as unreal, slightly off-kilter? Have you felt in your bones the ever-encroaching dark, the font of all real human horror? This dark is not supernatural. It is simply there, an aspect of the human experience of life. We all seem to carry it in us. The light-centric people seem false to us who explore the shadows, or at least incomplete. They seem to be hiding their darkness. I say, let your darkness shine forth.