The Conspiracy Against the Human Race

A Contrivance of Horror
Narrated by: Eric Martin
Length: 8 hrs and 27 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (189 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

"There is a signature motif discernible in both works of philosophical pessimism and supernatural horror. It may be stated thus: Behind the scenes of life lurks something pernicious that makes a nightmare of our world." 

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 are living a meaningless nightmare, and anyone who feels otherwise is simply acting out an optimistic fallacy. 

At once a guidebook to pessimistic thought and a relentless critique of humanity's employment of self-deception to cope with the pervasive suffering of their existence, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race may just convince listeners that there is more than a measure of truth in the despairing yet unexpectedly liberating negativity that is widely considered a hallmark of Ligotti's work.

©2018 Thomas Ligotti (P)2018 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Conspiracy Against the Human Race

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The horror of reality

For years, I’ve heard Thomas Ligotti’s name mentioned in regards to the horror fiction genre. He is, by all accounts, a master; however, this is his first non-fiction work. And it, too, is in the realm of horror.

Some people lose a loved one or experience some other tragedy and conclude that either God is evil, impotent, or disinterested. Others learn about the mechanisms of biological life and conclude that divinity has no hand in it.

However one gets there, once one arrives it can be freeing or depressing (and sometimes both). Ligotti explores various thinkers and philosophies relating to pessimism, nihilism, cosmicism, and even New Age thought. From Epicurus and Nietzsche to HP Lovecraft and UG Krishnamurti, you get a crash course in the futility and absurdity of not just the human condition — but life itself, in all its blind, chemical processes.

11 people found this helpful

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Trite Edgelord Garbage

Ligotti arguments in this book are largely based on two conclusions which he states as self-evident, and never really takes the time to explain or support - to my satisfaction at least. After this point, I found myself nit-picking a rickety house of cards build on sand.

Through the seemingly endless pages of over-written drivel, Ligotti contradicts himself more than a few times, and it seems like the only logical consistency that is maintained is that the edgiest position to take is always true. I would be able to forgive the lapses in consistency is Ligotti didn't also spend so much effort in explaining that anyone who doesn't agree with him is either stupid or in denial. This truly, truly reads like a 14 year old's explanation of why the fact that none of the girls in his class with talk to him is actually a virtue.

I googled Thomas Ligotti, and read that he deals with chronic anhedonia. One might think this makes him uniquely unqualified to accurately reach the conclusion "life has more suffering that joy" - but this didn't seem to hinder him from considering himself an objective authority on the matter. This is something that could be forgive if this book were presented as the portrait of an anhedonic mind, but we're constantly reminded anyone who disagrees just isn't cool enough to have reached these obviously true conclusions.

I say all this with the caveat that if I were born with Ligotti's chin, I would probably resent my existence as well.

When I listen to something this bad, I usually try not to let my annoyance with the book color my review of the performance, but the reader delivered everything with a complete saturation of cunty arrogance (which suits the text, to be fair) and made things all the more tedious.

10 people found this helpful

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Sad and honest

This was a unique experience. I don’t think I have ever read anything so bleak. I can’t point to any fact or premise that I can disagree with. You either live with the weight that we all carry or you don’t. It’s truly an reason to be kind to one another. We are all Fucked by every sense of the word. Even our noblest of intentions mean nothing. To give birth is a guarantee of doing harm. Who are we to put ripples in the floating dust? Our plight is like chasing windmills but not even windmills or knights matter.

I recommend this for very psychologically sound people who read Poe for an uplifting evening.

I need a drink and a smoke after this.

6 people found this helpful

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Not for the faint of heart.

This is a beautiful book in which your whole positive outlook on life is turned upside down and questioned from a pessimistic point of view.

6 people found this helpful

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We are only Human Beings. Ask anybody.

“Behind the scenes of life lies something pernicious that makes a nightmare of our World.” What, you might ask, could this horrible force be? Surprise answer: Consciousness, the villain of the piece. The fact that we are born knowing the we will die makes the whole enterprise meaningless.

Ligotti is a renowned author of supernatural horror stories, the places where we go to both confront and escape the reality of Death. So, in this first non-fiction work he has produced, he devotes three hundred pages to asking Why don’t we just disappear and return the Planet to its Natural State.

He bases his existential pessimism largely on the work of the Norwegian Philosopher, Peter Wessel Zapffe, Horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, Schopenhauer and others, to conclude that awareness of Death’s inevitability makes all other positions pointless. It’s not a happy read and it is amazing that it kept my interest for its complete length. But he makes a powerful case while admitting in the final chapter that Zapffe could shout his Philosophy from the rooftops and no one would listen because “We’re only Human Beings. Ask anybody.”

Don’t read this book on your Birthday!

4 people found this helpful

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Very Thought Provoking

This book is the uncompromising exploration of pessimism and nihilism I have ever read. It is penetrating and insightful. It stimulated a lot of thought as I listened to it. I would say that it is probably one of the most intellectually honest documents I have read.

3 people found this helpful

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An Honest Dive Into Pessimism

Citing influences within the horror genre and beyond, Thomas Ligotti explores the nature of the horror of being in this eloquent and cutting analysis of pessimistic existentialism. A must-read for weird-fiction buffs and existential enthusiasts alike.

6 people found this helpful

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Fantastically Honest

I’ve always found myself to be a pessimist at heart and even hated myself for being so. This book put into words many thoughts and feelings that I have often had. It is not an uplifting book, but somehow I feel better coming face to face with the terms of my existence and accepting it for what it is. Suddenly the weight of decisions are lighter, because in the end they don’t matter and the futility of it all has pushed me to a more care free mood. I feel better about being a pessimist. (realist) I love this book.

2 people found this helpful

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We're doomed

An interesting discussion on the pointlessness of existence and on horror as a literary genre. Recommend highly if you enjoy philosophy and nihilism, but do not recommend if you are in a bad place in life.

2 people found this helpful

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Amazing!!!

Not only is the performance top shelf but this book is pure in the sense that it’s honesty is a utilization of the imagination juxtaposed to the human experience. A work of brutal unapologetic genius that most addresses what most fear to confront...

1 person found this helpful