And I saw with my body what I could never have seen with my mind or imagination during my career as a failed artist. Everywhere I travelled I saw how the pervasive shadow, the all-moving darkness, was using our world. Because this shadow, this darkness has nothing of its own, no way to exist except as an activating force or energy, whereas we have our bodies, we are only our bodies, whether they are organic bodies or non-organic bodies, human or non-human bodies, makes no difference—they are all simply bodies and nothing but bodies, with no component whatever of a mind or a self or a soul. Hence the shadow, the darkness uses our world for what it needs to thrive upon. It has nothing except its activating energy, while we are nothing except our bodies. This is why the shadow, the darkness causes things to be what they would not be and do what they would not do. Because without the shadow inside them, the all-moving blackness activating them, they would only be what they are—heaps of matter lacking any impulse, any urge to flourish, to succeed in this world. This state of affairs should be called what it is—an absolute nightmare.
Thomas Ligotti, “The Shadow, The Darkness” from Teatro Grottesco, 2006.
What had to remain in the collective unconscious as a monstrous hybrid of human and animal, divided between the forest and the city—the werewolf—is, therefore, in its origin the figure of the man who has been banned from the city. That such a man is defined as a wolf-man and not simply as a wolf…is decisive here. The life of the bandit, like that of the sacred man, is not a piece of animal nature without any relation to law and the city. It is, rather, a threshold of indistinction and of passage between animal and man, physis and nomos, exclusion and inclusion: the life of the bandit is the life of the loup garou, the werewolf, who is precisely neither man nor beast, and who dwells paradoxically within both while belonging to neither.
Giorgio Agamben, from Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life.
Among the Haida, masks were used mostly by members of the secret societies. Secret society dances frequently used both masks and puppets to represent wild spirits of the woods, which the Haida called gagiid. They are distinguished by an emaciated or wrinkled face and grimacing mouth, and are often blue-green in colour, to indicate that they portray a person who has narrowly escaped drowning and whose flesh has gone cold from long exposure in cold water.
The next morning I returned to the factory along with everyone else. We worked at an even faster rate and were even more productive. Part of this was due to the fact that the bell that signaled the end of the work day rang later than it had the day before. This lengthening of time we spent at the factory, along with the increasingly fast rate at which we worked, became an established pattern. It wasn’t long before we were only allowed a few hours away from the factory, only a few hours that belonged to us, although the only possible way we could use this time was to gain the rest we needed in order to return to the exhausting labors which the company now demanded of us.
Thomas Ligotti, “Our Temporary Supervisor” from Teatro Grottesco, 2006.
We were living in a rented house, neither the first nor the last of a long succession of such places that the family inhabited throughout my childhood years. It was shortly after we had moved into this particular house that my father preached to us his philosophy of ‘rented living.’ He explained that it was not possible to live in any other way and that attempting to do so was the worst form of delusion. ‘We must actively embrace the reality of non-ownership,’ he told my mother, my sister and me, towering over us and gesturing with his heavy arms as we sat together on a rented sofa in our rented house. ‘Nothing belongs to us. Everything is something that is rented out. Our very heads are filled with rented ideas passed on from one generation to the next. Wherever your thoughts finally settle is the same place that the thoughts of countless other people have settled and have left their impression, just as the backsides of other persons have left their impression on that sofa where you are now sitting. We live in a world where every surface, every opinion or passion, everything altogether is tainted by the bodies and minds of strangers. Cooties - intellectual cooties and physical cooties from other people - are crawling all around us and all over us at all times. There is no escaping this fact.’
Thomas Ligotti, “Purity” from Teatro Grottesco, 2006.
“You believe, then, in the existence of an evil force or entity—a Satan or an Ahriman?”
“I believe in evil—how can I do otherwise when I see its manifestations everywhere? I regard it as an all-controlling power; but I do not think that the power is personal in the sense of what we know as personality. A Satan? No. What I conceive is a sort of dark vibration, the radiation of a black sun, of a center of malignant eons—a radiation that can penetrate like any other ray—and perhaps more deeply. But probably I don’t make my meaning clear at all.”
-Clark Ashton Smith, “The Devotee of Evil”. First published in The Double Shadow and Other Fantasies, 1933.