Archive for the Uncategorized Category

The White Hands Revised

Posted in Uncategorized on July 10, 2020 by marksamuels

Now you too can read the longer version of the title story and the “as originally intended” version of “Mannequins in Aspects of Terror”, in one magnificently stunning limited-edition hardback from the inestimable Zagava Books. Originally published nearly twenty years ago and described by Thomas Ligotti as “a treasure and a genuine contribution to the real history of weird fiction”, this fully-comprehensive edition incorporates the author’s final textual choices of all the stories.

Mark S.



An Answer from Five Years Ago

Posted in Uncategorized on July 10, 2020 by marksamuels

but equally, if not even more, relevant now.  It’s a good thing I’ve stopped doing interviews.

“Q: The future of horror is … ?

A: One usually gets two types of responses to this. Here goes:

The first is along the lines of a request (very often, and most vocally, from old white males themselves) that greater inclusiveness is the future, that a higher proportion of female and minority writers must be afforded greater exposure. Personally, I think true equality consists of treating everyone on the same artistic basis, not a quota basis, and the final criterion for acceptance should be the actual quality of the fiction submitted, not gender, not ethnicity, not disability and not any other factor. What matters is the imagination and the skill of an author in telling a tale. Nothing else. I certainly do not subscribe to the view that individual old white men are, for any reason, more intrinsically capable of writing quality horror fiction than individuals drawn from any other category in society. But the idea that extrinsic political considerations be the benchmark for judging a work of fictional composition is, I contend, a species of patronisation.

The second common response is along different lines. Horror has entrenched itself into the movies and the vast majority of people no longer read books anyway. Successful (I mean highly commercially successful) horror authors had either better write a novel that can be turned into a Hollywood blockbuster film or else produce a body of work that can be utilised as a movie franchise. It’s not a vision that inspires me in the slightest. The other thing to bear in mind, and it was a staple view in the 1990s and the 2000s – but, it seems has finally, and mercifully, died off – is that there will be no return to the likes of the “horror boom” of the 1970s and 1980s in publishing. The decline of literacy has advanced to such a degree that the days of such cycles in publishing are over. The end was in sight when conglomerates took over all the smaller publishing houses that used to proliferate. Now the small press, with one or two notable exceptions, is all that remains for those who might once have been mid-list mass market authors of horror story collections (not anthologies) or novels that are not the size of a brick.

My own view is this: writers will continue, in the future, to work in this continuum of fictional composition (parts of which have been labelled “horror” or “weird” etc. for quite some decades now) as they have always done. No single author, no matter how masterful, is the summation of that continuum. And the label itself certainly isn’t important except for outside factors not connected with literary artistry, like commercial marketing. Ideally, the impetus for the author to engage in that continuum should come from within, and not from without.”

Mark S.


An Insight about Thomas Ligotti’s Worldview, dating from 2016

Posted in Uncategorized on July 5, 2020 by marksamuels

From an email to a correspondent:

“An interesting conjecture occurred to me a short while ago. It was that all of Ligotti’s philosophy (viz. CATHR) – and his (fairly recent) self-identification as an Anti-Natalist author of didactic fiction – is a philosophical attempt to negate utterly his own devout Catholic upbringing. I don’t mean a purely grisly thing like “Satanism” (which itself is forced to admit the foundational truth of Catholic theology) but that Ligotti’s (perhaps unconscious) ‘conspiracy’ approach at negation invariably posits the complete opposite of all the Catholic essential tenets – conscience and free-will, all human rights depending on the foundational right to life itself, the mystery of redemption etc. etc. Naturally, I am rather hesitant in advancing this idea; because I am scarcely impartial myself for one thing (!!), but, nevertheless, this conjecture seems to fit the case astonishingly neatly. There’s no element of amused indifference here, as with Lovecraft.”

Mark S.


Ahead of the Curve, Yet Again.

Posted in Uncategorized on July 5, 2020 by marksamuels

“People on the left had accepted wholly the assumption that great personal wealth (when held, for example, by celebrities or entertainers, rather than by bankers or other businessmen, despite both doing so via the same evil of Capitalism) was excusable. What was important was the individual’s adherence to a behavioural code presented – in its most propagandistic form – as simply being “progressive”. The code advanced its boundaries decade through decade, without the populace much noticing save for each new development being itself a sign of “progress”. The basic mode of operation appeared to be centred around values being repositioned from moral bases into ones concerned solely with cultural equality. This was the creed of the proglodytes.

If propositions are framed in terms of an imperative “Equal rights for all” then it was entirely possible to see how only an unexamined agenda could operate under that cover. “Equal rights for all” was a logically inconsistent proposition. It would also entail equal rights (e.g. free expression for all) for those wishing to abolish equal rights (e.g. to abolish free expression). In fact, what it resulted in was the old Orwellian sense that “some are more equal than others.”

Not, of course, that the process hadn’t been going on in the West decades before the 1980s. It first fully gained command of the cultural field twenty years earlier. But the 1960s wasn’t the start of anything revolutionary, it was a dead-end that has lasted (thus far) for fifty years. We are still living, culturally, in the 1960s. The Anti-Establishment is now the Neo-Establishment, who are so locked into the idea of permanent rebellion they can’t bring themselves to see, let alone, admit, the truth.”

From A Pilgrim Stranger, 2017.

Mark S.

Penumbra #1

Posted in Uncategorized on July 3, 2020 by marksamuels

I haven’t been advised not to announce it, so I’ll announce it here in advance. A couple of items of mine are to appear in the first issue of the forthcoming S.T. Joshi edited journal “Penumbra” from Hippocampus Press.

The first is a brand-new cosmic tale of horror and wonder written by me entitled “If Destiny Still Reigns” (about 7000 words) and there is also an English translation, again by me, from the original Polish, of Stefan Grabinski’s revealing essay (hitherto unpublished in English) “Confessions” (“Wzynania”) from 1926. The latter is a fascinating account of his travails and difficulties in the face of then-contemporary misinterpretations and vicious ideological hostility.

Sounds familiar?

Mark S.


Was It Really More Than Ten Years Ago

Posted in Uncategorized on July 1, 2020 by marksamuels

that I was allowed to post something like this over on the TLO? Back then, of course, it wasn’t the exclusionary advertising cult it has now become.

“It is not possible for a man to achieve absolute neutrality where questions of philosophy and belief are concerned. That is, no man is a true indifferentist in these vital questions. Since atheism is an absence of belief, the objection has been raised that atheism claims no more than what can be verified (at least according to the scientific method). Anything outside of the scientific method is not to be considered, since it cannot be verified. So, then, the scientific method is the sole valid arbiter of what constitutes “reality” and ultimate truth. Where it cannot determine matters exactly, that is, where matters fall outside of its realm, since they cannot be verified scientifically, it claims instead authority by virtue of overwhelming probability (a probability based on an underlying philosophical basis, though rarely acknowledged).

Trying to “prove” the validity of Materialism by pointing to the scientific method is self-contradictory. The argument runs like this: if something cannot be measured, tested and verified by repeated experiment, by reference to a detectable physical characteristic, it must be ruled out of existence. Following that logic a materialist’s truth-claim must be ruled out too, it also being wholly subjective and immaterial in its nature. In and of itself, this cannot be measured, tested and verified etc, by reference to a detectable intrinsic physical characteristic. Materialism requires metaphysics just as much as does theism.

The typical modern-day sceptic can be defined as someone who questions everything, except what science tells him it is meaningless to question. If science, indeed, alone has a grasp on what constitutes reality (fat chance), let us see where an examination leads us.

Science is at its weakest when it makes any claim about origins. Science, as yet, cannot present any verifiable account as to the origin of basic life-forms, namely cells. All they can do is present a wide variety of speculations, none of which are generally accepted as the answer. Moreover, the creation of cells in a laboratory is as distant a prospect as it has always been. Likewise, science has no answer to the question of the origin of matter itself at the exact instant of the Big Bang when time and space came into existence. Indeed, until 1964, the theory was not generally accepted, it being held as scientific orthodoxy that the universe had always existed. When it comes to explaining the existence of the universe, rather than providing an explanation, it instead postulates other theories, such as, the existence of “the multiverse”, a concept no less speculative and unproven in scientific terms and thus unverifiable, than the idea of Absolute Being, or God, contingent unto itself. Ask why there are laws of physics at all and no answer is forthcoming, except that of “Wait! Science will eventually explain everything”.

But Science cannot, and will not, ever be able to answer the “why” of anything only the “how” relating to physical events. Its adherents do not simply rule “why is this so?” out of the case as being unanswerable, they deny the validity of the question “why is this so?” altogether. It is not logically possible to do this without a philosophical position underpinning the foundational denial claim. And that underpinning is materialism (a.k.a. physicalism). Again, materialism in itself is a not scientifically testable subject. Everything just “is” cannot be considered as anything other than an article of faith, which leads to the idea that all metaphysics is a waste of time because science, the supposed sole arbiter of what constitutes reality, cannot provide an answer to the conundrum. Unsurprisingly, since the part cannot be greater than the whole. One need only look at the debates between Einstein and Bohr over quantum mechanics as evidence for this. Even today, there is no scientific consensus on the Copenhagen Interpretation.

I do not respect militant atheist scientists and their fellow-travellers the New Atheists (that is, advocates of materialistic “Scientism”) because I do not trust such people to be intellectually inclusive, but to increasingly regard their fellow theist scientists (who are perfectly able to “do” science with all the expertise of an atheist scientist despite not adhering to philosophical materialism) with prejudice. These people actually desire, in the end, to exclude all religious thought from all communities, including the scientific community.

Unless we have reference to a trans-historical mode of moral conduct reached through reason then all we are left with is the idea that societies are capable of deciding these questions for themselves in terms of “up-to-date” fashionable trends. This may sound acceptable in crass modernity, where we have been conditioned to accept such “progressive” values through state education and mass communications from school-age, but then one comes up against the argument that the latest totalitarian schooling (say, the likes of a neo-Nazism or neo-Communism) is equally capable of settling the argument as to which conduct is ultimately right or wrong. Which it is; but only within its own limited reference frame of relying, ultimately, upon pure brute force.”

Mark S.