No progress last week. I was too preoccupied with the rest of life.
I finished my Thomas Ligotti book, Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe. It’s an omnibus of his first two short story collections, with a lot of interesting ideas rendered in Gothic prose. It’s not my favorite style, but I was impressed with how much work must have gone into each sentence.
I’m glad I listened to his philosophical treatise first, Conspiracy Against the Human Race. It gave me a framework for understanding his stories. In Ligotti’s mythology, our universe borders a universe of horrors that are only too happy to visit if given an opening. Ligotti’s characters find various ways to oblige them. One of these ways is madness, which Ligotti treats as a way to perceive this unseen world, as opposed to being a tragic result of this otherworldly contact (as in Lovecraft) or simply an extension of humanity’s natural fog of confusion (as in Evenson).
You might think listening to hours of Ligotti would drag me into the doldrums, but I actually found some of it inspiring. His many interesting ideas made me wonder how I could adapt them for my more benign purposes. One that stood out to me was a priest whose secret theology involved “salvation through suffering.” Although his meaning was macabre, it got me thinking about how more traditional Christianity could be viewed from this angle. We’re not really meant to pursue intense, gratuitous suffering, but we can benefit from accepting the pain we encounter in life, especially from persecution, and there’s a certain desirable difficulty in some of the disciplines, such as fasting.
I voted. It took most of the week. These days I like to research the candidates and propositions so I can feel relatively settled about my votes, and I started researching this election’s ballot at the end of the week before last. For the candidates I use the local newspapers’ endorsements as a guide, along with the judicial ratings of the county and state bar associations. For the propositions I try to find discussions in articles and forums. After some tough voting decisions and three attempts to find a drop-off box, the ballot is finally out of my hands. A load off my mind.