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It's not hard to understand why some people take comfort in the writings of pessimists like Thomas Ligotti. From birth, we are relentlessly propagandized to accept the optimists' promises of the world as our oyster, when it seems more like our acceptance of their bright-side dogma ensures that the world remains THEIR oyster.

They tell us that, with the right attitude, we can be anything we want to be; attain anything we can imagine. The human species is marching ever in the direction of progress: technical, moral, political, economic, and even spiritual progress.

The wealthy, the beautiful, the powerful and learned demonstrate what we ourselves could become if only we adopted an abundance mindset, set aside our bellyaching and applied our unique gifts to the grand project of creating a paradise on Earth.

If you don't, at present, actually feel the well-spring of potential moving you to achieve your greatness, pretend that you do. Fake it till you make it. Say the words. Go through the motions, and eventually you will push through this debilitating pessimism and self-sabotage.

But some of us don't buy it, and in doubting the cheerleaders for cheerfulness, we run the risk of blundering into a morass of delusion. Just like when we first start to see clearly that the official worldview endorsed by the corporate media and government spokespeople contains glaring gaps and obvious, self-serving biases, we enter into a vulnerable mindset where we can be seduced into the believing the alternative narratives of psychic predators like Alex Jones and David Icke. To paraphrase the Ligotti-inspired character, Rust Cole from True Detective, these preachers of dark conspiracies encourage our penchant for paranoia and tell us it's a virtue. They understand that we long to see the winners laid low, and they validate our weakness.

Rapturous in their revival tents we give ourselves over to fantasies about banksters being torn to pieces by angry mobs. We delight in visions of global pandemics and a new Black Death. We look forward with gleeful anticipation to the sloar storms that will knock out all electronic records of wealth and debt. We fantasize about the sudden implosion of the global economy and the indictment of the reckless speculators who have grown obscenely wealthy and arrogant as our people have descended into poverty or precarity and the fear of poverty.

We set aside our skepticism and gather in adoring circles at the feet of gurus of pseudoscience who hold us in thrall with promises of near term human extinction. We seize on technological civilization's current dependence on fossil fuels and reject the optimistic vision of transitioning to a post-carbon economy which is anything other than an abject regression to a hard-scrabble, agrarian existence where information technology and globe-spanning transportation and communication networks are nothing but bitter remembrances from the age of foolish optimism, gluttony and pride.

Because our rejection of culturally-prescribed optimism can leave us susceptible to such dysfunctional belief systems, I think it's better to allow ourselves the occasional wallow in Ligotti's style of pessimism than to commit ourselves to paranoid worldviews which require that we believe that their proponents know the future or can see the hidden designs which are writ large across the pages of history but which remain beyond the unaided perception of the vast herd of obedient slaves.

Better that we grant ourselves permission to embrace the obvious truth that life for conscious beings is painful, humiliating, meaningless and unfair; that it doesn't lead anywhere except to decay and oblivion regardless of the fortunes we amass or, more likely, fail to amass in that interval between our first breath and our last.

This style of unrepentant pessimism doesn't require that we commit ourselves to any overly-specific beliefs about the future or about the hidden aspects of the present. We don't need to embrace apocalyptic fantasies when we can simply declare that life is a shit sandwich, and even the bread is made of bleached shit. Lacking the constitution for suicide, we may continue to eat that sandwich, but we don't need force feed it to anyone else by yanking them from the haven of non-existence and forcing them into physical incarnation as conscious entities tied to the railroad tracks of inevitable suffering.

Ligotti validates our distaste for rosy optimism, but he doesn't deny its social utility or insist that we deny ourselves its benefits. Just the opposite. We can wrap ourselves in his validation and still strive for promotion at work, watch TV, and even campaign for social justice, and all the while take comfort in the knowledge that our efforts are vain, pointless, and MALIGNANTLY USELESS.

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