Sunday, September 21, 2014

Something Equivocal

Nic Pizzolatto, writer of the television show True Detective, has said that he found Thomas Ligotti's book The Conspiracy Against the Human Race to be "incredibly powerful writing," a major influence for the show. In this book, Ligotti advises that if you hope for any audience at all, then you had better say something positive about humanity; and if you don't have anything nice to say, then at least say something equivocal.

The final moments of the show are a careful implementation of this advice. The very last two sentences of the finale, if interpreted according to the ordinary cultural connotations for "light" and "darkness," provide a note of hope at the end of a grisly but heroic adventure. The darkness seems to occupy a lot of territory, yes, but once the whole universe was all darkness and no light - and now the light seems to be winning!

However, relating his near-death experience just seconds earlier, Rust Cohle offers a different - and entirely reversed - set of meanings for "light" and "darkness." Darkness - a deeper, darker, warmer darkness than mere unconsciousness - seemed to enfold him peacefully, and he felt surrounded by the love of his deceased small daughter. He "let go," hoping to stay in this darkness, but then he woke up. Back to the light.

This speech and its proximity to the final sentences indicate a smart equivocation - with one voice, "light" and "darkness" have their everyday connotations; with another, they are flipped. The latter voice, consonant with Rust Cohle's earlier presentation of his philosophy, also seems consonant with having just visited the worst basement in literature since Cormac McCarthy's The Road, from which basement, like McCarthy's, no one was rescued.

(Originally published by me at http://pastebin.com/PAUBHAct)

6 comments:

  1. I remember that Ligotti quote and that ending had bothered me! Makes perfect sense now.

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  2. Pretty much ruined the show for me. Why must there always be "saving"? Saving meaning give into the beast and procreate (True Blood has the same disgusting ending).

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    1. Yeah, I loved how True Blood had all these happy children running around and everyone living in harmony as a happy ending, when there was really no reason to think that all the suffering and torture from the previous seasons would stop with the last episode.

      True Blood is a hellworld, like most interesting fiction. Shitting children into it is one of the most evil things I can think of.

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  3. Thoughtful possible interpretation, Sister Y. In Ligotti's novella My work Is Not Yet Done, the protagonist finds himself in a "great darkness" which he embraces. Btw, what's the latest on when your book will be released?

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    1. It's all written and being edited, Halloween is the latest I've heard!

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  4. Like the other commenter stated the end nullified the whole series for me and showed once again the weakness and cowardice in human nature. If you're so afraid of not being able to sell your "artistic" creation that you compromise it then it would be better to have kept your job as a janitor because that's all you're worth. I threw out the DVD and gave it it's rightful place in the landfill.

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