“The Icy Bleakness of Things”: The Aesthetics of Decay in Thomas Ligotti’s “The Bungalow House”


This essay argues that Thomas Ligotti is a true heir to Lovecraft and Poe, and that he is the foremost writer of the weird in the 21st century based on two main ideas: his overall philosophical worldview, which is described in the article as his “aesthetics of decay”; and, that his “aesthetics of decay” allows for speculation as to what is left when reason collapses. What is left is the hallmark of all successful weird fiction: a feeling-oriented response that can be best understood through reference to Sigmund Freud’s uncanny, Rudolf Otto’s numinous and Edmund Burke’s sublime. This approach is unique due to Ligotti’s nihilistic philosophy and his disavowal of any religious doctrine. How can one feel the numinous or sublime without reference to any specific religious ideology?. The purpose of this article is to address this particular paradox and show that Ligotti is, as S.T. Joshi claims, a master of intellectualized horror.