“The Sect of the Idiot”

I’m a little late with this week’s subject of discussion by the Deep Ones over at LibraryThing.

Review: “The Sect of the Idiot”, Thomas Ligotti, 1988.

Cover by John Coulthart

To be honest, I was not impressed by this Ligotti story, and I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it.

It’s long on atmosphere, short on plot, and doesn’t really have much effect in suggesting what it seems to want to suggest. 

Its unnamed narrator is in an unknown, gloomy town that sounds like something out of Lovecraft (or, maybe The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari).

He has a strange encounter with a man knocking on his door who comments on the view out the window. 

The narrator has longed dream of living in the town, so there seems to suggest that the town is more than just a metaphorical dream of his. 

The night after he meets the man he has a strange dream, a “triumph of the grotesque” which is the story’s most effective scene with its cloaked figures on strange chairs, all of the figures askew at weird angles. 

With a second dream, he sees the man who tells him the figures have chosen him. They shake hands.  The man doesn’t let go and, mocks the idea that it’s the narrator’s hand. 

The next day, it seems his hand has turned into a tentacle. 

In the penultimate paragraph, we learn the narrator has left the town. He thinks, despite his efforts to warn people, those entities are manipulating him into advertising their existence. 

If I wasn’t busy doing a lot of other things right now, I would try to parse out Ligotti’s philosophical point, so I’m not going beyond my first impressions. In my opinion, inferior Ligotti.

3 thoughts on ““The Sect of the Idiot”

  1. Sean Eaton September 5, 2020 / 1:37 pm

    I’m going to give this one a try. I’ve been meeting to get to Songs of a Dead Dreamer for awhile–it’s been on my shelf for years. In my view, the best of Ligotti’s Lovecraftian stories is Nethescurial.

    • marzaat September 6, 2020 / 11:23 am

      Good to see you back blogging.

      It does not appear, from my notes, I’ve read “Nethescurial”. Of the Ligotti I have read, my favorites are “The Town Manager” and My Work Is Not Yet Done.

      I see you’ve been blogging about egregores lately. You might want to check out Brian Stableford’s The Quintessence of August, which I’ve just reviewed, for his take on the subject.

  2. Sean Eaton September 6, 2020 / 4:26 pm

    Thanks for this suggestion–I’ll check it out.

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