My Work Is Not Yet Done – Thomas Ligotti

Three Tales of Corporate Horror
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MYTHOS BOOKS 2002

My previous reviews of Thomas Ligotti works are linked from HERE.

When I re-read this book of mine, I shall conduct a real-time review of it, to be found as comments in the thought stream below of by clicking on this post’s title above.

13 thoughts on “My Work Is Not Yet Done – Thomas Ligotti

  1. MY WORK IS NOT YET DONE

    Pages 13 – 22

    “I enjoy brainstorming new ideas as much as the next guy.”

    Like Frank Dominio (note two i’s), I recall a time when I myself worked exactly in this corporate meeting of business colleagues amid a sort of ancient modernity of an urban building, with their slick business phrases, dog eat dog but feel able to trust me attitudes, and project reports, my own “special plan”, and so forth. I did not then think in these knotty ligotti terms of swine and seven dwarves…and “anxiety provoked by other people.” – but I now see what he means.
    My own special plan is not to be downtrodden or cowed or pigged out by such forces today when in the business of brainstorming or dreamcatching fiction books with real undercurrents, be those forces representative of each book’s authorial corporateness of control (here Ligotti himself) or the forces of the genre and literary establishments. Where the Can can he should. Leverage reversed. Urinals drained.

    “And I was grateful for the aging monuments of the city for providing me, by no means for the first time, with a calming perspective that only a vision of degeneration and decline can bestow.”

  2. Pages 22 – 31

    “…a dissonant cluster of notes made by a smash of his left hand on the lowest register of the keyboard. The cacophonous growl of these notes followed me…”

    We have lost some of the textured Gothic-Baroque style of Ligotti’s earlier works but gained a more accessible irony about corporate business life and the paranoia of having broken the mould of one’s habit of acting out an acceptable tediousness but now coming up with a ‘special plan’, one that potentially picks Frank from the crowd, as he begins to itemise for us the subtle aberrations of inferentially scornful insinuations from his various colleagues who are more in cahoots with management than Frank seems to be about his ‘special plan’.
    Management and its intention here, at another level, is the author himself, with his management of this fiction’s irony, an irony that the work is not fiction at all but based on truth. And I am the reviewer with a ‘special plan’ to apply the literary theory of Intentional Fallacy to this book’s purpose, a plan that lies outside the book instead of within it. It’s me now with a cacophonous growl to match that of Ligotti? All implanted “secondary selves” notwithstanding.

  3. Pages 31 – 46

    “But the moment she spoke or the moment her thing-like eyes came into view, she became a Gorgon (no mythic significance intended or necessary.)”

    But we only have Frank Dominio the narrator’s word for that or the author’s word who put Frank’s word into his mouth!
    You know, I miss Ligotti’s textured landmark style of his stories that were published before this book. But there are here, nevertheless, some pungent pen-pictures of Frank’s colleagues who faze Frank out, and they remind me of some of my own work colleagues of yore and Frank reminds me of me. I hope none of my erstwhile colleagues in real life read this and compare themselves to Frank’s pen-pictures…
    I now wonder if the two i’s in Frank’s surname are not after all his own I and my I, but the I’s of Frank and Frank, the latter being a colleague with whom the first Frank somewhat sympathises, a man who coincidentally has the same name as him. By the way, my middle name is Frank as a shortening of Francis (seriously).
    I like, too, the ambiance of this office building but dislike the concept of soon relocating from its situation as the ‘luxuriant rot’ of the city “to some nice new high-rise in the suburbs”. That happened to me, too. My era of such work was the whole of the 70’s and 80’s, just for the record.
    And why is Frank’s boss Richard known as The Doctor (cf Doc in the Seven Dwarves)? Well, the reason is very Ligottian, but no spoilers in this review.

  4. Pages 46 – 60

    “Because nothing in dreams is original; it’s all plagiarized from waking life.”

    We now enter a hypnotically obsessive theme-and-variations — in mock-Ligottian accessibility (or Ligottian mock-accessibility) of a simpler prose style when compared to this book’s previous hinterland of Songs of a Dead Dreamer, Grimscribe and Noctuary — of dreams / reality, workplace machinations, points of triangulation, photographing deeply or distantly one’s environment (as I have been doing for the last few years on behalf of Facebook or my blog, both wabi and sabi).
    On the subject of Facebook et al there is, arguably, a striking image of a mad internet as a monumental, if not momentous, ‘windowless and entranceless building’ amid the differentiable factories and warehouses in dereliction. The sites of the photos as well as the sites of our nightmares: sites and sights that made tiny boxes to fit your daylight-saving captcha-codes….
    Notwithstanding Richard’s mannikin gloves grasping us inside, “fixing and fixing, fixing until — in one way or another — ”
    we broke.
    Frank’s special plan included.

  5. Pages 60 – 72

    “‘Your credit card is really taking a pounding today,’ said the bearded little man, who had returned to his previous height.”

    As Frank the itemised OCD Work-Not-Done narrator tries to gunquip himself from gun shops, there is the above ‘spectral link’ quote to Olan-Loan, as well as to a disarming disgust with his own bank…and the following premonitory glance to our present day…

    “‘Better to be the one who is executed than the one who performs the execution.’ I knew that I would have to come up with some fancy reasoning to maneuver myself from that position of armchair rectitude to a pile of bullet-shredded bodies, even if the last one on the heap was my own.”

    …till the inevitable sudden shock we all shall meet on our streets one day. Or so I infer. No spoilers here as I haven’t yet turned the corner myself.
    Corner of the page.

  6. Pages 75 – 89

    “There was only darkness flowing in darkness.”

    An existential epiphany for whomsoever is meant by ‘I’, Frank Dominio or the other Frank or me or the author (“that my competence had been questioned by buffoons, my messages ignored by morons”) or some unknown gazer at black stars: all of this slowly evolving into a crime story or murder whodunnit or the very ignition of the anti-natalist tontine to reap today’s latest news of anti-antibiotic cataclysm as if the world itself seems to be committing suicide in more ways than one, a very un-‘black-and-white’ scenario investigated by Black and White detectives, concerning the apparent murder of one of Frank’s crass work colleagues. Stokowski who was also a conductor.
    And the rest room’s wash sink plumbing tapped into the sewage system.

    WND, not WMD?

    “Red goes into red.”

    “blackness behind the blackness”

  7. Pages 89 – 102

    “–tying the transistors into the tiniest knots with only a twitch of my mind, melting wiring boards and decimating the soul of that thing–”

    The Des Lewis Dreamcatcher Real-Time Reviews site is sticking by its Schengen Zone for literature, a part of the New Jungianism…
    I wrote that earlier today on my site and, aptly, now, MWINYD at last reaches its own MIND-Hive in this section of pages, as first Frank or second Frank or myself or MWINYD’s author or this author’s fallible view of himself (“an instinct for devious caution, for hyper-vigilance in the cause of self-interested wile.”) jointly or severally have internet surveillance by old-fashioned ‘modem’ upon the archetypal business conference of Frank’s swinish colleagues who seem to hatch plots conscious and unconscious, all connecting Jungianly with each other – and the solution of the murder whodunnit is not only impossible but unnecessary, notwithstanding the then as yet unconsummated massacre ‘bullet-fest’ upon the radicalised Day of Domino (note only one ‘i’).

    “…that we, ‘I’ for the sake of convenience…”

  8. Page 102 – 118

    “Everything that exists is subject to limitations imposed upon it by forces within and forces without. There are no exceptions or exemptions, although there may be some striking transformations.”

    I am now confirmed in my various Schengen theories about this book, the fluid ease of possession as an element of shape shifting – and of pareidolia. Indeed, now with the sudden appearance of a door whence faces can be imagined in the texture of its wood, I sense a pareidolia that I had not previously considered part and parcel of dreamcatching real-time reviews with free passage between (and within) otherwise separate books, their real covers as necessarily resistant but compliant frontiers, accepting and fulfilling the need for such covers, so that the sense of free passage, between the books, works properly by means of a hard-achieved creativity of interpenetration. [Ebooks, since MWINYD was first published, simply present amorphously non-tactile nothingnesses as the divisions between each other, a phenomenon that will eventually corrupt their own encryptions with random and muddled nonsense.]
    Whilst reading this section, as Frank ‘possessed’ Lilian, I suddenly felt a frisson that I was being possessed, too, by the author – or something worse? The pareidolia of horror’s empathy. The cloying doors that suck me in one by one with work not done, work perhaps never done, as Sherry was sucked in.
    And indeed what was the chain of command in “my overwhelming urge to purchase a selection of handguns”? The “friendly twitter” notwithstanding.

  9. Pages 121 – 155

    “–the damage that was given to me to do was compounded at a fixed rate. And there remained enough principal in my account of worldly existence for me to complete the task I had started–”

    There is something disturbingly subsuming about this literary work not yet done till it is done. The subsuming by death’s loan compounded by daylight saving hours (a sort of sleep-nothingness)…
    A subsuming, also, by incubating – as an incubus would – a cockroach by dying with and within it. Abandoning others to dolls and mannequins in a Mechanic Museum, and to a man called Can who is a cross between a garbage can and a cannibal, and to one’s still to be articulated special plan in writing rather than preserved electronically and, finally, abandoning oneself to a struggle for death – a death from under a bus – ‘falling under a bus’ being a stock traditional phrase, at least where I live, for dying unexpectedly before making implied provision (with interest) for those left behind you as if in a race towards “the knotted events of the past and the unraveling of these knots in the future” that make up the recurrently opening and closing noose of The Great Black Swine.
    A story that becomes an unforgettable slow motion Tontine of Eschatology.
    The Corporate and Corporeal in symbiosis. Cathr-in-utero.

    “manipulated and conspired against…”

    THE END OF THIS COLLECTION’S EPONYMOUS MWINYD.

  10. I HAVE A SPECIAL PLAN FOR THIS WORLD

    “Early the next morning, the street lights still shining through the yellowish haze, brutally mauled bodies were discovered lying in every street if the city…”

    I was wondering whether various future inimical world events after this story was first published could have been obviated by a careful reading of it at that time, one such event being the 2008/9 credit crunch, where documents were manipulated and leveraged for their own sake, just like in the business of the Blaine corporation…
    The relocation of the Blaine business to a city that is variously known as Murder City or Golden City, one where a prevailing yellowish haze seeps, and murder and plague suspected or truly enacted. How relevant is that? How relevant, too, that Blaine is the name of the Mono train in The Dark Tower series?

    MWINYD spoke of Machiavellianism, while IHASPFTW is not only ABOUT Machiavellianism but also IS Machiavellian, manipulating the readers as well as the characters.
    Ligotti may be the most Machiavellian writer of fiction who ever lived – or at least his first person narrator is.

    This whole story as a text is, for me, a personified and embodied form of Mr Can from MWINYD, including the bullet-shaped wastepaper container to smash the window of the Lavatory where the narrator is due to have a business meeting with UG Blaine himself, thus letting in more of the seasoning of yellowish haze. And why else is there a ready supply of mauled (and tenderised?) bodies in the streets?

    The whole Tontine structure of manipulating documents – as well as manipulating Blaine’s staff and supervisors – is believably frightening, only one step away from the reality of many companies in my experience. I once personally knew the Bow Tie Man himself. And the often inexplicable hothouse conspiracies of firing and hiring certain sorts. No longer Kafkaesque, because it can now be seen, in hindsight, to be generically Ligottian.

    I feel both dirtied and inspired by this text. Relieved at reliving it, and then escaping again. No mean feat on behalf of its author.

  11. THE NIGHTMARE NETWORK

    “And if I were determined to live solely on the flesh of my own staff, with no access to the staffs of other surviving supervisors or any other personnel, the greatest challenge to present itself would be maintaining each of them in an edible state,…”

    After my above re-readings of MWINYD (The Wages of Life) and IHASPFTW (The Second Coming of the Dead), I now reach their coda entitled TNN (Going Out of Business), where it is as if a makeshift home-video version of CNN is making a patchwork film of a future’s symbiosis of two giant corporations, plus an extrapolation of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Space being that within each of us.

    The waste container and the cannibalism now becoming the ironic vision of our once CAN-DO society soon to be that symbiosis of ONEIRICON : ONE WORLD, ONE DREAM (cf above my earlier Schengen Zone of books as the New Jungianism) and THE NIGHTMARE NETWORK today explicitly represented by TLO, the retrocausal CEO of which Is DR LOCRIAN fresh from managing his ASYLUM… We are all now Masters and Slaves of such electronica; we are all now soon to exist (or not) by dint of that fragile single power source, while making us create our own ‘puppet entities’ as interacting selves within the One Self. Hostile Mergers and Double Agents galore. Showmen and Prophets.

    “All we desire (in all our bitterness) is to go to our ruin in our own way — with a little style and a lot of noise.”

    END

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