As True Detectives' series creator Nic Pizzolatto readies his second season, some are accusing him of plagiarizing the very monologues that put his HBO drama on the map. Mike Davis, the editor of The Lovecraft Ezine collaborated with Thomas Ligotti Online founder Jon Padgett to track down similarities between Rust Cohle's dialogue in True Detective and a Thomas Ligotti book called 'The Conspiracy Against the Human Race.' The duo found several instances in which Cohle's dialogue seemed to be taken from Ligotti.

Here are a few examples:

True Detective:

'We became too self-aware. Nature created an aspect of nature separate from itself. We are creatures that should not exist by natural law.'


'We know that nature has veered into the supernatural by fabricating a creature that cannot and should not exist by natural law, and yet does.'

True Detective:

'The only honorable thing for our species to do is deny our programming, stop reproducing, and march hand-in-hand into extinction.'


'...the human race will never do the honorable thing and abort itself..."/ "To end this self-deception... we must cease reproducing." / "And how many would speed up the process of extinction once euthanasia was decriminalized and offered in humane and even enjoyable ways?'

True Detective:

'I think human consciousness is a tragic misstep in evolution.'


'...human existence is a tragedy that need not have been were it not for the intervention in our lives of a single, calamitous event: the evolution of consciousness-parent of all horrors/ "...the evolutionary mutation of consciousness tugged us into tragedy."/ "...our captivity in the illusion of a self... the tragedy of the ego.'

I feel bad for Nic P. A writer can't even play with influences anymore.

These ideas that Cohle espouses in the show are textbook nihilism, and are pretty much designed to be that way. No reasonable person could watch those scenes and leave thinking that Pizzolatto was trying to pass off these concepts as a novel invention all his own. Unless somebody can show me passages in length, in which the lion's share of the words are the same as some alleged source material, I call BS on it all.

Cohle would've been someone who would have read 'The Conspiracy Against the Human Race.' That he would use ideas and language similar to Ligotti, Nietzsche, Sartre, etc., would be absolutely fitting. There seems to be a different mechanism in play when you are a work of fiction borrowing from philosophical ideas as opposed to another work of fiction. And the charge of plagiarism can't just be about borrowing a phrase or two. That seems like a unnecessarily stringent policy which hampers creativity and the cultural dialogue of art.

And why just Ligotti? If you write a story with nihilistic philosophical chit-chat and looming Lovecraftian dread, should you not acknowledge every writer that has ever used those elements in a story ever. Everyone has a source, one of the most respected writers in TV, David Simon, show runner for The Wire, was VERY influenced by the story of NY Kingpin Alpo Martinez and Richie Porter and used a lot of material for The Wire from his story. For years, there have been various accusations that J.K. Rowling "stole" the characters or ideas for her series of Harry Potter books. The claim that got the most attention was Nancy Stouffer's book "The Legend Of RAH And The Muggles" which not only uses the word "muggles" (used in Rowling's work as well) but also has a character named Larry Potter (who has some resemblance to Harry's character). Even George Lucas drew upon Akira Kurosawa's style, characters, visuals and content when writing all of his Star Wars films, stewing them into a melting pot of sources that gives the films their power.

Any form of art, be it writing, songwriting, dance, painting and more has it's base on a foundation from the influences, training, years of perfecting their craft. To have ones own writing to have a degree of influence from another is normal, once again as in any art form. It's just sad that we only see people, usually far less successful and someone bitter, to then try and state that one persons success is lesser because of tenuous links to a book that influenced the musings of one of the characters. Rather than draw these distinctions themselves, why not simply ask what Ligotti thought?

And...based on the examples above, if we're gonna soak this guy with a bucket of schmuck-blood Carrie-style, we're gonna need to create a couple hundred blog posts doing the same for some very well regarded musicians for similar reasons.


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Tags: hbo , True detective