Why Does “True Detective” Have Such a Negative View of Humanity?
The show has often been described as “antinatalist.” Antinatalism is a philosophical position that assigns a negative value to birth, standing in opposition to natalism.
As mentioned before, Pizzolatto was heavily influenced by Ligotti, he was known for antinatalist overtones in his often unsettling but darkly comic work. For example, in one of his more popular stories, “The Conspiracy Against the Human Race,” Ligotti describes human consciousness as “the parent of all horrors.” Much of Detective Cohle’s dialogue seems directly pulled from Ligotti’s writing.
At one point, Cohle says, “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 are things that labor under the illusion of having a self, a secretion of sensory experience and feeling, programmed with total assurance that we are each somebody, when in fact everybody’s nobody. I think the honorable thing for our species to do is deny our programming, stop reproducing, walk hand in hand into extinction, one last midnight, brothers and sisters opting out of a raw deal. “
In “The Conspiracy Against the Human Race,” where Ligotti writes: “Now we know that we are uncanny paradoxes. 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. “
And other passages from that book: “The worst possible thing we could know — worse than knowing of our descent from a mass of microorganisms — is that we are nobodies not somebodies, puppets not people.”
“For us, then, life is a confidence trick we must run on ourselves, hoping we do not catch on to any monkey business that would leave us stripped of our defense mechanisms and standing stark naked before the silent, staring void. To end this self-deception, to free our species of the paradoxical imperative to be and not to be conscious, our backs breaking by degrees upon a wheel of lies, we must cease reproducing.”
Though Pizzolatto has been open about his influences, he claims his show doesn’t necessarily share the philosophy of those works, even though he draws his material from them. “I wouldn’t want any viewers to assume we had some nihilistic agenda, or reduce Cohle to an anti-natalist or nihilist. Cohle is more complicated than that. As I’ve said recently, Cohle may claim to be a nihilist, but an observation of him reveals otherwise. Far from ‘nothing meaning anything’ to him, it’s almost as though everything means too much to him. He’s too passionate, too acutely sensitive, and he cares too much to be labeled a successful nihilist. And in his monologues, don’t we detect a whiff of desperation akin to someone who protests too much? When Cohle speaks of the unspeakable, is it with the same illusory perspective as when Hart speaks about the importance of having rules and boundaries?”