Time is a flat circle
True Detective's impressive ratings and critical acclaim came, in no small part, from Matthew McConaughey's performance as protagonist Rust Cohle. The character's pessimistic philosophical monologues are one of True Detective's most memorable trademarks, and they'll probably earn McConaughey a Best Actor Emmy later this month.
But as series creator Nic Pizzolatto prepares True Detective's second season, some viewers 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 nearly a dozen instances in which Cohle's dialogue seemed to be cribbed from Ligotti; you can compare them for yourself at The Lovecraft eZine.
"As I reviewed Jon's research, and did more of my own, any doubts I had about plagiarism disappeared," Davis writes. "It became obvious to me that Pizzolatto had plagiarized Thomas Ligotti and others — in some places using exact quotes, and in others changing a word here and there, paraphrasing in much the same way that a high school student will cheat on an essay by copying someone else's work and substituting a few words of their own."
Pizzolatto hasn't responded to the accusations, but he has occasionally acknowledged Ligotti's influence on the show. "I read The Conspiracy Against the Human Race and found it incredibly powerful writing," he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. "For me as a reader, it was less impactful as philosophy than as one writer's ultimate confessional: an absolute horror story, where the self is the monster. In episode one [of True Detective] there are two lines in particular (and it would have been nothing to re-word them) that were specifically phrased in such a way as to signal Ligotti admirers." Consider them signaled.