El drama del exilio y la nostalgia del origen

‚ÄúEl orgullo de un hombre nacido en una peque√Īa cultura siempre est√° herido‚ÄĚ dice el fil√≥sofo rumano Gabriel Liiceanu, y esta frase podr√≠a darnos la clave del¬†personaje¬†que ha acompa√Īado su obra.

Milenio.com (México), 04/09/2011

Ni pesimista ni nihilista, ni m√≠stico ni esc√©ptico, Emil Cioran es s√≥lo un hombre al margen de la vida ‚ÄĒcomo √©l mismo se caracteriza‚ÄĒ y para el cual cada libro que escribi√≥ fue como una herida que deb√≠a trastornar la vida del lector de un modo u otro: ‚ÄúMis libros no son depresivos ni deprimentes, de igual forma que un l√°tigo no es deprimente. Los escribo con furor y pasi√≥n‚ÄĚ.

El 8 de abril de 1911 nace en Rasinari, Transilvania, quien va ser considerado un ‚Äúanti-fil√≥sofo‚ÄĚ: Emil Mihail Cioran, uno de los pensadores m√°s controvertidos del siglo XX. En esa √©poca, Transilvania se encontraba bajo la ocupaci√≥n y la tutela del imperio austro-h√ļngaro. Esta situaci√≥n hace que Cioran pase los primeros a√Īos de formaci√≥n en un exilio interior magnificado por las disensiones sociales, nacionales, ling√ľ√≠sticas y religiosas que hist√≥ricamente han marcado el destino de Ruman√≠a.

Hijo de un prelado de la iglesia ortodoxa, Cioran pas√≥ la mayor parte de su infancia en su pueblo natal, Rasinari, viviendo hasta la edad de 10 a√Īos lo que m√°s tarde va a llamar ‚Äúel para√≠so‚ÄĚ. De la madre parece heredar su inclinaci√≥n a la melancol√≠a; en oposici√≥n a su padre fue, hasta los 17 a√Īos, un ateo furibundo. Despu√©s de los 10 a√Īos fue llevado a estudiar al instituto de la ciudad de Sibiu, donde comienza a tener contacto con la vida gregaria de la ciudad, y se enfrenta, de esta manera, a un cambio radical que acab√≥ con la paz que hab√≠a alcanzado en su pueblo natal, y que nunca va olvidar. Despu√©s de esa etapa, aunque va estudiar filosof√≠a, Emil Cioran nunca m√°s encontrar√° la tranquilidad que su para√≠so infantil le dio.

Al finalizar sus estudios en la Universidad de Bucarest, con una disertaci√≥n sobre la intuici√≥n bergsoniana, Cioran se va a divorciar de la filosof√≠a sistem√°tica. Contin√ļa sus estudios en Berl√≠n; despu√©s regresa a Ruman√≠a, y trabaja durante un a√Īo como profesor de filosof√≠a. En 1937 llega a Par√≠s, donde residir√° hasta el final de su vida.

Cioran es parte de lo que llamamos la ‚Äúliteratura del exilio‚ÄĚ, y √©l en particular vivi√≥ su exilio con una fuerza inmensa.

Para sobrevivir a esa situaci√≥n las circunstancias parec√≠an obligarle a romper con sus or√≠genes, aunque, en el verdadero sentido de la palabra, nunca rompi√≥ con ellos. El drama del exilio es que el escritor no s√≥lo vive este aislamiento, este alejamiento de sus ra√≠ces, sino que tambi√©n el lenguaje se a√≠sla con √©l ‚ÄĒcomo bien afirma otro escritor rumano exiliado, Norman Manea. El exilio le exige a Cioran despedirse de sus ra√≠ces ‚ÄĒtarea nada f√°cil. Para sobrevivir, Cioran elige la terapia de la negaci√≥n, existente ya en su estructura intelectual creativa desde los primeros escritos que public√≥ en rumano.

Es decir: su drama fue no poder romper con sus or√≠genes. Cioran es ‚Äúun exiliado obsesionado por el exilio‚ÄĚ. En su primer libro,¬†En las cimas de la desesperaci√≥n¬†(1934), se preguntaba ya: ‚Äú¬Ņser√≠a para nosotros la existencia un exilio y la nada una patria?‚ÄĚ, tema al que vuelve en¬†Del inconveniente de haber nacido:¬†‚ÄúToda mi existencia he vivido con el sentimiento de haber sido alejado de mi verdadero lugar. Si la expresi√≥n¬†exilio metaf√≠sico¬†no tuviera ning√ļn sentido, mi existencia hubiera bastado para darle uno‚ÄĚ. Cioran se complace en el autorretrato de extranjero. De hecho, en el libroHistoria y utop√≠a¬†se define como procedente de otro lugar:

…me considero en medio de los civilizados como un intruso, como un troglodita enamorado de la caducidad, sumido en plegarias subversivas, víctima de un pánico que no emana de una visión del mundo sino, de las crispaciones de la carne y de las tinieblas de la sangre.

De esta manera tan suya, ‚ÄúCioran no ha cesado de proclamar sus or√≠genes y de renegar a la vez de ellos‚ÄĚ, afirma Sanda Stolojan, la traductora de su obra rumana al franc√©s.

‚ÄúEl orgullo de un hombre nacido en una peque√Īa cultura siempre est√° herido‚ÄĚ dice el fil√≥sofo rumano Gabriel Liiceanu, y esta frase podr√≠a darnos la clave del¬†personaje¬†que ha acompa√Īado su obra. El rechazo a los premios, la indiferencia hacia el p√ļblico, la publicidad y el √©xito tienen que ver con su orgullo y con su miedo ‚ÄĒcontin√ļa Liiceanu‚ÄĒ de ser despose√≠do de su identidad. En cambio, Cioran sigue con inter√©s las reacciones provocadas por sus primeras traducciones en Espa√Īa y escribe a su hermano: ‚ÄúLa √ļnica sorpresa agradable que he tenido desde hace tiempo es el √©xito de¬†Breviario de podredumbre¬†en Espa√Īa‚ÄĚ. Y es momento de decir que Cioran amaba Espa√Īa; la amaba por sus defectos, por sus vicios, pero tambi√©n por su fe. Por eso le encant√≥ la aparici√≥n de sus libros en aquel pa√≠s. Pero lo interesante es que¬†Aciago demiurgo,¬†que deber√≠a haberse publicado por esas fechas en Espa√Īa, fue prohibido por la censura. A Cioran, aunque le doli√≥ ese hecho, contin√ļo escribiendo con la misma actitud: ‚Äú√©l fue como un poeta que escribiese filosof√≠a: vivi√≥ descuidado de su fama y de su negocio, enamorado de sus justezas y provocaciones‚ÄĚ, nos dice el argentino Abel Posse en¬†Par√≠s sin Cioran.

Con¬†De l√°grimas y de santos, escrito a los 21 a√Īos como uno de los cinco libros publicados en Ruman√≠a, Cioran conjura la gran crisis religiosa de su vida. Reescribe cuatro veces el¬†Breviario de podredumbre¬†en¬†1949,¬†su primer libro en franc√©s, lengua cuyo rigor siente como infernal e inhumano. Inmediatamente, Gallimard publica ese libro al que seguir√° una obra singular:¬†Silogismos de la amargura.¬†Vendr√°n despu√©s,¬†La tentaci√≥n de existir,¬†El aciago demiurgo, Del inconveniente de haber nacido,¬†La ca√≠da en el tiempo,¬†Historia y utop√≠a¬†hasta llegar a¬†Desgarradura¬†en 1983.

Todos estos libros y muchos m√°s son testigos de que, para Cioran, la √ļnica forma de sobrevivir en el exilio fue la de escribir. ¬ŅEscribir para qu√©? Escribir para sobrevivir; para aniquilar a los √≠dolos, para soportar la ca√≠da en el tiempo, para llorar, para sentirse como demiurgo, para jugar creando una utop√≠a o para sucumbir a la¬†tentaci√≥n de existir.

Catalina Elena Dobre ‚ÄĘ Doctora en filosof√≠a por la Universidad Alexandru Ioan Cuza, de Ruman√≠a. Actualmente vive en M√©xico. Es autora del libro Encuentro con Cioran

The Philosophical Periods of Emil Cioran

Ciprian Valcan, Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, The Catholic University of America | Html

Emil Cioran was born on April 8th, 1911 in¬†RńÉŇüinari, near¬†Sibiu, in a¬†Romanian region¬†that¬†until 1918 was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. His father, Emilian Cioran, was an Orthodox priest, while his mother, Elvira Comaniciu, descended from the family of a notary who had earned a baronship for notable service. Cioran spent his childhood in the beautiful scenery of¬†RńÉŇüinari. At the age of ten he started attending the classes of the “Gheorghe LazńÉr”‘ highschool in Sibiu where his entire family moved in 1924. In 1926, when he was fifteen years old, the young Emil dedicated himself to his first intense literary and philosophical reading; his notebooks of the time display a series of quotations from Lichtenberg, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Diderot, Balzac, Flaubert, Sholoviov, Tagore and Dosto√Įevski.

Between 1928 and 1932 he was a student of the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy in Bucharest, particularly attracted to German philosophers, among whom he assiduously embraced Simmel, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Dilthey, without ignoring Kierkegaard, Bergson and Shestov. He concluded his undergraduate studies with a dissertation on Bergsonian intuitionism. From 1931 onwards he published numerous articles and essays in periodicals such as¬†MiŇücarea,Discobolul, Azi, Vremea, G√Ęndirea, Calendarul, Floarea de foc, AcŇ£iunea. Between 1933 and 1935 he lived in Berlin on a Humboldt Foundation scholarship and in 1936 became a philosophy teacher at the “Andrei¬†Ňěaguna” highschool in BraŇüov.

In 1937¬†he¬†went to Paris on a scholarship¬†of the French Institute in Bucharest, which was extended until 1944. After 1945, he returned to Romania for only short periods of time, choosing to live in exile. His Parisian existence was that of a marginal character who lived precariously on uncertain income. At the beginning, he lived in cheap hotels in the Latin Quarter and, after 1960, eventually settled in the famous attic at 21, rue de l’Od√©on, where he was to remain until his death, in 1995.

1934 witnessed his debut within a volume; his first book,¬†Pe culmile disperńÉrii¬†was followed by other five written in Romanian and ten more published in French:¬†Cartea amńÉgirilor¬†(The Book of Illusions), Bucharest, 1936;¬†Schimbarea la faŇ£ńÉ a Rom√Ęniei, Bucharest, 1936;¬†Lacrimi Ňüi sfinŇ£i, Bucharest, 1937;¬†Amurgul g√Ęndurilor¬†(The Crepuscule of Reason)¬†, Sibiu, 1940;¬†√éndreptar pńÉtimaŇü¬†(Passionate Guide), Bucharest, 1991;¬†Pr√©cis de decomposition¬†(Treaty of Decomposition), Paris, 1949;¬†Syllogismes de l’amertume¬†(Syllogisms of Sadness), Paris, 1952;¬†La tentation d’exister(The Temptation to Exist), Paris, 1956;¬†Histoire et utopie¬†(History and Utopia), Paris, 1960;¬†La chute dans le temps¬†(The Fall in Time), Paris, 1964;¬†Le mauvais D√©miurge¬†(The Evil Demiurge), Paris, 1969;¬†De l’inconv√©nient d’√™tre n√©, Paris (The Shortcomings of Being Born), 1973;¬†Ecart√®lement¬†(Excruciation), Paris, 1979;¬†Exercices d’admiration¬†(Excercises in Admiration), Paris, 1986;¬†Aveux et anath√®mes¬†(Confessions and Anathemas), Paris, 1987.¬†Mon Pays/¬†ŇĘara mea¬†(My Country),¬†Bucharest, 1996;¬†Cahiers¬†(Notebooks), Paris, 1997 ;¬†Cahier de Talamanca¬†(The Talamanca Notebook), Paris, 2000 were published posthumously.

CIORAN’S NIETZSCHEAN PERIOD

The differences between Cioran’s Romanian and French works have often been overlooked by his commentators, who have proved much too attached to the idea of unity of his thought, considering that the writer’s obsessions and interests remained unchanged throughout. Thus, differences were allegedly noticeable only on a stylistic level, where the often careless and exaggeratedly lyrical writing of the early texts were replaced by the sober and elegant formulations belonging to one of the most important masters of verbal use in 20th¬†century French prose. Cioran’s own confessions might have contributed to shaping this inaccurate image, for both in his writings and in interviews he insisted upon the organic nucleus of his inspiration to the disadvantage of the shifts of perspective which are easy to detect in his work. He would stubbornly maintain that his entire vision of the world was practically acquired at the age of 20, without undergoing any subsequent important transformations.

The situation is, in fact, completely different. Cioran’s work represents the perfect expression of a contradictory spirit, who approaches a series of quasi-obsessive themes from constantly changing perspectives. While the interests of Cioran, the thinker, remain unaltered, the way in which they relate to the central motifs of his reflection vary considerably, making it impossible to establish a continuity between his early and his mature work. It seems easier to state that Cioran’s French work is an almost systematic and willful denial of all the beliefs and spiritual formulae in his Romanian work, a merciless demolition of the idols built in youthful frenzy. Cioran appears to be fighting against himself. The famous phrase “to think against yourself” provides the title of a superb essay to be found in¬†La tentation d’exister,later borrowed by Susan Sontag[i]¬†in order to characterize the essayist’s philosophical manner. Consequently, it can be understood as a continuous and furious battle against his juvenile self, still insufficiently experienced to install its sceptical shell and reject all the siren-voices of the illusion generated by living in the world.

The young Cioran received Nietzsche’s texts with enthusiasm, using them to legitimise his innate need to challenge and undermine certainty. He distances himself quite rapidly from the models offered by classical philosophy – the honourable quality of the system and of a certain type of discourse considered to be the only true one – in order to take on a meditation on being. Cioran adheres to the kind of philosophy encountered in Nietzsche’s work, not only because it corresponds to the way in which he himself deciphers the structure of the world, but also because it contains a considerable potential of rebellion against traditional metaphysical theses.

Far from being a superficial surface masking the hegemony of other philosophical models, Nietzsche’s influence is present on all levels of Cioran’s early work. It is the constant organizing element in the agitated dynamics of his thinking, serving as a reference point and presiding over his vision of the world. This influence fades into practical nothingness in Cioran’s last volumes. His distancing himself from Nietzschean thinking is the consequence of a real¬†Kehre¬†which marks the transition from the thinker’s Romanian stage to the French stage. In this later period, beyond rather apparent incongruities and a certain thematic similarity, his thinking registers a profound transformation, adopting positions in many respects to those strictly antithetical of his youth.

The ontological vision embraced by the young Cioran reflects his choleric temperament and his strong inclination towards a tragic heroism which values drive, abnegation, courage and power more than the refined sophistic games of the intellect or its subtle conceptual distinctions. This is precisely the reason why his perspective is not dominated by reflection on the countless variations that interfere in the relationship between existence and essence. It is not a meditation on pure being or on the way in which its various features can be determined by means of categories. Rather, it is entirely governed by the author’s interest in capturing the mystery of life. Life with a capital letter, Life as an ontological principle, is Cioran-the-thinker’s main preoccupation: he strongly believes that the central stake of his existence is its very consonance with the overflowing power of life, with its irrational and over-individual nature.

To Cioran, the background of existence is made up of dark transformations, chaotic and contradictory movements, incessant competition between creation and destruction, between imposing certain forms and necessarily surpassing them. The world is not harmonious, symmetrical, teleologically controllable; it is mastered by the merciless exigency of evolution and infinite transformation, by the cruelty of a process that develops fatally, with no purpose or reason: “The true dialectics of life is a demonic and agonic one, before which life appears as winding in an eternal night lit by phosphorescences meant to increase the mystery”[ii]. Cioran’s view on the anarchic tumult of life and its delirious and barbarous rhythm echoes the numerous Nietzschean texts which talk about the abyss of existence, about the terrifying magma that boils and stirs behind the temporary creations of the intellect so as to make daily life possible.

In Cioran’s case, this dramatic perspective upon the never-ending interplay of forces at the basis of existence instantiates a vision animated by tragic heroism, which opposes both the optimistic theories regarding the fate of the Universe and the often apocalyptical formulations of the pessimists. By rejecting passivity, monotony, resignation, Cioran tries to put forward a daring confrontation between life’s trials and the exalted reception of their consequences. If in Nietzsche’s case the proclamation of¬†amor fati¬†is the consequence of his paradoxical idea of the eternal return and of the importance he attributes to the will to power, Cioran preserves the idea of a possible synthesis between optimism and pessimism, supposedly capable of surpassing them both.

The solution Cioran envisages for a fair integration in the cosmic rhythms resides in the intensification of living, the divinisation of life’s paradoxical cannibalism, the acceptance of the horrors and of the dynamic explosions in where the vital flux consists: “My brothers, may your life be so intense that you should die and crumble against it. May you die of life! May you wreck your life! May you scream from the howls of the life inside you, may you sing in final songs the last whirls of your life!”[iii]. This vital surplus, this enthusiastic entrance into the vortex of existence is the only way in which people can lead a dignified life. Grasping meaninglessness is not an excuse for despair, but the privileged means by which the individual grows stronger and decides to face the accumulation of events offered by his destiny with his whole being, without remorse or reserve. Since he is trapped inside the monstrous spectacle of the world, like a mere actor in the irrational cosmic drama, he simply enjoys living.

Feeling the absence of a philosophy ready to affirm the importance of life, the lack of that philosophy of¬†Yes¬†already mentioned by Nietzsche, Cioran – who uses a rhetoric close enough to the lyricism of¬†Thus Spake Zarathustra¬†– never ceases to proclaim the need for people to adore life, to become idolaters of living: “A thousand repetitions will be needed to state that Life alone, pure life, the pure act of living can be loved, that we hang onto nothingness by the thread of our consciousness”[iv]. From this perspective, the only capital sin is the depreciation of life, the blockage of its unconscious energy by means of rational mechanisms which question its meaning and tend to challenge its absolute value as a goal in itself: “Guilty consciousness is the result of willing or unwilling attacks on life. All the times that were not moments of ecstasy before life have added up to the infinite guilt of consciousness”[v].

The only way to capture the mystery of life is an exclusive orientation towards the procession of appearances, an attempt at exhausting their charm and tasting their concreteness and unending diversity by renouncing whatever contradicts the natural tendencies of individuals to fully assume their vital potential. The attempt to enter a deeper level of reality, to discover truths that escape the senses, in a horizon to which only reason – by means of its specific power to pierce through the veil of appearances – has access, these are all signs of mistrust in the transfigurative power of life, in its ability always to stage thrilling shows where the impenetrable destiny of humanity is at stake at every given moment. To Cioran, these attempts are all in vain: they can only spread a diffuse nihilism, an unexplainable disgust for living which refuses deciphering and forever keeps its mask, preserving its freshness and fascination: “There is no other world behind ours; nothingness hides nothing. Whenever you may dig for treasures, the digging is in vain: the gold is scattered in the spirit, yet the spirit is far from golden. Defame life by useless archaeologies? There are no¬†traces. Who would have left them? Nothingness does not stain. What steps could have gone under the earth, when there is no¬†under¬†?[vi]“.

The implicit gnosiology to be discovered in Cioran’s texts corresponds to his vision of a universe made up of an anarchic agglomeration of forces and is clearly inspired by Nietzsche. It takes over all the key elements of the German philosopher’s conception of knowledge and truth. To Cioran, knowledge is a form of the predator instinct which governs the human being, a means by which it tries to expand its domination of the world, without displaying any special virtue or inclination apart from the will to dominate: “The instincts of the predator beast reveal themselves in knowledge. You want to master everything, to make it yours – and if it is not yours, you want to smash it to pieces. How could anything escape you, when your immense thirst pierces the ceiling and your pride arches rainbows over an abyss of ideas?!”[vii].

In order to populate the universe with enough conceptual beings to mask the wilderness of the abyss that underlies the entire human existence, in order to hide the meaninglessness that mysteriously presides over the cannibalistic metabolism of life, one needs steadily to hang onto illusions, to project a screen of beliefs strong enough to allow the comfortable survival of the individuals without permitting them to glimpse the background drama, the furious spectacle of growing and shrinking, of being born and irrationally rushing towards destruction: “People believe in something in order to forget what they are. Burying themselves under ideals and cuddling in idols, they kill time with all sorts of beliefs. Nothing would hurt them more terribly than to wake up on top of the heap of pleasant deception, faced with pure existence”[viii].

Like Nietzsche, Cioran notices the unitary nature of the productions of the intellect. They act as filters which prevent the perception of plural reality and the incessant evolution of all things, building the edifice of a stable world, homogeneous and identical with itself. If the world is in fact an infernal succession of sensations, a terrible carousel of always obsolete forms, a theatre of uniqueness and of the unrepeatable, our gnosiological apparatus constantly works on the skilful deformation of these aspects of existence. It suggests their replacement with a comfortable image, in which constancy, continuity, measurability, predictability are the main pillars that make people confidently believe that they are walking on safe ground[ix].

The ossification of reality comes about particularly due to the language filter which tries to constrain possibly similar situations within the oppressive frame of identity. Thus, the linguistic sieve privileges levelling and standardisation to the disadvantage of a discontinuous vision that would precisely observe difference and the incongruities rendered perceptible by means of the senses. The mission of concepts is to pacify the world, to make it into a province of the self where there is no room for unpredictability or accident, where everything abides by the laws of reason, following their immutable order and refusing the interference of affectivity or sensitivity.

All these observations lead Cioran towards adopting the theory of truth proposed by Nietzsche. First, he notices that the truths people invoke represent nothing but a systematic effort to falsify reality and idolize a set of useful errors that make life possible, so that “living equals a specialization in error”[x]. This type of truth organizes the whole process of individual accommodation to reality, eliminating with sombre voluptuousness the fictions that are struggling to disguise its veritable appearance. It is the type of truth which parallels the ‘truth-probity’ from Nietzschean fragments. Yet, if in the German philosopher’s case the main impulse behind this tendency is a terrible necessity to know the ultimate truth, “the real truth”, if its motive power is the passion for knowledge, things are different with Cioran.

For this type of investigation, the determining element is the diminished vitality that finds its expression within, endangering the survival of individuals because of its shortage of energy, a dangerous malady that menaces being: “Truth – like any minus of illusion – only appears in a compromised vitality. Unable to further nourish the charm of errors in which our life indulges, instincts fill the void with the disaster of lucidity. One starts seeing things for what they are and then one can no longer live. Without errors, life is a deserted boulevard on which one walks like a peripathetician of sadness”[xi].

Cioran lays more emphasis than Nietzsche upon the dangers such knowledge implies with regard to life, taking into account the destruction of illusions it entails. He tends to see it as a capital, inexpiable sin against nature that threatens to tear the individual apart from the irrational stream of living and project him into a delirious and fatal obsession with truth searching. This obsession ceaselessly opposes consciousness to natural and unconscious development, thus enacting, according to Klage, an irreducible adversity between spirit and life: “Since any knowledge equals loss – of being, of existence – any kind of knowledge brings along weariness, disgust towards being and a certain detachment. The act of knowing only increases our distance from the world and embitters our human condition”[xii].

Imposing a devastating lucidity leads to questioning the entire fictional architecture of the world. It involves the danger of dissolution, of giving in to the demented carousel of uncertainties, challenges and hiatuses of being and thus making it possible for life to expand carelessly, to develop in the shadow of a suite of imaginary constructs to a purely utilitarian end. In order to allow the consolidation of living, to provide it with the proper circumstances in which to manifest itself, a spontaneous acceptance of a set of truths and principles is necessary. It should act without the always harmful mediation of reflexivity, which inhibits the vital impulse and overturns the most solid certitudes: “An individual or an epoch must breathe unconsciously within the unconditional nature of a principle in order to recognize it. Knowing overthrows any shade of certainty. As an extreme phenomenon of reason, consciousness is a source of doubts that can only be defeated in the dusk of the awakened spirit”[xiii].

This is, however, only one of the levels of Cioran’s thinking, which does not exhaust the sphere of his reflections upon truth. Like Nietzsche, he tries to capture the ambiguous nature of truth, the eternal competition between revelation and concealment, the frantic proliferation of masks and perspectives, heading towards the proclamation of a type of truth that comes close to the truth-duplicity from Nietzschean texts. Cioran’s effort is particularly directed towards keeping the creative dynamism of life unaltered, towards a subtle approach to its contradictory aspects, so that there should be no endangering of life by means of eliminating the shield of fiction necessary to the expansion of the vital flux. Simultaneously, there should neither appear a challenge of the background fluidity of the world, of its plurality and evolution. The heroic dimension of living in the world occupies a central place in Cioran’s early texts, also reflected in his understanding of knowledge and truth. It prohibits both passive conformism in the reception of a tame version of the universe and the ultimate triumph and dangerous exaltation, the suicidal instinct placed in the service of destroying all the errors one needs in order to survive.

Warning against the perils of knowledge and the ill-fated part it may play due to its life-endangering nature, the young philosopher does not settle for an obedient acceptance of truth-utility. He vehemently criticises the idea of certainty that lies behind it and proclaims his revolt, especially because of the mediocre standard it seems to impose and the less dramatic vision it underscores. The artificial fabrication of a meaning solely serves the purpose of a cowardly search for stability and certainty, acting as an ignoble lie. It denies precisely the virility of confrontation with the unleashed cavalcade of appearances and tends to devalue the agonic emotion, the intensity impossible to capture in an ephemerous, spontaneous form[xiv].

The battle against certainties is fought in the name of the creative effervescence of nature, of the paradoxical spectacle offered by the explosive unpredictability of life. Accepting an ultimate foundation, introducing indubitable nuclei of meaning, strictly and voluntarily limiting the entire space of existence equals restricting the potential of surprising productions, offering forms and the idea of containment the ultimate triumph upon the furious matter of evolution, upon the demonic side of its unstructurable contents. It equals giving in to the illusion of control over the deep irrationality of the world: “Let us not build our lives upon certainties. Let us not build it so, since we do not have these certainties and we are not cowardly enough to invent stable and final ones. Where in our past would we find certainties, solid grounds to balance or support us? Has our heroism not started the moment we began to realize that life can only lead to death and still did not give up on affirming it? We do not need certainties since we know that they can only be found in suffering, sadness and death – too intense and too lasting to be less than absolute”[xv].

Cioran’s solution is also borrowed from Nietzschean texts, and it consists of imposing a vision of the world in which appearances reunite all opposites and make the logics of identity explode. It contains both truth and lie, reality and fiction; evolution changes into an infinite interplay of interpretations, into a continuous sliding of masks that can only lead towards other masks. Truth, in such a context, is a frantic overlapping of perspectives, a ceaseless challenge, a chain of perplexity and revelation, all subjected to the overflowing dynamics of life, to its uncontrollable pulse: “Ambivalence and equivoque are part of the ultimate realities.¬†Being on the side of the truth against itself¬†is not a paradoxical formulation, since anybody who understands truth’s risks and revelations cannot but love and hate it. Whoever believes in truth is na√Įve; whoever does not, is stupid. The only straight way is on the edge of a knife”[xvi].

Devoted – despite his¬†taste for paradoxes – to the Nietzschean vision of the forces that make the whole machinery of the world go round, charmed by this dynamic image extremely suitable to his temper, Cioran also borrowed other key elements from the German philosopher’s thought. In his early writings he proves to be an almost Orthodox Nietzschean who put into practice his master’s theses by adapting them to his own style. His thinking is entirely dominated by typically Nietzschean motifs and solutions which he takes up almost organically, finding them suitable to express his own way of relating to existence.

Although Cioran’s writing is strongly impregnated by the spirit of Nietzsche’s philosophy, although even the tonality of the texts is seriously influenced by a certain rhetoric characteristic for Zarathustra’s creator, Cioran is only interested in those Nietzschean reflections which answer certain issues he feels the need to almost spontaneously address, thus surpassing any bookish mediation. He uses only those ideological nuclei which allow him to express himself better and parallel his dominant affective tonality.

It is in this manner that his numerous confessions regarding the vital sources of his philosophy and the organic inspiration of his thoughts should be understood. There is no denial of any influence from another thinker and no claim to spontaneous elaboration – independent of written sources. Cioran emphasizes his closeness to the model as being strictly determined by his spiritual metabolism, somewhat following the direction indicated by a fleeting note of Val√©ry’s: “Rien de plus original, rien de plus soi que de se nourrir des autres.¬†Mais il faut les dig√©rer.¬†Le lion est fait de mouton assimil√©¬†(There is nothing more original, more personal than feeding oneself on the others. Yet, digestion is needed. The lion is made up of assimilated lamb)”.[xvii]

Along with a series of motifs belonging to Spengler, Simmel, Schopenhauer and Weininger, the stream of Nietzschean thought represents one of the pillars which gradually allowed the configuration of Cioran’s original thinking, providing it with the necessary matter for its particular philosophical style, with its recurrent themes and its specific writings. In the context of the young Cioran’s predominant interest for German philosophy and Northern thinking in general (e.g., for Kierkegaard) which he considered much closer to barbaric transfiguration, to the authentic sources of life, Nietzsche plays the father figure, the idol whose positions are adopted with much enthusiasm and very little critical spirit.

CIORAN’S LATER FRENCH PERIOD

The French period brings along a different set of privileged readings and intellectual sources. German influences start to wither, being replaced by massive appeal to the great books of the humanist and sceptical European tradition, as well as to a series of Gnostic and Buddhist texts. French authors become almost obligatory reference, providing the thinker with an arsenal of arguments and ideas that contribute to the crystallization of his new image of himself. It is the image of the doomed, disillusioned character, whose flesh is wounded by an insurmountable evil which makes him immune to all the fantasies and hallucinations of an exalted humanity in perpetual quest for ideals.

The new Cioran breaks away from his former masters, the main figure whom he repudiates along the way being Nietzsche himself – the dangerous prophet, a true prince of the exalted natures, a histrionic senior of delirious times. In the writer’s first book to be published in French,¬†Trait√© de decomposition¬†(Treaty of Decomposition)¬†, one can still find enough fragments placed under the easily noticeable influence of the German thinker – especially with regard to issues connected to knowledge and truth. Later on Nietzsche’s presence fades, leaving the fore-ground open to a series of themes which will contribute to shaping Cioran’s portrait as a radical sceptic, a perpetual lover of doubt.

The convulsive exaltation of living, the creation, the effort of his early work are replaced by the disillusioned outlook of one who arrives to consider himself¬†the¬†sceptic of the Occident, the damned master of doubt, the exorcist of all certainty and conviction. Cioran’s French writings constitute a true¬†Summa sceptica, a transcript with phenomenological accents of the abysmal mechanisms of doubt, of the disease that attacks the spirit, detaching it from any vital stake and making it impossible to choose out of sheer indecision[xviii]. Cioran insists upon the voluptuousness the intellect feels while trapped in the whirl of unmasking illusions, of demystifying drunkenness of the senses. He describes the pride of those who feel able to transcend all human boundaries, letting themselves be consumed by their inquisitorial mania, aiming at annihilating all fiction and projecting a merciless image of the entire architecture of the universe, made out of tenebrous nudity and left without the protective shield of idealization or of teleological projections.

However, apart from designing this veritable orgy of the intelligence, the writer inventories the disappointing consequences of such an outburst of the implacable machinery of the spirit. He ruthlessly analyses the results of the “uncharming” of the world he imposes, herein including the progressive elimination of all belief, the undermining of all arguments to the benefit of life, the hegemony of a generalised indifferentism, the spread of boredom and anguish, the neutralization of affection, the assuming of sterility, the triumph of an aseptic feeling towards existence that encourages the headlong rush towards catastrophe, the quest for a breakaway from the curse of the almighty consciousness: “I know a crazy old woman who spends her days and nights on the watch, expecting her house to fall apart at any time. Walking to and fro in her room, listening to small noises, she is extremely irritated that the event is running late. On a larger scale, the old woman’s behaviour belongs to us all. We live hoping for a downfall, even when we are thinking of something else”[xix].

The pre-eminence of this vision determines Cioran to start drawing a relentless image of the world, in which naivety, illusion, utopia have no place whatsoever. Sarcasm and cynical notes are the preferred means used to demonstrate the insanity of all hope or belief in the blessings of reason. The writer ridicules even the most moderate form of optimism, deconstructing with malicious ingeniousness all the arguments held by the partisans of progress and disqualifying any claim at amelioration of the destiny of humanity. It seems extremely obvious to Cioran that a lucid outlook on the universe does not allow for the slightest hope. Creation is the work of an evil divinity, of a ‘tarred god’[xx]¬†who has corrupted the roots of existence from the very beginning, launching a generalized process of vitiation and destruction, generating the movement and chaos of change, blowing up the harmony of the initial whole. Man is the victim of this initial error. He is a composite being, naturally oriented towards evil, cohabitating with monstrosity and horror, capable of well-doing only inattentively or by mistake.

The nostalgia for the unborn, for the state preceding creation, for the paradisiacal, preverbal and preconscious initial condition, is extremely present in Cioran’s French work, marking another significant difference from his Romanian volumes. The young Cioran exalts manifestation, and the thrill of creation; he encourages the most terribly selfish exaggerations, eulogizing individuality and its heroic fragility, trying to push his sleepy, passive people forward into the swirls of history – which he considers to be the only suitable scene for the affirmation of nations, the only court that can judge them, bringing their salvation or expiation.

In contrast, the mature Cioran is adept at erasing all traces, renouncing the illusion of the self, extinguishing all passions and suppressing all projects. He warns against the danger of succumbing to the carousel of appearances. For this reason, history appears to him as a territory of evil, as a necessarily harmful episode which induces a fatal involution, as a brutal force which subjects everything to the implacable corrosion of time, thus quickening the pace at which the end approaches. Consequently, the theme of destiny becomes omnipresent in the French volumes, continuing the dialogue with Spengler’s thinking that Cioran had started in his youth in an original manner.

The first book published in France,¬†Trait√© de d√©composition¬†contains an essay, “The faces of decadence” which is still extremely strongly influenced by the way in which Spengler describes a culture on the verge of decline. Cioran’s phenomenology of decadence, present in this text, starts from the German philosopher’s observations: by contrast with the unconscious individual of climactic cultural eras (“the individual is not aware of his being alive, he just lives”[xxi]), the declined individual establishes the “reign of awareness”[xxii]. The myths of the creative periods are replaced by concepts; life changes from a means to an end in itself.

Physiological degradation imposes the abandonment of worn out instincts and the harmful hegemony of reason, which inhibits the pulsating spontaneity of emotions (“Decadence is nothing but instinct turned impure under the influence of consciousness”[xxiii]). Religious effervescence is replaced by an incapability of believing that leads to the downfall of all divinity; man chooses to kill his gods in order to be free, at the cost of his creativity: “since man is only free – and sterile – while the gods are dying; just as he is only enslaved – and creative – when, tyrannically, the gods prosper”[xxiv].

The difference from Spengler manifests itself in the way in which the two interpret the significance of decline. The German philosopher sees in civilization the formula adopted by a culture that has reached its end, without this end questioning the survival of the entire humanity and without its meaning a general crepuscule, a denial of the possibility for other cultures to emerge, a universal decline. Cioran seems to prefer a vision that contradicts the cyclic perspective subject to the Spenglerian morphology of culture, seeing in the whole symptomatology of decadence either a preparation for the extinction of the human race[xxv], or a proof of its permanent decline[xxvi]. The circularity of the model imagined by the German philosopher is replaced by headlong linearity towards catastrophe, either implying the final destruction of humankind, or involving its persistence in a post-historical condition, by inevitably accepting regress, the perpetuation of a race of “subhuman”, “crooks of the apocalypse”[xxvii].

Cioran seems to return to a unitary vision of history by denying a discontinuity which he had previously defended in the name of Spengler and by renouncing the structural homologies the latter had suggested as means of studying major cultures. Appropriating his diagnosis of decline, Cioran expands it to an universal scale. He takes it out of the precise context of formulation in order to describe the final stage of a culture and transforms it into an argument for his own disillusioned vision of the world, for his apocalyptical pessimism: “we are the great decrepits: burdened by ancient dreams, forever incapable of utopia, we are technicians of exhaustion, grave diggers of the future, terrified by the avatars of old Adam. The Tree of Life will never see a new spring: its wood is dry, they will make coffins out of it – for our bones, for our dreams and sufferings”[xxviii].

This vision was to persist throughout Cioran’s French work, appearing in a series of essays such as “After History”[xxix]or the “Urgency of Catastrophe”[xxx], marking a significant change from his early Spenglerian conception of strict obedience. Cioran thus explicitly repudiates the cyclic understanding of history in a fragment reminding of Heraclitus’ vision of the fire that will envelop the entire universe at the end of every cosmic period. He considers the idea unbearable because of the repeatability of catastrophe, infinite circularity of disaster: “Less daring and less exigent, we settle for one ending because we lack the power that would allow us to imagine and bear more. It is true that we admit a plurality of civilizations – just as many worlds that are born and perish: but who among us would consent to the entire history to always starting over? With every event we take one step further towards the unique outcome, according to a rhythm of progress whose scheme we adopt, implicitly refusing its fiddlesticks. We do advance, we even rush towards certain disaster, not towards wonderful fulfillment”[xxxi].

Such a change of perspective also triggers a radical shift in valuing history, establishing a new point of view with regard to the relationship between major cultures, obsessed with doing and self-affirmation, and a-historical, a-temporal cultures which refuse to enter the game of evolution. In his Romanian work, Cioran never ceases to blame and deplore the situation of the cultures that lack a destiny, those minor cultures which are only interested in the values of survival, have no metaphysical ambition or desire to transform the world, remain permanently anonymous, eulogizing the force of major cultures to make their mark on the development of history, to put everything down to the intensity of emotion, to search for glory at the cost of ineluctable decline.

The French books put forward the very opposite vision. A-temporal cultures possess a higher wisdom that allows them to keep their distance from the inevitable combustion which devours the actors of universal history. Decline, the precipitation of the end, is the result of greed in the evolution of major cultures: “What is ruining us, what has already ruined us, is the craving for destiny, whatever it may be”[xxxii]. History is not the salvation of peoples by means of inscribing their final place in the memory of Humanity; it is not their felicitous escape from anonymity. It represents a death trap, the acceptance of a devastating disease that will bring about the end, the sacrifice of deep essence to the advantage of a dangerous suite of simulacra, an agglomeration of facts and gestures that mark the only important stake – that of living according to one’s own interiority:

There certainly is no redemption in history. It is by no means our fundamental dimension: it is nothing but the apotheosis of the appearances. Could it be possible that, once our journey through the world has ended, we might retrieve our own essence? Will a completely shallow being, the post-historic man, be able to find in himself the a-temporal dimension, everything that history has stifled in us?[xxxiii]

Major cultures do not offer a model: their metabolism is not to be imitated, their endemic aggressiveness is not to be followed, as the young Cioran used to think. On the contrary, their itinerary is to be avoided, since they cannot offer any solutions, but only push the race towards disaster. The mature Cioran deplores the conspiracy of “advanced” peoples against the ones “left behind by history”[xxxiv]¬†and the devious scheming the latter are not able to face, succumbing to vices they seemed protected from, being pushed in the swirl of history against their will, and thus meant for inevitable decline”[xxxv].

Having been a fervent propagandist of modernization, having eulogized the power of major cultures to change the world and their indefatigable activism, Cioran comes to regret the breakaway from the mild animalism of the natural state, which, in his youth, he would have called ‘the passage from biology to history’: “Lousy and serene, we should have settled for the company of animals, to rot together with them for millennia to come, to breathe the odor of the stables rather than that of the laboratories, to die of our diseases, not of our remedies [‚Ķ] To the duty and obsession of absence we have substituted events; yet, any event touches and erodes us, since it only emerges on account of our balance and durability”[xxxvi].

The apocalyptic pessimism of Cioran’s thinking results not only in a somber vision of history and of the whole structure of the world in which the pre-eminence of evil is a metaphysical fact, but also in a vitriolic description of human nature, seemingly inspired by Goya’s or Hogarth’s most crushing engravings. This is Cioran’s moralistic dimension, expressed in the most surprising of ways, forcing the absurd, the parodic or the macabre, counting on the rhetoric effect of paradoxical and sophistic formulation, shaping a whole catalogue of human vice – laughable or hideous, monstrous or merely grotesque. Nevertheless, Cioran differs from the French moralists of the 17th¬†and 18th¬†centuries, who used the conciseness of aphorism in order to project an objective image on humanity, following a pedagogical aim by means of the merciless unmasking of individual meanness and emotional handicap and thus setting out to contribute to moral recuperation.

Cioran offers the hallucinating spectacle of a museum of horrors on which the stamp of his subjectivity is permanently present. According to George BńÉlan, the French classics of the aphorism count on a series of examples that can be almost universally applied and accentuate the general quality of their thinking, trying to determine a spontaneous identification of the readers with the situations described. Meanwhile, Cioran prefers the unusual, eccentric and even shocking psychological situations in which individuals can hardly recognize themselves, since they are so far out of the ordinary, common experience[xxxvii]. Moreover, he has no illusions as to the possible effect of his writings, he sets himself no moral aim; by settling for inventorying in detail the misery of humanity, he empirically illustrates his demonstration of the hegemony of evil, of its easy and natural triumph.

In such a context, we witness the attentive deconstruction of all real resorts of individual behaviour. We take part in the systematic elimination of noble or disinterested motivations and in the unveiling of the deep reasons that determine them as they are – often ignoble and hilarious, born out of resentment[xxxviii], cowardice, envy, vanity, desire for glory[xxxix]and will to power[xl]. The world described by Cioran is one of a visceral inferno, of irrational passions that subject the spirit, leading to the slaughtering of the enemy and to the setting up of the most hideous schemings to the purpose of obtaining honors and supremacy. It is a world in which the only functional strategies are cajoling and hypocrisy, resentment and imposture. They leave no place for sincerity, abnegation, friendship, heroism or admiration which have become simple words without a meaning, instruments perfidiously used to disguise the only real impulses – almighty and low.

Illustrative for his demystifying position is his analysis of love. The young Cioran is searching for an explanation of an essential mystery when he tries to discover the fundamental meaning of love and its fatal mechanics by getting involved with enormous passion in solving this enigma and believing in the importance of his action. Having reached maturity, he regards ironically and quite cynically a topic which had previously stirred his enthusiasm. The few aphorisms dedicated to this topic are relevant of his disillusioned view, of the acid skepticism with which he scrutinizes all the reasons currently invoked as a justification for individual exaltation, for the necessity of an ideal, of the transfiguration of an often risible reality.

The young Cioran’s vision is often dominated by his obsession with life, with unstoppable energy and overwhelming fulfillment, with the quest for ecstatic experience, be it in mystical rapture or as a consequence of the orgasmic agony of the bodies. The other Cioran does not seem able to distance himself for a moment from the contemplation of the skeleton, of the rotting flesh, of the organic revelation of the futility of all things. Devoted to such a view, he sarcastically captures the bodily details which are deliberately overlooked by the partisans of ideal love. He particularly insists upon the grotesque ceremonial of sexuality, upon the profound animal character that governs the dynamics of apparently higher feelings, noticing the transformations brought about by ferocious desire: “The flesh is incompatible with forgiveness: orgasm would change a saint into a wolf”[xli]. “One declares war on the glands, but bows before the odors of a common whore ‚Ķ Pride is powerless when confronted with the ceremonial of smells, of zoological incensing”[xlii].

In his Romanian writings, sexuality – without which love is impossible to imagine – forms the pretext for an extreme experience, an opportunity to transcend limits and to reach emotional paroxysm, a privileged means to celebrate life by undermining reason and minimizing its certainties, an opening towards the mystery of ecstasy, celebrating the abyss of corporeality[xliii]. In the French texts, sexuality appears as a marker of man’s corrupt nature – a ridiculous gesticulation, a hideous gymnastics of the bodies. Sexuality is assimilated in the terms of a tradition famous for the severity of its formulations that aim at stirring disgust. This tradition starts with the Gnostics and goes on to Saint Augustine and Luther, favouring the perception of sexuality either as a grunting or with a moment of “drooling”[xliv].

In young Cioran’s view, man must assume his carnality and use it as an indispensable means of living the magic of vitality, of increasing the powers of its spirit and contributing to the deepening of his heroic attitude. Man must face his inevitably tragic existence by means of intensifying the undergone sensations and experiences. Yet, to the Cioran of the French writings, the body is just one of the motors of illusion, just another source of proliferating appearances, just another enemy of the merciless scrutiny of reality. True lucidity demands overlooking the body, eliminating its disturbing effect, erasing this source of phantasms.

Due to the radical nature of his thinking and to the boycott he imposed on the traditional instruments of philosophy, Cioran’s work has raised numerous problems for his commentators, intriguing them by its fragmented character and by the extraordinary stylistic quality of the writing, and preventing the easy labeling of his thinking. Part of the exegetes have considered that his work must be included in the sphere of literature[xlv], while others have argued in favour of the philosophical nature of his texts, regarding him as a follower in the tradition of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Wittgenstein[xlvi].

Beyond this controversy, they all nevertheless emphasized the value of his writings, proclaiming him either “a La Rochefoucauld of the 20th¬†century”[xlvii], or the greatest writer of aphorisms since Nietzsche[xlviii], or the most important French prose writer[xlix]. Maybe the most suggestive attempt at characterizing Cioran is that of Peter Sloterdijk, who writes: “Il est, apr√®s Kierkegaard, l’unique penseur de haut niveau √† avoir rendu irr√©vocable la compr√©hension du fait que nul nu peut d√©sesp√©rer selon des methodes s√Ľres[l]¬†(After Kierkegaard, he is the only high level writer who has established irrevocably that nobody can despair according to certain methods”).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Amer (Henri), “Cioran le docteur en d√©cadences” in¬†NRF, no. 92, 1960, p. 297-307

Balan (George), Emil Cioran, Lyon, Editions Josette, 1992

Bollon (Patrice),¬†Cioran l’h√©r√©tique, Paris, Gallimard, 1997

Cahn (Zilla Gabrielle), Suicide in French Thought from Montesquieu to Cioran, New York-Washington D. C.-Paris, P. Lang, 1998

Cioc√Ęrlie (Livius),¬†Caietele lui Cioran, Craiova, Scrisul Rom√Ęnesc, 1999

Compagnon (Antoine), “√Čloge des sir√®nes” in¬†Critique, no. 396, mai 1980, p. 457-473

Dodille (Norbert), Liiceanu (Gabriel) (√©ds),¬†Lectures de Cioran, Paris-Montr√©al, L’Harmattan, 1997

Doll√© (Marie),¬†L’imaginaire des langues, Paris, L’Harmattan, 2001

Dupont (Jacques), “Cioran, le vide, l’ortie et le saxophone” in¬†Territoire de l’imaginaire: hommage √† J. P. Richard, Paris, Seuil, 1986, p. 115-126

Georges (Fran√ßois), “L’√©poque de Cioran” in¬†Critique, no. 479, 1987, p. 267-282

Guth (Rupert),¬†Die Philosophie der einmaligen Augenblicke. √úberlegungen zu E.M. Cioran, W√ľrzburg, K√∂nigshausen & Neumann, 1990

Hell (Cornelius),¬†Skepsis, Mystik und Dualismus. Eine Einf√ľhrung in das Werk E.M. Ciorans, Bonn, Bouvier Verlag Herbert Grundmann, 1985

Heres (Doris),¬†Die Beziehungen der franz√∂sischen Werke Emile Cioran zu seinen ersten r√ľmanischen Schriften, Bochum, Studienverlag Dr. N. Brockmeyer, 1988

Jarrety (Michel),¬†La morale dans l’√©criture : Camus, Char, Cioran, Paris, PUF, 1999

Jaudeau (Sylvie), Cioran ou le dernier homme, Paris, José Corti, 1990

Klupack (William), Finkenthal (Michel), The temptations of Emile Cioran, New York-Berlin-Paris, P. Lang, 1997

Laignel-Lavastine (Alexandra),¬†Cioran, Eliade, Ionesco. L’oubli du fascisme, Paris, PUF, 2002

Liiceanu (Gabriel),¬†E. M. Cioran : itin√©raires d’une vie, Paris, Michalon, 1995

Marin (Joan M.),¬†L’escriptura de la llum i el desencant, Valencia, Editorial 7 i mig, 1999

Marin (Joan M.), Cioran o el laberinto de la fatalidad, Valencia, Diputació de Valencia. Institució Alfóns el Magnánim, 2001

Moret (Philippe),¬†Tradition et modernit√© de l’aphorisme : Cioran, Reverdy, Scutennaire, Jourdan, Chazal,¬†Gen√®ve, Droz, 1997

Parfait (Nicole),¬†Cioran ou le d√©fi de l’√™tre, Paris, Desjonqu√®res, 2001

Pecoraro (Rossano), La filosofia del voyeur. Estasi e scriitura in Emile Cioran, Salerno, Il sapere, 1998

Petreu (Marta),¬†Un trecut deocheat sau “Schimbarea la faŇ£ńÉ a Rom√Ęniei”, Cluj, Biblioteca Apostrof, 1999

Petreu (Marta), “Schopenhauer et Cioran. Philosophies parall√©les” in¬†Cahier Schopenhauer,¬†Paris, Editions de l’Herne, 1997

Savater (Fernando), Ensayo sobre Cioran, Madrid, Espasa-Calpe, 1992

Sloterdijk (Peter), “Le revanchiste d√©sint√©ress√©” in¬†L’heure du crime et le temps de l’oeuvre d’art, Paris, Calman-L√©vy, 2000, p. 151-161

Susan Sontag, “<<Penser contre soi>> : r√©flexions sur Cioran” in¬†Sous le signe de Saturne, Paris, Seuil, p. 47-75.

Ňěora (Mariana),¬†Cioran jadis et nagu√®re, Paris, L’Herne, 1988

Tiffreau (Philippe), Cioran ou la dissection du gouffre, Paris, Henri Veyrier, 1991

Tripodi (A. M.),¬†Cioran, metafisico dell’impossible, Roma, Japadre, 1987

Vartic (Ion),¬†Cioran naiv Ňüi sentimental,¬†Cluj-Napoca, Biblioteca Apostrof, 2000

Vizioli (Raffaelo), Orazi (Lucia), La depressione creativa di E. Cioràn, Roma, Edizione Universitarie Romane, 2002

NOTES

[1]¬†See Susan Sontag, “Penser contre soi: r√©flections on Cioran” in¬†Sous le signe de Saturne, Paris, Seuil, p. 47-75

[1]¬†Cioran, “√émpotriva oamenilor inteligenŇ£i” (“Against Intelligent People”),¬†Discobolul, 9/ May 2003, p. 1-2 in¬†RevelaŇ£iile durerii¬†(Revelations of Suffering), Cluj, Echinox, 1990, p. 106.

[1]¬†Cioran,¬†Cartea amńÉgirilor¬†(The Book of Illusions), BucureŇüti, Humanitas, 1991, p. 81-82

[1] ibid, p. 138

[1] ibid, p. 109

[1]¬†Cioran,¬†√éndreptar pńÉtimaŇü (Passionate Guide), BucureŇüti, Humanitas, 1991, p. 57.

[1] Ibid, p. 46.

[1] Ibid, p. 99.

[1] Ibid, p. 17.

[1] Ibid, p. 10.

[1]¬†Cioran,¬†Amurgul g√Ęndurilor (The Crepuscule of Reason), BucureŇüti, Humanitas, 1991, p. 91.

[1]¬†Cioran,¬†Cartea amńÉgirilor (The Book of Illusions), op. Cit, p. 36.

[1]¬†Cioran,¬†Amurgul g√Ęndurilor (The Crepuscle of Reason), op. Cit., p. 202.

[1] Ibid, p. 73.

[1]¬†Cioran,¬†Cartea amńÉgirilor (The Book of Illusions), p. 43.

[1] Ibid, p. 195.

[1] Paul Valéry, Tel Quel, 1, in Oeuvres, II, Paris, Gallimard, 1966, p. 478.

[1]¬†See mostly Cioran , “The Sceptic and the Barbarian” in¬†La chute dans le temps, Oeuvres, Paris, Gallimard, 1995, p. 1096-1106.

[1]¬†Cioran,¬†La Tentation d’exister (The Temptation to Exist)¬†in¬†Oeuvres, p. 885.

[1] Cioran, Le mauvais démiurge (The Evil Demiurge) in Oeuvres, p. 1169.

[1] Cioran, Précis de décomposition (Treaty of Decomposition) in Oeuvres, p. 679.

[1] Ibid, p. 679.

[1] Ibid, p. 680.

[1] Ibid, p. 680-681.

[1] Ibid, p. 686-687.

[1] Ibid, p. 686.

[1] Ibid, p. 687.

[1] Ibid, p. 686-687.

[1]¬†See Cioran,¬†√Čcart√®lement (Excruciation)¬†in¬†Oeuvres, p. 1426-1433.

[1] Ibid, p. 1434-1442.

[1] Ibid, p. 1439.

[1] Ibid, p. 1433.

[1] Ibid, p. 1432.

[1] Cioran, La chute dans le temps (The Fall in Time) in Oeuvres, p. 1987.

[1] Ibid, p. 1086-1087.

[1] Ibid, p. 1088.

[1]¬†See George BńÉlan,¬†Emil Cioran, Paris, √Čditions Josette Lzon, 2002, p. 108-111.

[1]¬†See Cioran, “The Odyssey of Resentment” in¬†Histoire et utopie(History and Utopia), Oeuvres, p. 108-1034.

[1]¬†See Cioran, “The Craving for and the Horror of Glory” in¬†La Chute dans le temps (The Fall in Time), Oeuvres, p. 1113-1122.

[1]¬†See Cioran, “Attending the School of Tyrants” in¬†Histoire et utopie (History and Utopia), Oeuvres, p. 1005-1116.

[1]¬†Cioran,¬†Syllogismes de l’amertume (The Syllogisms of Sadness)¬†in¬†Oeuvres, p. 794.

[1] Ibid, p. 795.

[1]¬†Cioran,¬†Pe culmile disperńÉrii (In Full Despair), BucureŇüti, Humanitas, 1990, p. 129.

[1]¬†Cioran,¬†Syllogismes de l’amertume (The Syllogisms of Sadness)¬†in¬†Oeuvres, p. 795.

[1]¬†See Livius Cioc√Ęrlie,¬†Caietele lui Cioran (Cioran’s Notebooks), Craiova, Scrisul Rom√Ęnesc, 1999.

[1] See Susan Sontag, op. Cit., p. 56.

[1]¬†Jean Chalon, “Un La Rochefoucauld du XXe si√®cle”,¬†Le Figaro, April 23rd 1977.

[1]¬†The opinion of Benjamin Ivry from Cioran, “Entretien avec Benjamin Ivry”,¬†Entretiens, Paris, Gallimard, 1995, p. 210.

[1]¬†Angleo Rinaldi, “La m√©decine Cioran”,¬†L’Express, January 24-30th 1986.

[1]¬†Peter Sloterdrijk, “Le revanchiste d√©sint√©ress√©” in¬†L’Heure du crime et le temps de l’oeuvre d’art, Paris, Calman-L√©vy, 2000, p. 153.

Cioran (L’√Čxpress.fr)

LES ECRIVAINS DU BAC

Cioran

Par¬†Jean Montenot¬†(Lire), publi√© le¬†01/04/2011 √† 09:00 — L’√Čxpress.fr

N√© en 1911 en Roumanie, le philosophe a compos√© une oeuvre pessimiste dont les titres donnent le ton : Pr√©cis de d√©composition, De l’inconv√©nient d’√™tre n√©… Marqu√© par son enfance et des insomnies terribles, il doit √† la discipline de la langue fran√ßaise ses aphorismes hors de mode.¬†

Un Cioran peut-il en cacher un autre ? La “red√©couverte” du pass√© roumain un peu trouble d’Emil Cioran a jet√© une ombre sur cet √©crivain admir√© en France pour son style qu’on se pla√ģt √† rapprocher de celui des moralistes fran√ßais des XVIIe et XVIIIe si√®cles. Avant d’√™tre le chantre du scepticisme, Cioran fut en effet une √©toile montante de la Jeune G√©n√©ration intellectuelle d’une “Grande Roumanie” √† peine n√©e des d√©coupages des trait√©s et d√©j√† en train de s’effondrer sous le poids de ses propres contradictions. C’est dans ce contexte qu’il a eu ses “moments” d’√©garement fanatique, prof√©rant des convictions qui ne sont pas du meilleur aloi, fascisantes, x√©nophobes, antis√©mites m√™me.

Ce “Cioran roumain” a longtemps √©t√© √©clips√© par la personnalit√© affable et discr√®te de l’√©crivain exprimant dans un fran√ßais sobre et concis tout le tragique et le d√©risoire de l’existence humaine. Le retour de ce m√©chant fant√īme a d√©clench√©¬†post mortem¬†autour de Cioranune petite agitation m√©diatique et litt√©raire, r√©veillant les sycophantes de la bien-pensance, sempiternels chiens de garde du pass√© vu du pr√©sent, plus soucieux de juger que de comprendre. La noirceur et le pessimisme de ses √©crits – difficile dans le cas de Cioran d’√©viter ce terme galvaud√© – n’expliquent cependant pas le succ√®s – certes tardif, mais croissant – d’une oeuvre qui, √† bien des √©gards, se situe hors du temps et des modes. Il suffit de rappeler les titres des essais et des recueils d’aphorismes qui ont fait sa r√©putation, puis sa notori√©t√© d’√©crivain fran√ßais pour s’en convaincre :¬†Pr√©cis de d√©composition,Syllogismes de l’amertume,¬†La tentation d’exister,¬†La chute dans le temps,¬†De l’inconv√©nient d’√™tre n√©,¬†Ecart√®lement,¬†Aveux et anath√®mes,¬†L’√©lan vers le pire,¬†Chance de l’√©chec. Autant dire un programme pour neurasth√©niques compos√© de br√©viaires pour d√©pressifs ! Pis, ce Schopenhauer transylvain s√©duit (et agace) d’autant plus qu’il semble avoir pris plaisir √† s’abaisser lui-m√™me : “Le plaisir de se calomnier vaut de beaucoup celui d’√™tre calomni√©1.” Par-del√† les l√©gendes, il faut retracer l’itin√©raire de ce penseur qui s’√©tonnait que “la perspective d’avoir un biographe n’ait fait renoncer personne √† avoir une vie2”.

Paradis perdu

Comme la plupart des √©crivains, Cioran est d’abord un exil√© de son enfance. Quelque chose s’est bris√© en lui, r√©p√®te-t-il, quand il a d√Ľ quitter Rasinari, son village natal, pour aller au lyc√©e de Sibiu. Dans une notule des¬†Cahiers, parus apr√®s sa mort, il d√©crit ainsi ce moment-cl√© : “Un de mes souvenirs les plus pr√©cis et les plus d√©chirants de mon enfance. J’avais neuf ou dix ans ? On m’emmena √† Sibiu, dans une voiture charrette. Je me trouvai derri√®re sur la paille. J’aper√ßus la coupole d’une des √©glises de la ville. Mon coeur se serra. On m’arrachait au paradis de ce village natal que j’idol√Ętrais3.” Reconstruction ex post sans doute, mais tout √™tre humain vit de ces pass√©s recompos√©s. Toute la suite, toutes les contradictions de la suite – aussi bien le vitalisme affect√© et un peu ampoul√© des “√©crits politiques” de la jeunesse que la rh√©torique de l’effondrement et l’esth√©tique du d√©sespoir de la maturit√© – peuvent √™tre interpr√©t√©es comme des r√©pliques de ce s√©isme initial qui chassa le jeune Emil du vert paradis de l’enfance.

Et pourtant, il n’y avait sans doute rien que de tr√®s banal pour un fils de protopope (un archipr√™tre ou un archidiacre de l’Eglise orthodoxe roumaine) que d’aller √©tudier au lyc√©e de la ville o√Ļ son p√®re exer√ßait son minist√®re. Pendant la Premi√®re Guerre mondiale, l’autorit√© de Budapest, dont la ville a d√©pendu jusqu’en 1920 et qui se m√©fiait des vell√©it√©s ind√©pendantistes des √©lites roumaines locales, d√©porta par pr√©caution quelques notables, dont le protopope Cioran.

A Sibiu, plac√© chez deux vieilles filles saxonnes et germanophones, le jeune Cioran se frotta √† la culture allemande, se pliant √† la condition ordinaire des ressortissants des “petites nations” des Empires centraux d’avoir √† vivre “entre deux civilisations”. Bachelier en 1928, il s’inscrivit √† la facult√© des lettres et de philosophie de Bucarest. Lecteur boulimique, il y approfondit sa connaissance de la philosophie allemande – “toute la sotte philosophie allemande” confia-t-il par la suite – puis √©tudia Bergson. S√©duit par la doctrine de l’√©lan vital, il r√©digea un m√©moire de licence, prim√© magna cum laude, sur “L’intuitionnisme contemporain”, m√©moire qui lui valut de d√©crocher une premi√®re bourse d’√©tude comme pensionnaire de la fondation Humboldt √† Berlin en plein av√®nement de l’hitl√©risme.

L’ennui et l’insomnie

Mais √† cette description ext√©rieure de la formation de Cioran, il convient d’ajouter deux exp√©riences fondamentales qui permettent de comprendre en quoi la perte du monde primordial a pris pour Cioran le sens d’un “exil m√©taphysique 4”. Il y a d’abord l’exp√©rience radicale de l’ennui qui se traduisit par le sentiment de la vacuit√© de toute chose et de l’inutilit√© de toute action : “Plus ou moins brusquement, chez soi ou chez les autres, ou devant un tr√®s beau paysage, tout se vide de contenu et de sens. Tout l’univers demeure frapp√© de nullit√©. Et rien ne nous int√©resse, rien ne m√©rite notre attention5.” Cioran d√©crit l’ennui comme une sorte de d√©mant√®lement de l’√™tre sous l’effet destructeur du temps d√®s lors qu’il n’est plus envisag√© que comme une suite d’instants d√©connect√©s les uns des autres : “D√®s l’enfance, je percevais l’√©coulement des heures, ind√©pendantes de toute r√©f√©rence, de tout acte et de tout √©v√©nement, la disjonction du temps de ce qui n’√©tait pas lui, son existence autonome, son statut particulier, son empire, sa tyrannie. […] Je n’√©tais plus que fuite d’instants rebelles √† remplir encore leur fonction propre6.” Il prit pour lui ou presque le mot de Saint-Simon √† propos du R√©gent : “Il √©tait n√© ennuy√©7.”

La deuxi√®me exp√©rience fut l’insomnie chronique dont il souffrit tr√®s t√īt, “une exp√©rience extr√™mement douloureuse, une catastrophe8”. L’insomniaque est exclu, retranch√© des vivants, en dehors de l’humanit√©. “Qu’est-ce que l’insomnie ? A huit heures du matin, vous en √™tes exactement au m√™me point qu’√† huit heures du soir ! Il n’y a aucun progr√®s9.” Le monde humain devient apr√®s une nuit d’insomnie un monde de spectres. Cioran y voit la cause principale des suicides. Bref, une exp√©rience du N√©ant, si l’on se paie de mots pompeux, assur√©ment de l’emp√™chement de vivre. C’est la raison all√©gu√©e par Cioran pour expliquer pourquoi il n’a jamais pu travailler, ni faire une carri√®re, vivant d’exp√©dients jusqu’√† un √Ęge avanc√© en √©ternel √©tudiant (une fois install√© en France, il s’√©tonna de se voir refuser l’acc√®s au restaurant universitaire : il avait √† quarante ans largement d√©pass√© la limite d’√Ęge).

L’insomnie eut pour effet une fatigue qui s’ajoutait √† une grande fatigue de vivre cong√©nitale : “La fatigue est la sp√©cialit√© de ma famille” (√† Constantin Noica, 29 d√©cembre 1979). Mais cette cruelle et atroce ma√ģtresse des jours et des nuits lui fit aussi “comprendre des choses que les autres ne peuvent pas comprendre10”. Elle est, ajoute-t-il, “la plus grande exp√©rience qu’on puisse faire dans sa vie. C’est la plus terrible, toutes les autres ne sont rien √† c√īt√©.” C’est √† l’insomnie aussi qu’il doit d’avoir form√© son regard sur le monde : “C’est pendant ces nuits infernales que j’ai compris l’inanit√© de la philosophie11.” L’ennui et l’insomnie sont des condiments essentiels de l’oeuvre de Cioran. Sans ces conditions psychologiques et m√©taphysiques, sa vision paradoxale de l’√™tre demeure inintelligible.

Les chim√®res d’une jeunesse roumaine

Avant de devenir l'”apatride m√©taphysique12″ qu’il a affect√© d’√™tre, “citoyen de nulle part” – si ce n’est de la langue fran√ßaise : “On n’habite pas un pays, on habite une langue. Une patrie, c’est cela et rien d’autre13” -, Cioran s’est fait depuis Berlin et Munich le z√©lateur d’une Allemagne se relevant sous la f√©rule de Hitler. Revenu √† Bucarest, il continue de r√™ver (sans y croire tout √† fait d’ailleurs, c’est l’un des paradoxes de son “engagement”) √† un redressement de ce genre pour ce peuple roumain – “cette foule d’anc√™tres qui se lamentent dans mon sang14” – qui semble n’avoir d’autre destin que de subir.

Il sympathisa avec l’id√©ologie de la Garde de Fer, mouvement mystico-politique, antis√©mite, dirig√© par Corneliu Codreanu. Cet illumin√©, qui se croyait mandat√© par saint Michel et se faisait appeler le “Capitanul”, voulait r√©g√©n√©rer la Roumanie. Cioran n’est pas le seul. Avec lui, un groupe de jeunes intellectuels prometteurs (dont Mircea Eliade et Constantin Noica) donna, √† des degr√©s divers, dans les lubies de Codreanu. L’enthousiasme apparent de Cioran pour la politique et l’histoire peut para√ģtre difficile √† comprendre quand on sait que, d√®s son premier livre intitul√© Sur les cimes du d√©sespoir (1933) – une sorte de journal intime ou de Confession d’un enfant du si√®cle -, il exprimait le pessimisme radical dont il ne s’est jamais d√©gag√©. Mais √† y regarder de plus pr√®s, il y a un lien entre le vide int√©rieur et l’adh√©sion provisoire aux mirages de l’√©poque : “Il y a en moi plus de chaos que l’√Ęme humaine ne devrait en supporter […]. Je suis la contradiction absolue, le paroxysme des antinomies et la limite des tensions ; en moi, tout est possible, car je suis l’homme qui rira au moment supr√™me, √† l’agonie finale, √† l’heure de la derni√®re tristesse15.”

A cela s’ajoute un anti-intellectualisme certain : “La jeunesse de notre √©poque ne peut plus esp√©rer se sauver par la biblioth√®que.” C’est aussi l’avers d’une d√©ception profonde √† l’√©gard de la philosophie : “J’aime la pens√©e qui garde une saveur de sang et de chair, et je pr√©f√®re mille fois √† l’abstraction vide une r√©flexion issue d’un transport sensuel ou d’un effondrement nerveux. Les hommes n’ont pas encore compris que le temps des engouements superficiels est r√©volu, et qu’un cri de d√©sespoir est bien plus r√©v√©lateur que la plus subtile des arguties, qu’une larme a toujours des sources plus profondes qu’un sourire.”

Bien plus tard, Cioran devait √©crire √† son fr√®re Aurel qu’il a plus appris de la rencontre des quelques bergers-philosophes de son enfance que de la lecture des grands syst√®mes : “Plus on est primitif, plus on est proche d’une sagesse originelle que les civilis√©s ont perdue. Le bourgeois occidental est un imb√©cile qui ne pense qu’√† l’argent. N’importe quel cioban [berger] de chez nous est plus philosophe qu’un intellectuel d’ici16” (√† Aurel, 6 avril 1972). Preuve si besoin √©tait que la fiction commode des “deux Cioran” ne saurait emp√™cher d’en saisir l’unit√© : “Ma vision des choses n’a pas chang√© fondamentalement ; ce qui a chang√© √† coup s√Ľr c’est le ton. Le fond d’une pens√©e, il est rare qu’il se modifie vraiment ; ce qui subit en revanche une m√©tamorphose c’est la tournure, l’apparence, le rythme17.” Cette remarque de la pr√©face √† la traduction allemande par¬†Paul Celan du Pr√©cis¬†de d√©composition vaut mutatis mutandis pour l’ensemble de l’oeuvre de Cioran.

Une nouvelle Roumanie

Transfiguration de la Roumanie¬†(1936), le livre le plus contestable de Cioran, est un appel √† la naissance d’une nouvelle nation roumaine qui, “liquidant un h√©ritage historique maudit”, se d√©barrasserait de la “gredinerie g√©n√©rale”, d’une “h√©r√©dit√© monstrueuse”, “hallucinante”. Le “miracle d’une autre Roumanie” qui ne soit pas m√©diocre, r√©sign√©e, une Roumanie enfin √† la hauteur d’un destin exige un “saut”. Et Cioran voit dans “l’exaltation jusqu’au fanatisme” le rem√®de urgent qui, seul, peut sauver cette patrie. D’o√Ļ des formules effrayantes : “Une Roumanie fanatique est une Roumanie transfigur√©e. La fanatisation de la Roumanie est la transfiguration de la Roumanie18.” Citons ces propos p√©nibles : “Je tiens l’hitl√©risme pour un mouvement s√©rieux parce qu’il a su associer directement les probl√®mes ins√©parables de la justice sociale √† la conscience historique de la nation”, et √† propos des Juifs : “Nous ne pouvons pas nous rapprocher d’eux humainement car le juif est d’abord un juif et ensuite un homme. Ph√©nom√®ne qui se produit autant dans leur conscience que dans la n√ītre.” M√™me s’il convient de temp√©rer ces formules par d’autres, on comprend pourquoi Cioran n’a gu√®re tenu √† s’√©tendre sur cette p√©riode. Cioran est sorti de son √©trange d√©lire, et son oeuvre fran√ßaise tient autant du repentir et du remords que de l’imp√©rieuse n√©cessit√© de se gu√©rir de cette ivresse de jeunesse. Ses multiples vaticinations contre toute forme d’id√©ologie ou de croyance politique ou religieuse y ont leurs racines : “Je suis immunis√© contre tous les credo du pass√©, contre tout credo futur” (√† Aurel, 8 septembre 1946). M√™me si l’oubli de soi que permettent l’action et le sacrifice aveugles pour des forces qui le d√©passaient avait une dimension sinon th√©rapeutique du moins de d√©rivatif : un moyen de fuir un “moi” au bord de l’explosion.

Transfiguration de Cioran

Faute de r√©former le monde, Cioran se r√©forme lui-m√™me. Apr√®s avoir √©t√© pendant un an professeur de philosophie dans un lyc√©e de Brasov, il se rendit √† Paris pour y r√©diger une th√®se sur les “limites de l’intuition”, muni d’une allocation d’√©tudes sur trois ans de 1 000 francs par mois. Il s’installa au Quartier latin, vivant tr√®s chichement dans des h√ītels peu co√Ľteux et, pendant les vacances, sillonnant la France √† bicyclette. Lors d’un bref retour en Roumanie (automne 1940-f√©vrier 1941), il se fit nommer au service culturel de la l√©gation roumaine aupr√®s du gouvernement de Vichy, son √©loge radiophonique19 du “Capitanul” d√©funt lui ayant fait entrevoir la possibilit√© d’une carri√®re diplomatique. Mais la chose tourna court : le chef d’Etat Antonescu s’√©tait d√©barrass√©, avec l’appui des Allemands, des l√©gionnaires qui avaient tent√© de le renverser. Cioran, d√©mis de ses fonctions √† Vichy en mai 1941, ne devait jamais retourner en Roumanie. Mentant un peu, beaucoup m√™me, sur l’√©tat d’avancement de ses travaux, il obtint la prolongation de sa bourse jusqu’en 1944. Dans le d√©sastre g√©n√©ral, Cioran tenta en vain de sauver Benjamin Fondane, √©crivain juif roumain, preuve que les retournements essentiels commen√ßaient √† se produire en lui. “Comment ai-je pu √™tre celui que j’√©tais20 ?”

Reste que le grand “saut” pour Cioran fut la d√©cision d’√©crire en fran√ßais. Il aurait pu choisir l’anglais. Il s’√©tait inscrit en 1941 comme auditeur libre aux cours d’agr√©gation d’anglais – il est vrai qu’il avait rencontr√© une angliciste, Simone Bou√©, qui devait devenir sa compagne. L’italien et l’espagnol l’attir√®rent un temps. Il s’agissait de changer de langue pour tenter une mue r√©demptrice : “Qui renie sa langue pour en adopter une autre change d’identit√©, voire de d√©ceptions. H√©ro√Įquement tra√ģtre, il rompt avec ses souvenirs et, jusqu’√† un certain point, avec lui-m√™me21.” Cioran entamait un dur combat contre lui-m√™me.

Il a racont√© plusieurs fois comment il a pris sa d√©cision : “Je me trouvais dans un petit village pr√®s de Dieppe, en vacances, et je m’amusais √† traduire Mallarm√© en roumain. Et tout √† coup je me suis dit : “Mais √ßa n’a aucun sens !” […] J’ai dit : “Non ! Je vais abandonner tout √ßa. Je vais me mettre √† √©crire en fran√ßais22.”” En r√©sulta son premier ouvrage : le Pr√©cis de d√©composition, titre conforme √† son contenu, mais pour Cioran ce fut surtout un pr√©cis de recomposition. Il affirma m√™me √™tre vraiment devenu √©crivain quand il a commenc√© √† comprendre combien la langue fran√ßaise lui imposait une discipline de pens√©e dont l’absence, dans sa langue maternelle, avait sans doute contribu√© √† ses √©garements. “Par temp√©rament, la langue fran√ßaise ne me convient pas : il me faut une langue sauvage, une langue d’ivrogne. Le fran√ßais a √©t√© pour moi comme une camisole de force23.” Son oeuvre est le fruit de cette contrainte et de cet antagonisme surmont√©s.

Tomb√© du temps…

Cioran pr√©sente les sept derni√®res pages de son essai de 1964,La chute dans le temps, comme ce qu’il a √©crit de “plus personnel” et “o√Ļ [il a] exprim√© ce qui [le] tenait le plus √† coeur24”. Il s’agit d’un petit essai de ph√©nom√©nologie toute personnelle de l’exp√©rience temporelle. Cioran explique ne saisir chaque instant qui passe que sous l’angle de sa disparition non seulement possible, mais n√©cessairement programm√©e. “Ce que je distingue en chaque instant, c’est son essoufflement, son r√Ęle, et non la transition vers un autre instant25.” C’est ce v√©cu du temps qui le singularise et le distingue des autres : “Les autres tombent dans le temps ; je suis, moi, tomb√© du temps. A l’√©ternit√© qui s’√©rigeait au-dessus de lui succ√®de cette autre qui se place au-dessous, zone st√©rile o√Ļ l’on n’√©prouve plus qu’un seul d√©sir : r√©int√©grer le temps, s’y √©lever co√Ľte que co√Ľte, s’en approprier une parcelle pour s’y installer, pour se donner l’illusion d’√™tre chez soi.” Il n’y a pas de meilleure description de la condition cioranienne que ces pages o√Ļ il tente d’√©claircir son rapport avec ce “faux jeton √† l’√©chelle m√©taphysique26”, ce “succ√©dan√© d’absolu” qu’est, √† ses yeux, le temps. Cioran y philosophe certes, mais en refusant les facilit√©s de l’abstraction. Ce rapport au temps, vu de ce Tr√®s-bas qu’il est devenu, a essentiellement √† voir avec le renoncement √† toute forme de destin√©e, et m√™me de biographie ou de vie. La chute du temps est une forme de d√©ch√©ance et l’homme d√©chu du temps est caract√©ris√© par l'”insensibilit√© √† son propre destin27″, il est “sans appui, en pleine irr√©alit√© ou en plein enfer. Ou dans les deux √† la fois, dans l’ennui, cette nostalgie inassouvie du temps, cette impossibilit√© de le rattraper et de nous y ins√©rer, cette frustration de le voir couler l√†-haut au-dessus de nos mis√®res28”.

Cons√©quence m√™me de son exp√©rience d’avoir √©t√© jet√© hors de l’Histoire, l’animal cioranesque se voit sombrer lentement : “Le spectacle de la d√©ch√©ance l’emporte sur celui de la mort ; tous les √™tres meurent ; l’homme seul est appel√© √† d√©choir.” D’o√Ļ vient cet appel, on ne sait. En revanche, il n’est pas d’√©chappatoire.

Alors triste Cioran ? Non pas ! L’ac√©die, les constats d’impossibilit√©s et d’√©checs, √©lev√©s au rang de principes ontologiques et de maximes de morale, sont comme contrebalanc√©s, sinon contredits, par la joie de les √©noncer dans une langue des plus claires. Bref, on ne peut s’emp√™cher de d√©celer dans le style de Cioran une sorte de jubilation, un peu comme s’il allumait constamment des contre-feux, afin qu’on comprenne bien que le refus de croire de ce sceptique radical atteignait aussi la conviction qu’il mettait √† ass√©ner ces v√©rit√©s inutiles.

1.¬†De l’inconv√©nient d’√™tre n√©, in¬†?uvres, Quarto/Gallimard. 2.Syllogismes de l’amertume, in¬†?uvres, Quarto/Gallimard. 3. Note du 26 septembre 1970, dans¬†Cahiers 1957- 1972,¬†Gallimard. 4.¬†De l’inconv√©nient d’√™tre n√©, in¬†?uvres, Quarto/Gallimard. 5. Entretiens avec Fernando Savater,¬†Entretiens. 6.¬†De l’inconv√©nient d’√™tre n√©, in¬†?uvres, Quarto/ Gallimard. 7.¬†Entretiens, Arcades/Gallimard. 8. Op. cit. 9. Op. cit. 10. Op. cit. 11. Pr√©face √†¬†Sur les cimes du d√©sespoir, in¬†?uvres, Quarto/Gallimard. 12.¬†Entretiens, Arcades/Gallimard. 13.¬†Aveux et anath√®mes, Gallimard. 14.Syllogismes de l’amertume, Gallimard. 15.¬†Sur les cimes du d√©sespoir, L’Herne, r√©√©dit√© en Livre de poche. 16. Cit√© par Patrice Bollon,¬†Cioran l’h√©r√©tique, Gallimard. 17.¬†Exercices d’admiration, in?uvres, Quarto/ Gallimard. 18.¬†Transfiguration de la Roumanie, cit√© par Patrice Bollon,¬†Cioran l’h√©r√©tique, Gallimard. 19. Le 27 d√©cembre 1940, “Le profil int√©rieur du Capitaine”, Cahier de L’Herne. 20.¬†Ecart√®lement¬†in¬†?uvres, Quarto/ Gallimard. 21.¬†La tentation d’exister¬†in¬†?uvres, Quarto/Gallimard. 22.¬†Entretiens, Arcades/Gallimard. 23.¬†Op. cit.24.¬†Op. cit. 25.¬†La chute dans le temps, NRF, Essais/Gallimard. 26.¬†Op. cit.¬†27.¬†Op. cit.¬†28.¬†Op. cit.

“Esse maldito, esse espl√™ndido para√≠so da inf√Ęncia…”, por Patrice Bollon (I)

√Č um clich√™ de bi√≥grafo evocar, a prop√≥sito de um personagem, o ‚Äúcontinente da inf√Ęncia‚ÄĚ. A express√£o conv√©m, no entanto, maravilhosamente no caso de Cioran. Pois se existe nele uma ‚ÄúRosebud‚ÄĚ a explicar n√£o tudo, mas o essencial, a forma√ß√£o do seu car√°ter e os grandes eixos de sua vida, n√£o h√° d√ļvida de que devemos busc√°-la em seus primeiros anos de vida.

Emil Cioran (que jamais teve os nomes Mihai ou Michel, salvo… para os dicion√°rios) nasceu em 8 de abril de 1911 em RaŇüinari, um grande vilarejo de camponeses, lenhadores e pastores, situado a doze quil√īmetros a sudoeste de Subiu, no rodap√© dos Alpes transilvanos, na parte meridional do vasto arco de um c√≠rculo desenhado pelos C√°rpatos. Emilian, seu pai, um homem √≠ntegro e de express√£o severa, sublinhada por um fino colar de barba bem cuidada que manifesta significativamente em todos os retratos que se tem dele uma express√£o um pouco ausente, com se sua autoridade fosse inquestion√°vel, √© o padre local. Seu pr√≥prio pai, Ňěerban, a√≠ ocupou antes dele a fun√ß√£o de economista da comunidade ortodoxa, encarregado de administrar o estado civil-religioso de seus membros, de gerar, al√©m daqueles pr√≥prios √† igreja, os bens comuns e de organizar em caso de necessidade a solidariedade entre eles. Sem pertencer √† hierarquia religiosa ainda que comprometido com um dever de piedade, Ňěerban, o av√ī de Cioran, era portanto j√° um funcion√°rio que, sabendo ler e escrever perfeitamente, cumpria um papel informal bastante importante em RaŇüinari. Uma vez que os alde√Ķes eram em sua grande maioria, apesar da presen√ßa de uma igreja unitarista romena, ortodoxos orientais, ele fazia o papel de representante oficial face √† administra√ß√£o h√ļngara. Pois, do mesmo modo que¬† o catolicismo fornecia na Fran√ßa pr√©-Revolu√ß√£o o quadro de primeira organiza√ß√£o social de proximidade, a Igreja ortodoxa e suas engrenagens anexas estruturavam na Transilv√Ęnia e na Bucovina as popula√ß√Ķes de origem romena, majorit√°rias na maior parte das vilas, e faziam a intermedia√ß√£o entre elas e os funcion√°rios encarregados por Budapeste ou por Viena, que em geral n√£o falavam uma palavra em romeno e inclusive se recusavam a tal.

Que o seu filho Emilian tenha se tornado pope representava ademais para Ňěerban um grande motivo de contentamento. Do poder temporal a fam√≠lia passava assim ao mais alto dos cargos, aquele das almas ‚Äď o que significava tamb√©m uma promo√ß√£o intelectual consider√°vel. Escolhido entre a parte mais educada da popula√ß√£o e constituindo, pois, num sistema colonizador particularmente fechado uma das raras profiss√Ķes dispon√≠veis a seus letrados, o clero ortodoxo formava ent√£o a intelligentsia da ‚Äúminoria‚ÄĚ romena, essencialmente rural, da Transilv√Ęnia. Muitos popes eram apenas, contudo, relativamente ‚Äúreligiosos‚ÄĚ. Cioran p√īde assim dizer a prop√≥sito de seu pai que se ele tinha f√©, esta n√£o derivava de modo algum de um engajamento ‚Äúfan√°tico‚ÄĚ, e que ele considerava o sacerd√≥cio como ‚Äúun m√©tier‚ÄĚ.

[…]

A m√£e de Cioran, Elvira, nascida Comaniciu, √© proveniente de um meio quase id√™ntico, sem d√ļvida um pouco superior socialmente, mas civil. Vinda de VeneŇ£ia de Jos, um pequeno vilarejo do massivo de FagaraŇü, entre Sibiu e BraŇüov, ela √© a filha do not√°rio p√ļblico do cant√£o, Gheorghe Comaniciu, que a administra√ß√£o de Budapeste, fiel a sua pol√≠tica de ‚Äúmagiariza√ß√£o‚ÄĚ, de assimila√ß√£o das elites locais (transformava-se em geral, assim, nessa ocasi√£o, os nomes pr√≥prios de origem latina por patr√īnimos de conson√Ęncia h√ļngara), tinha elevado √† dignidade de bar√£o. Tendo ambos estudo numa escola h√ļngara, os pais de Cioran falavam frequentemente, ademais, essa l√≠ngua entre eles em casa, usando o romeno para seus contatos cotidianos com os alde√Ķes e na educa√ß√£o das crian√ßas.

Ainda que Cioran pudesse √†s vezes se atribuir por tal raz√£o uma vaga ‚Äúascend√™ncia h√ļngara‚ÄĚ, suas duas fam√≠lias, tanto a paterna quanto a materna, parecem n√£o obstante, sem d√ļvida nenhuma, pertencer ao mais profundo povoamento romeno da Transilv√Ęnia. Uma origem que confirma aparentemente o car√°ter eminentemente latino dos ambos os patron√≠micos √© o fato de que, segundo a historiografia local, RaŇüinari, vilarejo quase cem por cento romeno e do qual se encontra a primeira men√ß√£o hist√≥rica em um documento de 1204, teria sido fundada pelos Hunos durante o reinado de Atila, no come√ßo do s√©culo V. Tratava-se ent√£o de uma zona de povoamento aut√≥ctone muito antiga, n√£o havia sido afetada pela mistura de popula√ß√Ķes de vilarejos como Sibiu, onde coexistiam alem√£es, h√ļngaros e romenos, e que era tida por um dos basti√Ķes da consci√™ncia nacional romena na regi√£o. O pai de Cioran n√£o fazia, ali√°s, nenhum mist√©rio do seu nacionalismo. Os nomes ultrajantemente latinos dos seus tr√™s filhos ‚Äď Virginia, chamada de ‚ÄúGica‚ÄĚ, a mais velha, nascida em 1908, Emil e Aurel, o ca√ßula, de 1913 ‚Äď atestam suas convic√ß√Ķes. E, durante a Primeira Guerra mundial, os h√ļngaros deportariam Emilian preventivamente por essa raz√£o a Sopron, na extremidade oriental da Hungria, na fronteira com a √Āustria, onde permaneceu encarcerado at√© 1918.

Para melhor compreender as origens de Cioran e o que ele deveria a elas posteriormente, √© preciso ademais voltar-nos brevemente √† hist√≥ria extremamente complicada e, em diversos pontos, ainda misteriosa dessa regi√£o. Teriam sido os h√ļngaros cat√≥licos os primeiros ocupantes organizados da Transilv√Ęnia, segundo a etimologia o ‚Äúpa√≠s para al√©m das florestas‚ÄĚ ‚Äď uma regi√£o virgem ou quase, antes de seu estabelecimento em Pan√īnia ao fim do s√©culo IX? Ou teriam eles a anexado em detrimento de um povoamento anterior muito mais antigo, de l√≠ngua romena, herdeiros dos D√°cios ou ‚ÄúGetas‚ÄĚ, como os chamavam os gregos da Antiguidade, e outros Tr√°cios de antes da coloniza√ß√£o romana de Trajano no come√ßo do s√©culo II a.C.?

[…]

Profundamente romanizados, sendo na verdade um com seus antigos mestres, os ancestrais dos romenos atuais teriam recuado com as legi√Ķes romanas, ap√≥s Aureliano ter ordenado a estas para evacuar totalmente a D√°cia em dire√ß√£o √† Val√°quia, a plan√≠cie situada entre os C√°rpatos orientais e o Dan√ļbio onde se encontra atualmente Bucareste? Teriam eles l√° vivido durante v√°rios s√©culos, fundindo-se progressivamente com os povos eslavos? Ent√£o, desde l√°, teriam eles retornado √† Transilv√Ęnia, mas ‚Äď o que √© a tese h√ļngara ‚Äď apenas depois que esta havia passado definitivamente, no come√ßo do s√©culo XII, ao controle da Coroa de Saint-Etienne? Ou ent√£o, ao contr√°rio ‚Äď tese romena ‚Äď, teriam eles permanecido todo esse tempo na Transilv√Ęnia, mas no interior do pa√≠s, vivendo em pequenas comunidades rurais aut√°rquicas prudentemente situadas nas montanhas circundantes, notadamente nos C√°rpatos meridionais de onde haviam sa√≠do, como vimos, as fam√≠lias Cioran e Comaniciu? Protegendo-se assim contras as in√ļmeras invas√Ķes, dos G√©pidas, dos Hunos, dos √Āvaros, dos B√ļlgaros, dos Pechenegues e dos Kiptchaks, entre outros, aos quais essa religi√£o de passagem por excel√™ncia havia sido sucessivamente submetida, teriam eles se contentado em deixar passar a tempestade, para descer novamente aos vales, uma vez a situa√ß√£o tendo sido pacificada pelos h√ļngaros? A resposta a essa quest√Ķes vitais ‚Äď pois elas n√£o levantam nada menos que o espinhoso problema da ‚Äúpropriedade‚ÄĚ da regi√£o ‚Äď permanece, e sem d√ļvida permanecer√° para sempre, no dom√≠nio das conjecturas, oferecendo assim tanto aos romenos quanto aos h√ļngaros a latitude de reivindicar como historicamente sua a Transilv√Ęnia.

Ao mesmo tempo que os h√ļngaros, instalam-se na Transilv√Ęnia no s√©culo XII os francos da Mosela, da Ren√Ęnia e do Luxemburgo, assim como os Sax√Ķes do Han√īver, encarregados pelo imperador da Alemanha de se apropriar das terras e de fundar col√īnias aptas a defender as fronteiras sul-orientais da ‚Äúciviliza√ß√£o‚ÄĚ contra as incurs√Ķes b√°rbaras vindas da √Āsia central. Da√≠ nascem as cidades de BraŇüov, Sibiu, Cluj e SighiŇüoara, que eram no in√≠cio cidades fortificadas, nomeadas respectivamente Kronstadt, a ‚Äúcidade da Coroa‚ÄĚ, Hermannsdorf e em seguida Hermannstadt, Klausenburg e Schlossburg, a ‚Äúcidade do castelo‚ÄĚ. Desde ent√£o, ou seja, seja enquanto parte integrante do reino magiar, estado vassalo de Solim√£o, o Magn√≠fico, principado semi-independente que praticava um jogo de equil√≠brio sutil entre os Habsburgo e os Otomanos, ou simplesmente enquanto possess√£o austr√≠aca, a Transilv√Ęnia havia sido de fato administrada pelos h√ļngaros, que sempre trataram os romenos como cidad√£os de segunda classe, ou antes, como se eles n√£o existissem, pura e simplesmente.

(“Ce maudit, ce splendide paradis d’enfance”, in: Cioran l’h√©r√©tique, de Patrice Bollon)

Tradução: Rodrigo Menezes

Cioran.eu (blog multiling√ľe)

http://planetcioran.blogspot.com.br/2006/10/biografia-portugus.html

O romeno Emil Cioran nasceu no pequeno vilarejo de Rasinari, situado na regi√£o da Transilv√Ęnia, em 8 de abril de 1911. Segundo filho de um casal de religiosos (seu pai era um cura Ortodoxo e sua m√£e, l√≠der da comunidade de religiosas locais), teve uma inf√Ęncia feliz e pacata pelos bosques e campos da regi√£o, ao qual, na sua maturidade iria se referir como sendo o “para√≠so”, e o qual foi for√ßado a abandonar, logo cedo, para iniciar os estudos em um Liceu na cidade pr√≥xima de Sibiu-Hermannstadt. Anos depois, transfere-se para Bucareste, onde ingressa na Faculdade para estudar Filosofia e Letras.

Sua juventude foi marcada basicamente por dois fatos, que repercutiram profundamente em sua vida e obra posteriores. Por um lado, a intensa crise de ins√īnia que o consumiu durante anosa fio, quase chegando a lev√°-lo ao suic√≠dio – e da qual resultou sua primeira obra, escrita ainda em romeno, Pe Culmile Disperarii (“Nos Cumes do Desespero”). Por outro, seu envolvimento com a Guarda de Ferro, movimento pol√≠tico de extrema direita que defendia a liberta√ß√£o da Rom√™nia e possu√≠a car√°ter fortemente anti-semita, pelo qual Cioran veio posteriormente a se arrepender de ter-se deixado seduzir.

Em 1937, decide mudar-se para Paris com a inten√ß√£o inicial de desenvolver uma tese sobre Bergson (que nunca terminou), e acaba por instalar-se l√° definitivamente. Ap√≥s seis livros escritos em romeno e publicados em seu pa√≠s de origem, Cioran adota ent√£o o franc√™s como l√≠ngua oficial: o Pr√©cis de Decomposition (“Brevi√°rio de Decomposi√ß√£o”), publicado em 1949 pela Gallimard e marco inaugural de sua convers√£o ling√ľ√≠stica, rende-lhe, dois anos depois, o pr√™mio Rivarol (tendo no j√ļri nomes ilustres como Andr√© Gide e Andr√© Maurois), o primeiro e √ļltimo que aceitou.

Considerado por alguns o maior prosador da l√≠ngua francesa desde Paul Val√©ry, e chamado pela cr√≠tica, entre outras coisas, de “pensador crepuscular”, “arauto do pessimismo”, c√≠nico fervente”, “cavaleiro do mau-humor”, Cioran se dedicou a falar sobre os temas que o preocuparam e atormentaram ao longo da vida: a solid√£o, o t√©dio, a morte, o sofrimento, o ceticismo e a f√©, Deus e o problema do mal. Caminhando nas fronteiras entre a filosofia, a religi√£o, a literatura e a hist√≥ria, deixou uma contundente obra que est√° em fina sintonia com o itiner√°rio de sua vida, marcada pelo tr√°gico e o ir√īnico, o incompleto e o fragment√°rio, o paradoxal e o absurdo. Alguns de seus t√≠tulos s√£o: Syllogismes de L¬īamertume (“Silogismos da Amargura”), L¬īinconv√©nient D¬ī√ätre N√© (“O Inconveniente de Ter Nascido”), La Chute Dans Le Temps (“A Queda no Tempo”), La Tentation D¬īExister (“A Tenta√ß√£o de Existir”), Histoire et Utopie (“Hist√≥ria e Utopia”) e Ecart√®lement (“Despeda√ßamento”). Cioran faleceu em Paris, no dia 20 de junho de 1995, acometido de Alzheimer.

Rodrigo In√°cio

Cioran por Jos√© Thomaz Brum

Emil Cioran (1911-1995), nascido em Rasinari, uma aldeia da Transilv√Ęnia (Rom√™nia), filho de um sacerdote ortodoxo, escreveu cinco livros em sua l√≠ngua natal (o romeno). Entre eles Pe culmile desper√£rii (Nos cumes do desespero) de 1934, seu primeiro ensaio, que recebeu o Pr√™mio dos Jovens Escritores Romenos. De sua obra romena a editora Rocco publicar√° em 2012 O livro dos enganos.

A partir de 1937, Cioran exila-se em Paris e, em 1947, passa a escrever em franc√™s. Em 1949 √© publicado pela editora Gallimard o c√©lebre Brevi√°rio de decomposi√ß√£o que, em 1951, recebe o prestigioso pr√™mio Rivarol. Alguns anos depois, Saint-John Perse o sa√ļda como ‚Äúo maior dos prosadores de l√≠ngua francesa desde¬† Val√©ry‚ÄĚ. Juntamente com Mircea Eliade e Ionesco, Cioran comp√īs o trio de romenos c√©lebres que escolheram Paris para viver.

Pensador da exist√™ncia, a sua filosofia n√£o deve ser confundida com a da ‚Äúsegunda gera√ß√£o existencial‚ÄĚ (Heidegger, Sartre), mas sim com a dos ‚Äúpensadores privados‚ÄĚ (Nietzsche, Dostoievski, Chestov) que procuram conservar no homem a kierkegaardiana ‚Äús√≠ncope da liberdade‚ÄĚ. Atrav√©s de uma escrita afor√≠stica e ensa√≠stica, o pensamento de Cioran procura ‚Äúexprimir toda a ang√ļstia moderna sem eliminar a dimens√£o metaf√≠sica do homem‚ÄĚ (como pude observar em entrevista √† revista romena Orizont de setembro de 2010). ‚ÄúMestre em ironia e desesperan√ßa‚ÄĚ (Catherine Cl√©ment), ‚Äúfil√≥sofo preocupado com os temas da aliena√ß√£o e do desespero‚ÄĚ (Gabriel Liiceanu), Cioran √© um exemplo vivo do ‚Äúfilosofar poeticamente‚ÄĚ que ele tanto louvava.

A obra cioraniana, hoje considerada um cl√°ssico do pensamento contempor√Ęneo, √© estudada no mundo inteiro sob seus diversos aspectos (filos√≥fico, teol√≥gico, liter√°rio, lingu√≠stico). H√° in√ļmeros trabalhos acad√™micos sobre ela na Fran√ßa, Rom√™nia, Alemanha, Espanha etc. Considerado ‚Äúo maior aforista desde Nietzsche‚ÄĚ, Cioran¬† tamb√©m traz a marca dos moralistas franceses dos s√©culos XVII e XVIII (La Rochefoucauld, Chamfort), com sua secura lac√īnica e desiludida.

O seu centen√°rio de nascimento (1911-2011) ser√° festejado sobretudo nos dois pa√≠ses que viram nascer a sua obra t√£o singular: a Rom√™nia e a Fran√ßa. Ambos reivindicam Cioran como seu. Mas esse romeno ap√°trida √© um escritor que teve ‚Äúum segundo nascimento‚ÄĚ com a l√≠ngua que adotou: o franc√™s. E √© nesta l√≠ngua que ele ocupa um lugar √† parte ao lado de ‚Äúseus queridos moralistas‚ÄĚ, como bem disse a sua amiga romena Sanda Stolojan.

José Thomaz Brum é Doutor em Filosofia e professor da PUC-RJ

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