Cioran’s Nietzsche (Willis G. Regier)

Source: French Forum, Vol. 30, No. 3 (Fall 2005), pp. 75-90
Author(s): Willis G. Regier
Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Cioran’s Nietzsche

Susan Sontag wrote that

Cioran comes after Nietzsche, who set down almost the whole of Cioran’s position a century ago. An interesting question: why does a subtle, powerful mind consent to say what has, for the most part, already been said? . . . Whatever the answer, the “fact” of Nietzsche has undeniable consequences for Cioran. He must tighten the screws, make the argument denser. More excruciating. More rhetorical.

Sontag’s essay has become a touchstone for taking Cioran seriously as a philosopher and the correlations between Cioran and Nietzsche she described are now staples of Cioran criticism.

Sontag’s junction of Cioran and Nietzsche has been steadily reinforced. As a postscript to his book on Nietzsche, Clément Rosset puts Cioran in the tradition of Nietzsche’s Gay Science and credits him for posing the most serious and most grave question to philosophy: whether an alliance is possible between lucidity and joy. Two of Cioran’s most esteemed translators, Ilinca Zarifopol- Johnson and Sanda Stolojan, separately asserted that Nietzsche was a major influence on Cioran in the 1930s. Cioran’s friend, the Spanish philosopher Fernando Savater, emphasized how much the two have in common. In a close comparison of Cioran’s Romanian works with Nietzsche’s books and Nachlass, Lucia Gorgoi found multiple similarities in style and substance, particularly regarding aphorisms and nihilism. Patrice Bollon’s summary of Cioran’s philosophy links it to Nietzsche more frequently than to any other philosopher.

Despite all this, Nietzsche and Cioran are a pair that ought not be taken for granted, for three reasons: affinity and resemblance are too easily mistaken for agreement and influence; Cioran strenuously resisted… [Pdf]

“The Fall out of Redemption: Writing and Thinking Beyond Salvation in Charles Baudelaire” (Joseph Acquisto)

In the nineteenth century and continuing to our own day, many atheist and agnostic writers have borrowed from a theological framework while refuting tenets of Christianity, especially the existence of a benevolent God and the possibility of redemption. Mid-nineteenth-century poet Charles Baudelaire goes further than many contemporary thinkers in identifying the consequences of refusing to entertain the possibility of salvation of any kind, whether by art, politics, or divine intervention. One important consequence is that he is able to create the possibility of a new, antimodern, ethics.

Joseph Acquisto joined the University of Vermont in 2003. He specializes in nineteenth- and twentieth-century French literature, with particular emphasis on lyric poetry and the novel. He is the author of numerous articles and several books, including his most recent, The Fall out of Redemption: Writing and Thinking Beyond Salvation in Baudelaire, Cioran, Fondane, Agamben, and Nancy (Bloomsbury, 2015). His teaching focuses on modern French literature and intermediate and advanced language courses. He serves as faculty director of the Global Village Residential Learning Community.

“The sceptic-on-duty” (Rüdiger Punzet)

The Hindu, 04 December 2010

Profoundly influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism, the Romanian philosopher E.M. Cioran saw life as a quest for the void

The American literary critic Susan Sontag called him the French Nietzsche, John Updike dubbed him a frustrated monk, and Bernhard-Henri Lévy described him as a “Dandy of the void beside whom even the stoics appear as zealous bon vivants”. The Romanian philosopher and essayist E.M. Cioran (1911-1995) is considered one of the most critical thinkers and radical nihilists of the 20th century. In spite of his intense engagement with the Indian and Eastern philosophies and his deep admiration for them, Cioran is hardly known in this part of the world. To many who come in contact with his works he appears as an “aristocrat of doubt”, an “ungodly mystique”, a “reactionary” and a “cynic”. Cioran’s prose confronts the reader with an author who imposes an unmatched climate of cold apocalypse and scathing scepticism. In his book Anathemas and Admirations Cioran calls himself “The sceptic-on-duty of a decaying world”. He chose the essay and aphorism in particular to express himself as he was convinced that they perfectly captured the epigrammatic intensity of his thoughts: “The aphorism is cultivated only by those who have known fear in the midst of words, that fear of collapsing with all the words”… [+]

“The snares of wisdom”, by E. M. Cioran

Published in The Hudson Review, vol. 19, No. 4 (Winter, 1966-1967), pp. 539-550 [Pdf]
Translated from French by Frederick Brown

Once we realize to what depth appearances are credited by the normal consciousness, it becomes impossible to endorse the Vedantic thesis according to which “non-distinction is the soul’s natural state.” What is meant here by natural state is the state of being awake, which, as it happens, is anything but natural. The living man apprehends existence everywhere; directly he wakes up, directly he has ceased being nature, he starts detecting falsity in the apparent, appearance in the real, and ultimately enterttains doubts about the notion of reality itself. Gone are all distinctions, and with them go tension and drama. When viewed from too great a height, the kingdom of diversity and of the many vanishes. On a certain level of knowledge, only non-being can hold up… [+]

“Cioran’s ‘grain of ataraxy’: boredom, nothingness, and quietism” (James Farrugia)

Antae Journal, Volume 2, Issue 3, University of Malta, 11-2015

Abstract: In reading E.M. Cioran’s œuvre, one is faced with an immediate and unremitting abrasiveness that has its roots with our being born into time. Indeed, the author of The Fall into Time and The Trouble with Being Born thought that it is precisely this accidental and unredeemable temporality, an original sin that results in a life forever situated in cycles of striving and becoming, which is to be exhuastingly apprehended in the experience of boredom: ‘Life is more and less than boredom, though it is in boredom and by boredom that we discern what life is worth.’ Cioran’s pessimism never relents; even his lugubrious friend Samuel Beckett had to keep a distance after finding him ‘too pessimistic’—who else but Cioran could write that ‘leukemia is the garden where God blooms’? Despite this, in Cioran’s often autobiographical, aphoristic and essayistic writings, we find a richly-timbred boredom (ironically so) which gives us incisive observations into a multitude of related concepts and realities. Nothingness, God, silence, mysticism, suffering, and quietism (among others) all feature in Cioran’s writings on boredom, as well as in this paper’s attempt to better situate Cioran’s work with respect to his more famous pessimistic and existentialist relations’s take on the subject, namely Arthur Schopenhauer and Martin Heidegger. In exploring his work on boredom vis-à-vis his specific interest in mysticism, Taoism, nothingness, time and insomnia, this paper aims to show how the failure to attain what Cioran called ‘a grain of ataraxy’, necessarily presupposes a limited set of ‘possibilities’ and ‘prospects’ when faced with the experience of ‘the sensation of the emptiness of existence’ that is boredom (Schopenhauer). [Pdf]

“A sketch of Lucian Blaga’s Philosophy”, by Geo Savulescu

Abstract: I will try to present a sketch of Lucian Blaga’s philosophy which will contain both the theory of knowledge and the theory of the unconscious. I will concentrate my study on the approximately 1000 pages from The Trilogy of Culture and The Trilogy of Knowledge. I would like to limit myself to these two trilogies, which represent the core, the center of the Blaga philosophy. In the Dogmatic Aeon, published in 1931, the Luciferian Knowledge, published in 1933, in The Transcendental Censorship, published in 1934, in Horizon and Style, published in 1935, as well as in The Genesis of the Metaphor and the Meaning of Culture published in 1937, the key notion is Mystery.

Another key notion for the understanding of Blaga’s philosophy first appears well defined in Horizon and Style. It is the notion of style as unconscious. It is notable that Lucian Blaga wanted, from the beginning, for the notion of the unconscious to not have a direct link to psychology, becoming a philosophical concept. In The Trilogy of Knowledge one can sense in the subtext the thinking of an unconscious domain, which he evidently needed, but which was probably not yet well structured in its new form, liberated from psychology, or in any case liberated from psychoanalysis. Moreover, in The Genesis of the Metaphor and the Meaning of Culture he speaks more about transcendental censorship, and in my opinion, more consistently, more credible, than in the entire chapter with the same title from the Trilogy of Knowledge, text which has a poetical beauty in its metaphysical display.

[Full text]

“On Pessoa’s Involvement with the Birth Theme in Cioran’s De l’inconvénient d’être né” (Dagmara Kraus)

Keywords: Fernando Pessoa, Emil Cioran, Birth, Non-birth, Pretemporality.

Abstract: The birth theme in Cioran’s oeuvre occurs only once, in De l’inconvénient d’être né (1973), and is never treated in his work again. In my article I wish to show by means of studying several manuscripts from the Cioranian archives how the topic first came about as well as how it evolved. Furthermore I want to look at what the topic’s rather sudden appearance in the early 1970s might owe to Cioran’s discovery of Fernando Pessoa’s poetical works, a part of which he had read in Armand Guibert’s translation into French. It shall be shown that on the background of his reading of Pessoa, Cioran creates the notion of ‘non-birth’ and develops the idea of pretemporality.

Palavras-chave: Fernando Pessoa, Emil Cioran, Nascimento, Não-Nascimento, Pré-temporalidade.

Resumo: O tema do nascimento na obra de Cioran aflora apenas uma vez, em De l’inconvénient d’être né (1973), não sendo nunca mais abordado. Neste ensaio tento mostrar como o tópico surgiu e evoluiu através do estudo de vários manuscriptos conservados nos arquivos de Cioran. Além disso desejo analisar a súbita aparição do tema no princípio da década de 70 e como isso se pode dever ao descobrimento da obra poética de Fernando Pessoa por Cioran, que ele leu, em parte, na tradução francesa de Armand Guibert. Sustento o argumento de que é na base de tal leitura que Cioran cria a noção de ‘não-nascimento’ e desenvolve o conceito de ‘pré-temporalidade’. [Pdf]