Resenha: Écartùlement

Écartùlement, de E.M. Cioran (resenha de Rodrigo Menezes)

“Os jardins do Ocidente estĂŁo na hora de fechar” (Cyril Connolly). É com esta epĂ­grafe que Cioran inicia ÉcartĂšlement, algo como “Esquartejamento”, “Desmembramento”, designando o modo de tortura em que o mesmo Ă© feito Ă  vĂ­tima, cujos membros sĂŁo amarrados a cavalos — seu antipenĂșltimo livro, escrito em 1983. A reação de Cioran face Ă  crescente notoriedade Ă© peculiar; em carta escrita ao irmĂŁo, ele revela: “Eis que este livro, que nĂŁo Ă© tĂŁo bom quanto os outros, todo mundo se pĂŽs a falar dele. FenĂŽmeno inexplicĂĄvel e… deprimente. Pedi ao meu editor para interromper toda publicidade, e te garanto, se estive ao meu alcance eu retiraria esse pobre ÉcartĂšlement do comĂ©rcio […]”. (leia mais)

Cioran, 100 años

FilosofĂ­a y libros – reseñas filosĂłficas

Hace ya un siglo, un 8 de Abril, naciĂł en la pequeña ciudad hĂșngara de Rasinari un pensador especial, de esos cuya persona y cuyas obras no dejan indiferente a nadie. Se llamaba EmĂ­l Michel Cioran (1911-1995).

Fue hijo de un cura ortodoxo, aunque no fanĂĄtico, y de una madre algo mĂĄs liberal. PasĂł su infancia mĂĄs temprana, a la que considerarĂĄ como un paraĂ­so perdido e irrecuperable, correteando por los caminos rurales y relacionĂĄndose con los campesinos. A los diez años le sobrevino una acontecimiento que le marcarĂĄ de por vida. Sus padres decidieron trasladarlo a la ciudad de Sibiu (Hermannstadt en alemĂĄn) para que continuase sus estudios, “y en el coche de caballos que me conducĂ­a allĂ­, sufrĂ­ una crisis de desesperaciĂłn cuyo recuerdo todavĂ­a guardo”.

Sibiu era una ciudad peculiar; en ella se hablaba tres lenguas: hĂșngaro, rumano y alemĂĄn. Curiosamente no se hablaba francĂ©s, lengua a la que posteriormente se consagrarĂ­a Cioran. En esta ciudad encontrĂł la pasiĂłn de su vida: la lectura.  Balzac, Diderot, Dostoievsky o Nietzsche serĂĄn los escritores que le acompañarĂĄn y, como Ă©l dirĂ­a mĂĄs tarde, le servirĂ­an de escapatoria a sus obligaciones dĂĄndole la sensaciĂłn de tener una ocupaciĂłn. De Dostoievsky dirĂĄ que es el escritor; por encima de cualquier otro, y releerĂĄ su obra completa varias veces a lo largo de su vida.

En Hermannstadt sufrirĂĄ insomnio. El peor de los males, por el cual el tiempo se hace consciente. SegĂșn Cioran el hombre corriente vive sin demasiadas preocupaciones o sufrimientos vitales pues con el periodo de sueño se interrumpe el paso del tiempo. Este corte le permite emprender nuevas acciones; cosa que no sucede en un flujo incesante. En esta Ă©poca se formarĂĄ, como reconoce Ă©l mismo, todo su pensamiento posterior, y en su primera obra En las cimas de la desesperaciĂłn se encuentran ya todos los problemas que le preocuparon a lo largo de su vida.

Con diecisiete años se matriculĂł en la universidad para estudiar filosofĂ­a. AllĂ­ estudiĂł a los grandes maestros que aĂșn se estudian hoy, pero tambiĂ©n a otros ya en declive como Kierkegaard o Bergson y olvidados como Chestov. Marcado por el insomnio serĂ­a la “Lebensphilosophie” (FilosofĂ­a de la vida), de autores como Dilthey, la que lo alejarĂ­a de los sistemas objetivos que olvidaban los sufrimientos personales. Precisamente, al acabar sus estudios, viajĂł en un primer momento a BerlĂ­n con la intenciĂłn de elaborar una tesis sobre Bergson, pero allĂ­ asistiĂł a las clases de Nicolai Hartmann, uno de los mayores exponentes del momento de la filosofĂ­a con intenciones objetivas y que lo defraudĂł profundamente. RegresĂł a su paĂ­s donde ejerciĂł de profesor en un instituto durante un año, dedicĂĄndose a leer exhaustivamente a Dostoievsky y sobre todo a Shakespeare.

Pasado ese tiempo, obtuvo una beca del instituto francĂ©s de Bucarest para elaborar una tesis sobre Bergson en ParĂ­s. Se trasladarĂĄ allĂ­ casi definitivamente, y ParĂ­s se convertirĂĄ en su residencia vital e intelectual y en la ruptura con su pasado. En una Ă©poca en la que se dedicaba a traducir a MallarmĂ© al rumano se percatĂł -segĂșn sus palabras- de lo ridĂ­culo que era traducir a una lengua que nadie leĂ­a, y desde ese momento se impuso escribir Ășnicamente en francĂ©s. No serĂ­a tarea fĂĄcil, y su primer libro escrito en ese idioma, PrĂ©cis de dĂ©composition (traducido al español como Breviario de podredumbre), serĂ­a reescrito por completo hasta en cuatro ocasiones, tardando varios años hasta ser publicado en 1949.

Cioran tuvo fama de solitario, casi antisocial, pero realmente se debe a que su fama fue tardĂ­a. Frecuentaba los cafĂ©s mĂĄs famosos de la capital francesa y conocĂ­a a otros intelectuales de su Ă©poca como Sartre, del que llegĂł a decir que no lo consideraba un filĂłsofo mĂĄs que un comerciante de ideas. Normalmente se presentaba en las fiestas como el amigo de Ionesco, Eliade o Beckett. Nunca terminĂł, y ni siquiera empezĂł, la tesis sobre Bergson por la que se encontraba becado en ParĂ­s. Se dedicĂł, sobre todo, a recorrer todo el paĂ­s galo en bicicleta, llegando incluso mĂĄs lejos, hasta España, Italia o Inglaterra. HacĂ­a recorridos diarios de hasta cien kilĂłmetros, lo que a la postre, con el agotamiento, le acabarĂ­a curando del insomnio. Esa enfermedad  que le mantuvo noches enteras en busca de un interlocutor, y que desembocarĂ­a en un rencor feroz contra dios: el Ășnico interlocutor posible en la soledad nocturna. En esa Ă©poca en la que el insomnio aĂșn era su compañero se sintiĂł especialmente atraĂ­do por la mĂ­stica (leyĂł, por ejemplo, a santa Teresa), y se consideraba a sĂ­ mismo un mĂ­stico; querĂ­a creer, pero no podĂ­a. Con el fin del insomnio, se terminaron las charlas  con y contra dios, y su rencor irĂ­a disminuyendo.

Siguió escribiendo en francés toda su vida, y siendo cada vez un poco mås conocido fuera de los círculos intelectuales. Aunque sus libros, en vida, no se vendían todo lo bien que sus editores querían, fue adquiriendo mayor reconocimiento. Varios premios le fueron concedidos renunciando a todos ellos. Tan sólo accedió a aceptar uno, en 1950: el premio Rivarol, cuyo jurado estaba formado, entre otros, por Mauriac o Gabriel Marcel.

Su obra fue sin duda asistemĂĄtica. Él mismo profesaba un rechazo total a toda forma de sistematismo, llegando a decir que “una perfecta unidad, la bĂșsqueda de un sistema coherente son la prueba de una vida personal pobre, esquemĂĄtica e insulsa, carente de contradicciones, de gratuidad, de paradojas” (En las cimas de la desesperaciĂłn). Esa idea se refleja en toda su obra, especialmente aforĂ­stica y fragmentaria.

No es de extrañar que Cioran sea actualmente un ausente en las aulas de las facultades de filosofĂ­a, pues Ă©l mismo renegĂł de ella: “mi adoraciĂłn por la filosofĂ­a […] fue barrida por las vigilias, porque vi que eso no podĂ­a ayudarme, no me permitĂ­a soportar la vida, sobre todo por las noches. AsĂ­ perdĂ­ mi fe en la filosofĂ­a” (Conversaciones). O puede que tambiĂ©n por sus opiniones acerca de pensadores como Nietzsche, del que decĂ­a “me parece demasiado ingenuo […] un hombre digno de lĂĄstima, en el fondo, un hombre aislado, al que le faltaba la experiencia inmediata del otro”. Sin embargo, este maestro del fragmento y la contradicciĂłn, apologista de la enfermedad y obsesionado por la muerte, ha ejercido una fuerte influencia en la generaciĂłn de final del siglo XX. La filosofĂ­a se ha convertido, porque asĂ­ lo ha pretendido, en algo impersonal, tratando de alejarse de los prejuicios subjetivistas y tratando de asimilarse a la ciencia, pero precisamente por eso, estĂĄ muerta. Cioran reclama el halo vital que le falta, el del filĂłsofo que hace filosofĂ­a y que sufre en la existencia: “en eso estriba el problema, en el hecho de ser hombre, que es trĂĄgico en sí”.

Cioran muere en ParĂ­s el 20 de Junio de 1995.

Interview Ă  l’occasion du Centenaire Cioran

Interview à l’occasion du Centenaire Cioran

Patrice BOLLON est journaliste et Ă©crivain. Comme journaliste, il a travaillĂ© pour les quotidiens français LibĂ©ration, Le Monde, Le Figaro-LittĂ©raire, les hebdomadaires L’Express, Paris-Match, les revues Vogue-Hommes, Femme, City-Magazine, Le Magazine-LittĂ©raire, Philosophie-Magazine, La Revue des Deux Mondes, etc., et il a dirigĂ© la section “culture” de Globe-Hebdo. Écrivain, il a publiĂ© sept livres, dont un essai sur le dandysme, Morale du Masque (Seuil, 1991, traduit en trois langues), Cioran, l’HĂ©rĂ©tique (Gallimard, 1997, traduit en japonais et en allemand aux Éd. Suhrkamp), Esprit d’époque (Seuil, 2002) et le Manuel du Contemporain (Seuil, 2007). Il achĂšve actuellement un essai de philosophie sur la dimension mĂ©taphysique de la prĂ©sente crise de l’Occident.

ILE PHILOSPHE PATRICE BOLLON SUR ÉMILE CIORAN – Interwiev rĂ©alisĂ© par Ciprian Vălcan.

1. Comment en ĂȘtes-vous venu Ă  connaĂźtre l’Ɠuvre de Cioran ?

Je ne me rappelle plus prĂ©cisĂ©ment comment j’ai connu le nom de Cioran. C’est sans doute un article dans un journal qui m’a incitĂ© Ă  acheter la version poche du PrĂ©cis de dĂ©composition – que j’ai toujours – au dĂ©but des annĂ©es 1970. J’avais alors vingt ans et je me voulais trĂšs extrĂȘme. Je militais dans une organisation d’ultra-gauche, anarcho-communiste, mais j’étais aussi fascinĂ© par les beatniks. J’essayais d’en ĂȘtre un, avec barbe et cheveux longs, voyages en CrĂšte, Ă  Tanger, Istanbul, etc. Sur le plan des idĂ©es, je ne jurais que par Marx, Kropotkine, Stirner et Nietszche, et, en littĂ©rature, par LautrĂ©amont, Artaud et Bataille. Bref, j’étais une sorte de produit garanti d’époque, entre gauchisme et mythes de la marginalitĂ©, du rock, de la “route”, de l’amour libre, etc. Le titre mĂȘme du livre de Cioran a donc constituĂ© pour moi une sorte de “dĂ©clencheur d’achat”, comme l’on dit en marketing. Quelle plus belle idĂ©e pour moi alors que celle de “dĂ©composition” ! Je crois que je me suis contentĂ©, au dĂ©but, d’en grappiller des passages selon mon plaisir du moment. Je n’ai lu systĂ©matiquement Cioran que vers la fin des annĂ©es 1970, et c’est encore plus tard, en 1986, au moment de la parution de ses Exercices d’admiration, que je l’ai rencontrĂ©, Ă  l’occasion d’un portrait pour une revue chic sur papier glacĂ©, City-Magazine, que j’avais titrĂ© : “L’Aristocrate du doute”. J’écrivais alors mon premier livre, Morale du masque, un essai sur l’éthique de l’apparence, et je prĂ©tendais plus ou moins au dandysme… La dĂ©couverte de Cioran n’a donc pas Ă©tĂ© pour moi un fait littĂ©raire ; elle a accompagnĂ© mon Ă©volution intellectuelle et spirituelle.

2. Vous avez connu personnellement Cioran. Comment Ă©tait l’homme Cioran ?

Ce qui m’a tout de suite sĂ©duit chez lui, c’est son cĂŽtĂ© marginal et dandy. En quelque sorte, j’avais trouvĂ© en lui un exemple de ce que je rĂȘvais d’ĂȘtre moi-mĂȘme ! Tout le contraire d’un littĂ©rateur, c’était ce que Nietzsche appelait un esprit libre. Il n’aimait pas parler de son Ɠuvre. AprĂšs tout, elle Ă©tait Ă  la disposition de tous, il suffisait de s’y plonger et d’en tirer les conclusions qu’on voulait. Cela fait qu’avec lui on parlait avant tout d’enjeux de vie. La premiĂšre fois que je l’ai vu, je me souviens ainsi de lui avoir racontĂ© l’histoire d’une Ă©trange figure du rock, Vince Taylor, un perdant magnifique (et, sur certains points, plutĂŽt pitoyable), dont David Bowie avait tirĂ© le personnage fictif de “Ziggy Stardust”. Cela l’avait beaucoup amusĂ©. Comme je tentais de revenir Ă  la philosophie, il m’avait dit que le destin de cet homme Ă©tait beaucoup plus mĂ©taphysique que toute l’Ɠuvre de Kant ! Comme j’étais Ă  l’époque fascinĂ© par la vie de Wittgenstein, je me rappelle aussi lui avoir appris qu’il avait fait, disait-on, un “miracle” quand il Ă©tait professeur pour les petits paysans en Basse-Autriche. Cela l’avait fait hurler de rire ! Par la suite, je le voyais ou l’appelais quasiment toutes les semaines. Nous Ă©changions des considĂ©rations sur certains auteurs peu frĂ©quentĂ©s, comme le grand lettrĂ© italien Mario Praz. Il s’inquiĂ©tait beaucoup de ma situation matĂ©rielle (comment m’y prenais-je pour survivre sans emploi fixe, comme lui ?) et s’intĂ©ressait aussi Ă  ma vie privĂ©e (quelle Ă©tait donc cette jeune et belle mĂ©tisse avec qui il m’avait vu me promener Ă  Saint-Germain-des-PrĂ©s la semaine derniĂšre, en Ă©tais-je amoureux ?, etc.) Bref, c’était avec lui des discussions Ă  bĂątons rompus, trĂšs agrĂ©ables, parce qu’il Ă©tait ouvert, drĂŽle, fin et toujours impeccablement courtois. Personnellement, je ne l’ai jamais associĂ© aux thĂšmes du suicide ou du pessimisme. C’était, pour moi, un dandy intellectuel – ce que sont les “vrais” dandys, car le dandysme n’a rien Ă  voir avec l’habit. Comme l’a Ă©crit Barbey d’Aurevilly, c’en est mĂȘme la nĂ©gation : c’est une attitude, une morale de vie.

3. Quels aspects de l’Ɠuvre de Cioran ont-ils attirĂ© votre attention Ă  une premiĂšre lecture et que vous continuez Ă  considĂ©rer comme importants aujourd’hui encore ?

Les deux thĂšmes de son Ɠuvre qui m’ont retenus Ă  la premiĂšre lecture et me retiennent encore aujourd’hui sont ceux que je viens d’évoquer : la rĂ©volte (au sens de la volontĂ© de rester un marginal, un irrĂ©gulier) et la façon de s’en accommoder. Comme je l’ai souvent dit, Cioran est pour moi avant tout un maĂźtre de vie, d’existence : comment rester noble dans un monde qui ne l’est pas, un monde proprement mĂȘme i-gnoble, corrompu, bas, sale, engluĂ© dans le matĂ©rialisme sordide de l’argent, de la rĂ©ussite matĂ©rielle Ă  tout prix ? Cioran donnent Ă  ceux qui le veulent un espoir d’y arriver, comme Wittgenstein d’ailleurs : ils apportent tous deux des remĂšdes Ă  ce qu’il faut bien appeler une dĂ©cadence spirituelle. Ce sont de vrais philosophes, au sens des sages ou des grands cyniques, comme le “chien cĂ©leste” DiogĂšne. Je dirais seulement que, dans ce registre, Wittgenstein me semble plus fort car plus intransigeant : un vĂ©ritable “saint civil”. Quoi qu’il en soit, on se trouve loin ici de la vision tarifĂ©e d’un Cioran, que certains agitent encore et qui, Ă  mes yeux, le dĂ©grade, mĂ©lancolique et uniquement prĂ©occupĂ© par le style. Il n’y avait chez lui pas la moindre affĂ©terie, de style ou de comportement, comme on en note chez ses prĂ©tendus “admirateurs”. C’était un ĂȘtre droit car vrai, mais Ă  qui on peut toutefois reprocher une certaine rouerie, de n’ĂȘtre pas allĂ© toujours jusqu’au bout de ses convictions. Mais, de celles-ci, il donne l’impulsion. Les idiots ou les petits passent volontiers Ă  cĂŽtĂ© de ce qu’il enseigne car cela ne concerne pas la littĂ©rature au sens Ă©troit du terme, mais ce qui est beaucoup plus important, ce qui devrait mĂȘme seul importer : la vie.

4. Quelle est votre interprĂ©tation de l’Ɠuvre de Cioran ?

Dans Cioran, l’HĂ©rĂ©tique, j’ai tentĂ© de donner une cohĂ©rence Ă  son Ɠuvre via le thĂšme du “rachat” de ses errements passĂ©s – je veux parler de ses positions de jeunesse antisĂ©mites et pro-hitlĂ©riennes. Cela m’a conduit Ă  avancer une interprĂ©tation d’ordre politique et morale sous le signe – l’expression se trouve chez lui – de l’“anti-utopie”. Peut-on rester fidĂšle Ă  cet idĂ©al ou Ă  ce rĂȘve d’un bouleversement politique et social intĂ©gral quand on en sait les consĂ©quences, et que faire dĂšs lors ? Cette thĂšse a Ă©tĂ© critiquĂ©e, mais aussi souvent reprise, critiquĂ©e parfois par ceux-lĂ  mĂȘme qui l’ont reprise ! Cela, c’est le jeu des petits ego stupides, dont la France a hĂ©las ! la spĂ©cialitĂ©, mais passons… Cette thĂšse n’est qu’une proposition. Il y en a d’autres. Par exemple, on peut soutenir qu’il y a chez lui une philosophie implicite du “vivre”, qui ne demande qu’à ĂȘtre dĂ©veloppĂ©e. C’est ce que j’ai soutenu il y a quelques mois dans un article du dossier Cioran dans le Magazine LittĂ©raire. Enfin, il y a bien sĂ»r son style, dont je n’ai pas encore parlĂ©. Cioran est un maĂźtre d’écriture, un Ă©gal en prose de Baudelaire, plus d’ailleurs que des moralistes français du XVIIe siĂšcle, auxquels une certaine paresse intellectuelle l’associe souvent. On peut dire alors que chez lui le style est tout, que l’idĂ©e vient aprĂšs. C’est la thĂšse de certains ; le problĂšme est que ceux qui pensent ainsi n’analysent jamais ce que, pour Cioran, reprĂ©sente le style. Cioran n’avait rien d’un prĂ©cieux. Si le style peut ĂȘtre considĂ©rĂ© comme son message, c’est qu’il n’est pas pour lui une pure prĂ©occupation esthĂ©tique, mais aussi Ă©thique. Son Ɠuvre illustre la cĂ©lĂšbre phrase du Tractatus logico-philosophicus de Wittgenstein, selon laquelle “esthĂ©tique et Ă©thique ne font qu’un”. Au fond, mon interprĂ©tation gĂ©nĂ©rale de son Ɠuvre se situe lĂ . On en revient Ă  cette idĂ©e que le style est un moyen – le seul ? cela est Ă  voir – de faire face avec Ă©lĂ©gance au dĂ©sastre de l’existence. C’est cela, le dandysme de Cioran : une morale de vie…

5. Quel Ă©crivain pourrait-il ĂȘtre comparĂ© Ă  Cioran en ce qui concerne les thĂšmes de rĂ©flexion et le style ?

Je ne vois a priori aucun Ă©crivain contemporain que l’on puisse comparer Ă  Cioran. De fait, le meilleur parallĂšle que l’on puisse tracer me semble ĂȘtre avec des romanciers comme Albert Cossery et Jean Genet. Je pense Ă  eux pour leur style mais plus encore pour leur caractĂšre indĂ©pendant et jusqu’au-boutiste : moral, au fond. Or c’est une qualitĂ© que l’on rencontre de moins en moins aujourd’hui, dans un monde oĂč tout, y compris la littĂ©rature, est devenu un business, matĂ©riel ou d’ego. Dans la pensĂ©e, la chose est un peu diffĂ©rente. Comme elle est peu, voire pas du tout, rĂ©munĂ©ratrice, elle a Ă©tĂ© accaparĂ©e par les universitaires. Certains bien sĂ»r ont de trĂšs grandes qualitĂ©s, mais leur Ɠuvre n’est pas liĂ©e Ă  la vie, elle en est mĂȘme parfois l’opposĂ©e, sinon l’adversaire. Il y a sans doute, de par le monde, d’authentiques “PrivatDenker”, des “penseurs privĂ©s”, selon l’expression de Nietzsche dont Cioran se revendiquait aussi, mais on ne les connaĂźt pas forcĂ©ment. Ce sont les seuls qu’on pourrait lĂ©gitimement comparer Ă  Cioran, car ils appartiennent Ă  la mĂȘme famille, des essayistes-poĂštes, tels que Nietzsche, Leopardi, Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein ou, sous quelques rĂ©serves, Schopenhauer. C’est bien Ă  cette catĂ©gorie qu’appartient Cioran. On pourrait presque parler Ă  ce propos de “voyants”….

6. ConsidĂ©rez-vous juste l’opinion des exĂ©gĂštes qui voient en Cioran le principal continuateur de Nietzsche au XXe siĂšcle ?

Ce que je viens de dire illustre l’indĂ©niable proximitĂ© d’attitude qui existe entre Cioran et Nietzsche – la diffĂ©rence Ă©tant toutefois que ce dernier Ă©tait beaucoup plus philosophe au sens propre du terme. Nietzsche a bouleversĂ© la philosophie en la dĂ©construisant. Dans son Ɠuvre ou Ă  sa marge, presque toute la rĂ©flexion qui lui a succĂ©dĂ© est contenue : Foucault bien sĂ»r, mais aussi une partie de Wittgenstein et le Heidegger de Qu’appelle-t-on penser ? Cioran n’a pas la mĂȘme puissance qu’eux. C’est, je le rĂ©pĂšte, Ă  mes yeux, un maĂźtre Ăšs existence – ce qui, en un sens, est moins, et, en un autre, plus…

7. Quelle est la rĂ©ception de l’Ɠuvre de Cioran en France actuellement ?

Je ne suis pas trĂšs bien placĂ© pour rĂ©pondre Ă  cette question. Depuis la parution de mon livre en 1997, je suis passĂ© Ă  autre chose. Je ne me voyais pas finir en “spĂ©cialiste de Cioran”. C’est le genre d’identitĂ© que je mĂ©prise. Je n’ai donc pas suivi l’actualitĂ© des commentaires Ă  cet Ă©gard. Autant que je puisse en juger, ils me semblent cependant faibles. La rĂ©ception de Cioran n’a peut-ĂȘtre pas encore vraiment commencĂ©. Il y a peu, j’ai lu deux ou trois ouvrages rĂ©cents sur lui, comme le Cahier de l’Herne et un essai titrĂ© assez vulgairement “Éjaculations mystiques”. J’ai trouvĂ© tout cela laborieux, Ă©gotiste, chichiteux, malingre – soit, l’inverse de ce qu’il me semble qu’on peut, qu’on devrait tirer de lui. Mais il faut garder confiance en l’avenir. Si la question que pose Cioran est celle de l’existence, il sera lu forcĂ©ment un jour au bon niveau. Car il nous faudra bien sortir de l’époque aveugle dans laquelle prĂ©sentement nous languissons. Cioran apparaĂźtra peut-ĂȘtre alors comme un de nos recours possibles en vue d’une rĂ©volution mĂ©taphysique et spirituelle venant rĂ©gĂ©nĂ©rer notre Occident fatiguĂ©. Attendons donc !

l’époque aveugle dans laquelle prĂ©sentement nous languissons. Cioran apparaĂźtra peut-ĂȘtre alors comme un de nos recours possibles en vue d’une rĂ©volution mĂ©taphysique et spirituelle venant rĂ©gĂ©nĂ©rer notre Occident fatiguĂ©. Attendons donc !

L’atrabilaire centenaire ou Cioran reconsidĂ©rĂ© : in Memoriam, 1911-2011

Mise en ligne de La rĂ©daction, le 21 janvier 2012 – par Nicolae Popescu

EXTRAITS DU NUMÉRO 34 / HIVER 2011-2012 ] – E.M. Cioran

Égards.com

Wer nie sein Brot mit TrĂ€nen aß
 (“Quem nunca comeu o pĂŁo com lĂĄgrimas…”)

Cioran aurait eu cent ans. EntrĂ© malgrĂ© lui dans un purgatoire des idĂ©es, qui guette Ă  vrai dire tout Ă©crivain dans l’immĂ©diat de son dĂ©cĂšs – dans le deuil accompli de sa personne et de ses Ă©crits –, Cioran, seize ans aprĂšs sa mort, reste, uniment, impardonnable et impĂ©nitent. Aussi l’opinion oscille-t-elle entre adulation aveugle et remise aux gĂ©monies. Ces deux rĂ©actions Ă©tant aussi intempestives l’une que l’autre, et prenant la mesure de la rumeur parfois sulfureuse, tantĂŽt superficielle, sinon impolie, qui empĂšse, empaille ou embrume la teneur de son Ɠuvre, il serait indiquĂ© de tenter de cerner, en ce moment deux fois jubilaire, le sens de son effort.
*
Cioran est nĂ©, comme Kierkegaard et Nietzsche, – rĂ©fĂ©rences qui auront Ă©tĂ© porteuses dans la gestation de sa pensĂ©e –, au sein d’une famille d’ascendance ecclĂ©siastique. Cette prĂ©sence liminaire du religieux, associĂ©e Ă  la figure du pĂšre, est tout sauf un dĂ©tail. Elle ancre Ă  la fois la pierre d’assise et le repoussoir contre lequel leurs intuitions se seront Ă©laborĂ©es. À la diffĂ©rence de ses prĂ©curseurs protestants, Cioran voit le jour dans la partie orientale de l’Europe, Ă  la grĂące d’un dĂ©centrement qui fut vital au regard de sa trajectoire future. Il grandit Ă  Rasinari, petit bourg des Carpates, Ă  la pĂ©riphĂ©rie de la ville de Sibiu (Ă©galement dĂ©signĂ©e sous les noms de Hermannstadt ou de Nagyszeben), une des sept citadelles saxonnes de Transylvanie, province roumaine qui, en 1911, appartenait toujours Ă  l’Empire austro-hongrois. Tout semble en place pour allumer le rĂ©flexe identitaire et faire naĂźtre un destin Ă  vocation nationaliste, aux revendications victimaires, selon la logique d’une idĂ©ologie du ressentiment. En dĂ©pit des Ă©vidences, c’est le contraire qui survient. Cette expĂ©rience premiĂšre de l’état minoritaire, de la position excentrĂ©e, de la distance entrevue par soustraction du lieu oĂč l’Histoire se fait, est propre aux intellectuels de l’Est europĂ©en – comme l’ont soulignĂ© de multiples façons des esprits aussi divers que Milosz, Gombrowicz, Havel – et constitue le grand avantage dont peuvent se prĂ©valoir ces banlieusards de la civilisation dans leurs tentatives d’effraction au sein de la culture de l’Autre.

Cioran est intarissable au sujet de l’Éden qu’aura Ă©tĂ© son enfance, et de l’expulsion corollaire qu’a reprĂ©sentĂ© son dĂ©part pour la ville et le lycĂ©e, son entrĂ©e dans l’ñge de raison. En une boutade qu’il aura souvent employĂ©e : « À quoi bon avoir quittĂ© Coasta Boacii ? » Le traumatisme de ce transfert, de cette destitution – le chemin de Rasinari Ă  Sibiu dessine une dĂ©clivitĂ© calme et continue –, identifie la trame et le motif originel de la pensĂ©e cioranienne.

(
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Centenaire Cioran (4)

Numéro CIORAN de la Revue TRANSILVANIA de Sibiu (Roumanie)
Sommaire du no. 1/2012
NumĂ©ro coordonnĂ© par Dumitra BARON, maĂźtre-assistante docteur Ă  l’UniversitĂ© “Lucian Blaga” de Sibiu
Căderea Ăźn IstorieAlexandru Matei, Emil Cioran ou l’alibi de l’Histoire / 1
Anca Mitroi, Cioran ou “Comment peut-on ĂȘtre EuropĂ©en?” / 5
Simona Drăgan, Cioran Ɵi critificƣiunea istorică / 8
Scott Sprenger, Cioran on Jews, Nationalism and the Inconvenience of Being Born Somewhere / 12
Anca Andreea Chetrariu, La rĂ©ception et la traduction du philosophe Emil Cioran pendant et aprĂšs le rĂ©gime communiste en Roumanie/ 16Stil Ɵi scriiturăAriane LĂŒthi, Emil Cioran, faiseur de notes invĂ©tĂ©rĂ© / 21
Rémy Gagnon, E.M. Cioran et le mouvement continu du désengagement / 29
Raluca Romaniuc, L’irrĂ©parable dans l’écriture de Cioran / 34
Eugùne van Itterbeek, Les “paradis du silence” / 39
ƞerban Axinte, Ispita romanului de a nu exista / 42
Dumitra Baron, L’écriture thĂ©rapeutique ou la crĂ©ation Ă  rebours/ 46Cioran Ɵi CeilalĆŁi

Christy Wampole, Cioran’s Providential Bicycle / 51
Doina Constantinescu, Emil Cioran et Arthur Schopenhauer. Rendez-vous intellectuel et reverberations mélancoliques / 55
Rodica Fofiu, La correspondance de Cioran avec son frĂšre Aurel / 65

Cărƣi ßn dezbatere

AndrĂ© Laidli, Le „PrĂ©cis de dĂ©composition” d’Emil Cioran (1949) : Naissance d’un « moraliste français » / 72
Maria-Otilia Oprea, Essai d’hermĂ©neutique thĂ©ologique de la problĂ©matique du livre. „De l’inconvĂ©nient d’ĂȘtre nĂ©â€ / 78

Critica criticii

Adriana Teodorescu, Cui i-e frică de transdisciplinaritate sau o (re)găsire a lui Cioran / 86
Radu Vancu, Despre Cioran Ɵi fascinaƣia melancoliei / 93
Mirela Ocinic, Cioran despre cultură, trăire, limbaj / 95

Le centenaire de Cioran : le penseur des Carpates

Publié dans Lapresse.ca (Canada)

Il y a 100 ans aujourd’hui naissait Emil Cioran, qui prĂ©fĂ©rait le titre de «penseur privé» Ă  celui de philosophe. Rien de plus absurde que de souligner l’anniversaire de celui qui a Ă©crit De l’inconvĂ©nient d’ĂȘtre nĂ©… Si ce n’est qu’on en profite pour sortir des inĂ©dits aux Ă©ditions de L’Herne.

Il aura professĂ© toute sa vie le dĂ©goĂ»t de l’ambition, la tentation du suicide, le doute acharnĂ© contre soi. Pourtant, il est mort Ă  84 ans, et son oeuvre continue d’attirer les lecteurs. Le poison Ă©tait-il le remĂšde? Il est l’un des derniers grands moralistes français – pensant en roumain – Ă  la plume incomparable. Un gĂ©nie des titres aussi: PrĂ©cis de dĂ©composition, Syllogismes de l’amertume, La tentation d’exister… Il aura suĂ© sang et eau pour crĂ©er son style dans cette langue française si Ă©trangĂšre Ă  ses transports enflammĂ©s de Roumain dĂ©racinĂ©, Ă  jamais nostalgique du paradis barbare et perdu de Rasinari, le village de son enfance en Transylvanie. C’est cette plume acĂ©rĂ©e que l’on retrouve dans sa correspondance avec Armel Guerne, poĂšte et traducteur de nationalitĂ© suisse, dont on avait dĂ©jĂ  publiĂ© la correspondance, mais sans qu’on puisse lire les rĂ©ponses de Cioran. Les voici rĂ©unies par L’Herne, ces lettres Ă©crites entre 1961 et 1978, qui rĂ©vĂšlent une amitiĂ© de haute voltige.

AmitiĂ© surprenante au premier abord. Guerne est un bourreau de travail, un homme de la RĂ©sistance qui a Ă©chappĂ© aux camps, rĂ©solument tournĂ© vers la beautĂ©; Cioran a succombĂ© dans sa jeunesse aux sirĂšnes fascistes, Ă©prouve un mĂ©pris pour le travail (il vit «d’expĂ©dients») et carbure plutĂŽt au pessimisme. Mais ces deux-lĂ  partagent un mĂȘme amour pour la littĂ©rature, un mĂȘme humour cinglant envers les leurres de la sociĂ©tĂ©, un mĂȘme besoin insatiable de luciditĂ©. C’est une vraie amitiĂ©, faite de respect et d’admiration, et dans leurs lettres, se glissent parfois des salutations de leurs fidĂšles conjointes.

Alors que Guerne vit Ă  la campagne dans son «cher Moulin» et que Cioran craint les visiteurs dans sa mansarde Ă  Paris, leur dĂ©testation commune de la supposĂ©e Ville lumiĂšre et de ses habitants n’a pas de limites. En particulier envers les «littĂ©raires». «J’Ă©vite tout autant qu’il m’est possible de rencontrer des Ă©crivains, Ă©crit Cioran en 1969, encore honteux d’avoir un jour frĂ©quentĂ© les cocktails. Tout, sauf cette engeance. Les pires souvenirs de ma vie sont les «dĂ©jeuners littĂ©raires». C’est que pour Cioran, le langage devient terrifiant: «Le jargon de la philosophie d’aujourd’hui, comme de la psychanalyse, de la linguistique et du reste, a totalement envahi et submergĂ© la critique littĂ©raire, de plus en plus rĂ©servĂ©e aux spĂ©cialistes et pratiquement inaccessible au lecteur normal».

Et rien ne s’arrange avec les «évĂ©nements» de Mai 68 sur lesquels ils portent un jugement fĂ©roce. «J’incline Ă  penser que tous ces jeunes sont plus moins des Ă©puisĂ©s sexuels, note Cioran. BlasĂ©s sur le plaisir, dont pourtant ils font le principe de leur action, ils en veulent Ă  une sociĂ©tĂ© qui leur aura dispensĂ© trop de loisirs.» Il Ă©crit ça presque dix ans avant Le nouveau dĂ©sordre amoureux de Pascal Bruckner et Alain Finkielkraut… Ces jeunes bouillonnants, avec leurs «gueules de nĂ©ant» ne lui disent rien qui vaille, et il insiste comiquement sur le flĂ©au: «Pour moi, ces spectres camouflĂ©s en jeunes annoncent l’avĂšnement de l’Innommable». Rien de moins.

Les deux amis observent avec horreur le monde qui s’en vient, ce qui leur rend l’idĂ©e de la mort moins pĂ©nible. «L’incroyable est que l’Apocalypse soit dĂ©passĂ©e, Ă©crit Cioran, parlant des insecticides. Il faudrait la mettre Ă  jour.» Guerne, pendant ce temps, Ă©crit son recueil de poĂ©sie Les jours de l’Apocalypse… Armel Guerne, qu’on dĂ©couvre en dĂ©terrant les lettres de Cioran, et qui rĂ©sume brillamment leurs postures face Ă  l’existence: «Vous avez choisi la rage, j’ai optĂ© pour l’assaut».

Retailles et biographies

Autre titre qui paraĂźt chez L’Herne, Le BrĂ©viaire des vaincus II, un inĂ©dit un peu plus problĂ©matique quand on sait que le penseur avait un souci maniaque de ses manuscrits, et qu’il gardait une certaine distance avec ses oeuvres Ă©crites en roumain – d’ailleurs, Ă  Guerne qui lui demande sa bibliographie, il omettra ces titres. Cioran considĂ©rait le BrĂ©viaire comme un ramassis de «divagations plus ou moins juvĂ©niles». Alors imaginez ses retailles! On y dĂ©couvre sans surprise combien sa Roumanie natale est sa blessure profonde: «Un mal Ă©treint nos entrailles. C’est le mal du dĂ©ficit d’existence, le mal du vouloir sans volontĂ©, de l’aspiration sans objet, de l’aspiration pure. C’est la mĂ©lancolie du devenir. (…) Parmi les peuples malades, nous sommes les plus malades.». Oui, il y a toujours un peu de dĂ©lire chez Cioran, qui se considĂšre souvent comme un mystique frustrĂ©, dont la pensĂ©e furieuse a pu ĂȘtre bridĂ©e par sa langue d’adoption.

Bien que Cioran pensait que la menace de la biographie devrait dĂ©courager quiconque Ă  Ă©crire, on Ă©crit sur lui: paraissent les essais Éjaculations mystiques de StĂ©phane Barsacq au Seuil, et Cioran malgrĂ© lui de Nicolas CavaillĂšs chez CNRS Éditions – CavaillĂšs a dirigĂ© le transfert des oeuvres du penseur dans La PlĂ©iade. D’autres inĂ©dits viendront sĂ»rement, puisque tout rĂ©cemment, une brocanteuse ayant achetĂ© un lot «de dĂ©barras» provenant de l’appartement de l’Ă©crivain, et contenant finalement 30 cahiers portant la mention «À dĂ©truire», vient de gagner son procĂšs pour la propriĂ©tĂ© de cette trouvaille….

_______________________________________________________________________________

Lettres 1961-1978 E.M. Cioran A. Guerne. L’Herne, 254 pages.

BrĂ©viaire des vaincus II. E.M. Cioran. L’Herne, 116 pages.

Emile Cioran and the culture of death (Tomislav Sunic)

http://www.tomsunic.com/?p=275

March 14, 2012

Historical pessimism and the sense of the tragic are recurrent motives in European literature. From Heraclitus to Heidegger, from Sophocles to Schopenhauer, the exponents of the tragic view of life point out that the shortness of human existence can only be overcome by the heroic intensity of living. The philosophy of the tragic is incompatible with the Christian dogma of salvation or the optimism of some modern ideologies. Many modern political theologies and ideologies set out from the assumption that “the radiant future” is always somewhere around the corner, and that existential fear can best be subdued by the acceptance of a linear and progressive concept of history. It is interesting to observe that individuals and masses in our post-modernity increasingly avoid allusions to death and dying. Processions and wakes, which not long ago honored the postmortem communion between the dead and the living, are rapidly falling into oblivion. In a cold and super-rational society of today, someone’s death causes embarrassment, as if death should have never occurred, and as if death could be postponed by a deliberate “pursuit of happiness.” The belief that death can be outwitted through the search for the elixir of eternal youth and the “ideology of good looks”, is widespread in modern TV-oriented society. This belief has become a formula for social and political conduct.

The French-Rumanian essayist, Emile Cioran, suggests that the awareness of existential futility represents the sole weapon against theological and ideological deliriums that have been rocking Europe for centuries. Born in Rumania in 1911, Cioran very early came to terms with the old European proverb that geography means destiny. From his native region which was once roamed by Scythian and Sarmatian hordes, and in which more recently, secular vampires and political Draculas are taking turns, he inherited a typically “balkanesque” talent for survival. Scores of ancient Greeks shunned this area of Europe, and when political circumstances forced them to flee, they preferred to search for a new homeland in Sicily or Italy–or today, like Cioran, in France. “Our epoch, writes Cioran, “will be marked by the romanticism of stateless persons. Already the picture of the universe is in the making in which nobody will have civic rights.”[1] Similar to his exiled compatriots Eugene Ionesco, Stephen Lupasco, Mircea Eliade, and many others, Cioran came to realize very early that the sense of existential futility can best by cured by the belief in a cyclical concept of history, which excludes any notion of the arrival of a new messiah or the continuation of techno-economic progress.

Cioran’s political, esthetic and existential attitude towards being and time is an effort to restore the pre-Socratic thought, which Christianity, and then the heritage of rationalism and positivism, pushed into the periphery of philosophical speculation. In his essays and aphorisms, Cioran attempts to cast the foundation of a philosophy of life that, paradoxically, consists of total refutation of all living. In an age of accelerated history it appears to him senseless to speculate about human betterment or the “end of history.” “Future,” writes Cioran, “go and see it for yourselves if you really wish to. I prefer to cling to the unbelievable present and the unbelievable past. I leave to you the opportunity to face the very Unbelievable.”[2] Before man ventures into daydreams about his futuristic society, he should first immerse himself in the nothingness of his being, and finally restore life to what it is all about: a working hypothesis. On one of his lithographs, the 16th century French painter, J. Valverde, sketched a man who had skinned himself off his own anatomic skin. This awesome man, holding a knife in one hand and his freshly peeled off skin in the other, resembles Cioran, who now teaches his readers how best to shed their hide of political illusions. Man feels fear only on his skin, not on his skeleton. How would it be for a change, asks Cioran, if man could have thought of something unrelated to being? Has not everything that transpires caused stubborn headaches? “And I think about all those whom I have known,” writes Cioran, “all those who are no longer alive, long since wallowing in their coffins, for ever exempt of their flesh–and fear.”[3]

The interesting feature about Cioran is his attempt to fight existential nihilism by means of nihilism. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Cioran is averse to the voguish pessimism of modern intellectuals who bemoan lost paradises, and who continue pontificating about endless economic progress. Unquestionably, the literary discourse of modernity has contributed to this mood of false pessimism, although such pessimism seems to be more induced by frustrated economic appetites, and less by what Cioran calls, “metaphysical alienation.” Contrary to J.P. Sartre’s existentialism that focuses on the rupture between being and non-being, Cioran regrets the split between the language and reality, and therefore the difficulty to fully convey the vision of existential nothingness. In a kind of alienation popularized by modern writers, Cioran detects the fashionable offshoot of “Parisianism” that elegantly masks a warmed-up version of a thwarted belief in progress. Such a critical attitude towards his contemporaries is maybe the reason why Cioran has never had eulogies heaped upon him, and why his enemies like to dub him “reactionary.” To label Cioran a philopsher of nihilism may be more appropriate in view of the fact that Cioran is a stubborn blasphemer who never tires from calling Christ, St. Paul, and all Christian clergymen, as well as their secular Freudo-Marxian successors outright liars and masters of illusion. To reduce Cioran to some preconceived intellectual and ideological category cannot do justice to his complex temperament, nor can it objectively reflect his complicated political philosophy. Each society, be it democratic or despotic, as a rule, tries to silence those who incarnate the denial of its sacrosanct political theology. For Cioran all systems must be rejected for the simple reason that they all glorify man as an ultimate creature. Only in the praise of non-being, and in the thorough denial of life, argues Ciroan, man’s existence becomes bearable. The great advantage of Cioran is, as he says, is that “I live only because it is in my power to die whenever I want; without the idea of suicide I would have killed myself long time ago.”[4] These words testify to Cioran’s alienation from the philosophy of Sisyphus, as well as his disapproval of the moral pathos of the dung-infested Job. Hardly any biblical or modern democratic character would be willing to contemplate in a similar manner the possibility of breaking away from the cycle of time. As Cioran says, the paramount sense of beatitude is achievable only when man realizes that he can at any time terminate his life; only at that moment will this mean a new “temptation to exist.” In other words, it could be said that Cioran draws his life force from the constant flow of the images of salutary death, thereby rendering irrelevant all attempts of any ethical or political commitment. Man should, for a change, argues Cioran, attempt to function as some form of saprophytic bacteria; or better yet as some amoebae from Paleozoic era. Such primeval forms of existence can endure the terror of being and time more easily. In a protoplasm, or lower species, there is more beauty then in all philosophies of life. And to reiterate this point, Cioran adds: “Oh, how I would like to be a plant, even if I would have to attend to someone’s excrement!”[5]

Perhaps Cioran could be depicted as a trouble maker, or as the French call it a “trouble fete”, whose suicidal aphorisms offend bourgeois society, but whose words also shock modern socialist day-dreamers. In view of his acceptance of the idea of death, as well as his rejection of all political doctrines, it is no wonder that Cioran no longer feels bound to egoistical love of life. Hence, there is no reason for him to ponder over the strategy of living; one should rather start thinking about the methodology of dying, or better yet how never to be born. “Mankind has regressed so much,” writes Cioran, and “nothing proves it better than the impossibility to encounter a single nation or a tribe in which a birth of a child causes mourning and lamentation.”[6] Where are those sacred times, inquires Cioran, when Balkan Bogumils and France’s Cathares saw in child’s birth a divine punishment? Today’s generations, instead of rejoicing when their loved ones are about to die, are stunned with horror and disbelief at the vision of death. Instead of wailing and grieving when their offsprings are about to be born, they organize mass festivities:

If attachment is an evil, the cause of this evil must be sought in the scandal of birth–because to be born means to be attached. The purpose of someone’s detachment should be the effacement of all traces of this scandal–the ominous and the least tolerable of all scandals.[7]

Cioran’s philosophy bears a strong imprint of Friedrich Nietzsche and Indian Upanishads. Although his inveterate pessimism often recalls Nietzsche’s “Weltschmerz,” his classical language and rigid syntax rarely tolerates romantic or lyrical narrative, nor the sentimental outbursts that one often finds in Nietzsche’s prose. Instead of resorting to thundering gloom, Cioran’s paradoxical humor expresses something which in the first place should have never been verbally construed. The weakness of Cioran prose lies probably in his lack of thematic organization. At time his aphorisms read as broken-off scores of a well-designed musical master piece, and sometimes his language is so hermetic that the reader is left to grope for meaning.

When one reads Cioran’s prose the reader is confronted by an author who imposes a climate of cold apocalypse that thoroughly contradicts the heritage of progress. Real joy lies in non-being, says Cioran, that is, in the conviction that each willful act of creation perpetuates cosmic chaos. There is no purpose in endless deliberations about higher meaning of life. The entire history, be it the recorded history or mythical history, is replete with the cacophony of theological and ideological tautologies. Everything is â€œĂ©ternel retour,” a historical carousel, with those who are today on top, ending tomorrow at the bottom.

I cannot excuse myself for being born. It is as if, when insinuating myself in this world, I profaned some mystery, betrayed some very important engagement, made a mistake of indescribable gravity.[8]

This does not mean that Cioran is completely insulated from physical and mental torments. Aware of the possible cosmic disaster, and neurotically persuaded that some other predator may at any time deprive him of his well-planned privilege to die, he relentlessly evokes the set of death bed pictures. Is this not a truly aristocratic method to alleviate the impossibility of being?:

In order to vanquish dread or tenacious anxiety, there is nothing better than to imagine one’s own funeral: efficient method, accessible to all. In order to avoid resorting to it during the day, the best is to indulge in its virtues right after getting up. Or perhaps make use of it on special occasions, similar to Pope Innocent IX who ordered the picture of himself painted on his death-bed. He would cast a glance at his picture every time he had to reach an important decision
 [9]

At first, one may be tempted to say that Cioran is fond of wallowing in his neuroses and morbid ideas, as if they could be used to inspire his literary creativity. So exhilarating does he find his distaste for life that he suggests that, “he who succeeds in acquiring them has a future which makes everything prosper; success as well as defeat.”[10] Such frank description of his emotional spasms makes him confess that success for him is as difficult to bear as much as a failure. One and the other cause him headache.

The feeling of sublime futility with regard to everything that life entails goes hand in hand with Cioran’s pessimistic attitude towards the rise and fall of states and empires. His vision of the circulation of historical time recalls Vico’s corsi e ricorsi, and his cynicism about human nature draws on Spengler’s “biology” of history. Everything is a merry-go-round, and each system is doomed to perish the moment it makes its entrance onto the historical scene. One can detect in Cioran’s gloomy prophecies the forebodings of the Roman stoic and emperor Marcus Aurelius, who heard in the distance of the Noricum the gallop of the barbarian horses, and who discerned through the haze of Panonia the pending ruin of the Roman empire. Although today the actors are different, the setting remains similar; millions of new barbarians have begun to pound at the gates of Europe, and will soon take possession of what lies inside:

Regardless of what the world will look like in the future, Westerners will assume the role of the Graeculi of the Roman empire. Needed and despised by new conquerors, they will not have anything to offer except the jugglery of their intelligence, or the glitter of their past. [11]

Now is the time for the opulent Europe to pack up and leave, and cede the historical scene to other more virile peoples. Civilization becomes decadent when it takes freedom for granted; its disaster is imminent when it becomes too tolerant of every uncouth outsider. Yet, despite the fact that political tornados are lurking on the horizon, Cioran, like Marcus Aurelius, is determined to die with style. His sense of the tragic has taught him the strategy of ars moriendi, making him well prepared for all surprises, irrespective of their magnitude. Victors and victims, heroes and henchmen, do they not all take turns in this carnival of history, bemoaning and bewailing their fate while at the bottom, while taking revenge when on top? Two thousand years of Greco-Christian history is a mere trifle in comparison to eternity. One caricatural civilization is now taking shape, writes Cioran, in which those who are creating it are helping those wishing to destroy it. History has no meaning, and therefore, attempting to render it meaningful, or expecting from it a final burst of theophany, is a self-defeating chimera. For Cioran, there is more truth in occult sciences than in all philosophies that attempt to give meaning to life. Man will finally become free when he takes off the straitjacket of finalism and determinism, and when he realizes that life is an accidental mistake that sprang up from one bewildering astral circumstance. Proof? A little twist of the head clearly shows that “history, in fact, boils down to the classification of the police: “After all, does not the historian deal with the image which people have about the policeman throughout epochs ?”[12] To succeed in mobilizing masses in the name of some obscure ideas, to enable them to sniff blood, is a certain avenue to political success. Had not the same masses which carried on their shouldered the French revolution in the name of equality and fraternity, several years later also brought on their shoulders an emperor with new clothes–an emperor on whose behalf they ran barefoot from Paris to Moscow, from Jena to Dubrovnik? For Cioran, when a society runs out of political utopia there is no more hope, and consequently there cannot be any more life. Without utopia, writes Cioran, people would be forced to commit suicide; thanks to utopia they commit homicides.

Today there are no more utopias in stock. Mass democracy has taken their place. Without democracy life makes little sense; yet democracy has no life of its own. After all, argues Cioran, had it not been for a young lunatic from the Galilee, the world would be today a very boring place. Alas, how many such lunatics are hatching today their self-styled theological and ideological derivatives! “Society is badly organized, writes Cioran, “it does nothing against lunatics who die so young.”[13] Probably all prophets and political soothsayers should immediately be put to death, “because when the mob accepts a myth–get ready for massacres or better yet for a new religion.”[14]

Unmistakable as Cioran’s resentments against utopia may appear, he is far from deriding its creative importance. Nothing could be more loathsome to him than the vague cliche of modernity that associates the quest for happiness with a peaceful pleasure-seeking society. Demystified, disenchanted, castrated, and unable to weather the upcoming storm, modern society is doomed to spiritual exhaustion and slow death. It is incapable of believing in anything except in the purported humanity of its future blood-suckers. If a society truly wishes to preserve its biological well-being, argues Cioran, its paramount task is to harness and nurture its “substantial calamity;” it must keep a tally of its own capacity for destruction. After all, have not his native Balkans, in which secular vampires are today again dancing to the tune of butchery, also generated a pool of sturdy specimen ready for tomorrow’s cataclysms? In this area of Europe, which is endlessly marred by political tremors and real earthquakes, a new history is today in the making–a history which will probably reward its populace for the past suffering.

Whatever their past was, and irrespective of their civilization, these countries possess a biological stock which one cannot find in the West. Maltreated, disinherited, precipitated in the anonymous martyrdom, torn apart between wretchedness and sedition, they will perhaps know in the future a reward for so many ordeals, so much humiliation and for so much cowardice.[15]

Is this not the best portrayal of that anonymous “eastern” Europe which according to Cioran is ready today to speed up the world history? The death of communism in Eastern Europe might probably inaugurate the return of history for all of Europe. Conversely, the “better half” of Europe, the one that wallows in air-conditioned and aseptic salons, that Europe is depleted of robust ideas. It is incapable of hating and suffering, and therefore of leading. For Cioran, society becomes consolidated in danger and it atrophies in peace: “In those places where peace, hygiene and leisure ravage, psychoses also multiply
 I come from a country which, while never learning to know the meaning of happiness, has also never produced a single psychoanalyst.”[16] The raw manners of new east European cannibals, not “peace and love” will determine the course of tomorrow’s history. Those who have passed through hell are more likely to outlive those who have only known the cozy climate of a secular paradise.

These words of Cioran are aimed at the decadent France la Doulce in which afternoon chats about someone’s obesity or sexual impotence have become major preoccupations on the hit-parade of daily concerns. Unable to put up resistance against tomorrow’s conquerors, this western Europe, according to Cioran, deserves to be punished in the same manner as the noblesse of the ancien rĂ©gime which, on the eve of the French Revolution, laughed at its own image, while praising the image of the bon sauvage. How many among those good-natured French aristocrats were aware that the same bon sauvage was about to roll their heads down the streets of Paris? “In the future, writes Cioran, “if mankind is to start all over again, it will be with the outcasts, with the mongols from all parts, with the dregs of the continents..”[17] Europe is hiding in its own imbecility in front of an approaching catastrophe. Europe? “The rots that smell nice, a perfumed corpse.” [18]

Despite gathering storms Cioran is comforted by the notion that he at least is the last heir to the vanishing “end of history.” Tomorrow, when the real apocalypse begins, and as the dangers of titanic proportions take final shape on the horizon, then, even the word “regret” will disappear from our vocabulary. “My vision of the future,” continues Cioran is so clear, “that if I had children I would strangle them immediately.”[19]

After a good reading of Cioran’s opus one must conclude that Cioran is essentially a satirist who ridicules the stupid existential shiver of modern masses. One may be tempted to argue that Cioran offers aan elegant vade-mecum for suicide designed for those, who like him, have thoroughly delegitimized the value of life. But as Cioran says, suicide is committed by those who are no longer capable of acting out optimism, e.g. those whose thread of joy and happiness breaks into pieces. Those like him, the cautious pessimists, “given that they have no reason to live, why would they have a reason to die?” [20] The striking ambivalence of Cioran’s literary work consists of the apocalyptic forebodings on the one hand, and enthusiastic evocations of horrors on the other. He believes that violence and destruction are the main ingredients of history, because the world without violence is bound to collapse. Yet, one wonders why is Cioran so opposed to the world of peace if, according to his logic, this peaceful world could help accelerate his own much craved demise, and thus facilitate his immersion into nothingness? Of course, Cioran never moralizes about the necessity of violence; rather, in accordance with the canons of his beloved reactionary predecessors Josephe de Maistre and Nicolo Machiavelli, he asserts that “authority, not verity, makes the law,” and that consequently, the credibility of a political lie will also determine the magnitude of political justice. Granted that this is correct, how does he explain the fact that authority, at least the way he sees it, only perpetuates this odious being from which he so dearly wishes to absolve himself? This mystery will never be known other than to him. Cioran admits however, that despite his abhorrence of violence, every man, including himself is an integral part of it, and that every man has at least once in his life contemplated how to roast somebody alive, or how to chop off someone’s head:

Convinced that troubles in our society come from old people, I conceived the plan of liquidating all citizens past their forties–the beginning of sclerosis and mummification. I came to believe that this was the turning point when each human becomes an insult to his nation and a burden to his community
 Those who listened to this did not appreciate this discourse and they considered me a cannibal
 Must this intent of mine be condemned? It only expresses something which each man, who is attached to his country desires in the bottom of his heart: liquidation of one half of his compatriots.[21]

Cioran’s literary elitism is unparalleled in modern literature, and for that reason he often appears as a nuisance for modern and sentimental ears poised for the lullaby words of eternal earthly or spiritual bliss. Cioran’s hatred of the present and the future, his disrespect for life, will certainly continue to antagonize the apostles of modernity who never tire of chanting vague promises about the “better here-and-now.” His paradoxical humor is so devastating that one cannot take it at face value, especially when Cioran describes his own self.

His formalism in language, his impeccable choice of words, despite some similarities with modern authors of the same elitist caliber, make him sometimes difficult to follow. One wonders whether Cioran’s arsenal of words such as “abulia,” “schizophrenia,” “apathy,” etc., truly depict a nevrosĂ© which he claims to be.

If one could reduce the portrayal of Cioran to one short paragraph, then one must depict him as an author who sees in the modern veneration of the intellect a blueprint for spiritual gulags and the uglification of the world. Indeed, for Cioran, man’s task is to wash himself in the school of existential futility, for futility is not hopelessness; futility is a reward for those wishing to rid themselves of the epidemic of life and the virus of hope. Probably, this picture best befits the man who describes himself as a fanatic without any convictions–a stranded accident in the cosmos who casts nostalgic looks towards his quick disappearance.

To be free is to rid oneself forever from the notion of reward; to expect nothing from people or gods; to renounce not only this world and all worlds, but salvation itself; to break up even the idea of this chain among chains. (Le mauvais demiurge, p. 88.)

Notes:

1. Emile Cioran, Syllogismes de l’amertume (Paris: Gallimard, 1952), p. 72 (my translation)
2. De l’inconvĂ©nient d’etre nĂ© (Paris: Gallimard, 1973), p. 161-162. (my translation) (The Trouble with Being Born, translated by Richard Howard: Seaver Bks., 1981)
3. Cioran, Le mauvais démiurge ( Paris: Gallimard, 1969), p. 63. (my translation)
4. Syllogismes de l’amertume, p. 87. (my trans.)
5. Ibid., p. 176.
6. De l’inconvĂ©nient d’etre nĂ©, p. 11. (my trans.)
7. Ibid., p. 29.
8. Ibid., p. 23.
9. Ibid., p. 141.
10. Syllogismes de l’amertume, p. 61. (my trans.)
11. La tentation d’exister, (Paris: Gallimard, 1956), p. 37-38. (my trans.) (The temptation to exist, translated by Richard Howard; Seaver Bks., 1986)
12. Syllogismes de l’amertume, p. 151. (my trans.)
13. Ibid., p. 156.
14. Ibid., p. 158.
15. Histoire et utopie (Paris: Gallimard, 1960), p. 59. (my trans.) ( History and Utopia, trans. by Richard Howard, Seaver Bks., 1987).
16. Syllogismes de l’amertume, p. 154. (my trans.)
17. Ibid., p. 86.
18. De l’inconvĂ©nient d’etre nĂ©, p. 154. (my trans.)
19. Ibid. p. 155.
20. Syllogismes de l’amertume, p. 109.
21. Histoire et utopie (Paris: Gallimard, 1960), p. 14. (my trans