“É. M. Cioran: la caĂ­da en la palabra” (Juan Manuel TabĂ­o)

Rialta Magazine Literaria, MĂ©xico

Quien visite hoy la regiĂłn de Transilvania tal vez comprobarĂĄ que la trillada mitologĂ­a vampĂ­rica, ausente en cualquier folklore convincente, se debe exclusivamente a las ficciones gĂłticas y a la industria de Hollywood, pero difĂ­cilmente encontrarĂĄ un panorama radicalmente distinto del que vio nacer, hace ahora cien años, a Émile Cioran: un paisaje de una profundidad abisal (al fondo, los CĂĄrpatos) en el que parecen disolverse ciudades deprimidas, ubicadas en la periferia de Europa, en el limes dacio de la Historia.

Reacio a aceptar otras determinaciones que no fueran las provenientes de la teología o de la biología, receloso del libre albedrío (uno de sus reparos de mayor peso contra el existencialismo sartreano), el apátrida Cioran nunca dejará de reconocer el ascendiente de su suelo natal en la configuración de su personalidad y su pensamiento, y agradecerá al fatum balcánico –o a sus genes– el haberle proporcionado en herencia el áspero ciclo de quiebras que se requiere para forjar una convicción en la inutilidad esencial de los actos: “Fracasar en la vida, esto se olvida con demasiada frecuencia, no es tan fácil: se precisa una larga tradición, un largo entrenamiento, el trabajo de varias generaciones”.

A travĂ©s de una evocaciĂłn aparecida en El PaĂ­s y firmada por su amigo, traductor y antologador Fernando Savater, es posible acceder a la imagen de un Cioran domado por la civilidad parisina, respetuoso de las opiniones ajenas –una virtud, reconoce con acierto Savater, no necesariamente mĂĄs comĂșn en los escĂ©pticos que en los adictos a un dogma–; de un Cioran risueño que intenta torpemente cocinar unos filetes para convidar a sus huĂ©spedes y que se asombra de su favorable acogida entre la izquierda española de los setenta. Pero tambiĂ©n nos pone en guardia, mediante una breve secciĂłn del artĂ­culo titulada “Los zarpazos del filĂłsofo aullador” en que se reproducen aforismos y se saquean ensayos y entrevistas, contra esa versiĂłn en clave New Age que una tenaz divulgaciĂłn periodĂ­stica ha terminado por imponer de Cioran –tal vez no del todo inocente de su buena prensa–, y que reduce su pensamiento a un elenco histĂ©rico de “jeremiadas de mal agĂŒero” y de panegĂ­ricos del suicidio, a un kitsch de autoayuda pesimista (ÂżmĂĄs Cioran, menos Prozac?)… [+]

AnĂșncios

Jean-Luc Godard sobre Cioran

“Ler, entĂŁo viver”, entrevista de Jean-Luc Godard a Pierre Assouline, publicada no caderno Mais! da Folha de S. Paulo, 27 de julho de 1997

Desde sempre os livros sĂŁo seus amigos. E a literatura, sua boa fada, lhe deu “uma consciĂȘncia moral”. O cineasta mĂ­stico da Nouvelle Vague recebeu a “Lire” Ă s margens do lago LĂ©man, na Suíça, onde mora, para falar de Gide, Cioran e ValĂ©ry.

Pergunta – A literatura vinha mais do lado Godard da famĂ­lia ou do lado Monod?

Godard – Do lado Monod. Minha mĂŁe lia muito. Mas o gosto pelo romantismo alemĂŁo me foi passado por meu pai, que era mĂ©dico. Entre os 18 e os 20 anos, graças a ele, devorei Musil, Broch, Thomas Mann. Meu avĂŽ tambĂ©m me marcou muito. Ele era banqueiro em Paribas. Era amigo de Paul ValĂ©ry e tinha todos os livros dele. ChamĂĄvamos sua biblioteca de “o valerianum”. Nos aniversĂĄrios de seu casamento eu tinha que recitar “O CemitĂ©rio Marinho”. Eu tambĂ©m gostava de seu “Tel Quel”. Era menos selvagem que Cioran, mas a Ă©poca era diferente. Ele tambĂ©m repetia belas frases de ValĂ©ry.

“Na literatura hĂĄ muito passado e pouco futuro, mas nĂŁo hĂĄ presente” (Jean-Luc Godard)

Pergunta – Foi a leitura de Cioran que o tornou mais sĂĄbio?

Godard – Ela corresponde a minha queda pelos aforismos, a sĂ­ntese, os provĂ©rbios. Talvez esse gosto meu tenha origem nas fĂłrmulas cientĂ­ficas. O aforismo resume alguma coisa mas, ao mesmo tempo, permite outros desenvolvimentos. Como um nĂł: poderia ter sido feito em outro sentido, mas, mesmo assim, quando estĂĄ dado, o sapato fica preso no pĂ© do mesmo jeito. NĂŁo se trata de um pensamento, mas do traço de um pensamento. Leio Cioran a toda hora, em todos os sentidos. É muito bem escrito. Com ele, o espĂ­rito transforma a matĂ©ria. Cioran me oferece uma matĂ©ria da qual o espĂ­rito se nutre.

Pergunta – Mas o que Ă© que tanto o seduz nos aforismos?

Godard – Seu aspecto de central de triagem. A gente entra, sai, retorna. Quando encontramos um bom pensamento, podemos nos demorar nele por muito tempo, e depois carregĂĄ-lo conosco. NĂŁo Ă© preciso ler tudo. Gosto muito de Fernando Pessoa, mas ele Ă© muito sombrio, enquanto Cioran nos ajuda a viver. É uma forma de pensamento diferente daquele pensamento com começo, meio e fim. NĂŁo Ă© uma histĂłria que se conta, mas um momento da histĂłria.

Pergunta – Percebe-se que o sr. assinalou trechos das “Obras Completas”, de Cioran -Ă© verdade?

Godard – Coisas como “cada pensamento deveria lembrar a decadĂȘncia de um sorriso”, “somos todos farsantes, sobrevivemos a nossos problemas”, “todo problema profana um mistĂ©rio, e este, por sua vez, Ă© profanado por sua solução”, “a palidez nos mostra atĂ© onde o corpo Ă© capaz de compreender a alma”, “cedo ou tarde, cada desejo deve encontrar seu esgotamento, sua verdade”… Sem falar neste, que me agrada especialmente: “Objeção a fazer Ă  ciĂȘncia: o mundo nĂŁo merece ser conhecido”. É muito diferente das idiotices de Georges Charpak. Os cientistas que se permitem escrever, sem saber escrever -isso nĂŁo! “La Logique du Vivant”, de François Jacob, estava escrito. Prefiro Buffon: o estilo Ă© o prĂłprio homem. Levinas tinha idĂ©ias bonitas, mas era incapaz de transmiti-las devido ao problema da lĂ­ngua. A mesma coisa aconteceu com Popper e Einstein. HĂĄ um esgotamento do saber escrever. JĂĄ Cioran… Eu havia esquecido o seguinte: “No contato com os homens, perdi o frescor de minhas neuroses”.

[Entrevista completa]

“Para que ler?”, por Nicolas CavaillĂšs (DossiĂȘ Cioran/Magazine LittĂ©raire)

Cioran na Magazine LittéraireGrande leitor, Cioran parecia assim desmentir seu pessimismo: se ele ainda buscava, devia muito bem permanecer uma sombra de esperança. Mas ele não estava à procura de argumentos salvadores, e sim de irmãos de fatalismo.

Por Nicolas CavaillĂšs

Texto publicado no dossiĂȘ “Cioran: dĂ©sespoir, mode d’emploi”, Magazine LittĂ©raire no. 508, Maio de 2011

A absurdidade de uma vida passada a vasculhar bibliotecas em busca de novas expressĂ”es para antigas verdades sem dĂșvida ultrapassa aquela de sua proclamação lancinante, por vezes explosiva e nuançada, sempre mais decepcionada, distante e cinzelada. Filho do pessimismo germĂąnico fim de sĂ©culo, de Schopenhauer e sua sucessĂŁo (Cioran segue os cursos de Nicolai Hartmann em Berlim, entre 1933 e 1935), discĂ­pulo entusiasta dos profetas da decadĂȘncia que Nietzsche queria derrotar, o escritor em seguida tomaria cuidado, na França, de colocar entre aspas essa palavra que se lançava outrora como um insulto: “pessimista” equivalia a “canalha”. NĂŁo obstante ele conheceu todas as hipĂłstases que os raros aristarcos do pessimismo inventariaram: pessimismo especulativo ou espontĂąneo (James Sully, 1877), cultural, metafĂ­sico ou existencial (J. F. Dienstag, 2006), ou ainda pessimismo hexaĂ©drico (Georges Palante, 1914), de cujo detalhe poupamos o leitor para melhor nos inspirar nele na frase seguinte. Assim, ao pessimismo nevropĂĄtico e niilista da juventude de Cioran, resultante tanto de um drama existencial pessoal quanto de uma reflexĂŁo antropolĂłgica sobre a histĂłria e seu “sentido trĂĄgico”, se seguirå  um pessimismo da maturidade, nĂŁo menos fatalista (Ă  romena), fruto de uma misantropia desabrochada (aquela de um Chamfort, de um Swift), confortada por suas visĂ”es obscuras sobre a histĂłria (por ValĂ©ry, por Maquiavel), e avivado por uma atenção especial em relação Ă s sabedorias orientais, inclusive em relação Ă  ciĂȘncia e suas Ășltimas liçÔes: “Tendo aberto uma antologia de textos religiosos, caĂ­ logo de cara nessas palavras do Buda: ‘Nenhum objeto merece ser desejado.’ – Fechei o livro imediatamente, pois, depois disso, o que ler ainda?”; “O dia que li que em quinhentos mil anos a Inglaterra serĂĄ completamente recoberta de ĂĄgua, me joguei na cama em sinal de abdicação e de luto.” Que demĂŽnio Cioran, leitor insaciĂĄvel, satisfazia com essa resistĂȘncia inveterada ao ceticismo, ao qual, por outro lado, ele se atinha? “O pessimismo – essa crueldade dos vencidos que nĂŁo saberiam perdoar a vida por haver enganado sua espera.”

TambĂ©m as horas solitĂĄrias e melancĂłlicas dedicadas a atravessar as obras dos outros poderiam acarretar a escrita, homenagem tĂĄcita Ă  leitura e prolongamento catĂĄrtico de sua sede de desilusĂŁo. Tudo Ă© duvidoso, tudo Ă© insuportĂĄvel, mas de tal maneira que deverĂ­amos ser agradecidos Ă queles que puderam exprimir sua complexidade, por mais que sejam, sempre, estĂ©reis, essa complexidade revelada e suas diversas expressĂ”es. NĂŁo existe um cenĂĄculo dos pessimistas, mas por vezes correspondĂȘncias, instantes de reconhecimento, de sinais compartilhados aos quais se enviam certos espĂ­ritos sem saber a quem, do seu obscuro isolamento. O pensador, o poeta, qualquer que seja seu nome, permanece Ă  margem, extenuado, perdido, sozinho, excluĂ­do de uma sociedade nociva aos caminhos que levam ao essencial.

Curiosidade nascida da intranquilidade

FlanĂȘur curioso sobre a maneira com que cada pessoa suporta o seu quinhĂŁo, Cioran frequentou bastante os tribunais e os asilos de loucos (Em Sibiu, em Bucareste, em Berlim, em Sainte-Anne), ou seja, os teatros mais cruĂ©is da vida moderna; desde seus primeiros anos em Paris, anos de extrema solidĂŁo, errando pelos bulevares do Quartier Latin, lhe ocorria de interrogar os passantes, de preferĂȘncia os desajustados e os mendigos, simplesmente para conhece-los, para escutĂĄ-los falar, para saber como eles (nĂŁo) davam um jeito de (sobre)viver. É uma curiosidade similar, nascida da intranquilidade, que o levaria a esgotar as bibliotecas, por algumas dessas correspondĂȘncias raras, fugidias, reticentes, a partir das quais cĂ©rebros mais necessitados ou menos confusos seriam tentados a reconstituir uma tradição daqueles que nĂŁo possuem uma. Em seu Ășltimo livro, Aveux et AnathĂšmes (“ConfissĂ”es e AnĂĄtemas”), como nos precedentes, Cioran registra diversos desses encontros com irmĂŁos desconhecidos, de que apenas um dizer seria suficiente para uni-los a ele. Ele exuma: “’Deus nĂŁo criou nada que odeie tanto quanto odeia este mundo, e tanto o odeia que, desde o dia em que o criou, nunca olhou para ele.’ NĂŁo sei que foi o mĂ­stico muçulmano que escreveu isso, ignorarei para sempre o nome desse amigo.” Que ele cite aqui uma carta do asceta al-Hassan al-BasrĂź ao califa Omar II, datada do sĂ©culo VIII, Ă© importante e nĂŁo Ă©. Mais ainda: “Segundo um chinĂȘs, uma Ășnica hora de felicidade Ă© o que um centenĂĄrio poderia confessar apĂłs ter refletido bem sobre as vicissitudes de sua existĂȘncia. […] JĂĄ que todo mundo exagera, por que os sĂĄbios seriam exceção?” Yang Tchou, o chinĂȘs em questĂŁo, viveu durante o Ășltimo milĂȘnio a.C., devendo a Lao-TsĂ© por ter sido privado, atĂ© os dias de hoje, de um supremo esquecimento que, nĂŁo obstante, nĂŁo o teria incomodado. Similarmente, o grego Hegesias considerava a vida e a morte “igualmente desejĂĄveis”; similarmente, Hegesias encontra em Cioran um novo eco: “’A vida sĂł parece um bem ao insensato’, costumava dizer, hĂĄ vinte e trĂȘs sĂ©culos, Hegesias, filĂłsofo cirenaico, do qual praticamente resta apenas este comentĂĄrio… Se hĂĄ uma obra que eu amaria reinventar, Ă© a sua” (De l’inconvenient d’ĂȘtre nĂ©). Hegesias, o “Pisithanatos” (aquele que aconselha a morte) sĂł nos Ă© conhecido por dez linhas de DiĂłgenes LaĂ©rcio (e pela onda de suicĂ­dios que sua filosofia teria produzido, ao ponto de ser proibida por Ptolomeu II); alguns fragmentos bastam, Ă queles que nĂŁo buscam nem aurĂ©ola nem transcendĂȘncia, mais apenas “alguma coisa que se possa murmurar Ă  orelha de um Ă©brio ou de um moribundo”. Como queria Chestov, a essĂȘncia dos livros como dos olhares que se cruzam se dĂĄ num instante por toda a eternidade eventual, e nĂŁo se explica nem se argumenta. De seus laços com outro homem honesto, Leopardi, cuja infeliz lucidez no que concerne Ă  mediocridade humana o fez ser qualificado de pessimista, Cioran escreve: “SĂŁo menos os autores que mais lemos os que mais importam para nĂłs, quanto aqueles sobre os quais nĂŁo cessamos de pensar, que tĂȘm estado presentes em nossos momentos essenciais e que, para o seu martĂ­rio, nos tĂȘm ajudado a suportar o nosso.”

Escapatórias da erudição

Assim, apesar da pose ociosa que ele assumia com frequĂȘncia, e apesar da lassidĂŁo que o corroĂ­a sempre, nĂŁo Ă© sem zelo que Cioran se entregou Ă  leitura. A ilimitação dessa curiosidade mĂłrbida e subjetiva, dessa busca obsessiva pelos cantos mais sombrios – os mais justos – de todos os tempos e de todos os lugares, nĂŁo deixou de lhe valer a crĂ­tica de superficialidade e diletantismo, por exemplo sob a pluma possessiva e maldizente de [RenĂ©] Étiemble em seu prefĂĄcio aos Philosophes taoĂŻstes da PlĂ©iade (1980). Cioran tinha se adiantado, escrevendo em 1952: “Aprofundar uma idĂ©ia Ă© atentar contra ela: roubar-lhe o encanto e atĂ© a vida…” RefratĂĄrio Ă s escapatĂłrias [faux-fuyants] ronronantes daqueles que preferem a histĂłria dos problemas aos problemas mesmos, ou ainda o estudo dos sutras Ă  pratica do zazen, Cioran os reencaminha Ă  ligeireza que mascara sua erudição: “Apenas os espĂ­ritos superficiais abordam as ideias com delicadeza.” NĂŁo se trata, ao ler, nem de se divertir nem de fomentar cultura, mas de recolher algum novo elemento suscetĂ­vel de nos confortar em nosso esforço de lucidez e de ceticismo, duplo esforço de hostilidade ao mundo tal qual se o vive e ao eu tal qual se o suporta – tantas ilusĂ”es, tantos disfarces do pior. Mesmo que dificilmente se acreditaria nisso, Ă© preciso retornar aĂ­, nĂŁo ser um “pessimista sem entusiasmos”, e cultivar a percepção da vacuidade geral sem elevar essa percepção sobre seu objeto: “O homem debruçado sobre sua inutilidade jĂĄ nĂŁo pertence ao desejo de ter uma vida […] jĂĄ nĂŁo se embaraça com um si mesmo ideal” (BreviĂĄrio de Decomposição). É Ă  medida que nos ajudam que os livros, mesmo os dos filĂłsofos, sustĂȘm sua inanidade.

Traduzido do francĂȘs por Rodrigo Menezes

01/01/2014

Sobre ValĂ©ry: carta de Cioran a M. Barrett

Paul ValĂ©ryAo final de 1967, a fundação americana Bollingen, tendo decidido publicar uma edição inglesa das obras de ValĂ©ry, encarrega Jackson Matthews, tradutor de Monsieur Teste, de estabelecer sua versĂŁo definitiva. Este Ășltimo pede entĂŁo a Cioran um prefĂĄcio ao volume dedicado a Poe e a outros comentĂĄrios literĂĄrios. Esse prefĂĄcio, que, remodelado, tornar-se-ia “ValĂ©ry diante de seus Ă­dolos” (em ExercĂ­cios de admiração), serĂĄ recusado por Jackson Matthews, pois, aparentemente, muito embora o motivo da recusa nĂŁo tenha sido dado, era muito crĂ­tico.  Bastante encolerizado, Cioran redige entĂŁo uma carta destinada a M. Barrett, o diretor da fundação, para explicar suas razĂ”es. Reproduzimos aqui esse texto inĂ©dito. (Patrice Bollon)*

.:.

E. M. Cioran

Rue de l’OdĂ©on, Paris, 6e

Paris, 20 de março de 1968

Caro senhor Barrett,

Creio ser o meu dever o lhe dar algumas explicaçÔes a propĂłsito do meu prefĂĄcio. Jackson me havia dito, em Paris, que queria alguma coisa pessoal que suscitasse reaçÔes, lhe respondi que era assim que eu o imaginava e que meu prefĂĄcio seria tudo menos neutro. Ele nĂŁo o Ă©, e chega a ser inclusive bastante duro em alguns momentos, maldoso, eu o reconheço, e eis por quĂȘ: eu pratiquei ValĂ©ry bastante outrora, e com uma admiração fervente; essa admiração foi pouco a pouco diminuindo durante esses dois Ășltimos meses em que eu o reli. Eu nĂŁo lhe esconderei que encontrei nele bastante pretensĂŁo, bastante saber duvidoso, incompetĂȘncia e pose: um frasista com gĂȘnio e nada mais, assim me pareceu. Eu pensava que nĂŁo era necessĂĄrio dizĂȘ-lo a vocĂȘ e que, por amizade a Jackson, eu deveria poupĂĄ-lo – numa palavra, mentir. E entĂŁo, deixei-me levar e, por fim, a verdade triunfou sobre a amizade. Devo acrescentar tambĂ©m que, normalmente, eu teria escrito um texto bem menos severo; mas o infortĂșnio quis que eu relesse ValĂ©ry apĂłs ter sofrido por algum tempo uma feliz intoxicação pela filosofia hindu.

Seria igualmente deselegante da minha parte enumerar os motivos que levaram Jackson a recusar meu prefĂĄcio. Em todo caso, teria sido o seu dever exigir que eu adocicasse algumas partes, que eu fizesse algumas retificaçÔes; eu teria consentido, mas por nada neste mundo eu teria mudado o fundo. Ou entĂŁo teria havido outra solução: solicitar um contra-prefĂĄcio, de modo a suscitar uma discussĂŁo e despertar o interesse…

Mas nĂŁo pretendo me perder em recriminaçÔes. É perfeitamente natural que eu seja sacrificado jĂĄ que eu ousei denunciar um falso deus.

Creia, Monsieur Barrett, em meus muito fieis afetos,

CIORAN

* Carta publicada na revista francesa Magazine LittĂ©raire nÂș 327 (dossiĂȘ “Cioran – aristocrate du doute”), em dezembro de 1994. Tradução do francĂȘs: Rodrigo Menezes (03/08/2013)

O princĂ­pio de estilo (Patrice Bollon)

DossiĂȘ "Cioran, aristocrata da dĂșvida" (Magazine LittĂ©raire, 12/1994)
DossiĂȘ “Cioran, aristocrata da dĂșvida” (Magazine LittĂ©raire, 12/1994)

Cinismo? Ceticismo? Estoicismo? HĂĄ uma “filosofia de Cioran”? NĂŁo de maneira sistemĂĄtica, mas um princĂ­pio de autenticidade e de estilo. Da elegĂąncia como Ă©tica…

Por Patrice Bollon*

Artigo publicado na Magazine LittĂ©raire (dossiĂȘ “Cioran, aristocrate du doute”) nÂș 327, dezembro de 1994

“Nada mais irritante que essas obras nas quais se coordena as ideias densas de um espĂ­rito que visa a tudo, menos ao sistema.  Para que serve dar uma aparĂȘncia de coerĂȘncia Ă s de Nietzsche, sob o pretexto de que elas giram ao redor de um motivo central? Nietzsche Ă© uma soma de atitudes, e Ă© rebaixĂĄ-lo buscar nele uma vontade de ordem, uma preocupação pela unidade. Cativo de seus humores, ele registrou suas variaçÔes.  Em sua filosofia, meditação sobre  seus caprichos, os eruditos querem  discernir as constantes que ela recusa.” Nada fĂĄcil, apĂłs esta passagem de La tentation d’exister, evocar como toda a inocĂȘncia uma “filosofia de Cioran”. Tanto mais quanto impressiona logo de entrada a impossibilidade quase que radical de vinculĂĄ-lo inteiramente a uma das trĂȘs ou quatro grandes tradiçÔes filosĂłficas derivadas do mundo grego, Ă s quais se resume facilmente o seu pensamento – todo o resto, sejam os sistemas, nĂŁo sendo a seus olhos, vĂŁo exercĂ­cio de definição, “pequenos universos inverossĂ­meis”.[1]

Um cĂ©tico singular, com efeito, um “aristocrata da dĂșvida” mesmo que, a crer nele, nĂŁo cesse de sentir a falta da força da ilusĂŁo, ou entĂŁo que deplore o colapso desses “preconceitos” obscuros que fundam as grandes civilizaçÔes – inclusive enxergando nesse fato a explicação de sua “decadĂȘncia” –, ele que pensa que “tudo o que conta foi feito fora da dĂșvida!”[2] LibertĂĄrio paradoxal, tambĂ©m, que faz o elogio dos tiranos – “Um mundo sem tiranos seria tĂŁo enfadonho quanto um zoolĂłgico sem hienas”, escreve ele em HistĂłria e Utopia –, concebe a liberdade como um “vĂ­rus” altamente destrutivo, e, ainda assim, chega a fazer louvores a Torquemada e a Nero! Um estoico nĂŁo menos surpreendente, enfim, admirador de Marco AurĂ©lio, que nĂŁo pode – e menos ainda quer – refrear seus instintos, confessando em De l’inconvenient d’ĂȘtre nĂ©: “NĂŁo mais lerei os sĂĄbios. Eles me fizeram muito mal. Eu deveria ter me entregado aos meus instintos, deixar florescer a minha loucura. Fiz todo o contrĂĄrio, pus a mĂĄscara da razĂŁo, e a mĂĄscara terminou por substituir o rosto e por usurpar o resto”!

De fato, Ă© quase o Cioran inteiro que seria necessĂĄrio citar para dar-se conta dessa posição propriamente insustentĂĄvel e inclassificĂĄvel que afirma no mesmo movimento tanto a necessidade da lucidez mais extrema e a necessidade da ilusĂŁo mais sombria, tanto a busca quietista da sabedoria e o recurso primitivo aos instintos, tanto ao elĂŁ mĂ­stico quanto o apego ao materialismo ou, a fortiori, tanto o progresso quanto a inelutabilidade romĂąntica da revolta…

Uma “soma de atitudes”, uma “meditação sobre seus caprichos” – nĂŁo sĂŁo estas perfeitas definiçÔes de sua maneira de pensar? Conforme comenta Susan Sontag, em Sob o signo de Saturno, o estilo aforĂ­stico de Cioran difere, com efeito, daquele da grande escola moralista de Chamfort e La Rochefoucauld na medida em que, representando “menos um princĂ­pio ontolĂłgico que um princĂ­pio epistemolĂłgico”, ele “manifesta que o destino de toda ideia profunda Ă© de ser rapidamente ‘derrotada’ por uma outra, cuja existĂȘncia estava implicitamente contida na primeira”. Pensar tornar-se assim, para ele, “uma confissĂŁo, um exorcismo”, no qual toda ideia de verdade definitiva, ultima, sĂł pode, por definição, estar ausente, a favor da representação de um balanço contĂ­nuo, inevitĂĄvel, entre um postulado e todos os limites que o exercĂ­cio da lucidez lhe impĂ”e. Em suma, no horizonte de Cioran nĂŁo hĂĄ nada de “filosofia” no sentido prĂłprio do termo, e menos ainda, certamente, de “sistema”; em vez disso, uma “soma de atitudes” voluntariamente, dir-se-ia necessariamente contraditĂłrias, jĂĄ que refletem os meandros de uma alma atormentada pela busca de “sua” verdade.

O que Cioran nĂŁo apenas ilustrou incessantemente em seus aforismos, mas tambĂ©m, mais de uma vez, se nĂŁo “teorizou”, ao menos “pensou” – e isso, desde seus primeiros livros –, atĂ© fazer disso uma razĂŁo de rejeitar a filosofia.  Assim, pode-se ler, no BreviĂĄrio de decomposição, um “adeus Ă  filosofia” particularmente violento, ao qual se opĂ”e, alguns capĂ­tulos depois, um elogio de evidencia autobiogrĂĄfica do “pensador de ocasiĂŁo”. “Aquele que pensa quando quer”, escreve assim Cioran numa veia que faz lembra r Schopenhauer de Contra a filosofia universitĂĄria, “nĂŁo tem nada a dizer-nos: estĂĄ acima, ou melhor, Ă  margem de seu pensamento, nĂŁo Ă© responsĂĄvel por ele, nem estĂĄ em absoluto comprometido com ele, pois nĂŁo ganha nem perde num combate em que ele mesmo nĂŁo Ă© seu prĂłprio inimigo. NĂŁo lhe custa nada crer na Verdade.” O que equivale, para Cioran, a definir implicitamente sua prĂłpria atitude de “pensador de ocasiĂŁo”, cujas verdades, nĂŁo sendo mais que os “sofismas de (seu) entusiasmo ou de (sua) tristeza”, formam com ele uma sĂł realidade, lado prazeres assim como lado sofrimentos: “Tudo o que concebi se resume a mal-estares degradados em generalidades”.

Condenado a “se constatar, como os enfermos e os poetas”, nĂŁo saberia o pensador jamais ser outra coisa que uma espĂ©cie de “secretĂĄrio de suas sensaçÔes”, cronista-memorialista de sua alma, cujo propĂłsito residiria tĂŁo-somente no estabelecimento de verdades altamente subjetivas e marcadas pelo instante em que elas se impĂ”em a ele, portanto transitĂłrias e flutuantes? Cioran nĂŁo hesita em ir ainda mais longe, fazendo da contradição a Ășnica matĂ©ria possĂ­vel do pensamento: “Um espĂ­rito sĂł nos cativa”, escreve ele ainda no BreviĂĄrio de decomposição, “por suas incompatibilidades, pela tensĂŁo de seus movimentos, pelo divĂłrcio de suas opiniĂ”es e suas tendĂȘncias. […] Um pessimista sem entusiasmos, um agitador de esperanças sem amargura, merece apenas desprezo. SĂł Ă© digno de nosso apego quem nĂŁo tem nenhum respeito com seu passado, com o decoro, a lĂłgica ou a consideração […] ApĂłstolo de suas flutuaçÔes, jĂĄ nĂŁo se embaraça com um si mesmo ideal; seu temperamento constitui sua Ășnica doutrina, e o capricho de cada hora seu Ășnico saber.”

Em suma, poder-se-ia satisfazer-se de fazer de Cioran um destes “pensadores” do capricho (em oposição a “filĂłsofo”, por definição, mais “objetivo”) destinado aos escritores (“Os filĂłsofos escrevem para os professores; os pensadores, para os escritores”, ÉcartĂšlement), ou ainda – filiação evidente e que ele reivindica em diversos momentos de sua obra – um “cĂ­nico” no sentido grego, original, do termo, seja, como o definiu Peter Sloterdijk em sua CrĂ­tica da RazĂŁo CĂ­nica, uma “mĂ­mica” de seu prĂłprio metabolismo fĂ­sico e mental; e tudo seria dito sobre sua “filosofia”. Nada evidente, contudo. Pois esse “processo de pensamento”, conforme o nomeia justamente Susan Sontag, que seus aforismos retraçam fielmente, Ă  maneira de um sismĂłgrafo, nĂŁo apenas comporta diversas “constantes”, mas tambĂ©m desenha, talvez, senĂŁo um sistema ou um esboço de sistema, uma “via” filosĂłfica (da mesma maneira que esse budismo que ele constantemente evoca fala de um “caminho” do despertar).

Desafiando o interdito que impedia seu desenvolvimento sobre Nietzsche, voltemo-nos, para definir essa via, ao parece que parece ser muito bem a contradição fundamental de Cioran: o combate da lucidez contra a fĂ©, e, mais ainda, do ceticismo contra um vitalismo jamais renegado desde seus primeiros livros romenos – notadamente, o bastante romĂąntico Nos cumes do desespero. Desse “esquartejamento” (Ă©cartĂšlement), que deveria inclusive fornecer-lhe significativamente o tĂ­tulo de um de seus livros, nasce, com efeito, todo o seu pensamento, tanto no que concerne Ă quela que se poderia apontar como sendo sua posição polĂ­tica, a meio-caminho, quase – na medida em que isso for possĂ­vel – no meio entre um ceticismo conservador e um anarquismo revoltado, quanto a sua atitude diante de Deus, dividida entre o respeito do divino e um elĂŁ mĂ­stico, por um lado, e o ateĂ­smo, dir-se-ia uma vontade blasfematĂłria, por outro – e nĂŁo Ă© uma das Ășltimas sentenças que ele escreveria, em Aveux et AnathĂšmes, este verdadeiro slogan anarquista? “Enquanto ainda houver um sĂł deus de pĂ©, a tarefa do homem nĂŁo terĂĄ terminado.”

NĂŁo haveria, nĂŁo se poderia entĂŁo haver ai alguma “resolução” – no sentido de que se fala, na mĂșsica, de um acorde “resolvido” (un accord rĂ©solu) – a esse conflito central, que implica fatalmente a suspensĂŁo, a abstenção de todo juĂ­zo, e, portanto, a uma espĂ©cie de deserção da vida? E convergiria tudo a esse pessimismo integral, a esse reconhecimento do sem-sentido de tudo, ao qual a maioria dos comentadores de Cioran, em Ășltima instĂąncia, parece se resignar? Eis, aparentemente, uma interpretação insuficiente, que consiste no objeto mesmo, da parte do interessado, em diversas partes de sua obra,… de uma refutação em sua devida forma! “Quanto mais leio os pessimistas”, escreveu ele entĂŁo em 1937, em LĂĄgrimas e Santos, “mais eu amo a vida. ApĂłs uma leitura de Schopenhauer, reajo como um noivo. Schopenhauer tem razĂŁo de dizer que a vida nĂŁo passa de um sonho. Mas ele comete uma inconsequĂȘncia grave quando, em vez de encorajar as ilusĂ”es, as desmascara levando a crer que existiria algo por detrĂĄs delas.” Em suma, mesmo o pessimismo nĂŁo saberia oferecer, aos olhos de Cioran, um horizonte ao seu pensamento, ao pensamento em geral!…

De fato, um princĂ­pio permite superar bem todas essas contradiçÔes incessantes que Cioran vive e exprime: a necessidade de lhes dar uma voz, seja a busca de uma autenticidade imediata, de uma “elegĂąncia moral” (“A verdadeira elegĂąncia moral reside na arte de transformar suas vitĂłrias em derrotas”, ÉcartĂšlement), que reflete tambĂ©m a elegĂąncia da expressĂŁo: em suma, aquilo que se poderia nomear de um “princĂ­pio de estilo”. Seria necessĂĄrio, entĂŁo, paradoxalmente, ir em direção a isso que se considera habitualmente como um “plus”, ou um simples “envelope” de uma obra para descobrir tanto o centro verdadeiro quanto a contribuição Ășltima da obra de Cioran: o estilo.

Para convencer-se disso, convĂ©m reler, certamente com um mĂ­nimo de perversidadef, o que permanece sem dĂșvida o mais belo, ainda que aparentemente o mais excĂȘntrico, o mais “antiquado”, nem mesmo isento de certa insolĂȘncia, dos seus ExercĂ­cios de admiração: aquele que ele consagra ao pensador que, por seu quietismo e sua moderação, parece o mais distante dele, ValĂ©ry. Em “ValĂ©ry diante de seus Ă­dolos”, encontra-se, com efeito, em estado de esboço, todo um pensamento do vĂ­nculo que pode unir lucidez e materialismo, de um lado, e poesia e misticismo, de outro. Nesse verdadeiro “pedaço de bravura”, no qual seu estilo, talvez, nunca tenha sido significativamente tĂŁo brilhante, Cioran traça um paralelo entre a ascese que representa a exigĂȘncia da lucidez e “o grau de despertar que toda experiĂȘncia espiritual supĂ”e” – sendo que a Ășnica e mais radical diferença entre os dois Ă© que a primeira se situa “para cĂĄ do absoluto”, enquanto que a segunda, “que Ă© propriamente a via mĂ­stica”, busca o despertar “em vista do absoluto”: “todo analista impiedoso, todo denunciador de aparĂȘncias, e com maior razĂŁo todo “niilista”, nĂŁo Ă© mais do que um mĂ­stico bloqueado, e isso porque se recusa a dar um conteĂșdo a sua lucidez, dirigi-la no sentido da salvação, associando-a a um desĂ­gnio que a ultrapassa”.

Um “mĂ­stico bloqueado”, e quase, poder-se-ia acrescentar, sem contradição, um “mĂ­stico realista”, uma vez que para ali onde recomeçaria a ilusĂŁo: nĂŁo seria essa a melhor definição – quase um autorretrato Ă­ntimo – de quem, como Cioran, busca na lucidez um princĂ­pio superior? Assim poder-se-ia definir o espaço de uma resolução de suas contradiçÔes, em suma, o horizonte de uma filosofia – a saber, uma espĂ©cie de â€œĂ©tica da elegĂąncia”, nĂŁo muito distante, na  verdade, do famoso “estĂĄgio estĂ©tico” de Kierkegaard, porĂ©m, ultrapassando-o, e cujo “modelo histĂłrico” deveria ser buscado tanto na GrĂ©cia revisitada por Nietzsche quanto nessa França do sĂ©culo XVIII com a qual Cioran tanto sonhara e na qual tanto se obstinara, por meio da escritura, a ressuscitar.

Nada fĂĄcil, certamente, fixar uma matĂ©ria tĂŁo volĂĄtil quanto essa “filosofia do estilo”. O melhor que se pode fazer Ă© circunscrever os limites com a ajuda de algumas mĂĄximas. “É fĂĄcil ser ‘profundo’; basta deixar-se invadir pelas prĂłprias taras”, escreve Cioran nos Silogismos da Amargura. No mesmo movimento em que afirma a necessidade da lucidez, Cioran se recusa a deixar-se enredar-se nas profundezas que, “sendo naturalmente sem fundo, nĂŁo podem levar a nenhum lugar” (BreviĂĄrio). Por que, a partir de entĂŁo, nĂŁo prestar culto Ă s aparĂȘncias, como a este fim poderia conduzir essa outra frase famosa, ela tambĂ©m extraĂ­da dos Silogismos: “Sonho com um mundo em que se morreria por uma vĂ­rgula”? É porque para Cioran, o realista, isso seria bascular uma vez mais numa realidade tĂŁo profunda quanto aquelas que, por outro lado, ele denuncia.

Todas essas ideias nĂŁo sĂŁo, em realidade, novas: elas jĂĄ se encontram na introdução da Gaia CiĂȘncia de Nietzsche, quando este observa que os gregos souberam ser “superficiais por profundidade”. Quanto Ă  ascese que representa o estilo, era ela que autorizou Baudelaire a identificar no dĂąndi um herdeiro dos estoicos. Como nĂŁo perceber, entĂŁo, na reivindicação de Cioran da “inutilidade” – sem dĂșvida, uma das palavras que mais incidem sob sua pena –, um eco de certos motivos de O meu coração a nu: “Ser um homem Ăștil pareceu-me sempre algo de muito hediondo”? Como o artista, para Baudelaire, o pensador lĂșcido, para Cioran, nĂŁo podendo decidir por nenhuma posição definitiva que seja, Ă© o homem estĂ©ril por excelĂȘncia, que inclusive extrai de sua esterilidade reivindicada o seu valor, ou seja, poder-se-ia dizer, seu “heroĂ­smo”. A Ășnica diferença Ă© que, em Cioran, para parafrasear o cĂ©lebre aforismo de Baudelaire, “Tu me deste tua lama e eu a transformei em ouro”, o “ouro” da linguagem conserva, deve conservar um resto de “lama” metafĂ­sica – o que se situa para alĂ©m do dandismo: nessa espĂ©cie de “santidade civil”, que era, ademais, para os estoicos, a definição da realização filosĂłfica e que Cioran nunca cogitou reivindicar para ele mesmo, preferindo, em seus ExercĂ­cios de admiração, elegante no mais alto nĂ­vel, exaltĂĄ-la como Wittgenstein ou como seu amigo Beckett…

*Tradução do francĂȘs: Rodrigo Menezes (02/08/2013)


[1] Exercícios de admiração.

[2] De l’inconvenient d’ĂȘtre nĂ©.

Un canĂ­bal en ParĂ­s

Rafael Narbona | Publicado el 08/04/2011 en El Cultural (España)

Emile M. Cioran (Rasinari, Tansilvania, 1911-ParĂ­s, 1995) cultivĂł el desarraigo, el nihilismo, la desesperaciĂłn y una autocomplaciente megalomanĂ­a: “Durante toda mi vida he alimentado la extraordinaria pretensiĂłn de ser el hombre mĂĄs lĂșcido que he conocido”. Es imposible leer estas lĂ­neas y no recordar a Nietzsche, planteĂĄndose en Ecce Homo: “Por quĂ© soy tan sabio? ÂżPor quĂ© soy tan inteligente? ÂżPor quĂ© sĂ© yo algunas cosas mĂĄs?”. Cioran poseĂ­a una personalidad tan acusada como la de Nietzsche, pero no hay ninguna convergencia esencial, salvo la hostilidad hacia la metafĂ­sica cristiana y el desprecio por una burguesĂ­a que identifica la excelencia con el Ă©xito material. Nietzsche se consideraba un reformista, un pedagogo. Su ataque contra la tradiciĂłn judeocristiana y el igualitarismo democrĂĄtico estĂĄ orientado a restablecer los valores aristocrĂĄticos de la AntigĂŒedad grecolatina. Cioran se limita a destruir la nociĂłn de valor, sin ofrecer ninguna alternativa. Desde su punto de vista, todo es perfectamente insignificante. El ser carece de sentido y cualquier valoraciĂłn es arbitraria e irracional. Es indiferente actuar o permanecer inactivo. Al final, todo se perderĂĄ en el mismo vacĂ­o insustancial.

Cioran invierte el famoso apotegma de Spinoza, segĂșn el cual “un hombre libre en nada piensa menos que en la muerte”. No es cierto. Un hombre libre, racional y consecuente, sĂłlo anhela “desnacer”. “Un hombre libre -prosigue Cioran- cultiva el desapego y entiende que el nacimiento es el mĂĄs grave e intolerable de los males”. Nietzsche afirma que hace filosofĂ­a a martillazos, pero cuando finaliza su trabajo de demoliciĂłn, rescata el amor fati del estoicismo: hay que amar la vida, incluso cuando nos trae el infortunio. Cioran no encuentra ninguna razĂłn para amar la vida. De hecho, dedica muchas pĂĄginas al suicidio, sin ocultar su fascinaciĂłn por un gesto que interpreta como una liberaciĂłn: “El suicidio es el nirvana por la violencia”. El ser humano es una especie maldita y dolorosamente intrascendente. Pensar en Dios o en un alma inmortal es ridĂ­culo, pero no hay que afligirse por nuestra finitud. “No haber nacido -fantasea Cioran-, de sĂłlo pensarlo, ÂĄquĂ© felicidad, quĂ© libertad, quĂ© espacio!”. Cioran reconoce que ha cometido todos los delitos, menos el de ser padre. Al igual que su compatriota Ionesco, escribe en francĂ©s. Se ha comparado su estilo con el de Paul ValĂ©ry, pero en Cioran hay mĂĄs intensidad, mĂĄs apasionamiento. Su prosa estĂĄ mĂĄs cerca del espĂ­ritu irreverente y clarificador de los libertinos. En cierto sentido, recuerda al marquĂ©s de Sade, pero aplacado por la lectura de Lucrecio y Schopenhauer. Aficionado a los burdeles, Cioran no denigra el placer, pero se niega a transformarlo en un nuevo Absoluto. Hijo de un sacerdote ortodoxo, fantasea con ser el hijo de un verdugo, pero no repudia su infancia, un perĂ­odo de felicidad adĂĄnica, primordial, que empezĂł a resquebrajarse a los 17 años, cuando aparecen las crisis de insomnio. En esa Ă©poca, comienza a estudiar filosofĂ­a en la universidad de Bucarest y en 1934 publica su primer libro: En las cimas de la desesperaciĂłn. El tĂ­tulo es grandilocuente y la prosa enfĂĄtica, pero las grandes ideas de su pensamiento ya estĂĄn formuladas con intolerable nitidez. Su nihilismo no es una pose filosĂłfica, sino una actitud existencial que malogra su carrera como docente: “Un dĂ­a me sorprendieron intentando enseñar a mis alumnos que todo estĂĄ viciado, incluso el principio de identidad”. SĂłlo dura unos meses en el Instituto Andrei – Saguna de Brasov. SerĂĄ su primera y Ășnica ocupaciĂłn laboral.

Antes de marcharse a ParĂ­s en 1937, la influencia del profesor Nae Ionescu le pondrĂĄ en contacto con los cĂ­rculos nacionalistas que admiran a Hitler. Su estancia en BerlĂ­n entre 1933 y 1935 sĂłlo acentĂșa su entusiasmo por el nazismo. “Sueño con una RumanĂ­a con el destino de Francia y la poblaciĂłn de China”. Años mĂĄs tarde, describirĂĄ su militancia polĂ­tica como una etapa de ofuscaciĂłn caracterizada por “el extraño furor de la sumisiĂłn”, un sentimiento que tambiĂ©n afectĂł a Mircea Eliade. Ambos se alistaron a la Guardia de Hierro y soñaron con una RumanĂ­a imperial. En 1946, Cioran rectifica: “Ahora estoy inmunizado contra todo, contra todos los credos del pasado, contra todos los credos del futuro”. Superar el virus nacionalista no afectarĂĄ a su pasiĂłn por España y sus escritores (Santa Teresa, San Juan de la Cruz, Unamuno): “Si Dios fuera un cĂ­clope -escribe-, España serĂ­a su Ășnico ojo”.

A partir de 1937, disfruta de una beca de doctorado en la Sorbona, pero no acude a clase ni trabaja en la tesis. Se dedica a leer compulsivamente y a recorrer Francia en bicicleta. En 1949 aparece su primer libro en francĂ©s: Breviario de podredumbre. La crĂ­tica reconoce de inmediato su importancia. El nihilismo de Cioran es mĂĄs implacable que la nĂĄusea de Sartre. El ser humano no puede esperar nada: “Nuestro destino es pudrirnos con los continentes y las estrellas, pasear como enfermos resignados, y hasta el final de las edades, hacia un desenlace previsto, espantoso y vano”.

Cioran sostiene que las certezas se desvanecen cuando pensamos a fondo las cosas. Esta perspectiva no impedirĂĄ encadenar un libro tras otro: La tentaciĂłn de existir, La caĂ­da en el tiempo, El aciago demiurgo, Del inconveniente de haber nacido. A pesar del reconocimiento, vive en una relativa pobreza, reivindicando su condiciĂłn de apĂĄtrida y su existencia parasitaria, al margen de cualquier oficio o profesiĂłn: “SĂłlo una prostituta sin clientes es mĂĄs perezosa que yo”. Pese a su obsesiĂłn por el suicidio, Cioran muriĂł a los 84 años, con la mente abatida por el Alzheimer. En Breviario de podredumbre, habĂ­a citado entre sus hĂ©roes a Kleist, Nerval, Weininger, egregios suicidas “que obtuvieron en la muerte la conclusiĂłn justa de su amor contrariado o satisfecho”. Sin embargo, aguantĂł el ultraje de la edad y la pĂ©rdida progresiva de su lucidez mental. ÂżAcaso fue un impostor? Amante de las paradojas, nunca pretendiĂł dejar un legado. Su escritura sĂłlo refleja las contradicciones de un hombre que jamĂĄs se preocupĂł de complacer a los demĂĄs y que no ocultĂł sus pasiones mĂĄs turbias: “A veces quisiera ser canĂ­bal, no tanto por el placer de devorar a Fulano o Mengano como por el de vomitarlo”. Cioran fue un ogro exquisito y adorable que ahora se pasea por la eternidad con una flor marchita en el ojal. Desde luego, yo le echo mucho de menos y creo que no soy el Ășnico.

The tyranny of intelligence. ValĂ©ry and Cioran.

Ciprian Valcan – Pen Centrul Roman (penromania.ro)

In accordance with an entire French tradition of Classicism, of respect for rules, conventions, manners, both on a social level and in what artistic creation is concerned, ValĂ©ry tries to build a rampart against the all the more powerful assault coming from the partisans of an artistic form which sets itself to depict bare reality, undisguised truth, pure nature by privileging emotional outburst, the exaltation of authenticity, the celebration of life in all its aspects, no matter how cruel or barbarous. Thus, he opposes the strange mixture of romanticism, naturalism and vitalism that had managed to impose a growing mistrust towards the products of intelligence and the entire cultural context of European rationalism, by trying to prove that there is no superior production of the spirit without the indispensable filter of the intellect. His ingenious and varied arguments are meant to emphasize the theoretical naivety indulged into by the adepts of faithful reality transcription, similar to the naivety of materialist philosophers who, fascinated by their vision of the world’s independence upon the spirit, overlook the fact that the respective image is in itself a product of the mind, that direct access to things presupposes, in fact, the mediation offered by the individual’s faculties, that instant grasp upon reality is merely a childish illusion.

As a reaction to this attitude – increasingly popular at the end of the 19th century and moreover at the beginning of the 20th –, ValĂ©ry focuses upon a full explanation of the genuine efforts of the spirit, trying to prove that spontaneity, authenticity, naturalness only exist as particular figures of speech, generated as a result of an equally laborious process of intelligence. Since honesty and naked truth usually overlie such attitudes, he insists upon the traditional vision of truth, indicating its decaying nature and signaling the prominence of artificiality, simulation and falsification in the process of truth-production. It seems evident to him that truth is not a given but a product which results from an extremely complex work of filtering the elements of reality; all that can be known lacks immediacy, being mediated and worked upon by the categories of the intellect. To ValĂ©ry, knowing equals fabricating, capturing the chaotic flux of living in a series of forms that can be identified by the individual’s conceptual machinery, proving useful to the pacification and lucid governing of the world.

In ValĂ©ry’s world, one of the fundamental axioms is that according to which “Chacun dissimule quelque chose Ă  quelqu’un, et chacun, quelque chose Ă  soi-mĂȘme”[1]. This does not imply a condemnation of human hypocrisy, of the vices which accompany corrupt nature, as used to happen in Pascal’s or the moralists’ case. It is only the necessary acknowledgement of the valid principles which govern the relationships between individuals, allowing for the dismantling of purely fictive notions from among which the much-advertised sincerity detaches itself. Its impossibility is demonstrated as the natural outcome of the enunciation of the respective axiom: if disguise functions both in connection to the self and in connection to the others, there are necessarily “deux versants de <sincĂ©ritĂ©>”[2], the relativization of sincerity marking its impossibility and practically implying its dissolution.

Moreover, ValĂ©ry displays numerous examples to support the idea that simulation is a natural human feature, contributing both to the people’s insertion within the society and to the shaping of individual personality. From this perspective, it stands out as an indication of normality, of mental health, since “l’homme sain d’esprit est celui qui porte le fou Ă  l’intĂ©rieur”[3], the one capable of controlling the various anarchic impulses, disorderly instincts, arbitrary desires, keeping the diffuse dementia each of us carries around within reasonable, imperceptible and disguisable limits. ValĂ©ry is convinced that the difference between normality and madness is merely one of degree, not one of substance.

Thus, people have the same potential in terms of malady, the same resources of manias, deliria, phobias, the difference lying in the inexplicable coagulation which takes place in some of these cases, making the previously latent pathology manifest and preventing the camouflaging of manifestations which might have been previously considered simply bizarre. Yet, if the individual does not feel the need to discipline his behavior while he is alone, the other’s presence acts as a sort of compulsion, forcing him to resort to a series of artificial attitudes in an attempt to satisfy external expectations and thus obscuring his singularity[4]. The society needs the consistency of the characters people assume; it cannot tolerate too high a fluidity of manifestations and natures, privileging stability and convention over originality, excess, incoherence: “Il y a un mensonge et une simulation <physiologiques> qui dĂ©finissent l’état normal et raisonnable. Le milieu social exerce une sorte de pression sur nos rĂ©actions immĂ©diates, nous contraint Ă  ĂȘtre et Ă  demeurer un certain personnage identique Ă  lui-mĂȘme, dont on puisse prĂ©voir les actions, sur lequel on puisse compter, qui se conservera assez intelligible
”[5]

By means of constantly imposing this pressure upon the individual, the society contributes to the unleashing of his personality, whose genesis is not a natural process, a perceptible immediate result, but the final part of a refined process of analysis and laborious fixation of relatively invariable features. In order to impose such features, one needs to surpass all haphazard or accidental characteristics, to renounce the chaos of impressions, gestures and insufficiently assimilated forms, to methodically leave fortuitous action behind to the benefit of definitively tracing firm and easily recognizable contours, meant to represent the trademark of consolidated behavior and being thus predictable, easily identifiable, placed outside the reach of any major fluctuations.

Simulation is the responsible mechanism for the carrying out of this vast project, rather indispensable for a proper functioning of the society. It is a speculative mechanism which tends to bring self-image and the others’ image of the self to almost perfect overlapping, as a result of a subtle game of reflections whose apparently unpredictable dynamics inevitably leads to the same outcome: the obscuring of ĂȘtre to the benefit ofparaĂźtre, the capturing of being by appearance, its acquisition to the degree of dissolution, to the ultimate transformation of the initial artifice into nature, so that the mask might become the true and sole expression of the face.

If, at the beginning of this process, there is a genuine abyss between ĂȘtre and paraĂźtre, if the differences seem irreconcilable, if the enactment is itself the result of a reaction of the individual against his own nature which he wants to camouflage or suppress[6], appearance eventually cannibalizes the being, emerging as the only survivor. The dynamics of this relationship is, however, much more complex than could imagine the one who initiates it, with the firm belief that he will be able to fully control the image he projects and obtain the expected result by managing to be perceived according to his own wishes. In fact, the created character always escapes control: the impact one makes upon the others cannot be rigorously anticipated, and his appearance is not identical with the intention presiding over its shaping.

It is merely the outcome of external perceptions; it is the sum of the others’ impressions, “un effet de l’effet qu’il produit sur un grand nombre d’inconnus”[7] It is this type of appearance that swallows the being, not its mere initial projection, individual calculation being constantly contradicted or at least modified by the experience of one’s contact with the others. Man is forced to conform to the image he acquires, to give increasingly more space to his own ‘character’, giving up the whole stage and becoming increasingly dependent on him: “Dans toute carriĂšre publique, une fois que le bruit qu’il fait revient Ă  son auteur et lui enseigne qui il paraĂźt – celui-ci joue son personnage – ou plutĂŽt son personnage le joue, et ne le lĂąche plus”[8]. The process ends only after the limits of individuality have been established, after all the shades of the socially acknowledged personality have been pinned down, thus concluding the complicated genesis: “MĂȘme notre personne, en tant que nous en tenons compte, est une simulation. – On finit par ĂȘtre plus soi qu’on ne l’a jamais Ă©tĂ©. On se voit d’un trait, dans un raccourci, et l’on prend pour soi-mĂȘme l’effet des actions extĂ©rieures qui ont tirĂ© de nous tous ces traits, qui nous font un portrait”[9]

ValĂ©ry notes that, in general, the conflict between ĂȘtre and paraĂźtre is not meant to stir big convulsions: the human being is forced to give precedence to appearance, constrained to adopt its features and imitate it until they become one. In the case of powerful spirits, this confrontation is violent, bringing face to face what he names “deux instincts capitaux de l’intelligence”[10]. On the one hand there stands the inclination to seduce, to obtain both glory and other people’s admiration; on the other hand, there is the voluptuousness of loneliness, of uniqueness, of incomparability, of independence on anything but the self. The authors who give in to the first temptation enter a world of exhibition, comparison, mutual evaluations that change them into puppets of public opinion and taste, incapable of preserving their independence and forced to eventually adjust to the image they have generated: “L’homme connu tend Ă  ne plus ĂȘtre qu’une Ă©manation de ce nombre indistinct d’inconnus, c’est-Ă -dire une crĂ©ature de l’opinion, un monstre absurd et public auquel le vrai homme peu Ă  peu le cĂšde et se conforme”[11]

The others, who believe in their radical irreducibility, who feel no connection between them and the rest of humankind, but rather repulsion at the thought that they might belong to a species made up of almost infinitely repetitive exemplars, try to preserve the impression of their singularity by inventing a work whose aim is to separate them forever from others, to build a true barricade between them and the rest of known mortals. ValĂ©ry thinks that this obsession might feed upon the fear of death itself, the inability to accept the essential identity between them and the others, them and the people whose daily passing away indicates the overwhelming power of death: “Refuser d’ĂȘtre semblable, refuser d’avoir des semblables, refuser l’ĂȘtre Ă  ceux qui sont apparemment et raisonnablement nos semblables, c’est refuser d’ĂȘtre mortel, et vouloir aveuglement ne pas ĂȘtre de mĂȘme essence que ces gens qui passent et fondent l’un aprĂšs l’autre autour de nous”[12]

Nevertheless, regardless of the big spirits’ direction or motivation, the result is the creation of a work which can serve either their desire for glory, recognition, or their wish for separation, inaccessibility and incomparability. This work must never be considered a faithful expression of their nature, but rather be judged as an outcome of simulation, as a necessarily artificial creation which bears no connection to life, biographical incidents or the reality of the man behind it. To ValĂ©ry, it is evident that the work expresses not the author’s being, but his wish to appear, his art of defeating change, eliminating accident, obstinately constructing an image of his own thinking which blatantly contradicts its own nature – perpetually unstable, inconsistent, disorderly, inclined towards vagueness and arbitrary games of the mind.

By means of showing himself to the others, the creator leaps forward, hides the difficulties, takes in the contradictions that have haunted his spirit, masks his initially imprecise intuition, proposing an edifice meant to impress by solidity, clarity and coherence, by the impression of a flawless intelligence, in full control of its means of expression and possessing the quality of easily solving all difficulties, which excludes all possible hesitation. Consequently, the attempt to retrieve the personality of big thinkers using only their writings as a starting point “conduit Ă  l’invention des monstres”[13], just as the attempt to explain their work solely by means of biographical episodes is absolutely useless, revealing only a series of manias, sordid details, purely human weaknesses and the exact details the author himself had tried to overcome: “Mais le biographe les guette, qui se consacre Ă  tirer cette grandeur qui les a signalĂ©s Ă  son regard, de cette quantitĂ© de communes petitesses et de misĂšres inĂ©vitables et universelles. Il compte les chaussettes, les maĂźtresses, les niaiseries de son sujet. Il fait, en somme, prĂ©cisĂ©ment l’inverse de ce qu’à voulu faire toute la vitalitĂ© de celui-ci, qui s’est dĂ©pensĂ©e contre ce que la vie impose de viles ou monotones similitudes Ă  tous les organismes, et des diversions ou d’accidents improductifs Ă  tous les esprits”[14].

In his attempt to describe the mechanism of creation, ValĂ©ry starts from the statement that it involves an attitude placed at the precise antipodes of natural behavior, an anti-natural orientation. Yet, any such attitude “implique l’effort, la conscience de l’effort, l’intention, et donc l’artifice”[15]. In order to attain excellence of the general view, the creator must distance himself from the banality of naked existence, from its manifest insignificance, from the true monotony of everyday life, taking on a sustained effort which allows him to gradually eliminate the parasites of plainness and reach an essentialized image and the surfacing of form. The coagulation of the work into this end result may occur only after the author has managed to master the initial impulse which pushes him towards creation, placing it under the controlling forces of reason meant to correct, moderate and use it as a starting point, drawing it out of its rawness and inserting it into the machinery of language to fit the draconic constraints of expression[16].

From ValĂ©ry’s perspective, there is  no doubt that “le vrai Ă  l’état brut est plus faux que le faux”[17], that factual truth, obtained by the mere agglutination of fugitive impressions, by the haphazard mix of data arbitrarily filtered through the senses, by the mechanical reproduction of juxtaposed episodes, imposes a partial, impoverished image, deprived of any necessity, whose acceptance would mean capitulation before meaningless chance. Truth cannot be obtained through a passive record of facts, through a lazy series of gestures and formulae, but only by the transformation of the brutal avalanche of events, through setting their significant nucleus free, through triumphantly imposing Form. Truth is not a given, it is a laborious construction. It is not easily perceptible, but the result of a long effort of the mind. Thus, it appears due to simulation, to that intervention of intention that lies behind all deliberate creation. In order to exist, truth needs lie not to impose itself by opposition, not to stand out by comparison with its contrary, but to integrate it and surpass the shapeless banality of factual truth: “Le vrai que l’on favorise se change par lĂ  insensiblement sous la plume dans le vrai qui est fait pour paraĂźtre vrai. VĂ©ritĂ© et volontĂ© de vĂ©ritĂ© forment ensemble un instable mĂ©lange oĂč fermente une contradiction et d’oĂč ne manque jamais Ă  sortir une production falsifiĂ©e”[18].

The example which ValĂ©ry finds most significant is that of confessions or diary writers willing to impress their readers by the promise of exposing themselves mercilessly in the fullest truth of their existence, by creating the expectation of revelation and of unveiling shocking or exceptional details. However, since a real person does not possess a too generous stock of remarkable deeds or gestures, since one’s feelings are mostly anodyne, one falls prey to the tension one has created and invents a character which would befit the public’s expectations, necessarily estranging oneself from the plainness of truth: “on sait bien qu’une personne rĂ©elle n’a pas grand’chose Ă  nous apprendre sur ce qu’elle est. On Ă©crit donc les aveux de quelque autre plus remarquable, plus pur, plus noir, plus vif, plus sensible, et mĂȘme plus soi qu’il n’est permis, car le soi a des degrĂ©s. Qui se confesse ment, et fuit le vĂ©ritable vrai, lequel est nul, ou informe, et, en gĂ©nĂ©ral, indistinct”[19]

ValĂ©ry believes that the most important danger the artist has to face is that of giving in to the pressure of feelings, of investing in the faithful transcription of  whatever it is that he might feel, thus fatally succumbing to an easy solution and letting himself caught in the trap of banality. In order to be able to put forward an important work, he needs to distance himself from whatever is unmediated, he must employ his talents to the end of disguising everything that has to do with naturalness, keeping away from the inexplicable constraints of affection and believing in the intercession of reason. Art is simulation, artifice, triumph of the intelligence against daily insignificance, victory of eccentricity against the insipid reality of common feeling. That is precisely why art cannot be found in bare emotions, that are “aussi faibles que les hommes tout nus”[20]. Since our soul is the worst thinker[21], since “l’ñme n’a pas d’esprit”[22], the creator is forced to distance himself from his shapeless offspring, from its tedious progeny, either by eliminating it in order to shake off possible turbulences, or by contradicting it and changing it according to the habits of the mind.

In order to describe the process of creation, ValĂ©ry privileges the model of construction, of patient and lucid mental labor. He finds it important to invalidate the statement according to which, in order for an important work to be produced, a series of spectacular experiences would be required so as to subsequently generate strong impressions: “Je ne pense pas que les esprits puissants aient besoin de l’intensitĂ© des impressions. Elle leur est plutĂŽt funeste, Ă©tant ceux qui de rien font quelque chose”[23]. Incapable of believing in the power of delirium, in the benefic virtues of the absurd or incoherence, he is also a firm opponent of the notion of inspiration, against which he launches devastating attacks, using the entire artistry of his caustic spirit. His argumentation follows two main directions. According to the first, accepting the common idea of inspiration, which holds it true that an entire work could be dictated to an author by the whims of some divinity, would lead to the conclusion that it is perfectly possible that the ‘inspired’ write in a language unknown to him and without taking into account the cultural context of the time, the literary taste of the epoch and his predecessors’ works. Yet, since such a thing never happens, ValĂ©ry ironically notes that inspiration proves to be a power “si dĂ©liĂ©e, si articulĂ©e, si sagace, si informĂ©e et si claculatrice, qu’on ne saurait pourquoi ne pas l’appeler Intelligence et connaissance”[24].

The second line of argumentation focuses upon the realization that, from among the innumerable impulses of inspiration, only extremely few can be considered important, the majority being immediately ignorable mental waste, remains which have accidentally reached the margins of consciousness, without having any significance or purpose. Even those that prove fertile only acquire their value as a result of transformation, after the laborious activity of intelligence has acted upon them: “l’esprit nous souffle sans vergogne un million de sottises pour une belle idĂ©e qu’il nous abandonne ; et cette chance mĂȘme ne vaudra finalmente quelque chose que par le traitement qui l’accommode Ă  notre fin. C’est ainsi que les minerais, inapprĂ©ciables dans leur gĂźtes et dans leurs filons, prennent leur importance au soleil, et par les travaux de la surface”[25]

To ValĂ©ry, the most obvious difference between a common individual and a creator can be noticed at the level of their mental activity. If the former is not capable of or even in the least preoccupied with controlling the natural disorder of his own mind, allowing it the freedom of the fullest intellectual vagabondage and the random consecration of the strangest digressions or obsessions, operating only with perpetually incipient fragments of ideas (never accomplished or systematized, randomly juxtaposed, coordinationless, unable to flow into a coherent global view), the latter programmatically violates the natural rhythm of the mind, imposing a series of rules and constraints that drastically limit its freedom, making it aim at order, developing its extremely rare capacity of “de coordonnner, d’harmoniser, d’orchestrer un grand nombre departies”[26].

By means of systematic effort and intense concentration, the outcome of this difficult discipline-imposing operation is a mental configuration favorable to an intelligible construction, to a gathering of ideas according to their internal affinities, so that they might organize and impose themselves onto consciousness, become understandable as psychic entities that have acquired their independence as to spiritual accidents “perdus dans les statistiques de la vie locale du cerveau”[27]. Even if he is perfectly aware of the absolutely unpredictable nature of the birth of ideas, even if he admits that thinking most often resembles an attempt at a dialogue of the minds and that intelligence may be compared to gambling, ValĂ©ry insists upon the pre-eminence of conscious, orderly, lucid labor in the configuration of a work. Without denying that there are days “with ideas”, in which “tout Ă  coup naissent des moindres occasions, c’est-Ă -dire de RIEN”[28], he lies emphasis on the mind’s openness to them, on the complex operations which lead to the construction of an entire machinery to take over the received impulse, ensuring it the proper development circumstances, creating the suitable environment for the genuine opening of thought, for the establishment of connections that allow it to stand out. Nevertheless, as opposed to the partisans of inspiration, to those who celebrate the moment ideas are born, ValĂ©ry privileges the end of the process, the emergence of pure, precise thought, integrated within a productive constellation, capable of generating other ideas and nourishing a systematic vision. To him, if taken to extremes, any perception can be useful, any external impulse can be put to use. The essential thing is to turn on the machinery of the mind, to capture the accidental excitement and turn it into something useful due to the intellect’s processing ability, to its immense planning and calculating capacity, to its engineering dimension[29].

For this reason, it is absolutely legitimate that he employ the work of other authors in order to support and develop his own vision, that he use the inspiration a foreign way of thinking may offer, since the raw matter which comes out of such meetings is commonly filtered by the spirit, leading to the surfacing and shaping of one’s own ideas. Just as it happens in the case of sensations, perceptions or fragments of ideas upon which the actions of the mind are exerted, other creators’ influences only serve as a mere starting point, as a factor which can set the mind’s work in motion, thus sparing a series of energies that will be thus available during the final stage of thought construction. According to ValĂ©ry, there is a series of books that “me sont des aliments dont la substance se changera dans la mienne. Ma nature propre y puisera des formes de parler ou de penser ; ou bien des ressources dĂ©finies et des rĂ©ponses toutes faites: il faut bien emprunter les rĂ©sultats des expĂ©riences des autres et nous accroĂźtre de ce qu’ils ont vu et que nous n’avons pas vu”[30].

The digestion metaphor offers ValĂ©ry the most appropriate means of describing the way in which an author encapsulates other spirits’ influence. ValĂ©ry was convinced that the existence of originality is a mere prejudice, a matter of fashion, the obsession of people who thus betray their mimetic nature as to the ones who have made them believe in such an idea[31], that “Ce qui ne ressemble Ă  rien n’existe pas”[32]. He maintains that the difference between a plagiarist and a creator can be traced down not by following their sources, which can often be identical, but by analyzing the conclusions they reach, by examining the way in which they leave their own mark upon the borrowed materials, conveying them as such or, to the contrary, organically incorporating them into their own vision and making them unrecognizable: “Plagiaire est celui qui a mal digĂ©rĂ© la substance des autres : il en rend les morceaux reconnaissables.

L’originalitĂ©, affaire d’estomac.

Il n’y a pas d’écrivains originaux, car ceux qui mĂ©riteraient ce nom sont inconnus; et mĂȘme inconnaissables.

Mais il en est qui font figure de l’ĂȘtre”[33]”.

Attaining perfection is a laborious operation, a privileged episode in the quasi-infinite epopee of simulation, which presupposes equal distancing both from the sheer spontaneity, the insignificant arbitrariness upon which the constructive faculties of the mind must focus in a fortunate attempt to disguise the initial impulse and from the fully voluntary, charmless production that still bears the traces of difficult labor. This production shall be subjected to the deep process of reconfiguration, meant to efface all the visible signs of effort, to wipe away the undeniable indications of calculation, design, consciousness, making it seem natural[34]. The success of such an attempt greatly depends on the correct treatment applied to words, on their rigorous examination, on their attentive weighing, on their employment according to the requirements of a lucidity which allows for no concession to commonsensical habits or to any kind of mental inertia, since many of them, once rendered banal and devoid of meaning, are unadvisable. “Nous les avons appris ; nous les rĂ©pĂ©tons, nous croyons qu’ils ont un sens
 utilisable; mais ce sont des crĂ©ations statistiques; et par consĂ©quent, des Ă©lĂ©ments qui ne peuvent entrer sans contrĂŽle dans une construction ou opĂ©ration exacte de l’esprit, qu’ils ne la rendent vaine ou illusoire”[35].

The crystallization of individual personality is the result of a long simulation, dissimulation and integration process as to the features which are validated by the acknowledgment mechanisms of the society. Similarly, in the case of creation, a certain stability of manner, a certain constancy of the creator’s operating fashion are needed for the final construction of a work, for what ValĂ©ry considers to be “une entreprise contre la mobilitĂ©, l’inconstance de l’esprit, de la vigueur et de l’humeur”[36]. In order to be successful in this enterprise, the artist must know how to imitate himself, to ensure the continuity of his own style, to chose as models the most remarkable of his productions, striving to prolong their brilliance and to ensure their integration within a systematic vision, chasing any doubt as to the possibility of their accidental coming to being, as to their haphazard emergence, eventually imposing the impression of a conscious and virtuously controlled process[37] and decisively contributing to the absolute triumph of his wish to appear superior to his won being. Noticing an increasingly prominent tendency of the work to achieve not so much a certain aesthetic effect, but mostly recognition for its author, ValĂ©ry maliciously notes: “Si une loi de l’Etat obligeait Ă  l’anonymat et que rien ne pĂ»t paraĂźtre sous un nom, la littĂ©rature en serait toute changĂ©e, – en supposant qu’elle y survĂ©cĂ»t”[38].

The post-romantic component of Cioran’s thinking prohibits him to adhere to a vision of the world in which the central part goes to intelligence, while the importance of blind impulse, of the instincts, of the senses is considerably diminished. Strongly influenced by Spengler, steadily turning to Schopenhauer, keeping the imprints of the massive Nietzschean impregnation of his youth, Cioran stays fascinated until the end of his life by the forces of the irrational, by the unpredictability of life, by the uncontrollability of natural rhythms, considering that the triumph of reason is the manifest sign of decadence, of approaching the end of a historical cycle or even the end of humanity. Incapable of following the spontaneous disjunctions of their being, abandoned by the vital force that used to ensure them a serene, organic existence under the badge of a perfectly legible global meaning, people are forced to use the imperfect compass of intelligence, trying to guide themselves in a world they feel hostile, undermined by their lack of confidence and impotence, giving in to pessimism and despair without managing to find any meaning to their own existence. Entrapped by skepticism, deprived of any possible contact with the real sources of creativity because of their instinctive nature, they no longer use anything but doubtful sophisms, alexandrine nuances, conceptual peculiarities, thus celebrating elegance, refinement, artifice as a compensation for the obvious absence of any creative power.

Yet, as aforementioned, ValĂ©ry is considered to be one of the champions of such spiritual forms, one of the most radical exponents of an aestheticism fully divorced from reality, arbitrarily performing witty dances of the spirit, hypnotized by the spectacle of his own imprisoning mind which he fails to escape. Even if Cioran repudiates vitalism in his French work, even if he denounces his juvenile exaggerations, opting himself for a radical skepticism suffused with the Oriental idea of universal vacuum, even if he appropriates a series of reflection themes which are completely foreign to his initial preoccupations, he cannot accept an intellectualist perspective such as ValĂ©ry’s, he cannot give credit to the victory of form over contents, to the hegemony of calculation, design, lucidity over inconstancy, unpredictability, accident, the amorphous fortune of life.

Cioran is an admirer of the abysmal, of the often monstrous and brutal grandeur of nature but, in exchange, he is a vital critic of man, whose Daedalic and malefic being repulses him, whose shortcomings call for his sarcasm. Cioran stays faithful to the idea that the grandeur of humanity is nothing but a presumptuous hypothesis, impossible to confirm according to the facts of experience. The belief that man can control the course of his life, that he can obey the maxims of reason into minute detail seems risible to him, evidence demonstrating that the individual is a mere girouette, entirely dependent upon the mood-swings of destiny, a humble marionette in the hands of gods. All that man builds is determined by a string of accidents, coincidences, unpredictable series of events and effort, diligence, will plays but a minor part in the economy of hazard. Things work in the same way in what the efforts of the mind are concerned: it is impossible to direct according to rigorous schemes, impossible to subject to the ghostly discipline imagined by a tyrannical ego that finds itself prey to inspiration, chaotic impulses, illness-induced deformations or the peculiar calligraphy of unhappiness. “Une indigestion n’est-elle point plus riche d’idĂ©es qu’une parade de concepts? Les troubles d’organes dĂ©terminent la fĂ©conditĂ© de l’esprit: celui qui ne sentpas son corps ne sera jamais en mesure de concevoir une pensĂ©e vivante; il attendra en pure perte la surprise avantageuse de quelque inconvĂ©nient
”[39]

Cioran seems to be in accord with ValĂ©ry in the respect that, in order to create, the artist needs to distance himself from the mediocrity of his natural state, he must rise above the waste which ordinary life presupposes. Yet, their opinions differ in what concerns the means by which such distancing can be achieved. ValĂ©ry supports the exacerbation of man’s intellectual faculties, the conscious effort of intelligence to take possession of all exterior excitement, all accidental impulses and intuitions and process them with a maximum of lucidity, thus obtaining a coherent string of ideas which leads towards a perfectly clear systematic vision. Cioran, on the other hand, believes that what is needed is a radical change, a rummaging of the creative interiority, caused either by the inexplicable thrill of inspiration, or by some major, disease-induced disequilibrium, or by some intense ailment which changes the way in which the world is perceived. What matters to ValĂ©ry is the concentration of will, the imperturbable focus of attention, the transformation of the spirit into a sophisticated calculus machinery, into a docile instrument, capable of the most complicated intellectual operations. In Cioran’s case, the essential part is played by the emotional charge, the depth of feeling which causes creative instability, further triggering disorder, exaltation, delirium and favoring the escape from the self, the surpassing of a strictly personal point of view, the capturing of the world’s monstrousness.

In his youth, Cioran was faithful to a perspective deeply influenced by Nietzsche’s attempts to dismiss the classical theories of truth. Fascinated by the incorporation of falsehood, virile lie into the mere definition of the new type of truth, Cioran gradually estranges himself from such approaches and, due to his connections to Indian philosophy, opts for a traditional metaphysical model. In this Buddhist-indebted view, the main opposition is the one between “the real truth” (paramārtha) and “the truth of error” (samavriti), the truth of the salvaged and that of the one who finds himself incapable of escaping the veil of appearances. The former captures the immateriality of the world, the unreality of all gestures, objects and events, while the latter remains spasmodically attached to the contours of reality, unable to discover its emptiness, its essentially apparent character, its lack of substance. Thus, he stays a prisoner to the universe of forms and facts[40].

By adopting such an interpretive principle, Cioran turns into an illusion chaser who finds enjoyment in demonstrating the superfluous nature of all fabrications, the insanity of all projects, the uselessness of the belief in ideals, the immaturity of enthusiasm. This attitude prevents him from sharing ValĂ©ry’s vision as to truth’s being a mere product, a construct resulting from a delicate filtering and forging operation, since this vision maintains itself within the realm of “the truth of error” without reaching the level of “the real truth”, without as much as grasping the sole stake of any spiritual enterprise, i. e. capturing universal unreality: “Ce qui importe, ce n’est pas produire mais comprendre. Et comprendre signifie discerner le degrĂ© d’éveil auquel un ĂȘtre est parvenu, sa capacitĂ© de percevoir la somme d’irrĂ©alitĂ© qui entre dans chaque phĂ©nomĂšne”[41]

ValĂ©ry pleas for the overwhelming power of simulation, considering that everything that there is to be found within the sphere of human qualities is determined by intentionality, is the result of effort and labor, represents the triumph of artificiality over naturalness, of construction over indistinctiveness, of form over amorphous matter. Thus, the individual’s personality is nothing but the consequence of this gradual moulding according to social expectations, a compromise between being and appearances in which appearances stand out as winners. Cioran admits to the importance of simulation, he admits to the individuals’ inclination towards disguise, to their carnivalesque instinct, but he does not believe that human being can be totally evicted, that the profound nature of man can be modified by his public antics and thus allowparaĂźtre impose its supremacy over ĂȘtre. To him it is obvious that the way in which the society functions encourages conformism, hypocrisy, the obscuring of the individual’s true nature. Yet, this does not lead to the mere transformation of his inner physiognomy, but only to the preservation of a steady redoubling: “OĂč que j’aille, le mĂȘme sentiment d’inappartenance, de jeu inutile et idiot, d’imposture, non pas chez les autres, mais chez moi: je feins de m’intĂ©resser Ă  ce qui ne m’importe guĂšre, je joue constamment un rĂŽle par veulerie ou pour sauver les apparences; mais je ne suis pas dans le coup, car ce qui me tient Ă  coeur est ailleurs”[42].

In ValĂ©ry’s view, simulation fulfils a necessary role, being a civilizing attitude which allows for the essential traits of one’s personality to be fixed, thus also ensuring the necessary conditions for a social life to develop, contributing to the victory of form over chaotic indistinctiveness, imposing predictability as defining element of human relationships. To Cioran, simulation is just a consequence of humanity’s corrupt nature, of its inclination towards scam and masquerade, of the immense vanity that consumes even the most insignificant individuals. In this respect he follows the traditional moralistic line and he does nothing but take down the multiple evidence of such tendencies, note their often ridiculous outcomes, without ever accepting, however, the inevitability of simulation, without being convinced of the fatal nature of adopting a mask. Even if he admits that living within the society without resorting to simulation is almost impossible, he still believes that there is at least one solution to evade its tyranny: perfect solitude, retirement from among the people and, thus, final repudiation of histrionic existence. “RĂ©duis tes heures Ă  un entretien avec toi, et bien mieux avec Dieu. Bannis les hommes de tes pensĂ©es, que rien d’extĂ©rieur ne vienne dĂ©shonorer ta solitude, laisse aux pitres le souci d’avoir des semblables. L’autre te diminue, car il t’oblige Ă  jouer un rĂŽle; supprime de ta vie le geste, confine-toi dans l’essentiel”[43].

It is in this way that social rules impose the acquisition of the science of the mask, and ignoring it automatically triggers isolation and marginalization. Totally dependent upon conventions, perfectly adopting the strategies of duplicity, subtly mastering the techniques of hypocrisy, people are bothered by any step taken outside this sophisticated pattern of camouflage which ensures the stability of their daily life. It is because of this that the reactions against those who tend to question the comfortable habits of dissimulation are merciless. The madman, the main agent of stability dissolution, bothers by means of his complete honesty. He is dangerous because he denounces the principles of the masquerade without any restraints. He is unpredictable since he exposes himself exactly as he is, being incapable of resorting to any sort of disguise. He is thus evicted from the space of possible interaction with other individuals and sent to an asylum[44].

Just like ValĂ©ry, Cioran uses the idea of simulation as essential criterion in the delineation between normality and insanity, considering that the onset of the malady determines the loss of social preservation instinct, triggering a display of otherwise concealed infirmity and inner smallness and preventing the taking of any self-protection measures by exhibiting the human being in its brutal nakedness: “X – pourquoi est-il fou? parce qu’il ne dĂ©guise, parce qu’il ne peut dĂ©guiser jamais son premier mouvement. Tout est chez lui Ă  l’état brut, tout en lui Ă©voque l’impudeur de la vraie nature”[45] The madman knows nothing of the importance of disguise, he is not ready to sacrifice anything on the alter of appearances, being forced to fully conform to the discontinuities of his inner being. In his case, ĂȘtre leaves paraĂźtre no chance; it prohibits its emergence, it excludes its right to exist.

To ValĂ©ry, the simulation principle governs the whole sphere of art, allowing it to stray from the plain naturalness of reality. The most creators are, according to this vision, those who manage to accomplish such a maneuver, attaining perfection by means of an entirely reason-controlled and supervised process. In Cioran’s case, things are more nuanced. He admits that there is a considerable category of authors to whom intentionality, design, attention, the infinitesimal examination of details prevail, but they do not rank among the great minds. They are mere literary sophists[46], exclusively preoccupied with style, expressivity, incapable of escaping sterility unless by “ce renouvellement continuel que suppose un jeu oĂč la nuance acquiert des dimensions d’idole et oĂč la chimie verbale rĂ©ussit des dosages inconcevables Ă  l’art naĂŻf”[47]. Their fetishization of writing symbolizes their lack of confidence in experience, the clearest symptom of the radical skepticism they preach. They would rather protect themselves from the void that menaces them by interposing a world of words, by believing that “la rĂ©alitĂ© est encore plus creuse que sa figuration verbale, que l’accent d’une idĂ©e vaut mieux que l’idĂ©e, un prĂ©texte bien amenĂ© qu’une conviction, une tournure savante qu’une irruption irrĂ©flĂ©chie”[48].

The portrait drawn by Cioran to the literary sophist in this 1956 volume shares quite a number of features that were later on to be attributed to ValĂ©ry in the never-to-become-a-preface 1968 essay. These features account for the nihilism of such a writer, for his discomfort before experience, feeling, anything that is full of life. It is, however, precisely these attributes that determine Cioran to think that such an author, dependent upon construction and artifice, obediently following reason, immune to any intellectually non-validated sensations or states, shaken by doubts, perpetually haunted by sterility, is unable to generate a truly important work, to put forward a disturbing view of the world. The hegemony of reason within creation seems impoverishing to Cioran, its excesses leading to a leveling of one’s view of existence, to the guilty ignorance of human being’s complexity.

The great creator is not a prisoner of language captive to the spoken, an eternal hostage of his own reason, but an individual that reaches words, expression, language to the very purpose of communicating an exceptional experience, to the end of showing its painful or beastly splendor with the whole intensity of the reality show he is living. To Cioran, such a writer is DostoĂŻevski, scarred by epilepsy[49] and obsessed with the divine experience, reaching “jusqu’à la limite de la raison, jusqu’au vertige ultime. Il est allĂ© jusqu’à l’effondrement, par ce saut dans le divin, dans l’extase. Pour moi, c’est le plus grand Ă©crivain, le plus profond et qui a Ă  peu prĂšs tout compris”[50]

In ValĂ©ry’s eyes, genius is an extremely complex machinery whose functions stand in perfect harmony, discipline and hierarchy and support the conscious production of the great work, the emergence of the attentively crystallized form that underlies each truly remarkable vision. In Cioran’s case, the surfacing of genius is the result of some misbalance, of troubled normality, of excess. Indebted in this direction to some considerations made by Lichtenberg[51] and Nietzsche[52], he praises the fertility of disorder, of physiological accidents, the irrational force of the instincts born out of the minds of great men. For this reason, he does not believe in the virtues of lucidity, he deplores the hysteria of introspection, the obsessive self-scrutiny, reckoning that it all does nothing but block the spontaneity of the creative impulse, inserting the lethal inclination towards self-censorship and leading towards sterility: “Ce n’est que dans la mesure oĂč nous ne nous connaissons pas nous-mĂȘmes qu’il nous est possible de nous rĂ©aliser et de produire. Est fĂ©cond celui qui se trompe sur les motifs de ses acts, qui rĂ©pugne Ă  peser ses dĂ©fauts et ses mĂ©rites, qui pressent et redoute l’impasse oĂč nous conduit la vue exacte de nos capacitĂ©s. Le crĂ©ateur qui devient transparent Ă  lui-mĂȘme ne crĂ©e plus : se connaĂźtre, c’est Ă©touffer ses dons et son dĂ©mon”[53]

His aseptic views on the creative process lead ValĂ©ry towards evicting the author’s empirical individuality from the judgment that is exerted upon the work, any biographism seeming irrelevant or even harmful to him by means of its threat against the purity of exclusively intellectual construction. By antithesis, Cioran, an avid consumer of biographies, explores with immense curiosity all the available details of the lives of the personalities that fascinate him, finding enjoyment in inventorying their misfortunes, diseases, vices and peculiarities out of his sheer belief that they represent a privileged means of achieving the full comprehension of their works. Swift’s or Gogol’s impotence, Dostoievksi’s epilepsy, Hölderlin and Nietzsche’s madness are only a few of the episodes upon which he focuses, making his own comments according to his own attempt at characterizing his writing, either violently, explosively, hysterically, or coldly, sardonically, almost indifferently[54].

Cioran’s interest in biographic incidents, in digging the author’s flesh and bones up is doubled by his perspective on creation. On the one hand, he agrees with ValĂ©ry in what regards the absolutely unpredictable nature of the birth of ideas, the inscrutable hazard that governs its genesis. Yet, he does not share the latter’s conviction that the intellect can take over such an accidental impulse, controlling and moulding it according to its intentions, consciously inscribing it into a constellation of themes and motifs that allows full emphasis upon its true importance. To Cioran it is obvious that great minds are not used to functioning rigorously, exactly following the steps of a certain method, changing their course into a voluntary enterprise, mastering the chaotic assault of impressions and instincts, rationally blurring the always demonic edges of the world, since acting as such would equal depriving themselves of the whole charge of living, of the entire spectacle of emotions and passions and opting for the mere plainness of abstraction, easy to call upon and forge at any given moment but perfectly indifferent, since “Celui qui pense quand il veut n’a rien Ă  nous dire”[55]. Instead of controlling the metabolism of the idea, instead of subjecting it to intellectual constraints, the creators let themselves possessed by its capricious emergence, they become its slaves, totally dependent upon the decrees of their body and the requirements of the moment: “Les <saisons> de l’esprit sont conditionnĂ©es par un rythme organique; il ne dĂ©pend pas de <moi> d’ĂȘtre naĂŻf ou cynique: mes vĂ©ritĂ©s sont les sophismes de mon enthousiasme ou de ma tristesse. J’existe, je sens et je pense au grĂ© de l’instant – et malgrĂ© moi. Le Temps me constitue; je m’y oppose en vain – et je suis. Mon prĂ©sent non souhaitĂ© se dĂ©roule, me dĂ©roule; ne pouvant le commander, je le commente; esclave de mes pensĂ©es, je joue avec elles, comme un bouffon de la fatalitĂ©â€Šâ€[56]

Since every important work is the product of hazard, the fortunate outcome of circumstances which entirely escape the individual’s capacities of prediction, Cioran shows his belief that “Nous ne devrions parler que de sensations et de visions: jamais d’idĂ©es – car elles n’émanent pas de nos entrailles et ne sont jamais vĂ©ritablementnĂŽtres”[57]. Ideas, which people change as often as ties[58], originate in the exterior, they are not organically produced. They are merely used to partially decode the obscure impulses sent by one’s own body, to make the signals of the flesh abyss relatively legible. Neuter in themselves, emotionally colored only due to the magma of feelings and passions that determine their unpredictable emergence, they are often borrowed to express an experience that seems identical but remains, nevertheless, untranslatable.

A fervent enemy of the notion of originality, just like ValĂ©ry, Cioran ridicules the efforts paid by a series of artists in order to proclaim their singularity, convinced that “Presque tous les oeuvres sont faites avec des Ă©clairs d’imitation, avec des frissons appris et des extases pillĂ©es”[59], considering the pursuit of originality at any cost as an indication of a second hand mind[60]. In this respect, his position resembles the opinions of some of the most important moralists such as La BruyĂšre, Montaigne ot Vauvenargues: he believes that the requirement of absolute novelty is a mere exaggeration of those who have not understood that the meaning of a writers’ experience is given by his own searches, which can lead him towards a series of conclusions which he shares with some of his predecessors. If the similarities are the result of borrowing, he admits, just as ValĂ©ry does, that received influences may be benefic or harmful according to the way in which they are integrated by the author’s spiritual metabolism: “Toute <influence> est mauvaise, tant qu’elles est perceptible,sentie. Si elles est assimilĂ©e et surmontĂ©e, elle peut ĂȘtre utile.

Oublier tous ceux qu’on a admirĂ©s, voilĂ  un impĂ©ratif salutaire”[61]

Cioran is irritated by the hypertrophy of the self which he notices especially in the case of contemporary writers. He is disgusted by the narcissist voluptuousness they display, by their search for notoriety at any cost and by any means. He feels compelled to distance himself from an attitude which transforms writing into a mere means of social promotion, transforming it into a purely personal stake, without any existential meaning or importance for the others. The man who wrote in his Notebooks that “Ce n’est pas Ă  une oeuvre que j’aspire, c’est Ă  la vĂ©ritĂ©. Ne pas produire, mais chercher [
] Je voudrai ĂȘtre un libĂ©rateur. Rendre l’homme plus libre à l’égard de lui-mĂȘme et du monde”[62], could not accept the outrageous celebration of individuality, the impure cult of subjectivity, regretting, just like ValĂ©ry, the absence of anonymity from literature, deploring the supremacy of authorship: “Mes livres, mon oeuvre
 Le cĂŽtĂ© grotesque de ces possessifs.

Tout s’est gĂątĂ© dĂšs que la littĂ©rature a cessĂ© d’ĂȘtre anonyme. La dĂ©cadence remonte au premier auteur”[63]

 

Translated by Cristina ChevereƟan


[1] Paul Valéry, Mauvaises pensées et autres in Oeuvres, II, Paris, Gallimard, 1966, p. 891.

[2] Idem

[3]Iibidem, p. 848.

[4] For this entire analysis cf. Paul ValĂ©ry, L’idĂ©e fixe in Oeuvres, II, op. cit., p. 258-259.

[5] Paul Valéry, Mauvaises pensées et autres in Oeuvres, II, op. cit., p. 848-849.

[6] Cf. Paul Valéry, Mélange in Oeuvres, I, Paris, Gallimard, 1965, p. 382.

[7] Paul Valéry, Variété in Oeuvres, I,  p. 562.

[8] Paul Valéry, Mélange in Oeuvres, I, p. 392.

[9] Paul Valéry, Tel quel in Oeuvres, II, p. 708.

[10] Paul Valéry, Variété in Oeuvres, I, p. 562.

[11] Idem

[12] Idem, p. 563.

[13] Ibidem, p. 817.

[14] Paul Valéry, Mauvaises pensées et autres in Oeuvres, II, p. 836.

[15] Paul Valéry, Variété in Oeuvres, I, p. 570-571.

[16] Cf. Paul Valéry, Introduction à la Méthode de Léonard de Vinci in Oeuvres, I. p. 1205.

[17] Ibidem, p. 1203.

[18] Paul Valéry, Variété in Oeuvres, I, p. 570

[19] Ibidem, p. 571.

[20] Paul Valéry, Tel quel in Oeuvres, II, p. 546.

[21] Ibidem, p. 500.

[22] Paul Valéry, Mélange, in Oeuvres, I, p. 377.

[23] Paul Valéry, Tel quel in Oeuvres, II, p. 497.

[24] Ibidem, p. 628.

[25] Cf. Paul Valéry, Introduction à la Méthode de Léonard de Vinci in Oeuvres, I. p. 1208.

[26] Paul ValĂ©ry, L’idĂ©e fixe in Oeuvres, II, p. 261.

[27] Cf. Paul Valéry, Introduction à la Méthode de Léonard de Vinci in Oeuvres, I. p. 1208.

[28] Paul Valéry, Mauvaises pensées et autres in Oeuvres, II, p. 795.

[29] Cf. Paul Valéry, Introduction à la Méthode de Léonard de Vinci in Oeuvres, I. p. 1205.

[30] Paul Valéry, Tel quel in Oeuvres, II, p. 483.

[31] Ibidem, p. 621. “
”

[32] Paul Valéry, Mauvaises pensées et autres in Oeuvres, II, p. 878.

[33] Ibidem, p. 677.

[34] Cf. Paul Valéry, Tel quel in Oeuvres, II, p. 591.

[35] Paul ValĂ©ry, L’idĂ©e fixe in Oeuvres, II, p. 238.

[36] Paul Valéry, Tel quel in Oeuvres, II, p. 632.

[37] Ibidem, p. 633-634.

[38] Paul Valéry, Mauvaises pensées et autres in Oeuvres, II, p. 805.

[39] Cioran, Précis de decomposition in Oeuvres, Paris, Gallimard, 1995, p. 666-667.

[40] Cf. Cioran, Écartùlement in Oeuvres, p. 1409-1410.

[41] Cioran, Le mauvais démiurge in Oeuvres, p. 1221.

[42] Cioran, Cahiers, p. 43.

[43] Ibidem, p. 50.

[44] Cf. Cioran, Syllogismes de l’amertume in Oeuvres, p. 767.

[45] Cioran, Cahiers, p. 57.

[46] Cf. Cioran, La tentation d’exister in Oeuvres, p. 895.

[47] Ibidem, p. 894.

[48] Ibidem, p. 901.

[49] Cf. Cioran, “Entretien avec Lea Vergine” in Entretiens, Paris, Gallimard, 1997, p. 134.

[50] Cioran, “Entretien avec LĂ©o Gillet” in Entretiens, p. 91.

[51] Cf. Georg Cristoph Lichtenberg, Le miroir de  l’ñme, Paris, JosĂ© Corti, 1997, p. 112.

[52] Cf. Nietzsche, Humane, too humane, aphorism 231.

[53] Cioran, Le mauvais démiurge in Oeuvres, p, 1232-1233.

[54] Cf. Cioran, “Entretien avec Jean-François Duval” in Entretiens, p. 46.

[55] Cioran, Précis de decomposition in Oeuvres, p. 666.

[56] Ibidem, p. 667.

[57] Cioran, Aveux et anathÚmes in Oeuvres, p. 1668.

[58] Cf. Cioran, Précis de decomposition in Oeuvres, p. 588.

[59] Cioran, Syllogismes de l’amertume in Oeuvres, p. 752.

[60] Cf. Cioran, Cahiers, p. 138.

[61] Cioran, Cahiers, p. 626.

[62] Ibidem, p. 311.

[63] Cioran, Aveux et anathÚmes in Oeuvres, p. 1699.