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Create account Log in Page Discussion Read Edit View history Search Emil Cioran Main Page Community portal Village pump Recent changes Random page Help Donate Contact Wikiquote Wikiquote links People Literary works Proverbs Films TV shows Themes Categories Toolbox In other languages Azərbaycanca open in browser PRO version Your continued donations keep Wikiquote running! Emil Cioran (8 April 1911 – 20 June 1995) was a Romanian writer, noted for his somber works in the French language; known in French as Émile Cioran. Contents [hide] 1 Quotes 1.1 On the Heights of Despair (1934) 1.2 The Book of Delusions (1936) 1.3 Tears and Saints (1937) 1.4 A Short History of Decay (1949) 1.5 All Gall Is Divided (1952) 1.6 History & Utopia (1960) 1.7 The Fall Into Time (1964) 1.8 The Trouble With Being Born (1973) 1.9 Drawn and Quartered (1983) 1.10 Anatheamas and Admirations (1987) 2 External links All my life, I have lived w ith the feeling that I have been kept from my true place. If the expression "metaphysical exile" had no meaning, my existence alone w ould afford it one. Quotes On the Heights of Despair (1934) Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API [edit] [edit] Azərbaycanca Български Bosanski Česky Deutsch Eesti Español Esperanto Euskara Français Bahasa Indonesia Italiano ‫עברית‬ Magyar Polski Português Română Русский Slovenščina Türkçe Romanian title: Pe culmile disperării I am displeased with everything. If they made me God, I would immediately resign. The Book of Delusions (1936) Romanian title: Cartea amăgirilor [edit] No one should forget: Eros alone can fulfill life; knowledge, never. Only Eros makes sense; knowledge is empty infinity;––for thoughts, there is always time; life has its time; there is no thought that comes too late; any desire can become a regret. All philosophers should end their days at Pythia’s feet. There is only one philosophy, that of unique moments. All the concessions we make to Eros are holes in our desire for the absolute. The reaction against your own thought in itself lends life to thought. How this reaction is born is hard to describe, because it identifies with the very rare intellectual tragedies. ––The tension, the degree and level of intensity of a thought proceeds from its internal antinomies, which in turn are derived from the unsolvable contradictions of a soul. Thought cannot solve the contradictions of the soul. As far as linear thinking is concerned, thoughts mirror themselves in other thoughts, instead of mirroring a destiny. A regret understood by no one: the regret to be a pessimist. It’s not easy to be on the wrong foot with life I don’t understand how people can believe in God, even when I myself think of him everyday. The fear of your own solitude, of its vast surface and its infinity… Remorse is the voice of solitude. And what does this whispering voice say? Everything in us that is not human anymore. To withstand any truth… That fear which gives birth to thoughts, and the fear of thoughts… To detach yourself elegantly from the world; to give contour and grace to sadness; a solitude in style; a walk that gives cadence to memories; stepping towards the intangible; with the breath in the trembling margins of things; the past reborn in the overflow of fragrances; the smell, through which we conquer time; the contour of the invisible things; the forms of the immaterial; to deepen yourself in the intangible; to touch the world airborne by smell; aerial dialogue and gliding dissolution; to bathe in your own open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API reflecting fragmentation… Detachment from the world as an attachment to the ego… Who can realize the detachment in which you are as far away from yourself as you are from the world? Only thoughts that are randomly born die. The other thoughts we carry with us without knowing them. They have abandoned themselves to forgetfulness so that they can be with us all the time. What am I, other than a chance in the infinite probabilities of not having been! Tears and Saints (1937) Romanian title: Lacrimi şi Sfinţi [edit] Consciousness is nature's nightmare. Is it possible that existence is our exile and nothingness our home? Saints live in flames; wise men, next to them. A heart without music is like beauty without melancholy. As long as one believes in philosophy, one is healthy; sickness begins when one starts to think. …all of the philosophers put together are not worth a single saint. Music is everything. God himself is nothing more than an acoustic hallucination. Sadness makes you God's prisoner. Tell me how you want to die, and I'll tell you who you are. As long as I live I shall not allow myself to forget that I shall die; I am waiting for death so that I can forget about it. To fear is to die every minute. From the cradle to the grave, each individual pays for the sin of not being God. That's why life is an uninterrupted religious crisis, superficial for believers, shattering for doubters. Life is not, and death is a dream. Suffering has invented them both as self-justification. Man alone is torn between an unreality and an illusion. A Short History of Decay (1949) French title: Précis de décomposition [edit] open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API Thought is as much a lie as love or faith. Ideas should be neutral. But man animates them with his passions and folly. Impure and turned into beliefs, they take on the appearance of reality. The passage from logic is consummated. Thus are born ideologies, doctrines, and bloody farce. Society : an inferno of saviors. I feel safer with a Pyrrho than with a St. Paul. In every man sleeps a prophet, and when he wakes there is a little more evil in the world. What surrounds us we endure better for giving it a name — and moving on. Society is not a disease, it is a disaster. What a stupid miracle that one can live in it. Under each formula lies a corpse. Life inspires more dread than death — it is life which is the great unknown. We change ideas like neckties. Ennui is the echo in us of time tearing itself apart. Reality is a creation of our excesses. Life creates itself in delirium and is undone in ennui. Each of us is born with a share of purity, predestined to be corrupted by our commerce with mankind, by that sin against solitude. We die in proportion to the words we fling around us. Anyone who speaks in the name of others is always an impostor. Life is merely a fracas on an unmapped terrain, and the universe a geometry stricken with epilepsy. Life is possible only by the deficiencies of our imagination and memory. Chaos is rejecting all you have learned. Chaos is being yourself. Man starts over again everyday, in spite of all he knows, against all he knows. By all evidence we are in the world to do nothing. Philosophy: impersonal anxiety; refuge among anemic ideas. We define only out of despair, we must have a formula... to give a facade to the void. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API Nothing proves that we are more than nothing. We are afraid of the enormity of the possible. So long as man is protected by madness he functions and flourishes, but when he frees himself from the fruitful tyranny of fixed ideas, he is lost, ruined. The universal view melts things into a blur. Truths begin by a conflict with the police — and end by calling them in. At different degrees, everything is pathology, except for indifference. Intelligence flourishes only in the ages when belief withers. To Live signifies to believe and hope — to lie and to lie to oneself. We interest others by the misfortune we spread around us. It is because we are all impostors that we endure each other. The man who does not consent to lie will see the Earth shrink under his feet: we are biologically obliged to be false. When we cannot be delivered from ourselves, we delight in devouring ourselves. Basis of society: anonymous sweat. Vague a l'ame — melancholy yearning for the end of the world. The curtain of the universe is moth-eaten, and through its holes we see nothing now but mask and ghost. If our fellow men could be aware of our opinions about them, love, friendship, and devotion would be forever erased from the dictionaries; and if we had the courage to confront the doubts we timidly conceive about ourselves, none of us would utter an "I" without shame. Espousing the melancholy of ancient symbols, I would have freed myself; I would have shared the dignity of the abandoned gods, defending them against the insidious crosses, the invasion of servants and martyrs, and would have spent my nights seeking repose in the dementia and debauchery of the Caesars. As an expert in disenchantment, I would have riddled the new zeals with all the arrows of dissolute wisdom — with courtesans, in skeptical brothels, or in circuses with lavish forms of cruelty. I would have filled my thinking with vice and blood to stretch logic to unheard of dimensions, as large as worlds that are dying. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API You are forgiven everything provided you have a trade, a subtitle to your name, a seal on your nothingness. Try to be free: you will die of hunger. I find in myself as much evil as in anyone, but detesting action - mother of all vices - I am the cause of no one's suffering. History shows that the thinkers who mounted on the top of the ladder of questions, who set their foot on the last rung, that of the absurd, have bequesthed to posterity only an example of sterility. Nothing is indefensible - from the absurdest proposition to the most monstrous crime. Consider love: is there a nobler outpouring, a rapture less suspect? Its shudders rival music, compete with the tears of solitude and of ecstasy: sublime...but a sublimity inseperable from the urinary tract: transports bordering upon excretion, a heaven of the glands, sudden sancitity of the orifices. It takes no more than a moment of attention for this intoxication, shaken, to cast you back into the ordures of physiology or a moment of fatigue to recognize that so much ardor produces only a variety of mucous. Why do you lack the strength to escape the obligation to breathe? To repeat to yourself a thousand times a day: 'Nothing on Earth has any worth,' to keep finding yourself at the same point, to circle stupidly as a top, eternally... I dream of wanting - and all I want seems to me worthless. The man who can no longer take sides because all men are necessarily right and wrong, because everything is at once justified and irrational - that man must renounce his own name, tread his identity underfoot, and begin a new life in impassibility and despair. I thought that the only action a man could perform without shame was to take his life; that he had no right to diminish himself in the succession of days and the inertic of misery. No elect, I kept telling myself, but those who committed suicide. As incompetent in life as in death, I loathe myself and in this loathing I dream of another life, another death. And for having sought to be a sage such as never was, I am only a madman among the mad. All Gall Is Divided (1952) open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API [edit] French title: Syllogismes de l'amertume The desire to die was my one and only concern; to it I have sacrificed everything, even death. "Truths"... we no longer wish to bear their burden nor be deceived by them or be their accomplice... I dream a world where one could die for a comma. If there is anyone who owes everything to Bach, it is certainly God. The aphorism is cultivated only by those who have known fear in the midst of words, that fear of collapsing with all the words. The pessimist has to invent new reasons to exist every day: he is a victim of the "meaning" of life. "I am like a broken puppet whose eyes have fallen inside." This remark of a mental patient weighs more heavily than a whole stack of works on introspection. We cannot avoid the defects of men without fleeting, thereby, their virtues. So we ruin ourselves by wisdom. Incredible that the prospect of having a biographer has made no one renounce having a life. Every thought should recall the ruin of a smile. Boredom levels all enigmas: a positivist reverie. There is an innate anxiety which supplants in us both knowledge and intuition. Lucidity's task: to attain a correct despair, an Olympian ferocity. The cynicism of utter solitude is a calvary relieved by insolence. Death poses a problem which replaces all the others. What is deadly to philosophy, to the naive belief in the hierarchy of perplexities. The advantage of meditating upon life and death is being able to say anything at all about them. Mental therapeutics abound among rich nations: the absence of immediate anxieties sustains a sickly climate. In order to preserve its nervous well-being, a nation needs a substantial disaster, an object for its afflictions, a positive terror justifying its complexes. Societies consolidate in danger and atrophy in neutrality. Where peace and hygiene and comfort flourish, psychoses multiply...I come from a country which, never having known happiness, has produced but one psychoanalyst. Objection to scientific knowledge: this world doesn't deserve to be known. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API In the torments of the intellect, there is a certain bearing which is to be sought in vain among those of the heart. Skepticism is the elegance of anxiety. Not content with real sufferings, the anxious man imposes imaginary ones on himself; he is a being for whom unreality exists, must exist; otherwise where would he obtain the ration of torment his nature demands? Whether or not there exists a solution to problems troubles only a minority; that the emotions have no outcome, lead to nothing, vanish into themselves - that is the great unconscious drama, the affective insolubility everyone suffers without even thinking about it. We suffer: the external world begins to exist...; we suffer to excess: it vanishes. Pain instigates the world only to unmask its unreality. Boredom is a larval anxiety; depression, a dreamy hatred. Philosophy offers an antidote to melancholy. And many still believe in the depth of philosophy! Philosophy's error is to be too endurable. If someone incessantly drops the word "life," you know he's a sick man. Long before physics or psychology were born, pain disintegrated matter, and affliction the soul. Sooner or later, each desire must encounter its lassitude: its truth... Beware of those who turn their backs on love, ambition, society. They will take their revenge for having renounced... Awareness of time: assault on time... Erect I make a resolution; prone I revoke it. Thanks to depression - that alpinism of the indolent - we scale every summit and daydream over every precipice from our bed. If just once you were depressed for no reason, you have been so all your life without knowing. Melancholy: an appetite no misery satisfies. You cannot protect your solitude if you cannot make yourself odious. I live only because it is in my power to die when I choose to: without the idea of suicide, I'd have killed myself right away. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API The skepticism which fails to contribute to the ruin of our health is merely an intellectual exercise. The irritating thing about despair is its obviousness, its visibility, its "documentation": what is it but reportage? Consider hope, on the contrary - its generosity in what is false, its mania for affabulation, its rejection of the event: an aberration, a fiction. And it is in this aberration that life resides and upon this fiction that it feeds. Of all calumnies the worst is the one which attacks our indolence, which contests its authenticity. Without God, everything is nothingness; and with God? Supreme nothingness. Within the pessimist an ineffectual kindness connives with an unsatiated malice. You have dreamed of setting the world ablaze, and you have not even managed to communicate your fire to words, to light up a single one! No longer ask me for my program: isn't breathing one? Every action flatters the hyena within us. What anxiety when one is not sure of one's doubts or wonders: are these actually doubts? To hope is to contradict the future. The Real gives me asthma. The need for remorse which precedes wrongdoing, which actually creates it... However intimate we may be with the operations of the mind, we cannot think more than two or three minutes a day; - unless, by taste or by profession, we practice, for hours on end, brutalizing words in order to extract ideas from them...The intellectual represents the major disgrace, the culminating failure of Homo sapiens. After thirty, one should be no more interested in events than an astronomer in gossip. Only the idiot is equipped to breathe. The refutation of suicide: is it not inelegant to abandon a world which has so willingly put itself at the service of our melancholy? The Creation was the first act of sabotage. For two thousand years, Jesus has revenged himself on us for not having died on a sofa. Losing love is so rich a philosophical ordeal that it makes a hairdresser into a rival of Socrates. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API The lover who kills himself for a girl has an experience which is more complete and much more profound than the hero who overturns the world. The more disabused a man's mind, the more he risks, stricken by love, reacting like a schoolgirl. We always love...despite; and that "despite" covers an infinity. Events - tumors of Time. Man secretes disaster. In our fear, we are victims of an aggression of the Future. Anxiety - or the fanaticism of the worst. Without it's assiduity to the ridiculous, would the human race have lasted more than a single generation? I believe in the salvation of humanity, in the future of cyanide... Will man ever recover from the mortal blow he has delivered to life? "Where do you get those superior airs of yours?" "I've managed to survive, you see, all those nights when I wondered: am I going to kill myself at dawn?" The moment we believe we've understood everything grants us the look of a murderer. Only optimists commit suicide, the optimists who can no longer be...optimists. The others, having no reason to live, why should they have any to die? On the frontiers of the self: "What I have suffered, what I am suffering, no one will ever know, not even I." No one should try to live if he has not completed his training as a victim. The best way of distancing ourselves from others is to invite them to delight in our defeats; afterward, we are sure to hate them for the rest of our days. The more indifferent I am to men, the more they trouble me; and when I scorn them, I cannot approach them without stammering. History & Utopia (1960) French title: Histoire et utopie [edit] open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API Pursued by our origins…we all are. If a man has not, by the time he is 30, yielded to the fascination of every form of extremism, I don't know if he is to be admired or scorned — a saint or a corpse. To live... in any sense of the word... is to reject others; to accept them, one must renounce, do oneself violence. Tolerance — the function of an extinguished ardor — tolerance cannot seduce the young. What every man who loves his country hopes for in his inmost heart: the suppression of half his compatriots. Glory — once achieved, what is it worth? What does the future, that half of time, matter to the man who is infatuated with eternity? Who Rebels? Who rises in arms? Rarely the slave, but almost always the oppressor turned slave. It is an understatement to say that in this society injustices abound: in truth, it is itself the quintessence of injustice. Freedom can be manifested only in the void of beliefs, in the absence of axioms, and only where the laws have no more authority than a hypothesis. No one can enjoy freedom without trembling. For you who no longer posses it, freedom is everything, for us who do, it is merely an illusion. The "west" — what curse has fallen upon it that at the term of its trajectory it produces only these businessmen, these shopkeepers, these racketeers with their blank stares and atrophied smiles... is it with such vermin as this that a civilization so delicate and so complex must come to an end? Never to have occasion to take a position, to make up one's mind, or to define oneself — there is no wish I make more often. I seem to myself, among civilized men, an intruder, a troglodyte enamored of decrepitude, plunged into subversive prayers. Our works, whatever they may be, derive from our incapacity to kill or to kill ourselves. A distant enemy is always preferable to one at the gate. Nothing is so wearing as the possession or abuse of liberty. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API A people represents not so much an aggregate of ideas and theories as of obsessions. A marvel that has nothing to offer, democracy is at once a nation's paradise and its tomb. One hardly saves a world without ruling it. Jealousy — that jumble of secret worship and ostensible aversion. Mind, even more deadly to empires than to individuals, erodes them, compromises their solidity. I foresee the day when we shall read nothing but telegrams and prayers. Ambition is a drug that makes its addicts potential madmen. Woes and wonders of power, that tonic hell, synthesis of poison and panacea. In order to have the stuff of a tyrant, a certain mental derangement is necessary. We are born to exist, not to know, to be, not to assert ourselves. Knowledge, having irritated and stimulated our appetite for power, will lead us inexorably to our ruin. Each of us must pay for the slightest damage he inflicts upon a universe created for indifference and stagnation, sooner or later, he will regret not having left it intact. To venture upon an undertaking of any kind, even the most insignificant, is to sacrifice to envy. Crime in full glory consolidates authority by the sacred fear it inspires. If, at the limit, you can rule without crime, you cannot do so without injustices. In a republic, that paradise of debility, the politician is a petty tyrant who obeys the laws. The more intense a spiritual leader's appetite for power, the more he is concerned to limit it to others. Knowledge subverts love: in proportion as we penetrate our secrets, we come to loathe our kind, precisely because they resemble us. Tragic paradox of freedom: the mediocre men who alone make its exercise possible cannot guarantee its duration. To devastate by language, to blow up the word and with it the world. Tyranny is just what one can develop a taste for, since it so happens that man prefers to wallow in fear rather than to face the anguish of being himself. To Foreswear vengeance is to chain oneself to forgiveness, to flounder in pardon, to be tainted by the open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API hatred smothered within. Word — that invisible dagger. Revenge is not always sweet, once it is consummated we feel inferior to our victim. Wherever we go, we come up against the human, a repulsive ubiquity before which we fall into stupor and revolt, a perplexity on fire. Maniacs of Procreation, bipeds with devalued faces, we have lost all appeal for each other. The multiplication of our kind borders on the obscene; the duty to love them, on the preposterous. Were we to undertake an exhaustive self-scrutiny, disgust would paralyze us, we would be doomed to a thankless existence. The more we try to wrest ourselves from our ego, the deeper we sink into it. What is pity but the vice of kindness. To think is to take a cunning revenge in which we camouflage our baseness and conceal our lower instincts. In most cases we attach ourselves to God in order to take revenge on life, to punish it, to signify we can do without it, that we have found something better, and we also attach ourselves to God in horror of men. We understand God by everything in ourselves that is fragmentary, incomplete, and inopportune. On Creating — What we crave, what we want to see in others eyes, is that servile expression, an unconcealed infatuation with our gestures. Skepticism is the sadism of embittered souls. Whenever I happen to be in a city of any size, I marvel that riots do not break out everyday: Massacres, unspeakable carnage, a doomsday chaos. How can so many human beings coexist in a space so confined without hating each other to death? Utopia is a mixture of childish rationalism and secularized angelism. That history just unfolds, independently of a specified direction, of a goal, no one is willing to admit. A great step forward was made the day men understood that in order to torment one another more open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API efficiently they would have to gather together, to organize themselves into a society. What pride to discover that nothing belongs to you — what a revelation. To act is to anchor in the imminent future. Isn't history ultimately the result of our fear of boredom? We are all secularized anarchists today. The Fall Into Time (1964) French title: La chute dans le temps [edit] He who has never envied the vegetable has missed the human drama. p. 178, first American edition (1970) The Trouble With Being Born (1973) French title: De l'inconvénient d'être né [edit] The only thing the young should be taught is that there is virtually nothing to be hoped for from life. One dreams of a Catalogue of Disappointments which would include all the disillusionments reserved for each and every one of us, to be posted in the schools. To have committed every crime but that of being a father. We make choices, decisions, as long as we keep the surface of things; once we reach the depths, we can neither choose nor decide, we can do nothing but regret the surface... I pride myself on my capacity to perceive the transitory character of everything. An odd gift which has spoiled all my joys; better: all my sensations. Once we begin to want, we fall under the jurisdiction of the Devil. It is a great force, and a great fortune, to be able to live without any ambition whatever. I aspire to it, but the very fact of so aspiring still participates in ambition. What is that one crucifixion compared to the daily kind any insomniac endures? He who hates himself is not humble. It's not worth the bother of killing yourself, since you always kill yourself too late. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API When you know quite absolutely that everything is unreal, you then cannot see why you should take the trouble to prove it. The same feeling of not belonging, of futility, wherever I go: I pretend interest in what matters nothing to me, I bestir myself mechanically or out of charity, without ever being caught up, without ever being somewhere. What attracts me is elsewhere, and I don't know what that elsewhere is. I have all the defects of other people yet everything they do seems to me inconceivable. To claim you are more detached, more alien to everything than anyone, and to be merely a fanatic of indifference! What are you waiting for in order to give up? There is no limit to suffering. The farther men get from God, the farther they advance into the knowledge of religions. An aphorism? Fire without flames. Understandable that no one tries to warm himself at it. All my life, I have lived with the feeling that I have been kept from my true place. If the expression "metaphysical exile" had no meaning, my existence alone would afford it one. Everything turns on pain; the rest is accessory, even nonexistent, for we remember only what hurts. Painful sensations being the only real ones, it is virtually useless to experience others. We had nothing to say to one another, and while I was manufacturing my phrases I felt that earth was falling through space and that I was falling with it at a speed that made me dizzy. Years and years to waken from that sleep in which the others loll; then years and years to escape that awakening... The sole means of protecting your solitude is to offend everyone, beginning with those you love. Late at night. I feel like falling into a frenzy, doing some unprecedented thing to release myself, but I don't see against whom, against what... The ideal being? An angel ravaged by humor. Suffering makes you live time in detail, moment after moment. Which is to say that it exists for you: over the others, the ones who don't suffer, time flows, so that they don't live in time, in fact they never have. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API Deep in his heart, man aspires to rejoin the condition he had before consciousness. History is merely the detour he takes to get there. Progress is the injustice each generation commits with regard to its predecessor. In the long run, tolerance breeds more ills than intolerance. If this is true, it constitutes the most serious accusation that can be made against man. Trees are massacred, houses go up — faces, faces everywhere. Man is spreading. Man is the cancer of the earth. Why does the Gita rank "renunciation of the fruit of actions" so high? Because such renunciation is rare, impracticable, contrary to our nature, and because achieving it is destroying the man one has been and one is, killing in oneself the entire past, the work of millennia - in a word, freeing oneself of the Species, that hideous and immemorial riffraff. One cannot live without motives. I have no motives left, and I am living. Every thought derives from a thwarted sensation. Truth remains hidden from the man who is filled with hatred and desire...which is to say, every man alive! Buddhism calls anger "corruption of the mind," manicheism "root of the tree of death." I know this, but what good does it do me to know? As art sinks into paralysis, artists multiply. This anomaly ceases to be one if we realize that art, on its way to exhaustion, has become both impossible and easy. Self-pity is not as sterile as we suppose. Once we feel its mere onset, we assume a thinker's attitude, and come to think of it, we come to think! Fear is the antidote to boredom: the remedy must be stronger than the disease. We dread the future only when we are not sure we can kill ourselves when we want to. Two enemies - the same man divided. "Never judge a man without putting yourself in his place." This old proverb makes all judgment impossible, for we judge someone only because, in fact, we cannot put ourselves in his place. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API "Everything is without basis, without substance," and I never repeat it to myself without feeling something like happiness. Unfortunately there are so many moments when I fail to repeat it to myself. We have lost, being born, as much as we shall lose, dying. Everything. To be sterile - with so many sensations! Perpetual poetry without words. When I happen to be busy, I never give a moment's thought to the "meaning" of anything, particularly of whatever it is I am doing. A proof that the secret of everything is in action and not abstention, that fatal cause of consciousness. If we could see ourselves as others see us, we would vanish on the spot. The more you are a victim of contradictory impulses, the less you know which to yield to. To lack character - precisely that and nothing more. Self-knowledge - the bitterest knowledge of all and also the kind we cultivate least: what is the use of catching ourselves out, morning to night, in the act of illusion, pitilessly tracing each act back to its root, and losing case after case before our own tribunal? Without the faculty of forgetting, our past would weigh so heavily on our present that we should not have the strength to confront another moment, still less to live through it. Life would be bearable only to frivolous natures, those in fact who do not remember. This very second has vanished forever, lost in the anonymous mass of the irrevocable. It will never return. I suffer from this and I do not. Everything is unique - and insignificant. Anxiety is not provoked: it tries to find a justification for itself, and in order to do so seizes upon anything, the vilest pretexts, to which it clings once it has invented them. A reality which precedes its particular expressions, it's varieties, anxiety provokes itself, engenders itself, it is "infinite creation," and as such is more likely to suggest the workings of the divinity than those of the psyche. In relation to any act of life, the mind acts as a killjoy. Each of us believes, quite unconsciously of course, that we alone pursue the truth, which the rest are incapable of seeking out and unworthy of attaining. This madness is so deep-rooted and so useful that it is impossible to realize what would become of each of us if it were someday to disappear. "Do I look like someone who has something to do here on Earth?" - That's what I'd like to answer the busybodies who inquire into my activities. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API Where are my sensations? They have melted into... me, and what is this me, this self, but the sum of these evaporated sensations? Lucidity does not extirpate the desire to live - far from it, lucidity merely makes us unsuited to life. The pangs of truth about ourselves are more than we can endure. How pitiable the man (if such a being exists) who no longer lies to himself! "What do you do from morning to night?" "I endure myself." In the fact of being born there is such an absence of necessity that when you think about it a little more than usual, you are left...with a foolish grin. I sought in doubt a remedy for anxiety. The remedy ended by making common cause with the disease. He detested objective truths, the burden of argument, sustained reasoning. He disliked demonstrating, he wanted to convince no one. Others are a dialectician's invention. If death is as horrible as is claimed, how is it that after the passage of a certain period of time we consider happy any being, friend or enemy, who has ceased to live? The mind that puts everything in question, reaches, after a thousand interrogations, an almost total inertia, a situation which the inert, in fact, knows from the start, by instinct. For what is inertia but a congenital perplexity? I have decided not to oppose anyone ever again, since I have noticed that I always end by resembling my latest enemy. If I used to ask myself, over a coffin, "what good did it do the occupant to be born?" I now put the same question about anyone alive. Paradise was unendurable, otherwise the first man would have adapted to it; this world is no less so, since here we regret paradise or anticipate another one. What to do? Where to go? Do nothing and go nowhere, easy enough. Only what you hide is profound, is true. Whence the power of base feelings. The poor, by thinking unceasingly of money, reach the point of losing the spiritual advantages of nonpossession, thereby sinking as low as the rich. We cannot consent to be judged by someone who has suffered less than ourselves. And since each of open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API us regards himself as an unrecognized Job... What I know at sixty, I knew as well at twenty. Forty years of a long, superfluous, labor of verification. Nothing is a better proof of how far humanity has regressed than the impossibility of finding a single nation, a single tribe, among whom birth still provokes mourning and lamentations. I do nothing, granted. But I see the hours pass - which is better than trying to fill them. Say what we will, death is the best thing nature has found to please everyone. With each of us, everything vanishes, everything stops forever. What an advantage, what an abuse! Without the least effort on our part, we own the universe, we drag it into our own disappearance. No doubt about it, dying is immoral… To think is to undermine - to undermine oneself. Action involves fewer risks, for it fills the interval between things and ourselves, whereas reflection dangerously widens it....So long as I give myself up to physical exercise, manual labor, I am happy, fulfilled; once I stop, I am seized by dizziness, and I can think of nothing but giving up for good. The need for novelty is the characteristic of an alienated gorilla. No position is so false as having understood and still remaining alive. We have convictions only if we have studied nothing thoroughly. Nothing deserves to be undone, doubtless because nothing deserved to be done. Consciousness is much more than the thorn, it is the dagger in the flesh. If we manage to last in spite of everything, it is because our infirmities are so many and so contradictory that they cancel each other out. Nothing is worse than the coarseness and meanness we perpetrate out of timidity. The more you live, the less useful it seems to have lived. Lucidity without the corrective of ambition leads to stagnation. It is essential that the one sustain the other, that the one combat the other without winning, for a work, for a life to be possible. To go still further than Buddha, to raise oneself above Nirvana, to learn to do without it..., to be stopped by nothing, not even the notion of deliverance, regarding it as a mere way-station, an embarrassment, an eclipse... open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API "What's wrong - what's the matter with you?" Nothing, nothing's the matter, I've merely taken a leap outside my fate, and now I don't know where to turn, what to run for... When you no longer believe in yourself, you stop producing or struggling, you even stop raising questions or answering them, whereas it is the contrary that should have occurred, since it is precisely at this moment that, free of all bonds, you are likely to grasp the truth, discern what is real and what is not. But once your belief in your own role, your own lot, has dried up, you become incurious about everything else, even the "truth," though you are closer to it than ever before. To say "everything is illusory" is to court illusion, to accord it a high degree of reality, the highest in fact, whereas on the contrary one wanted to discredit it. The solution? To stop proclaiming or denouncing it, serving it by thinking about it. The very idea that disqualifies all ideas is a fetter. Not to be born is undoubtedly the best plan of all. Unfortunately, it is within no one's reach. Kill yourself because you are what you are, but not because all humanity would spit in your face! Only one thing matters: learning to be the loser. Noble gestures are always suspect. Each time, we regret having committed them. Something false about them, something theatrical, attitudinizing. It is true that we regret ignoble gestures about as much. The unfortunate thing about public misfortunes is that everyone regards himself as qualified to talk about them. God is what survives the evidence that nothing deserves to be thought. When we are fixated on doubt, we take more pleasure in lavishing speculations upon it than in practicing it. Obviously God was a solution, and obviously none so satisfactory that will ever be found again. My mission is to suffer for all those who suffer without knowing it. I must pay for them, expiate their unconsciousness, their luck to be ignorant of how unhappy they are. Everything that lives makes noise. What an argument for the mineral kingdom! Existence would be a quite impracticable enterprise if we stopped granting importance to what has none. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API I know peace only when my ambitions sleep. Once they waken, anxiety repossesses me. Life is a state of ambition. They mole digging his tunnels is ambitious. Ambition is in effect everywhere, and we see its traces on the faces of the dead themselves. If I were to conform to my most intimate convictions, I should cease to take any action whatever, to react in any way. But I am still capable of sensations... To have failed in everything, always, out of a love of discouragement He was above all others, and had had nothing to do with it: he had simply forgotten to desire... Erosion of our being by our infirmities: the resulting void is filled by the presence of consciousness, what am I saying? - that void is consciousness itself. There is no false sensation. At a grave, the words: game, imposture, joke, dream, come to mind. Impossible to think that existence is a serious phenomenon. Certainty of faking from the start, at bottom. Over the gate of our cemeteries should be written: "Nothing is Tragic. Everything is Unreal." To think that so many have succeeded in dying! There is nothing to say about anything. So there can be no limit to the number of books. We must suffer to the end, to the moment when we stop believing in suffering. Drawn and Quartered (1983) French title: Écartelèment [edit] What to think of other people? I ask myself this question each time I make a new acquaintance. So strange does it seem to me that we exist, and that we consent to exist. Existing is plagiarism. "Every time I think of Christ's crucifixion, I commit the sin of envy." — I love Simone Weil when she vies with the greatest saints for pride. In this dream, I was flattering someone I despise. Waking, a greater self-loathing than if I had really committed such vileness... True moral elegance consists in the art of disguising one's victories as defeats. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API We must censure the later Nietzsche for a panting excess in the writing, the absence of rests. What a pity that 'nothingness' has been devalued by an abuse of it made by philosophers unworthy of it! A self-respecting man is a man without a country. A fatherland is birdlime... Illusion begets and sustains the world; we do not destroy one without destroying the other. Which is what I do every day. An apparently ineffectual operation, since I must begin all over again the next day. I feel effective, competent, likely to do something positive only when I lie down and abandon myself to an interrogation without object or end. Philosophers write for professors; thinkers for writers. Fortunate those who, born before science, were privileged to die of their first disease! Even when nothing happens, everything seems too much for me. What can be said, then, in the presence of an event, any event? Impossible to accede to truth by opinions, for each opinion is only a mad perspective of reality. There is no one whose death I have not longed for, at one moment or another. Every act of courage is the work of an unbalanced man. Animals, normal by definition, are always cowardly except when they know themselves know themselves to be stronger, which is cowardice itself. To be is to be cornered. "Neither this world, nor the next, nor happiness are for the being abandoned to doubt." - This point in the Gita is my death sentence. I want to proclaim a truth that would forever exile me from among the living. I know only the conditions but not the words that would allow me to formulate it. To found a family. I think it would have been easier for me to found an empire. One is and remains a slave as long as one is not cured of hoping. As soon as one returns to Doubt (if it could be said that one has ever left it), undertaking anything at all seems not so much useless as extravagant. Doubt works deep within you like a disease, or even more effectively, like a faith. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API How can you know if you are in the truth? The criterion is simple enough: if others make a vacuum around you, there is not a doubt in the world that you are closer to the essential than they are. Get hold of yourself, be confident once more, don't forget that it is not given to just anyone to have idolized discouragement without succumbing to it. The state of health is a state of nonsensation, even of nonreality. As soon as we cease to suffer, we cease to exist. Suffering, even as it undermines our strength, augments our pride. Our enemy assumes our defense. The proof that man loathes man? Enough to be in a crowd, in order to feel that you side with all the dead planets. By what aberration has suicide, the only truly normal action, become the attribute of the flawed? To try curing someone of a "vice," of what is the deepest thing he has, is to attack his very being, and this is indeed how he himself understands it, since he will never forgive you for wanting him to destroy himself in your way and not his. The only profound thinkers are the ones who do not suffer from a sense of the ridiculous. Friendship is a pact, a convention. Two beings tacitly promise never to broadcast what each really thinks of the other. A kind of alliance based on compromises. When one of them publicly calls attention to the other's defects, the pact is declared null and void, the alliance broken. No friendship lasts if one of the partners ceases to play the game. In other words, no friendship tolerates an exaggerated proportion of honesty. We are all of us in error, the humorists excepted. They alone have discerned, as though in jest, the inanity of all that is serious and even of all that is frivolous. We must live, you used to say, as if we were never going to die. - Didn't you know that's how everyone lives, including those obsessed with Death? If the skeptic admits that truth exists, he allows the innocent illusion of believing they will some day possess it. As for me, he declares, I abide by appearances, I note what they are and adhere to them only to the degree that, as a living being, I cannot do otherwise. I act like other people, I perform the open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API same deeds they do, but I identify myself with neither my words nor my actions, I bow to customs and laws, I pretend to share the convictions, i.e., the prejudices of my fellow citizens, while knowing that in the last analysis I am quite as unreal as they are...What then is a skeptic? - A ghost: a conformist ghost. He who has not suffered is not a being; at most, a creature. In the hours without sleep, each moment is so full and so vacant that it suggests itself as a rival of Time. Eternity is absence. Man is fulfilled only when he ceases to be man. We are fulfilled only when we aspire to nothing, when we are impregnated by that nothing to the point of intoxication. When I happen to be satisfied with everything, even God and myself, I immediately react like the man who, on a brilliant day, torments himself because the sun is bound to explode in a few billion years. "What is truth?" is a fundamental question. But what is it compared to "How to endure life?" And even this one pales beside the next: "How to endure oneself?" - That is the crucial question in which no one is in a position to give us an answer. Everything is nothing, including the consciousness of nothing. One disgust, then another - to the point of losing the use of speech and even of the mind...The greatest exploit of my life is to be still alive. After all, why should ordinary people want to contemplate the End, especially when we see the condition of those who do? What can be said, lacks reality. Only what fails to make its way into words exists and counts. Woe to the book you can read without constantly wondering about the author! To think is to run after insecurity, to be demoralized for grandiose trifles, to immure oneself in abstractions with a martyr's avidity, to hunt up complications the way others pursue collapse or gain. The thinker is by definition keen for torment. It makes no sense to say that death is the goal of life, but what else is there to say? We regret not having the courage to make such and such decision; we regret much more open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API having made one - any one. Better no action than the consequences of an action. "You really should come to the house - one of these days we might die without having seen each other again." - "Since we have to die in any case, what's the use of seeing each other again?" Everyone is mistaken, everyone lives in illusion. At best, we can admit a scale of fictions, a hierarchy of unrealities, giving preference to one rather than to another; but to chose, no, definitely not that... Even more than in a poem, it is the aphorism that the word is god. All morning, I did nothing but repeat: "Man is an abyss, man is an abyss." - I could not, alas, find anything better. Old age, after all, is merely the punishment for having lived. Hope is the normal form of delirium. Try as I will, I don't see what might exist... If I were to go blind, what would bother me the most would be no longer to be able to stare idiotically at the passing clouds. We live in the false as long as we have not suffered. But when we begin to suffer, we enter the truth only to regret the false. The worst is not ennui nor despair but their encounter, their collision. To be crushed between the two! When we know what words are worth, the amazing thing is that we try to say anything at all, and that we manage to do so. This requires, it is true, a supernatural nerve. In the usual boredom, we desire nothing, we even lack the curiosity to weep; in the excess of boredom it is just the contrary, for this excess incites us to action, and weeping is an action. To resign oneself or the blow out one's brains, that is the choice one faces at certain moments. In any case, the only real dignity is that of exclusion. According to Sumerian mythology, the flood was the punishment the gods inflicted on man because of the noise he made. - What would I not give to know how they will reward him for today's racket? Timidity, inexhaustible source of misfortunes in practical life, is the direct, even the unique cause of all open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API inner wealth. Man is unacceptable. Every utopia about to be realized resembles a cynical dream. Anatheamas and Admirations (1987) We inhabit a language rather than a country. Impossible to spend sleepless nights and accomplish anything: if, in my youth, my parents had not financed my insomnias, I should surely have killed myself. Criticism is a misconception: we read not to understand others but to understand ourselves. To have nothing more in common with men than the fact of being a man! [edit] A word, once dissected, no longer signifies anything, is nothing. Like a body that, after an autopsy, is less than a corpse. After a quarter of an hour, no one can observe another's despair without impatience. Except for music, everything is a lie, even solitude, even ecstasy. Music, in fact, is the one and the other, only better. For a writer, to change languages is to write a love letter with a dictionary. To have accomplished nothing and to die overworked. What is not heartrendering is superfluous, at least in music. To love only indefinite thought that never reaches words, and the instantaneous thought that lives by words alone: divagation and boutade. What a judgment upon the living, if it is true, as has been maintained, that what dies has never existed! To love one's neighbor is inconceivable. Does one ask a virus to love another virus? The fact that life has no meaning is a reason to live - moreover, the only one. To rid oneself of life is to deprive oneself the pleasure of deriding it. (The one possible answer to someone who informs you of his intent to be done with it all.) The surest means of not losing your mind on the spot: remembering that everything is unreal, and will remain so... open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API The interesting thing about friendship is that it is - almost as much as love - an inexhaustible source of disappointment and outrage, thereby of fruitful surprises it would be madness to try to do without. My mission is to see things as they are. Exactly the contrary of a mission. When you get over an infatuation, to fall for someone ever again seems so inconceivable that you imagine no one, not even a bug, that is not mired in disappointment. When you love someone, you hope - the more closely to be attached - that a catastrophe will strike your beloved. I anticipated witnessing in my lifetime the disappearance of our species. But the Gods have been against me. It is not be genius, it is by suffering, and suffering alone, that one ceases to be a marionette. The more one has suffered, the less one demands. To protest is a sign one has traversed no hell. Music is an illusion that makes up for all the others. How many disappointments are conducive to bitterness? One or a thousand, depending on the subject. Our place is somewhere between being and nonbeing - between two fictions. If to describe a misery were as easy to live through it! This morning I thought, hence lost my bearings, for a good quarter of an hour. Only what we have not accomplished and what we could not accomplish matters to us, so that what remains of a whole life is only what it will not have been. To dream of an enterprise of demolition that would spare none of the traces of the original Big Bang. There exists, I grant you, a clinical depression, upon which certain remedies occasionally have effect; but there exists another kind, a melancholy underlying our very outbursts of gaiety and accompanying us everywhere, without leaving us alone for a single moment. And there is nothing that can rid us of this lethal omnipresence: the self forever confronting itself. I'd rather offer my life as a sacrifice than be necessary to anything. In order to reach compassion, you must carry self-concern to the saturation point, to nausea, such paraoxysms of disgust being a symptom of health, a necessary condition for looking beyond one's own open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API trials and tribulations. I have wasted hour after hour ruminating upon what seemed to me eminently worthy of being explored upon the vanity of all things, upon what does not deserve a second's reflection, since one does not see what there is still to be said for or against what is obvious. Everything that disturbs me I could have translated, had I been spared the shame of not being a musician. Had I listened to my impulses, I should be, today, unhinged or hanged. Impossible for me to know whether or not I take myself seriously. The drama of detachment is that we cannot measure its progress. We advance into a desert, and we never know where we are in it. Of all that makes us suffer, nothing - so much as disappointment - gives us the sensation of at last touching Truth. Melancholy redeems this universe, and yet it is melancholy that separates us from it. Devouring biographies one after the next to be convinced of the futility of any undertaking, of any destiny. Out of patience with them all. But I like to laugh. And I cannot laugh alone. There is always someone above you: beyond God Himself rises Nothingness. What an incitation to hilarity, hearing the word goal while following a funeral procession! To read is to let someone else work for you - the most delicate form of exploitation. Anyone who quotes us from memory - and incorrectly - is a saboteur who should be taken to court. A garbled quotation is equivalent to betrayal, an insult, a prejudice all the more serious in that the intention was to do us a favor. To think is to submit to the whims and commands of an uncertain health. Who does not believe in Fate proves that he has not lived. To see in every baby a future Richard III... To be or not to be...Neither one nor the other. Beware of thinkers whose minds function only when they are fueled by a quotation. If relations between men are so difficult, it is because men have been created to knock each other down open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API and not to have "relations." If I were asked to summarize as briefly as possible my vision of things, to reduce it to its most succinct expression, I should replace words with an exclamation point, a definitive ! One grasps incomparably more things in boredom than by labor, effort being the mortal enemy of meditation. Love's great (and sole) originality is to make happiness indistinct from misery. That man is going to disappear has been, heretofore, my firm conviction. But now I've changed my mind: he must disappear. Opinions, yes; convictions, no. That is the point of departure for an intellectual pride. Vehement by nature, vacillating by choice. Which way to tend? Which whom to side? What self to join? What is marvelous is that each day brings us a new reason to disappear. Since the only things we remember are humiliations and defeats, what is the use of all the rest? The need to devour oneself absolves one of the need to believe. Existence might be justified if each of us behaved as if he were the last man alive. To create: only someone mistaken about himself, someone ignorant of the secret motives behind his actions, creates. Once the creator is transparent to himself, he no longer creates. Self-knowledge antagonizes the demon. Here is where we must seek out the reason Socrates wrote nothing. That we can be wounded by the very people we despise discredits pride. To have grazed every form of failure, including success. In conversation with someone, whatever his merits may be, never forget for a moment that in his profound reactions he is no different from ordinary mortals. For discretion's sake, you must handle him carefully, for like anyone else, he will not tolerate frankness, direct cause of almost all quarrels and grudges. Dead of night. No one, nothing but the society of the moments. Each pretends to keep us company, then escapes - desertion after desertion. One would have to be as unenlightened as an angel or an idiot to imagine that the human escapade could turn out well. open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API Never unreal, Pain is a challenge to the universal fiction. What luck to be the only sensation granted a content, if not a meaning! When we have no further desire to show ourselves, we take refuge in music, the Providence of the abulic. The reasons for persisting in Being seem less and less well founded, and our successors will find it easier than we to be rid of such obstinacy. Once we are grazed by certainty, we no longer mistrust ourselves and others. Confidence, in all its forms, is a source of action, hence of error. If you don't want to explode with rage, leave your memory alone, abstain from burrowing there. In order to deceive melancholy, you must keep moving. Once you stop, it wakens, if in fact it has ever dozed off. What I know wreaks havoc upon what I want . By virtue of depression, we recall those misdeeds we buried in the depths of our memory. Depression exhumes our shames. Is it conceivable to adhere to a religion founded by someone else? The world begins and ends with us. Only our consciousness exists, it is everything, and this everything vanishes with it. Dying, we leave nothing. Then why so much fuss around an event that is no such thing? Between the demand to be clear and the temptation to be obscure, impossible to decide which deserves more respect. Not taking revenge only half flatters us, considering that we never know whether our behavior is based on nobility or cowardice. Without will, no conflict: no tragedy among the abulic. Yet the failure of will can be experienced more painfully than a tragic destiny. To think we could have spared ourselves from living all that we have lived! External links open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API [edit] Wikipedia has an article about: Emil Cioran Categories: Philosophers Essayists Romanians French people 1990s deaths This page w as last modified on 22 March 2013, at 01:22. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License; additional terms may apply. See Terms of Use for details. Privacy policy About Wikiquote Disclaimers Mobile view open in browser PRO version Are you a developer? Try out the HTML to PDF API