The Disadvantage of Being Born - Cioran

Largely regarded as an "incarnation" of pessimism, Emil Cioran (April 8, 1911 – June 20, 1995) is for me an excellent example of a man trying to overcome obstacles in the search for his own evolution. People tend to understand through his rejection of the world and ultimately, of humanity, only a dark vision fed by an anxious spirit. Although this may be the case, we also find incredible teachings about human nature hidden from those who do not search for them.

1.  "WITH what right do you start praying for me? I don't need an intercessor, I can make it on my own. From a miserable man, I'll accept, but from no one else, be he a saint. I can't accept others to be preoccupied by my own salvation. If I fear it and try to escape it, nothing more annoying than your prayers. To hell with them; anyway, we're not in the service of the same gods. If mine are incapable, I have every reason to believe that yours are not that great either. Assuming though that they are just as you imagine them, they will still lack the power to save me from a fear older than my own memory."

[ The idea of a salvation is possible only if it is a conscious undertaking. We should look carefully at the highly personal language used here . About the same subject he also writes: ]

2.  "I like the Hindu idea according to which we can entrust our salvation to somebody else, of preference to a "saint", allowing him to pray on our behalf, to do anything to save us. Meaning to sell your soul to God."

[ Once again, salvation/enlightenment is something one must fight for on his own. At first sight there is a contradiction, he is saying that he "likes" the idea (that he rejected in the first fragment) and that one's salvation could be entrusted to somebody else, to be preferred a "saint". But the ending "meaning to sell your soul to God" gives us his actual belief about the idea. ]

3.  "TO undo, to "un­-"build is the only task that man can set himself, if he aspires, as everything shows, to distinguish himself from the Builder."

4.  "DURING the centuries, man tried his best to believe, he passed from dogma to dogma, from one delusion to another and reserved very little time for doubts, short respites between his periods of blindness. Properly speaking, those were not doubts, but interruptions, moments of rest, that followed the weariness of belief, of any belief. "

[ Here we can clearly see what Cioran thinks about humanity, that we are in a way best described through this blindness, belief as opposed thought. “The dream of reason produces monsters”, a quote by Goya. ]

5.  "A very long time I lived with the idea that I am the most normal being that ever existed. This idea opened my taste, my passion even, for being unproductive: what's the use of highlighting yourself in a world populate by madmen, submerged in stupidity and madness? "

6.  "IF the disgust for this world is enough to confer holiness, I don't see how I can avoid canonization."

[ Cioran often makes use of cynicism and irony in his work. ]

7.  "THE smallest atmospheric change makes me rethink my projects, even, why not say it, my beliefs. This type of dependence, the most humiliating of all, doesn't cease to overcome me, while it scatters the few delusions that remained concerning the chance of being free, of liberty, pure and simple. What's the use of being filled with pride if you are at the discretion of Moisture and Dryness. You'd like a slavery less worthy of mercy and a different kind of gods."

[ Man must learn to be free of all external forces in order to gain his freedom. This idea can be often seen in many philosophical schools. ]

8.  "YOU don't envy the ones that have the power to pray, while you are filled with malice against property owners, against those that know wealth and glory. It is strange that you live with the redemption of another, but not with the passing advantages that he can enjoy. "

[ Another lesson meant to open our eyes to the strange, or better said, faulty mentality that we can fall victim of. Many people don't think about what is important, they just stop at the surface. ]

9.  "WE always have the impression that we can do better what someone else does. Sadly, we don't have the same conviction when it comes to what we do ourselves."

10. "THE thing that makes those poets that have no talent even more clumsy is that they only read other poets (just like philosophers that have no value read only philosophers), although they would have more to gain from a botany book or a geology book. You can enrich your spirit only by entering into contact with disciplines distant from yours. A true thing, evidently, only for subjects where the ego does havoc."

More in the 6th issue of AWIL Magazine

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