The ideally lucid, hence ideally normal, man should have no recourse beyond the nothing that is in him. . . . Nobility is only in the negation of existence, in a smile that surveys annihilated landscapes.
Emile Cioran, A Short History of Decay
Like others I, too, was once a seeker, a believer in answers and solutions. Driven as we are by our nullity we as humans have sought an absolute beyond reckoning. A factory of doubt and despair has driven us to murder and mayhem. We the children of nothing have annihilated even thought in our pitiful attempt to enforce this dark secret of time upon others. What is God but the sinkhole of our ultimate fabrications, a fiction whose temptation was to end all quests for answers and solutions. But in the end like all fiction he was murdered for his nullity.
Believers will tell you that you’re a fool wandering in an endless labyrinth of madness beyond recall. They will offer you a promise of happiness and paradise if only you will believe like they do, accept the lie of their truth. No matter what name it is that this absolute goes by it is always the same, it offers you redemption and salvation from yourself. What these saviors of the self forget is that there is no such thing. We are nothing through and through, mere tools of a shared world of thought that would keep us trapped in the mirror of language and meaning. Even that Book of Books spouts it: “In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. In the beginning the Word already existed; the Word was with God, and the Word was God. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1.1) As if language was the only hope of humans, rather than its doom.
Confronted with our nullity we reach out for anything to bring us into existence. We call this deliverance, to be redeemed from our nullity; to actually exist… that, too, is the last temptation. What is existence but the emptiness of things? Where would you look for something immovable, unchanging? In a universe of pure change, we who are the children of movement and time; the most changing vapor and emptiness, make of ourselves a world of stories to comfort us and tempt us to rebel against this change, this universe. All the prophets and preachers of wisdom have only ever offered you reprieve in annihilation. Die to yourself they say and be free. But what is this self that must die? Nothing. A mere fiction and tale of madness in the eternal night and silence of the Void.
In itself, every idea is neutral, or should be; but man animates ideas, projects his flames and flaws into them; impure, transformed into beliefs, ideas take their place in time, take shape as events: the trajectory is complete, from logic to epilepsy . . . whence the birth of ideologies, doctrines, deadly games.
—Emile Cioran, A Short History of Decay
ON THE day of the thirtieth anniversary of his private life, Voshchev was made redundant1 from the small machine factory where he obtained the means for his own existence. His dismissal notice stated that he was being removed from production on account of weakening strength in him and thoughtfulness amid the general tempo of labor.
In his lodgings Voshchev took his things into a bag; he then went outside so as better to understand his future out in the air. But the air was empty, motionless trees were carefully holding the heat in their leaves, and dust lay boringly on the deserted road—the situation in nature was quiet. Voshchev did not know where he felt drawn, and at the end of the town he leaned his elbows on the low fence of a large house where children with no family were being habituated to labor and use. After that the town stopped; there was only a beer room for workers from the villages and low-paid categories. Like some official building or other, this stood without any yard, and behind it rose a clay mound, and an old tree grew on its own there amid bright weather. Voshchev made his way to the beer room and went inside, towards sincere human voices. Here were untempered people, abandoned to the oblivion of unhappiness, and among them Voshchev felt more cut off and at ease. He remained present in the beer room until evening, until the noise of a wind of changing weather; he then went over to an open window, to take note of the beginning of night, and he caught sight of the tree on the clay mound—it was swaying from adversity, and its leaves were curling up with secret shame. Somewhere, most likely in the Soviet Trade Workers Park, a brass band was pining; getting nowhere, the monotonous music was carried off by the wind, across the empty waste by the gully and into nature. Voshchev listened to the music with the pleasure of hope, since joy was seldom his due, but he was unable to accomplish anything equivalent to the music and so he spent this evening time of his without moving. After the wind, silence set in again, to be covered by a still more silent gloom. Voshchev sat down by the window, in order to observe the tender darkness of night, listen to various sad sounds, and feel the torment of a heart surrounded by hard and stony bones.
—Andrey Platonov, The Foundation Pit