We Speak Because We Are Dead

“All things are full of weariness…”
– Koheleth (Ecclesiastes)

What follows is the last fragment in Cioran’s Decay. I’ve read it several times before, and have always wondered why he continued to endure himself and life. This was the work that divided his life from his Romanian existence, and would make him a star in the French intellectual scene even to the point that it would gain him his first prize (and the only one he would accept for the rest of his existence!). Yet, like most of his writing from this point forward he would repeat himself ad infinitum under different masks and styles till – as he’d say in a late interview of his Alzheimer’s – his brain broke…

“Forever be accursed the star under which I was born, may no sky protect it, let it crumble in space like a dust without honor! And let the traitorous moment that cast me among the creatures be forever erased from the lists of Time! My desires can no longer deal with this mixture of life and death in which eternity daily rots. Weary of the future, I have traversed its days, and yet I am tormented by the intemperance of unknown thirsts. Like a frenzied sage, dead to the world and frantic against it, I invalidate my illusions only to irritate them the more. This exasperation in an unforeseeable universe— where nonetheless everything repeats itself—will it never come to an end? How long must I keep telling myself: “I loathe this life I idolize?” The nullity of our deliriums makes us all so many gods subject to an insipid fatality. Why rebel any longer against the symmetry of this world when Chaos itself can only be a system of disorders? Our fate being to rot with the continents and the stars, we drag on, like resigned sick men, and to the end of time, the curiosity of a denouement that is foreseen, frightful, and vain.”

—E.M. CIORAN. A Short History of Decay

Cioran was raised in an Orthodox home, his father a priest, his mother neither a believer nor agnostic. Later in life before she died he once told her how miserable his life was, and she replied that if she’d known it would turn out this way she’d of aborted him. Cioran’s self-hatred and hatred of existence led him to a life of solitude, and yet he had a companion. Like most of us who are creative he was a man of contradictions, driven by a daemon-daimon – or, what Kafka-Rilke and many others would term “I am an Other!” I’ve often wondered after reading the above how he survived it, while so many other pessimists either stopped writing or committed suicide he seems to have lived on and on as if he deserved this self-torturous existence, relished in its insanity. Writing book after book of fragmentary aphorisms, essays, and asides. With such a dark vision what is left? Why speak at all? Paraphrasing Nietzsche in one of his dark moments when he said that whatever we might say is already dead… maybe that’s it we speak only because we are dead.

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