It’s Best to Remain Silent

Nonetheless, the condemnation of pleasure and their contempt for humanity by the ascetics of the desert or forest betray their inability to actually free themselves. Were I to withdraw into the most fearsome desert, renounce everything, and live in absolute solitude, still I would never dream of despising men and their pleasure. Since I cannot really enter eternity through renunciation and solitude, since I shall die like the rest, why despise them, why call my way the only true one? All the great prophets lack discretion and human understanding. I witness pain, old age, death, and I know that they cannot be overcome; but why should I spoil another’s enjoyment with my knowledge?

—E.M. Cioran, On the Heights of Despai

E.M. Cioran: I AM Not-Man

I am more and more persuaded that man is an unhappy animal, abandoned and forced to find his own way in life. Nature has never known anything like him. He suffers a thousandfold more from his so-called freedom than from his imprisonment in natural existence. Not surprisingly, he often longs to be a flower or some other plant. When you come to a point where you want to live like a plant, fully unconscious, then you have come to despair of humanity. But why shouldn’t I exchange places with a flower? I already know what it means to be man, to live in history, have ideals: what else is in it for me? To be a man is, of course, a great thing! But it is mainly a tragedy because to be human means to live in a totally different way, more complex and more dramatic than natural existence. Life’s tragic character gradually disappears as you go down the scale toward the inanimate realm. Man tends to monopolize tragedy and suffering in the world: that’s why salvation for him is a burning insoluble question. I am not proud to be a man, because I know only too well what it is to be man. Only those who have not experienced this state intensely are proud of it, because they intend to become men. Their delight is natural: there are among men some who are not far above plants or animals, and therefore aspire to humanity. But those who know what it means to be Man long to be anything but. If I could, I would choose every day another form, plant or animal, I would be all flowers one by one: weed, thistle, or rose; a tropical tree with a tangle of branches, seaweed cast by the shore, or mountain whipped by winds; bird of prey, a croaking bird, or a bird with melodious song; beast of the forest or tame animal. Let me live the life of every species, wildly and unself-consciously, let me try out the entire spectrum of nature, let me change gracefully, discreetly, as if it were the most natural procedure. How I would search the nests and caves, wander the deserted mountains and the sea, the hills and the plains! Only a cosmic adventure of this kind, a series of metamorphoses in the plant and animal realms, would reawaken in me the desire to become Man again. If the difference between Man and animal lies in the fact that the animal can only be an animal whereas man can also be not-man—that is, something other than himself-then I am not-man.

—E.M. Cioran, On the Heights of Despair

Insomniac Nights

Insomnia’s dark ways… didn’t sleep last night, body wandering in its lairs of pain. Read this in Cioran:

“Only sickness gives birth to serious and deep feelings. Whatever is not born out of sickness has only an esthetic value. To be ill means to live, willingly or not, on the heights of despair. But such heights presuppose deep chasms, fearful precipices—to live on the heights means to live near the abyss. One must fall in order to reach the heights.”

Not sure if I reached any heights, but I did not fall into sleep, either. Maybe I’m in that limbo in-between life and death, awaiting my own caustic ironies to take flight into laughter instead.

Either way, hope everyone else is in a good humor. I’ll try to rest again, soon. Don’t you love that word “soon”, a cross between near and not too far away, time’s vector where nothing avails nothing, but one measures each moment in pain and suffering rather than thought or abstraction. There is no teleology in suffering, only the endless insomnia of existence itself; unyielding and merciless. Unable to die one suffers this long illness in the shadows of the abyss rather than in its dark core. Cioran says: “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.” I feel at the moment that I’m exiled from the realm of dreams, sleepless nights in this cave world of reality I seem to wander through the torments and sorrows of dreamland’s alcove or mirrored sister where the natives are wide awake in their own chosen and solitary hells. Sleep is that longed for paradise for the insomniac who dreams wide awake in this eternal realm of death.