Saturday, September 27, 2008

Emil Cioran Essay

This is an excellent introductory essay on the apocalyptic and gloomy Romanian philosopher Emil Cioran. The site contains a few other writings which are available in English too.

I have a second-hand copy of his wonderfully titled collection of essays called "The Temptation to Exist" with a characteristically brilliant introduction by Susan Sontag. I have read only parts of it but to me the book felt like a symptom of exactly the same disease that he is diagnosing - the disease of thinking. There is also a somewhat contradictory attitude towards consciousness and thinking. On one hand he rages against relentless intellectualization which has left everything in ruins and brought us to the end of the world and here he has a lot in common with romantic and "vitalist" thinkers, even those German intellectuals who supported fascism before the war (he was himself a fascist in his youth). On the other hand he revels in the apocalypse and gloom and thunders at everybody who seem to go on with their lives as if nothing has happened.

It is a very interesting book, but one probably needs to be fully aware of Nietzsche and Heidegger to understand all of what he is saying. As for negativity I like it more when it is done in fiction, may be we should read it as fiction too - as a mind asserting its power, nothing else.

Most of Susan Sontag's introduction is available on google books.


theidealrecluse said...

Thanks a lot. Just placed an order for Emil Cioran's "On the heights of despair". Your blog is a goldmine.

Alok said...

Thanks. I am sure you will find it interesting. I have only read a few essays from "The Temptation to Exist", his other books are also on my to-read list.