The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 BlogviewGuillaume Durocher Archive
Cioran: The Postwar European Nihilism
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used once per hour.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks


Emil Cioran, De l’inconvénient d’être né (Paris: Gallimard, 1973).

Growing up in France, I was never attracted to Emil Cioran’s nihilist and pessimistic aesthetic as a writer. Cioran was sometimes presented to us as unflinchingly realistic, as expressing something very deep and true, but too dark to be comfortable with. I recently had the opportunity to read his De l’inconvénient d’être né (On the Trouble with Being Born) and feel I can say something of the man.

The absolutely crucial fact, the elephant in the room, the silently screaming subtext concerning Cioran is that he had been in his youth a far-Right nationalist, penning positive appraisals of Adolf Hitler and a moving ode to the murdered Romanian mystic-fascist leader Cornelius Zelea Codreanu. Cioran had hoped for the “transfiguration” of Romania into a great nation through zeal and sacrifice. Instead, you got utter defeat and Stalinist tyranny and retardation. I’d be depressed too.

A perpetual question for me is: Why did such great intellectuals (we could add Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Ezra Pound, Knut Hamsun, Mircea Eliade . . .) support the “far-Right”? This is often not so clear because the historical record tends to be muddied both by apologetics (“he didn’t really support them”) and anathemas (“aha! You see! He’s a bad man!”). Like John Toland, I don’t want to condemn or praise, I just want to understand: Why did he believe in this? Was it:

  1. Fear of communism?
  2. Skepticism towards democracy and preference for a stable, spirited regime? (That argument was very popular among thinking men in the 1920s, even the notorious Count Coudenhove-Kalergi, spiritual godfather of the European Union, supported Italian Fascism on these grounds!)
  3. Racialism?
  4. Anti-Semitism?
  5. Opposition to decadence?
  6. The dangerous propensity of many intellectuals for ecstatic spasms and mystical revolutions?

In Cioran’s case, his Right-wing sentiment appears to have been motivated by 1), 2), 4) 5), and perhaps especially 6).

After the war, Cioran renounced his Right-wing past. This may have been motivated by understandable revulsion at the horrors of the Eastern Front and the concentration camps. In any event, this was certainly not a disinterested move. Mircea Eliade – a fellow supporter of Codreanu who later thrived as a historian of religions at the University of Chicago, infiltrating the academy with Traditionalists – wrote of Cioran in his diary on September 22, 1942: “He refuses to contribute anything to German newspapers, in order not to compromise himself in the eyes of his French friends. Cioran, like all the others, foresees the fall of Germany and the victory of Communism. This is enough to detach him from everything.”[1]Mircea Eliade, The Portugal Journal (Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 2010), 35.

There had been a thriving far-Right French literary and intellectual scene, with writers who often had had both a fascist and pan-European sensibility. The Libération in 1944 put an end to that: Robert Brasillach was executed by the Gaullist government during the Épuration (Purge) despite the protestations of many fellow writers (including André Malraux and Albert Camus), Pierre Drieu La Rochelle committed suicide, and Lucien Rebatet was jailed for seven years and blacklisted.

As literally an apatride metic (he would lose his Romanian citizenship in 1946), Cioran, then, did not have much of a choice if he wished to exist a bit in postwar French intellectual life, which went from the fashionable Marxoid Jean-Paul Sartre on the left to the Jewish liberal-conservative Raymond Aron on the right. (I actually would speak highly of Aron’s work on modernity as measured, realistic, and empirical, quite refreshing as far as French writers go. Furthermore he was quite aware of Western decadence and made a convincing case for the culturally-homogeneous nation-state as “the political masterpiece.”) Although Cioran had written several bestsellers in his native Romania, he had to adapt to a French environment or face economic and literary oblivion. What’s an apology secured under coercion actually worth?

This is the context in which we must read De l’inconvénient d’être né. These are the obsessive grumblings of a depressed insomniac. (Cioran’s more general mood swings between lyrical ecstasy and doom-and-gloom suggest bipolar disorder.) His aphorisms often ring true, but equally tend to be hyperbolic or exaggerated, and are almost always negative, like a demotivational Nietzsche. In some respects preferable to Nietzsche, insofar as the great explosion the German hysteric foresaw is past us, and his brand of barbaric politics seems quite impossible in this century. Cioran, like Nietzsche and Spengler, knows that nihilism and decadence are the order of the day, but living in the postwar era, he can certainly no longer hope that “blond beasts” or “Caesarism” might still save us. Cioran in this sense is more relatable, he is talking about our world.

Cioran despairs at the inevitable mediocrity of human beings and the vain temporality of the human condition. (What’s the point of even a good feeling or event, if this event will, in a second, disappear and only exist in my memory, which will in turn disappear? This will no doubt have occurred to thoughtful, angsty teenagers.) Birth, embodiment, is the first tragedy – like the fall of man – from a perfect non-existence, with limitless potentiality, to a flawed and stunted being.

Jean-François Revel observes: “Imagine Pascal’s mood if he had learned that he had lost his bet, and you’ll have Cioran.”

A question: Was Cioran’s despair more motivated by being a Rightist spurned by destiny or by his own dark temperament? Would he have written such works in a triumphant Axis Europe?

Cioran is like a Buddha (the spiritual figure most often cited in De l’inconvénient) who stopped halfway, that is to say, at nihilism and despair. But Siddhartha Gautama went further, from the terrifying recognition of our impermanent and insubstantial experiential reality, to a new mental state, reconciled with this reality, to the path of sovereignty and freedom.

Had I been able to meet him, I’d have invited Cioran to my Zendō – where speaking, indeed all expression of human stupidity, is formally banned through the most truthful silence. And how good is truth for the soul!

The Way of Awakening is not found in books.

Actually, Cioran’s Buddhist connection should be dug into. The Zen monk Taisen Deshimaru was in Paris passing on the Dharma to Europe at exactly the same time, in the 1970s.

My initial response to De l’inconvénient was annoyance that it had been written (I can quite understand Alain Soral’s frustration with Cioran). The postwar Cioran can certainly seem like an umpteenth authorized manifestation of the ‘glamorously aesthetic’ French décadent intellectual, the misunderstood genius, the starving artist, who is just way ‘too deep’ for his own good or for you plebs to grasp.

I remember his 1941 On France, a perversely playful ode to decadent France (those three words together disgust me), as an ostensibly appalling little work. France does not need any more encouragement on the downward path.

Cioran certainly has a morbid fascination with spiritual rot.

The Germans of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were already quite right to want to preserve themselves from the contagion of French decadence (oh sure, there’s a straight line of Kultur from the “Indo-Germans” to Frederick the Great’s Prussia); right up to the May-June 1940 editions of Signal understatedly mocking the infertile French with photographs of fez- and turban-wearing Negro and Mohammedan POWs. (Apologies for not providing a direct link to the relevant Signal issues, apparently our historians have still not got around to digitizing this publication, peak circulation 2.5 million in 1943.)

Sorry, krauts, it came anyway through the North-American route!

De l’inconvénient initially reinforced my impression that the postwar Cioran was not worth reading. However, there are some hopeful diamonds in the despairing rough. Some of Cioran’s aphorisms are actually quite inspiring, such as the following: “Any overcoming of desire empowers us. We have all the more control over this world as we take our distance from it, when we do not commit to it. Renunciation confers limitless power” (p. 44). (And let us bear in mind again Eliade’s paraphrase above, that it was the prospect of German defeat and communist triumph which was “enough to detach him from everything.”)[2]Note: detachment does not mean surrender. For those who do not understand, I recommend the Baghavad Gita, the Hagakure, D. T. Suzuki’s explication of “the Way of the Sword” in Zen and Japanese Culture, or indeed watching the countenance of the faces of men about to strike their opponent in Akira Kurosawa’s classic film Seven Samurai.

On one level, Cioran’s work is a legitimate expression of the depths of postwar despair. From the psychological point of view, man really was (and is still, despite a few flickers) sinking more and more into untruth, into materialism and consumerism and ‘choice,’ into a childish view of life, one not cognizant of our nature as mortal, social, and unequal beings. All the truths contained in our dying traditions, however imperfect the latter were, are forgotten.

Amidst the politically-harmless mass of depressing and demotivational thoughts, Cioran sneaks in some very true observations about decadence. This shows, as plainly as anything, that he remained a man of the Right in his heart.

I believe Cioran provides a key to understanding his nihilist work in this book, namely:

We get a grip on ourselves, and we commit all the more to being, by reacting against nay-saying, corrosive books [livres négateurs, dissolvants], against their noxious power. These are, in short, books that fortify, because they summon the energy which contradicts them. The more poison they contain, the greater their salutary effect, as long as we read them against the grain, as we should read any book, starting with the catechism. (p. 97)

Cioran is putting forth a challenge to be overcome: taste the depths of my despair, truly contemplate and acknowledge the futility of life . . . What is your answer?

Cioran’s books: contemplation of the void . . . a summoning.

I find Cioran both uncomfortable and stimulating, clamoring for more, eager to discover and accomplish more. Fecund stimulation is most important, whether in reading, work, or life. (For that reason I also recommend reading Ezra Pound’s non-fiction.)

Cioran’s nihilist and depressing aesthetic will not appeal to everyone or even to most. But if that’s how a man builds up his brand and sells his books, who am I to judge? Especially if you can sneak in some subversive truths. (In this respect, Cioran reminds me of Michel Houellebecq, one of the last manifestations of French culture. All this goes back to Socrates-as-satyr.)

Still, we observe that many men of the Right took a more straightforward route: Maurice Bardèche avenged his brother-in-law Brasillach’s execution by continuing to write in favor of fascism, Julius Evola always stood up for the Axis and for Tradition, Dominique Venner wrote as a historian, Europe’s living memory, and committed his own seppuku, as a sacrifice to the gods . . .

Each man fights in his own way. Again, who am I to judge?

Notes

[1] Mircea Eliade, The Portugal Journal (Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 2010), 35.

[2] Note: detachment does not mean surrender. For those who do not understand, I recommend the Baghavad Gita, the Hagakure, D. T. Suzuki’s explication of “the Way of the Sword” in Zen and Japanese Culture, or indeed watching the countenance of the faces of men about to strike their opponent in Akira Kurosawa’s classic film Seven Samurai.

 
• Category: Ideology 
Hide 36 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
    []
  1. If you want to know Cioran by reading only one of his works, choose his Cahiers.

    • Replies: @Guillaume Durocher
  2. Jesus Christ is the Truth, the Way, and the Life. He, alone, can save us, and it He who created us. Rejection of Him is despair and falling away from being into non-being. Salvation is to be found in His Church, the Holy Orthodox Church.

    • Replies: @Kratoklastes
  3. KJ says:

    Re-reading Cioran lately, I’m currently of the mind that it was solely the disappointment of Fascism that led to his post-war nihilism. He wrote panegyrics of Codreanu as late as 1940, and even gave sideways praise to Hitler in one of his 1960s essays. If Germany had won the war, I’m fairly sure he would have become a propagandist. His case is similar to that of Curzio Malaparte, the Italian ideological shape-shifter. Admittedly, his nihilism was present in the 1930s (“On the Heights of Despair”), but I think he would have buried it under a kind of Nietzshean vitalism had history turned out differently.

  4. I went through a Cioran phase and found some of his aphorisms marvelous. But I agree with G.D. that ultimately they aren’t worth the time. Partly, you have to be suspicious of someone who tells you that things are so bad but nevertheless both doesn’t kill himself and continues to labor on his little works. I probably shouldn’t mention the two together, but I feel the same way about Oscar Wilde’s witticisms; they charm me at first but soon seem empty and pointless (although I don’t feel the same about The Portrait of Dorian Gray).

    • Replies: @Guillaume Durocher
  5. @KJ

    Interesting information. Thanks for the comment!

  6. utu says:

    Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Ezra Pound, Knut Hamsun, Mircea Eliade . . . – and many many more including many Catholic conservative thinkers. Mostly forgotten. We need an anthology. We need to relearn their thoughts became fascism is the only future that can save us. The future of liberal world is not worth living.

  7. JackOH says:

    Guillaume, thanks. I’d never heard of Cioran, but there are a few works of his in our local university library.

    “Skepticism towards democracy and preference for a stable, spirited regime?” Well, I’m sort of in that camp, but I don’t think we have much of a democracy at all to begin with.

    We actually have something of a “soft fascism” in the States, in my opinion, comprising the “Council of 25,000”, the political lobbies that write the legislation and regulations and play the senior partner in their relations with Congress.

    What’s missing in America’s fascism is the human touch. Our version is just a money racket for the high rollers. No high-flown rhetoric to emphasize our common American-ness, our commonality as citizens. At street level, the Americans I know speak in empty and very guarded political cliches–mostly.

    • Agree: Guillaume Durocher
    • Replies: @JackOH
  8. TheOldOne says:

    Cioran…could someone please tell me how his last name is pronounced in English? Thanks in advance.

    • Replies: @Bill B.
    , @ariadna
  9. ariadna says:
    @TheOldOne

    Chaw rhan (with the accent on the last syl.)

  10. @KJ

    Re-reading Cioran lately, I’m currently of the mind that it was solely the disappointment of Fascism that led to his post-war nihilism.

    I guess Romania having her ass handed to her in WW II has nothing to do with it. Humiliating military defeats (not to mention very wrong decision leading to them) can lead one to a disappointment ideology notwithstanding. Geopolitical, military and economic reality is a bitch.

    • Replies: @Dacian Julien Ciolos
  11. penning positive appraisals of Adolf Hitler

    In Cioran’s defence – everyone was doing it at the time.

    Take these tidbits from none other than Winston Fucking Churchill:

    The story of that struggle cannot be read without admiration for the courage, the [single mindedness] perseverance, and the [personal] vital force which enabled him to challenge, defy, [overcome, or] conciliate, or overcome all the authorities or resistances which barred his path. He, and the ever-increasing legions who worked with him, certainly showed at this time, in their patriotic ardour and love of country, that there was nothing they would not do or dare, no sacrifice of life, limb or liberty that they would not make themselves or inflict upon their opponents.” – Hitler and his Choice” (1937); the original (1935) version differs by the few words in square brackets.

    and

    Those who have met Herr Hitler face to face in public business or on social terms have found a highly competent, cool, well-informed functionary with an agreeable manner, a disarming smile, and few have been unaffected by a subtle personal magnetism. Nor is this impression merely the dazzle of power. He exerted it on his companions at every stage in his struggle, even when his fortunes were in the lowest depths. Thus the world lives on hopes that the worst is over, and that we may yet live to see Hitler a gentler figure in a happier age.” – Hitler and his Choice” (1937)

    and

    One may dislike Hitler’s system and yet admire his patriotic achievement. If our country were defeated I hope we should find a champion as indomitable to restore our courage and lead us back to our place among the nations.

    Or this, from Lloyd George (after the re-annexation of the Rhineland):

    Hitler has done great things for his country. He is unquestionably a great leader…a dynamic personality.”

    Or this, from Anthony Eden (to his wife) in 1934, after meeting Hitler:

    Dare I confess?…I rather liked him.”

    Eden’s comment in particular is worth considering, given that he was a known for being a man of refined sensibilities (as opposed to the syphilitic inbred half-American Churchill). To gain a proper impression as to whether Eden was ‘just being gentlemanly’: he took an immediate and visceral dislike to Mussolini, who he considered “a complete gangster” and “the Anti-Christ”.

    Later on, of course, the Poles refused to cede the Danzig Corridor (content in the knowledge that if Germany took it back by force, both France and England would declare war on Germany, which they did0. At that point, Churchill had to do a π/2 (180°) turn and demonise Hitler – and since Churchill was a sociopath with literally zero principles, he had no moral qualms about doing so (and consigning a hundred million people to die, and handing 300 million people to Stalin at Yalta).

    WWII – like WWI – can be laid at the feet of people like Churchill. As can the Cold War.

    • Replies: @Guillaume Durocher
  12. @Edward Dorsey

    Yawn… give it another 10-20 years, and the mythic nature of the Jeebus stories will be accepted – just as the mythic nature of the Moses stories now are: the “Moses is Myth” hypothesis was absolutely heterodox as recently as the late 80s – but by 1995 it was the ‘scholarly consensus’.

    Hopefully people will then shut the fuck up about how a failed, mythical, first-century rebel Jew was the Way and the Truth and the Life.

    It’s not even good poetry – it reads like the sort of turgid pseudo-profound twaddle one might expect to find in the diaries of SJW/NPC teenagers and Twilight fans.

    • Replies: @Icy Blast
  13. Wally says:

    “After the war, Cioran renounced his Right-wing past. This may have been motivated by understandable revulsion at the horrors of the Eastern Front and the concentration camps.”

    Please tell us what you think those “horrors” were. Then present proof of them.

    Or are you just reciting what you are told to recite?

  14. Icy Blast says:
    @Kratoklastes

    Kratoklastes: It has been fashionable to announce the imminent death of Christianity since the 1880’s. (It seems that’s the decade you are living in intellectually. This is very common among TV-watching Americans.) Even your hero Sigmund got on the bandwagon! Evidently you are expecting some sort of materialist’s retribution for the Fall of The Berlin Wall, the surging of Christianity in China despite systematic government persecution, the slow-motion collapse of the so-called “European Union,” the “Yellow Vests” in France, and other developments which have infuriated and perplexed you. Just keep watching CNN until the end. It will assuage your misery to some degree.

  15. @Andrei Martyanov

    The choice was made for Romania when USSR occupied Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina (the ultimatum of June 26th). That was the trigger for the others to demand and receive – Hungary on Aug. 30, and Bulgaria on Sept. 7 (the latter on a pre-negotiated treaty).
    Antonescu becomes dictator on Sept. 6; local fascists sign up to support him on Sept. 14. The same fascists assassinate the PM on Sept 21, the best evidence that all the above happened under an anti-fascist government.

    Romanians did not attack USSR for the sake of it. USSR attacked first, demanding, one year earlier, in the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, Bessarabia. Soviets did not even care about Romania’s position. They just wanted the land.

    I doubt there have been many moments in Romania’s history when its leadership decided on its own. Perhaps 1912?

    Cioran’s excitement throughout the thirties was motivated by sincere belief, but his belief was nicely reinforced by the unelected corrupt governments, which showered him, Eliade, and other alike, with gibs. At a time when most people had no access to hospitals and pensions, Cioran was a state-paid philosopher. Who wouldn’t be upset when the wheel turns?

    • Replies: @Guillaume Durocher
  16. @Icy Blast

    It’s not clear why you think that the continued existence of a thing, is the same as the thing not having vastly-reduced social power.

    Times were (and not so long ago) that being an atheist meant exclusion from being able to give evidence in a court (or be on a jury) or to hold public office. Nowadays, only the most retard-infested shitholes in the world retain that sort of rule (parts of Africa, and the dumber parts of the US).

    Times were (as recently as 1980 in my jurisdiction) that religiously-inspired laws against homosexuality resulted in gay men being imprisoned. Nowadays, half the fucking priesthood has been exposed as closet benders (if not actual closet chiuld-rapists). [Best story of the week: ‘gay conversion therapy’ Jesus-freak charlatan quits in order to be totally gay]

    Times were, that women stupid enough to maintain membership in “the Church” were consigned to life as breeding sows. Nowadays “the Church” can’t attract more than about 5% of women who finish high school, and the average age of a Catholic nun is ~73.

    Times were, that if you entrusted your child to “the Church”, you exposed your child to a 500-fold increase in the risk of child-rape, with almost zero probability of the perpetrator being brought to justice. Nowadays, the Vatican’s “money guy” just got found guilty of fucking children.

    TL;DR: these things take time – the job’s maybe half-finished, but folks like me have irrevocably broken the spine of “the Church” as an organ of social power in the West. The oxen is slow, but the mountain has patience, as it were.

    Ask yourself how long it took “the Church” to suppress the Arian heresy – then compare that to how long anti-theists in the West have had legally-unrestrained freedom of action. We’ve had less than a generation to really ‘swing the arms’, and now “the Church” is just a massive property portfolio with a paedophile network in a management role.

    As I’ve said elsewhere, it is only in the mid-90s that the scholarly consensus was forced – by overwhelming evidence – to accept the mythicist hypothesis as it relates to Moses, the Patriarchs, and most of the rest of the Old Testament (bear in mind that in the 1940s, the OT was the supposed doctrinal basis for granting a bunch of Eurotrash the ‘right’ to invade Palestine).

    The final acceptance of the non-historicity of Jesus, is simply another step to forcing nonsense out of social power: by the end of this century, even politicians will not see any benefit to invoking the name of anyone’s Special Imaginary Sky-Monster.

    Christianity is growing in China because that’s where the poor, ignorant peasants are (along with South America, Africa, and the US Bible Belt): it’s pretty much the same list of backwards places where dumb-fucks who are taking upo smoking while the rest of the world is giving it up as a very bad idea.

    I’ll stipulate that there is also some growth in the genuine huckster-style “prosperity gospel” charlatanry, which is to Christianity what cartoons are to literature – but that’s always a short-term, weak-adherence adventure for people who want prosperity to fall out of the sky rather than working for it.

    • Replies: @Endgame Napoleon
  17. @Icy Blast

    Even your hero Sigmund got on the bandwagon

    Ouch (for you): it’s not often that I go more than 24 hours without calumniating psychobabble, so the notion that Freud is a hero of mine is an indication that – like all apologists – you’re more interested in rhetorical effect than you are in making sure you’re speaking from a position where you know what the fuck you’re talking about.

    Note: I am in no way claiming that anyone who disagrees with me is obliged to read – or even scan – my oeuvre before they write. However I do think some ‘due diligence’ is required of those who make declarative statements about my affection (or otherwise) for historical figures, or my fealty (or otherwise) to causes.

    To put it in context: I could claim – ex nihilo – that you support kiddie-fucking: after all, it’s part of of the stock-in-trade of the Catholic hierarchy. If I were of a mind to do that, I would have a quick look through the first few screens of your comment history and see if there was any evidence: if not, I would refrain. However since it’s not germane to the issue, it’s not even relevant (even though I am pretty much infallible[1] ).

    That’s the difference between ‘faith-based’ approaches, and scientific ones: faith-based argumentation involves pulling evidence-free bullshit out of your thin air; chucking it into the conversation; and seeing if it sticks.

    ‘Faith-based’ argumentation stops working once you lose the social power to set a motherfucker on fire, which is why it’s losing in the West when the matter under contention is religion. (It’s still the ‘go-to’ method for argumentation in politics).

    [1] my cat told me I am infallible – I invite you to prove that’s not true

  18. @Dacian Julien Ciolos

    Cioran’s excitement throughout the thirties was motivated by sincere belief, but his belief was nicely reinforced by the unelected corrupt governments, which showered him, Eliade, and other alike, with gibs. At a time when most people had no access to hospitals and pensions, Cioran was a state-paid philosopher. Who wouldn’t be upset when the wheel turns?

    Thanks for your comment. Do you mean that Cioran was upset that the democratic government (then authoritarian) government ceased to pay him, even though he excoriated democracy? I believe his first grant was from the Germans (Humboldt Institute) and his second from a French institute.

    • Replies: @Dacian Julien Ciolos
  19. @Kratoklastes

    Good point on Churchill, Lloyd George, and Eden. Cioran really was infatuated though: “I don’t think anyone admires Hitler in Germany more than me,” or some such. But, obviously, he was quite entitled to his opinion and his sentiments.

  20. Sean says:

    Venner committed suicide inside the cathedral of Notre Dame, hardly the place for a cardinal sin,

    • Replies: @Guillaume Durocher
  21. @Kratoklastes

    The Western media, whether out of decadence or just money-grubbing, likes to hype sex scandals. The more out of the ordinary the sex scandal, the better for ratings and clicks. Sure, there were some draconian and abusive practices lurking about in more socially conservative eras, like the sweeping condemnation of all gay people and sweeping the worst sex crimes under the rug. It is not at all clear that contemporary, fake-feminist nations have defeated such things by upending thousands of years of set social mores.

    Some things are worse.

    How, prey tell, do you explain disturbing-cubed phenomena in this secular neoliberal era of social “progress,” like the 300% percent increase in mass shootings in the USA, including children shooting up schools—children from areas of the country that you would not describe as hick enclaves, even children raised by educated, professional, dual-earner parents, parents with all of the liberal virtues of sophisticated, secular wokeness?

    I have never read Cioran’s work. This lovely article was informative. It is sad when the work of historic painters, poets and thinkers cannot be extracted from political fashions. Their oeuvre should be seen from an angle of detachment. It should be judged for aesthetic merit, not by political correctness or whatever gauge of the day the ruling Establishment of that day demands. No less than when dictators of any kind (fascist or communist) reign, the Establishment figures of Western democracies are often courtiers or careerists. Their economic and publicity agendas dictate how they must judge art, literature and philosophy.

    Academics are supposed to ride above all of that, serving as a detached, professional filter that separates enduring quality from mere thought trends. Academic freedom guarantees them secure employment despite free speech, but the whole tenure-track thing now demands more obsequiousness due to too many people getting PhDs in the fake-feminist era, reducing the value and the thought-liberating power of a PhD. It is just one more quality-assurance measure, backfiring on the West.

  22. JackOH says:
    @JackOH

    Guillaume, thanks.

    I sometimes imagine a political movement with the vigor to have America’s Whites and Blacks, Gentiles and Jews, Browns of all sorts linking arms and singing old-fashioned American patriotic songs on the Mall in Washington.

    We can be pretty sure such a movement would have its leaders co-opted, paid off, undermined by other means, successfully threatened, or, possibly, murdered.

    Oswald Mosley decried the “mafia-zation” (he used a more sharp anti-Italian slur) of politics, and I think he meant the capacity of nominally representative “liberal” Western governments to subvert the “common good” in favor of insider rackets of all sorts.

    My reading of the relevant fascist literature is pretty modest, but it’s hard for me to not admire the intellectual and moral courage of those who saw something fundamentally and irredeemably wrong in their governments’ workings.

    I’m aware of explicit fascism’s down side, but a front page headline in my local newspaper just today says “400,000 Deaths Later . . . US Opioid Epidemic”, and there are multiple trials in progress that appear to have the wealthy Sackler family, their Purdue Pharmaceuticals, other opioid manufacturers, and drug wholesalers linked in a scheme to oversell addictive drugs on flimsy clinical evidence. How much worse could an explicit American fascism be? (Those 400,000 deaths are over a 20-year period.)

  23. @Sean

    Venner was not a Christian.

    • Replies: @Sean
  24. Which of Cioran’s works are good introductory works?

    • Replies: @Johnny Rico
  25. Sean says:
    @Guillaume Durocher

    Life is often harder than death so I don’t greatly respect those who end it all. I have no objection to anyone committing suicide if they are of sound mind, but where he did it was an intentional affront to Catholics. Complaining about homosexual marriage, one would think he might have a little more respect for members of the denomination that was most opposed. Maybe some of those Catholics are nihilists too!

  26. @Guillaume Durocher

    Between the wars, Romania was not democratic. Typically, before an election, the King would name a prime minister from the party that seemed most useful to him. The King would occasionally name a prime minister from a 5% party. In turn, that party would control the elections, and would make sure they win. They did not need a lot of effort to do so, because a 40% party was given more seats, providing it with a majority. Occasionally, the King would pick a more pliable member of the winning party, rather than its leader. Eventually, after the 1937 elections, the king named a PM from a 9% party, and one year later, forbid all but his party.

    Cioran’s application for the Humboldt Institute grant succeeded, despite submitting after the deadline, due to the personal intervention of one Richard Csaki, who asked Mosbach, the director of Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, to reopen the selection process. In turn, Csaki, an ethnic German born in Sibiu during Austrian occcupation, and director of Deutsches Ausland-Institut, was lobbied by the Romanian Embassy press attache, one Petre Ilcus, born in the same village as our state-supported philosopher.

    Indeed, Cioran worked with the French government directly, in order to obtain his Paris stipend. But in 1937, he had 4 books, whereas in 1933, when he left for Berlin, he had 0 books and 22 years.

    • Replies: @Guillaume Durocher
  27. Although then a New Leftist, I had a Cioran year early in my adult life, after my Nietzsche year. I’ve never met anyone who knew who Cioran was, let alone anyone who could talk with me about him.

    For me, back then, his nihilism was at the utter extreme, but so was his wit. I was miserable at the time, yet found him hilarious. He was my secret cheer. If he were as desperate as he said he was, he would never have had the strength to aphorize. It dawned on me that the real Cioran is the opposite of the authorial character. After the third book, I’d learned most of his tricks and moved on.

    Read any of his easier to find books and you’ll get what he’s about.

    • Replies: @Dacian Julien Soros
  28. @New Dealer

    Many Cioran readers are taken by surprise by the form. However, such witticisms are common to his geographic space and in particular in his time. My grandma, who didn’t go to school, but was approximately his age, and born just across the mountains from his Rasinari, would improvise shit that would make your ears bleed, similar to Cioran’s sarcasm in “No one has died of someone else’s pain”.

    It took me a while to understand that the writers who send similarly deep messages, but cannot be quoted, are much more entertaining, in literature terms.

    As for philosophy as a field, I suspect modern physics and cellular biology destroyed many of its subjects. God? Conscience? Yeah, right. Immortal soul? Top kek.

  29. @Dacian Julien Ciolos

    Very interesting information. Thank you!

    • Replies: @Dacian Julien Soros
  30. @Guillaume Durocher

    Also, many of the people who made it in 1933 were friends with Nae Ionescu. This University of Bucharest professor had an outsized influence on the minds of these youth, as well as on various ministers, claiming for a while that he was an adviser to King Carol II.

    Going a bit back to my previous post, it matters that Romania had two somewhat competing kings. In 1927, when Ferdinand dies, his son, Carol II, is skipped from crown inheritance, due to his preference for concubinage with a married Jewish commoner. Instead, Mihai, the minor son of Carol II, was named king. De facto, the near-absolute powers of the king are left to a regency, comprising the highest rank in the Romanian Church, a judge, and a politician (no nobles). In 1930, Carol II changes his mind, and makes himself king, with the help of other politicians, who wave their hand at Mihai being rebranded “grand voivod”. Following the humiliations of 1940, Carol II resigned again, leaving his son to deal with Hitler and Stalin. In a country where the king was so powerful, any true influence over the current king was gold, and any appearance of support for other groups was a risky bet.

    Nae Ionescu was mostly bluffing. His highest achievement was to be considered as a candidate for the internal secret service, in 1930, during the absurd Carol II restauration. By 1933, feeling sided, Nae Ionescu begins to oppose Carol II. This is when his pupils start fending for themselves. Nevertheless, while other upfront opposition figures, and even prime ministers, are jailed, or die in state-sanctioned murder, or in terrorist attacks, Nae survives, essentially untouched until 1940. His erstwhile protegee, the Jew Sebastian, survives comfortably in midtown Bucharest, moaning about so many anti-Semites and about poor service during his 1943 ski holidays (peak Holocaust, apparently).

    People who were thought as smart by Ionescu have done great, Cioran included. My grandparents, not so much. Google pictures of Romanian peasants in the thirties, and read Sebastian’s moans or Eliade’s travel memoirs, to become instantaneously Stalinist.

    Despite graduating from Munchen, despite being appointed professor of Logic and Metaphysics at the best university in the country, Nae Ionescu did not write any book. Eugene Ionesco, who was immune to Nae Ionescu’s charms, mocks “the professor” Nae Ionescu in Rhinoceros. His character is called the Logician.

  31. Cioran was absolute slime. Someone who hated existence so much should have had the decency to commit suicide. The mere fact that he wrote anything shows that he was nothing but a careerist, squirming pleasureably at the thought of death yet hating life. All he really wanted was literary fame. He was shit with legs

Current Commenter
says:

Leave a Reply - Comments on articles more than two weeks old will be judged much more strictly on quality and tone


 Remember My InformationWhy?
 Email Replies to my Comment
Submitted comments become the property of The Unz Review and may be republished elsewhere at the sole discretion of the latter
Subscribe to This Comment Thread via RSS Subscribe to All Guillaume Durocher Comments via RSS
PastClassics
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.
Are elite university admissions based on meritocracy and diversity as claimed?
The sources of America’s immigration problems—and a possible solution