December 12th, 2010

S.C. Hickman

Cioran's Revenge: The Triumph of Failure

"Cioran’s work must be understood in the pervasive climate of disappointment with political utopias. In his critique of the liberal, decadent West and the totalitarian aberrations it had led to, Cioran capitalized on the experience of the century and voiced the “spirit of the age,” gaining recognition as “prophet” of the era. He snatched his personal victory from the jaws of Europe’s defeat. In this “triumph of failure” lies Cioran’s “revenge,” and the secret of his self-reconstruction."
     - Ilinca Zarifopol-Johnston, Searching for Cioran

Ilinca Zarifopol-Johnston tells us that E.M. Cioran was in "spite of appearances... a profoundly autobiographical writer." [1] Through indirection and attack, and a dialogical critique of self and society, he created a unique blend of the personal and aphoristic which invoked the sign of prophet as cynic: and became the legendary "Recluse of Saint Sulpice". From his lonely haunt in Paris he would castigate, harangue, - and with bitter and cynical delight, spit on the face of  humanity, spewing forth in book after book the aphoristic gloamings of a philosophy of despair that would take no prisoners and offer no reprieve. For Cioran writing was both a wound and a cure, a tribulation that one must undertake against all the pain of existence. Each book was a way of overcoming the the darkest impulses within us that would lead us to that ultimate despair of suicide, for, as he memorably put it: “un livre est un suicide différé” [a book is a postponed suicide]. [2]

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