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E. M. Cioran
(1911-1995) Philosopher and Writer

Exhausting his interest for conservative philosophy early in his youth, Cioran denounced systematic thought and abstract speculation in favor of indulgence in personal reflection and passionate lyricism. "I’ve invented nothing; I’ve simply been the secretary of my sensations"[citation needed], he later claimed.
Pessimism characterizes all of his works, which many critics trace back to events of his childhood (in 1935 his mother is reputed to have told him that if she had known he was going to be so unhappy she would have aborted him). However, Cioran's pessimism (in fact, his skepticism, even nihilism) remains both inexhaustible and, in its own particular manner, joyful; it is not the sort of pessimism which can be traced back to simple origins, single origins themselves being questionable. When Cioran's mother spoke to him of abortion, he confessed that it did not disturb him, but made an extraordinary impression which led to an insight about the nature of existence ("I'm simply an accident. Why take it all so seriously?" is what he later said in reference to the incident).

His works often depict an atmosphere of torment and torture, states that Cioran experienced, and came to be dominated by lyricism often prone to expressing violent feelings. The books he wrote in Romanian are best identified with this characteristic. Preoccupied with the problem of death and suffering, he was attracted to the idea of suicide, believing it to be an idea that could help one go on living, an idea which he fully explored in On the Heights of Despair. The theme of human alienation, the most prominent existentialist theme, presented by Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, is thus formulated, in 1932, by young Cioran: "Is it possible that existence is our exile and nothingness our home?"

Cioran’s works encompass many other themes as well: original sin, the tragic sense of history, the end of civilization, the refusal of consolation through faith, the obsession with the absolute, life as an expression of man's metaphysical exile, etc. He was a thinker passionate about history; widely reading the writers that were associated with the period of "decadent". One of these writers was Oswald Spengler who influenced Cioran's political philosophy in that he offered Gnostic reflections on the destiny of man and civilization. According to Cioran, as long as man has kept in touch with his origins and hasn't cut himself off from himself, he has resisted decadence. Today, he is on his way to his own destruction through self-objectification, impeccable production and reproduction, excess of self-analysis and transparency, and artificial triumph.

Regarding God, Cioran has noted that "without Bach, God would be a complete second rate figure" and that "Bach's music is the only argument proving the creation of the Universe can not be regarded a complete failure".

William H. Gass called Cioran's work "a philosophical romance on the modern themes of alienation, absurdity, boredom, futility, decay, the tyranny of history, the vulgarities of change, awareness as agony, reason as disease".

Rather ironically, Cioran became famous while writing in French, a language with which he had struggled since youth. His use of the adopted language was seldom as harsh as his use of Romanian, while the latter offered resources of originality in tone.

Wikipedia contributors, 'Emil Cioran', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 19 December 2008, 17:25 UTC, <>