“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
I came to Cioran out of my own despair having come to a point in my own life when there was nothing left but suicide or the pen. There is something to the disquieting obstinacy of an intrepid spirit that seeks out a self-aggrandizing and ruthless self-examination of the darkest torments and self-doubts of the mind, then begins to ponder the ineluctable corruption at the heart of time in regards to all that is most decadent and monstrous; to know, to understand, to conquer those tendencies that would deign kill all that is most vital within us, and lead toward a bleakness at the heart of existence out of which shines the gall of a corrupted god. It is against this deadly spirit of negativity that all great writer’s must come to terms if they would continue beyond a merely parenthetical life; a life lived in brackets(i.e., no life at all; a haunted life, spectral and ghostly and invisible in its non-existence).
The feeling of having been thrown into this false world, of living in an Unreal realm full of false hopes and dreams, of knowing deep within that one is a victim, haunted by the paradisaical truth that one is in exile from a different realm of being and has been thrown into this cesspool nightmare land is at the heart of Cioran’s aphoristic autobiography:
“I haven’t written with my blood, I have written with all the tears I have never shed. Even if I had been a logician, I would still have been an elegiacal man. Every day I relive the expulsion from Paradise with the same passion and the same regret as the one who was first banished.” – Cioran, Cahiers, 683
This alignment with the Prince of Darkness should not be seen as some mythical figuration of a fractured mind, but as the inner truth of a knowing mind that has discovered the black light of his own guiding thought; for are we not all, part and partial, victims of that ancient cosmic catastrophe we call creation in this monstrous universe. If one sees a closeness and rapport between the ideas of Cioran and the gnostics it is only a false resemblance; for Cioran’s gnosis, if he had one, is different, and far deadlier, closer to a counter-gnosis in the sense that he has admitted to himself that he too is one of those dark angelic powers who renounced their heavenly home and chose, willingly, the exile from being into unbeing – a darker annihilation of self and history:
“From denial to denial , his existence is diminished: vaguer and more unreal than a syllogism of sighs , how could he still be a creature of flesh and blood? Anemic , he rivals the Idea it self ; he has abstracted himself from his ancestors , from his friends , from every soul and himself; in his veins , once turbulent , rests a light from another world. Liberated from what he has lived, unconcerned by what he will live; he demolishes the signposts on all his roads , and wrests himself from the dials of all time. ” I shall never meet myself again, ” he decides, happy to turn his last hat red against himself, happier still to annihilate—in his forgiveness—all beings , all things. – E. M. Cioran, A Short History of Decay
Like some bodhisattva of anti-being he roams the blasted universe in triumph as the exiled one, the one without a home, homeless and full of annihilation for all things in their bleak majesty. Yet, his is not a an anti-cosmic gnosis, instead he, as David Larvey suggests, “his thoroughly skeptical solution to humankind’ s extreme alienation is not abandonment of the world; he seeks no transcendence. He counsel s humiliation: he seeks a return to, a sinking back into, the earthly. We are autochthons of this world, if we would only realize it.” The paradisial realm from which humans fell, for Cioran, was not some heavenly abyss of light, but Nature itself, because humans “could not abide the peace and tranquility of life in nature (ibid. Larvey)”. Humans are vile and weak, unable to live within this natural realm they have invented gods and demons, strange worlds inhabited by angels and unbeing toward which they hope to someday to rise into leaving this broken world to its own devices. Cioran sees this as vanity and that humans are killjoys, wastrels, and miscreants: “Man is unacceptable.” (Drawn and Quartered 181)… [+]