“The Cioranian ‘Fragment’ and the Structure of Gnostic Representations” (Viorel Cernica)

Annals of the Academy of Romanian Scientists. Series on Philosophy, Psychology, Theology and Journalism, Volume 3, Number 1-2/2011

Abstract. The Cioranian stylistics seems to belong only to a choice of the author, to a judgment of “efficiency” concerning the expressing of the thoughts, assumed, in fact, by the author, in some of his interviews or conversations. It is known Cioran had a good knowledge of mysticism, which, once, he systematically researched, and that he spent a long time researching the gnosis. My paper aims to bring to the light, by a simple outline of interpretation, the analogy between the structure of the Cioranian fragment and the structure of the Gnostic (symbolical) representations. The idea of a formal relation between both structures has a methodological sense for this study. The conclusion refers to the idea that the time is the ground for Cioranian philosophical attitude. The content of this attitude is the worry about his own existence.
Keywords: origin of the Cioranian thinking; pure lucidity; Gnostic representation; time and “second eternity”; worry

The temptation of speaking on Cioran’s thinking by means of the models of philosophizing is very attractive. This perspective of interpretation is used by many students in the horizon of the philosophy. But in the case of Cioran the things are more complicated, because he doesn’t belong to a certain philosophical place: a model, a method, a current etc. that has coordinates established in the history of the philosophy. Many researchers observe this fact and try to interpret the “fragments” of Cioran by relating them to his own philosophical, cultural, educational, political options. This represents a good way for a research, but it shows, however, a certain impossibility of an efficient interpretation, because it seems to imply a self-reference, that can be vicious. If we agree with this manner of putting forward the theme in what concerns Cioran’s work, then we can affirm there are two ways to discover the origin of Cioranian thinking, that are commonly presented in the exegeses of his work: 1) by identifying the relation between Cioran’s thinking and the models of the history of philosophy (for example, nihilism, skepticism, pessimism, Gnosticism); 2) by establishing the connection between the work and the philosophical, cultural, ideological etc. options of the author. The first way appears to be better in order to interpret Cioran’s fragments, because it admits from the beginning a characteristic of the work, namely a philosophical characteristic. Therefore, we can use with success the method that presupposes, as a main condition, the rapport of this thinking with some models of philosophizing. But this method, as I showed above, is not fit formally to this case. Cioran’s thinking seems to “participate” at many philosophizing models, but first of all it is shaped by its origin, which acts in any fragment and has an intense relation with the influences received by the author from the philosophical Romanian interwar milieu. Of course, it is not the question of an absolute influence that takes away the author’s originality and the possible relation of his thoughts with some philosophizing models. Furthermore, Cioran
was deeply influenced by Nae Ionescu – a well known thinker and professor of that period in Bucharest. If we inquire on the origin of this thinking, the two ways of exegesis can participate to a new space of interpretation. Moreover, both are possible only on a powerful base that offers the following concept: “origin of thinking”, which in this case is, of course, the origin of Cioran’s thinking.

I do not intend to insist on the relationship between the two thinkers mentioned above, though what I’m trying to show is that a certain reaction of Cioran against his professor had an important impact to his thinking, namely to the origin and structure of the aforementioned fragments. As a matter of fact, it is known that Cioran belongs to what’s called the “Nae Ionescu School”, as well as Mircea Vulcănescu, Mircea Eliade, Constantin Noica a.o. From this point of view, a debate on the relationship between Cioran and Nae Ionescu is not a difficult task. Nevertheless, it is not the question of a simple “scholastic” relationship, at least between the later thinkers, but of a significant attitude of Cioran, that belongs to the principle of his thinking, in both its matter and structure. Further on, I shall confine myself to the second aspect of this principle, namely the structure of Cioranian thinking put it in the fragmented form.

The thinking has its own rules and elements of operation. It is possible an action of a foreign principle, that is not a rule of thinking, just into its own structures? But any thinking contains an attitude, if its “subject” (support) is interested in the effect of his thoughts. Moreover, the thinking – or a philosophy – emphasizes its attitude in order to transform it in a principle, if its main problem refers to the individual existence. This is the case of Cioran’s thinking. And it is naturally, I think, to speak of an attitude that characterizes the Cioranian thoughts. And precisely this attitude represents the origin of the thinking which I deal with in this study.

An attitude is not a fact that has immediate evidence. It is rather an element of the individual personality that remains hidden, although it belongs to the work or writing both visible and knowable for any reader or student. But the interpretation has the task of revealing the hidden elements and projecting them on the “object”, together with the interpreter’s own techniques of self-seeking. The philosophers of the contemporary hermeneutics claim that the interpretation implicates its author. Since the interpreter asks a question, he thus questions himself (on himself). Moreover, the attitude that is implied in a philosophy “works” until the level of the expression. This is why we should reveal the attitude of Cioran’s thinking while discussing it.

The two kinds of exegesis mentioned above are very important if we interpret them in relation to the idea of the origin of this thinking. In fact, they are not simple generalities about the philosophical work, detached just from the philosophical works that have a general sense. They represent rather the applications of a methodology to a philosophical reconstruction. On the one hand, the milieu in which a philosopher (thinker) grows up, by means of the influences he suffered (on his life, learning, thoughts and beliefs etc.), carries the conditions of possibility of his future thinking. This is why these conditions determine the very aspects of the origin of his thinking. On the other hand, the influences are filtrated by means of the philosopher’s way of life. If we are taking this into account, we can observe that the two conditions formulated above don’t maintain their “natural” senses. In Cioran’s case, it is his own (personal) very strong and intense experiences which he remembers in his dialogues with various contemporary personalities. Among those experiences, the sleeplessness is the most significant because it is put in relation with the pure lucidity, concerning the fact that God cannot be accepted, that Cioran will practice later, in the French period.

Thus, the two ways of exegesis in Cioran’s case become (or can be thought) not in an order of sense preservation, because precisely their sense changes, but in an order of an interpretation that must dislocate the “natural” sense: 1) the pure lucidity that denies God’s validity (as well as the validity of being); 2) the impossibility of the belief (in act). The first is an acquired capacity or a skill employed by Cioran in all his texts. The second is a characteristic of Cioran’s individual existence. Both of them shape and structure the origin of his thinking and have a deep relation with the thinker’s life in the Romanian interwar period. Of course, the first depends on this cultural milieu in a greater measure than the second.

We have in this moment an open way to our problem: the fragmentariness of the Cioranian thinking and the structure of the Gnostic representations. The origin of Cioran’s thinking, as it is outlined above, must be used in our approach as a starting point for an attempt of interpretation. Of course, if the fragment (and its structure) has indeed a relation with one of the two elements of the origin. I think there is a same relation; but only if we take into account the aspect of the origin which concerns Cioran’s attitude against Nae Ionescu’s attitude. In other words, the pure lucidity accepted by Cioran, that deny God’s validity, and Nae Ionescu’s belief. The Gnosticism represents for Cioran only an expression of his pure lucidity, but an expression that was searched and considered by Cioran one of the most suitable ways of life in a certain period. It’s the question of the middle French period, when the Romanian thinker published some of his important books… [PDF]