Abstract: This article aims to investigate the relationship between nostalgia, solitude, and skepticism in Emil Cioran’s thought. In the first place, we will examine how the concepts of Sehnsucht, saudade and dor are interpreted by Cioran as similar forms of radical nostalgia. In the second place, we will see how the skeptical attitude of doubting reality relates to the nostalgic impossibility of belonging to reality itself. Finally, we will suppose that the metaphysical feeling of being isolated and separated from the world implies a skeptical criticism of subjectivity itself and a humoristic interpretation of existence.
Keywords: Sehnsucht, solitude, skepticism, Pessoa, humourism.
Um exílio melancólico: Emil Cioran e o sentimento de nostalgia
Resumo: Esse artigo visa investigar a relação entre nostalgia, solitude e ceticismo no pensamento de Emil Cioran. Em primeiro lugar, iremos examinar como os conceitos de Sehnsucht, Saudade e Dor são interpretados por Cioran como formas semelhantes de nostalgia radical. Em segundo lugar, veremos como a atitude cética de duvidar da realidade relaciona-se com a impossibilidade nostalgica de pertencimento à realidade em si. Em conclusão iremos supor que o sentimento metafísico de estar isolado e separado do mundo implique o criticismo cético da subjetividade em si e a interpretação humorística da existȇncia.
Palavras-chave: Sehnsucht, Solitude, Ceticismo, Pessoa, Humor.
This article aims to examine the relationship between nostalgia, solitude, and skepticism in Emil Cioran’s thought. We will see how the concepts of Sehnsucht, saudade and dor are interpreted by Cioran as a similar form of radical nostalgia which characterized the melancholic feeling of having been exiled from both the world and the truth. According to Cioran, the skeptical attitude of doubting reality relates to the nostalgic impossibility of belonging to reality itself. This impossibility characterizes the condition of both nostalgia and solitude. At the same time, the metaphysical certainty of being isolated and separated from the world implies a skeptical criticism of subjectivity itself since the very idea of subjectivity presumes the harmony between subject and reality. The purpose of this paper is to understand how Cioran relates the fragmentation of the subjectivity to the necessity of being skeptical.
Loneliness and nothingness
Apparently, skepticism and nostalgia denote two different things: the lack of certainties, and the irrational certainty of having lost “something”. In this sense, the nostalgic subject should regret what he has lost while the skeptic subject should keep searching for what he has not found yet. But could it be possible that the reality regretted by the nostalgic is the same reality questioned by the skeptic? And could the nostalgic’s regret generate the skeptical desire of doubting reality? In this case, what should this strange connection between doubt, regret, and desire represent?
In 1936, in a text called Cartea Amăgirilor (The Book of Delusions), Cioran writes that we are looking for «the Everything» since we have lost «something». In this passage, Cioran interprets the desire of the Absolute as a reaction to unrequited love, that is, as a reaction to sentimental failure: we wanted to be loved, we failed, and we discovered ourselves absolutely alone. Thus, we faced the revelation of our tragic solitude by looking for a place of universal harmony where nobody is left alone (even though such a place does not exist). It is a strategy of psychological defense through which a person tries to justify an experience of radical failure which provokes the destabilization of individual certainties. We could say that such a failure is a fracture, and that such a fracture creates an existential void: solitude is the fall into this void where the subject can perceive the metaphysical emptiness characterizing the essence of human existence. It is a revelation depicted by Cioran as a mystical event as the perception of this emptiness paradoxically implies a «moment of plenitude», that is, the possibility to «attain to the “vacuity of the void”»… [PDF]