Letter To A Faraway Friend – E.M. CIORAN

Never to have occasion to take a position, to make up one’s mind, or to define oneself—there is no wish I make more often. But we do not always master our moods, those attitudes in the bud, those rough drafts of theory. Viscerally inclined to systems, we ceaselessly construct them, especially in politics, domain of pseudo-problems, breeding grounds of the bad philosopher who resides in each of us, a realm I would be exiled from for the most commonplace of reasons, a piece of evidence which is raised in my eyes to the rank of a revelation: politics revolves uniquely around man. Having lost the taste for beings, I nonetheless wear myself out in vain acquiring one for things; necessarily limited to the interval that separates them, I expend and exhaust myself upon their shadow. Shadows too, these nations whose fate intrigues me, less for themselves than for the pretext they afford of revenging myself upon what has neither form nor outline, upon entities and symbols. The idler who loves violence safeguards his savoir vivre by confining himself in an abstract hell. Abandoning the individual, he frees himself of names and faces, deals with the imprecise, the general, and, orienting his thirst for exterminations to the impalpable, conceives a new genre: the pamphlet without object.

Clinging to fractions of ideas and to figments of dreams, having arrived at reflection by accident or by hysteria, and not at all by a concern for rigor, I seem to myself, among civilized men, a kind of intruder, a troglodyte enamored of decrepitude, plunged into subversive prayers, victim of a panic that emanates not from a vision of the world but from the spasms of the flesh and the tenebrae of the blood. Impermeable to the solicitations of clarity and to the Latin contamination, I feel Asia stirring in my veins: am I the offspring of some inadmissible tribe, or the spokesman of a race once turbulent, today mute? Often the temptation seizes me to forge for myself another genealogy, to change ancestors, to choose among those who, in their day, spread grief among the nations, contrary to my own, to our modest and martyred land stuffed with miseries, amalgamated to the mud and groaning beneath the anathema of the ages. Yes, in my crises of fatuity, I incline to believe myself the epigone of some horde illustrious for its depredations, a Turanian at heart, legitimate heir of the steppes, the last Mongol. . . .

CIORAN, E.M., History and Utopia. Transl. by Richard Howard with a foreword by Eugene Thacker. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2015.

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