Anathemas and admirations by Maistre, Joseph Marie; Maistre, Joseph Marie; Cioran, Emile

By Maistre, Joseph Marie; Maistre, Joseph Marie; Cioran, Emile M

In this choice of essays and epigrams, E.M. Cioran provides us pics and evaluations—which he calls "admirations"—of Samuel Beckett, Jorge Luis Borges, F. Scott Fitzgerald, the poet Paul Valery, and Mircea Eliade, between others. In alternating sections of aphorisms—his "anathemas"—he can provide insights on such issues as solitude, flattery, self-importance, friendship, insomnia, song, mortality, God, and the trap of disillusion.

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A formula one should repeat at every hour of the day, at the — admirable — risk of dying of it. Some diabolic thirst keeps me from exposing my pact with breathing. To lose sleep and to change language: two ordeals, one not dependent on oneself, the other deliberate. Alone, face to face with the nights and with words. The healthy are not real. They have everything except being — which is uniquely conferred by uncertain health. Of all the ancients, Epicurus may have been best at disdaining the mob — one more reason for celebrating him.

If he achieved cures, it was less by method than by faith. “Old age is the most unexpected thing of all that happens to man,” notes Trotsky a few years before his end. If, as a young man, he had had the exact, visceral intuition of this truth, what a miserable revolutionary he would have made! Noble deeds are possible only in periods when self-irony is not yet rife. It was his lot to fulfill himself only halfway. Everything in him was truncated: his way of life, like his way of thinking. A man of fragments, himself a fragment.

My habitation? I shall never know. True, one has no better knowledge of where God resides, for what is the sense of the expression “to reside in oneself” for those of us who lack any basis, both in and outside ourselves? I abuse the word God; I use it often, too often. I employ it each time I touch an extremity and need a word to designate what comes after. I prefer God to the Inconceivable. ” In other words, irresolution, that total objectivity, is the road to perdition. I infallibly discern a flaw in all those who are interested in the same things as myself.

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