counter create hit A Short History of Decay - Download Free eBook
Ads Banner
Hot Best Seller

A Short History of Decay

Availability: Ready to download

"In the fact of being born there is such an absence of necessity that when you think about it a little more than usual you are left... with a foolish grin" -E.M. Cioran E.M. Cioran confronts the place of today's world in the context of human history. He focuses on such major issues of the twentieth century as human progress, fanaticism, and science.


Compare
Ads Banner

"In the fact of being born there is such an absence of necessity that when you think about it a little more than usual you are left... with a foolish grin" -E.M. Cioran E.M. Cioran confronts the place of today's world in the context of human history. He focuses on such major issues of the twentieth century as human progress, fanaticism, and science.

30 review for A Short History of Decay

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    A series of epigrammatic reflections on how things fall apart. This is a bleak, atheistic book, but it is strangely comforting and even humorous in its unembarrassed nihilism. Characteristic Cioran quotes: "Anyone who speaks in the name of others is always an imposter." "By all evidence we are in the world to do nothing." "Chaos is rejecting all you have learned, Chaos is being yourself."

  2. 4 out of 5

    BlackOxford

    The Poetry of Death A Short History of Decay is a compendium of pessimistic aphorism, a sort of cosmopolitan collection of Gnostic scripture through the ages. It is entertaining, observationally acute, and compelling - all descriptions that the author would object to strenuously. I think he would accept ‘poetry of death’ much more readily, however. There is little except for death about which Cioran has anything good to say. Cioran begins as a sort of secular Qoholeth from the Old Testament: All i The Poetry of Death A Short History of Decay is a compendium of pessimistic aphorism, a sort of cosmopolitan collection of Gnostic scripture through the ages. It is entertaining, observationally acute, and compelling - all descriptions that the author would object to strenuously. I think he would accept ‘poetry of death’ much more readily, however. There is little except for death about which Cioran has anything good to say. Cioran begins as a sort of secular Qoholeth from the Old Testament: All is vanity. And Cioran means everything, especially those conceits of faith by religionists who have lost the capacity to doubt: “What is the Fall but the pursuit of a truth and the assurance you have found it, the passion for a dogma, domicile within a dogma?” Cioran’s hero is the doubting Hamlet, he who hesitates, who doubts, who questions what he knows incessantly. “The devil pales beside the man who owns a truth, his truth” But it is not religion per se that is the source of evil, it is human self-assurance: “Even when he turns from religion, man remains subject to it... His power to adore is responsible for all his crimes: a man who loves a god unduly forces other men to love his god, eager to exterminate them if they refuse... We kill only in the name of a god or of his counterfeits.” One can almost hear Nietzsche clapping with approval in the distance. So the fundamental problem is idealism. People who have a plan for making things better are the carriers of a deadly mental virus. These small-time peddlers of happiness scam a willing audience into believing that it is possible to reduce the net amount of misery in the world. Thus “Society is an inferno of saviors!” What human beings don’t or won’t recognise is that existence is misery. Schopenhauer has now joined Nietzsche in approbation. The only cure for miserable existence is the termination of existence, suicide. This is the only aspect of existence we can control. Contrary to the dictum of St. Paul that our lives are not our own, Cioran makes the rather more obvious point that they are. It is the only thing we can call entirely our own: “We change ideas like neckties; for every idea, every criterion comes from outside, from the configurations and accidents of time... death is the true criterion, the only one contained within us.” Writing seven years after Camus’s Sisyphus, he managed to radicalise even that paean to control 0ver one’s existence. Philosophy, actually thought in general, is not helpful in the situation. “The abundance of solutions to the aspects of existence is equaled only by their futility.” Philosophies are at best consoling fictions, and at worst reasons to persecute other human beings. “All of life’s evils come from a ‘conception of life’,” Cioran thinks. In this he is not far from Kierkegaard’s distrust of philosophy: “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.” In fact Cioran’s real issue is with language itself, with words pretending to be more than grunts and scratches. He thinks “Man is the chatterbox of the universe.” We throw words around as if they had substance. But as Wittgenstein has demonstrated, words refer only to other words. Consequently, Cioran concludes “We die in proportion to the words which we fling around us.” Ludwig would likely agree. The only acceptable use of words, indeed the only ‘reasonable’ activity for a human being is poetry. At least poetry doesn’t pretend to be more than it is. In fact it doesn’t pretend to be anything at all. Poetry is a personal act of construction. “Only the poet takes responsibility for ‘I,’ he alone speaks in his own name, he alone is entitled to do so.” T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland seems a model for just this view. Ultimately it is the ancient Gnostic appreciation of the world - shared certainly by the relatively optimistic(!) Thomas Ligotti - which drives Cioran: “Injustice governs the universe. Everything which is done and undone there bears the stamp of a filthy fragility, as if matter were the fruit of a scandal at the core of nothingness.” This seems to me outstanding poetry, as does his summary of his own life “In Time’s sentence men take their place like commas, while, in order to end it, you have immobilized yourself into a period.”

  3. 4 out of 5

    Edward

    A Short History of Decay is an unbridled celebration of nihilism. Cioran writes with an almost theatrical degree of cynicism: his commitment to persistently wrenching the most pessimistic conclusion from any proposition is often hilarious in its melodramatic absurdity. His philosophy is one of absolute futility, in which suicide is the most noble act, and any motion towards civilisation, culture or the pursuit of knowledge is entirely misguided. While I enjoyed his acerbic commentaries on Christ A Short History of Decay is an unbridled celebration of nihilism. Cioran writes with an almost theatrical degree of cynicism: his commitment to persistently wrenching the most pessimistic conclusion from any proposition is often hilarious in its melodramatic absurdity. His philosophy is one of absolute futility, in which suicide is the most noble act, and any motion towards civilisation, culture or the pursuit of knowledge is entirely misguided. While I enjoyed his acerbic commentaries on Christianity, on the whole I cannot follow Cioran into the depths of such profound nihilism. Most of his ideas are too esoteric or crippled by his slanted perspective to be credible except in a poetic sense. And yet, reading A Short History of Decay is still a worthwhile endeavour. While the writing style is dense and abstruse (often bordering on incomprehensible), it does possess a poetic beauty and is eminently quotable. One can find ideas that stand out as incisive and penetrating, though usually these need to be extricated from the surrounding negativity and histrionics.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Szplug

    The hermeneutics of the void via prose poetry. Declared anathema: faith, love, action, dogma, suicide, living, hope. Deemed exemplary: laughter, cynicism, poetry, inertia, acceptance of death and the futility of existence, doubt. Cioran is a diagnostician of decay, the type to carouse with madmen, crooks, layabouts, and roués—to hold that Jesus ruined the tragedy of his crucifixion by appending it with his resurrection, thus imbuing his followers with the dream of eternal life, an abhorrent and The hermeneutics of the void via prose poetry. Declared anathema: faith, love, action, dogma, suicide, living, hope. Deemed exemplary: laughter, cynicism, poetry, inertia, acceptance of death and the futility of existence, doubt. Cioran is a diagnostician of decay, the type to carouse with madmen, crooks, layabouts, and roués—to hold that Jesus ruined the tragedy of his crucifixion by appending it with his resurrection, thus imbuing his followers with the dream of eternal life, an abhorrent and abominable demand upon infinity that is perhaps the most appalling of the countless sins committed by the lunatic ape man. This is gorgeous gall, beautiful bile, ethereal effluence, translated with a sublime flair. Designed, of course, for provoking the Three D's: Dismay, Despair, and Denouncement; but such caustic, gnostic poetophilosophy is so rife with profound truth immanent within the blasphemy that even the most repulsed reader can mine it for nuggets of wisdom (being careful to rinse off the acid). Even at his darkest and most mordant, Cioran's dancing charcoal humor shimmers throughout the grim stream of nihilistic vituperation, such that the harsh friction of the smegma of existence called life being vigorously scrubbed with bristles of anguish and apostasy is periodically overlain by the unexpected, leavening sound of whistling. Amazing.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    If you think you hate life, or maybe just the world around you this book will make you kick yourself repeatedly for being just too much of a goddamn optimist. This is one bleak and beautiful book. How Cioran could live with thoughts like these and not end his own life is beyond me, but like a character out of Beckett he continues going on. This is the second book of his that I've read and it's even darker than his more youthful and lighthearted Tears and Saints which was really not the kind of b If you think you hate life, or maybe just the world around you this book will make you kick yourself repeatedly for being just too much of a goddamn optimist. This is one bleak and beautiful book. How Cioran could live with thoughts like these and not end his own life is beyond me, but like a character out of Beckett he continues going on. This is the second book of his that I've read and it's even darker than his more youthful and lighthearted Tears and Saints which was really not the kind of book the average person would call uplifting.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ana

    Cioran was a really amazing human being. Cioran knew what`s going on and while reading this book not only that you find yourself in the same posture but also you can find out the answers at his own questions; reading him was just like getting to know my own thoughts at night. When getting to the part in which he wrote that he wanted to believe, he was just so prepared to trust someone or something (almost at the end of the book) I was already conscious of 'why he couldn`t make it until the end'. Cioran was a really amazing human being. Cioran knew what`s going on and while reading this book not only that you find yourself in the same posture but also you can find out the answers at his own questions; reading him was just like getting to know my own thoughts at night. When getting to the part in which he wrote that he wanted to believe, he was just so prepared to trust someone or something (almost at the end of the book) I was already conscious of 'why he couldn`t make it until the end'. It is just amazing how at the last pages you can just see the streams and his pain within them. That`s why all the book he related why we are just... farts in the Universe so as to be able at the end of it to speak his heart out properly. That part made me cry. I had read this book at the library, well... most of it and people just stared at me while I couldn`t kept laughing at the parts in which I couldn`t help myself but think: 'Nailed it!'. The reason for which I cried though was that he reminded me of what some people that I cared of said to me. They were are like: 'What shall we live for? This is just a piece of s**t, it gave nothing to me and I know that only after death may I find another place much better than this where I won`t feel any of the aches of being alive.' At that moment I thought that they were cowards .really, because when you care about someone if he/she wants to hurt himself/herself you can`t help yourself but defense them as they were you. But now coming to think of it through and experiencing more of what life is I start to notice that seeing life as an opportunity is f***ing hard. First of all you can never find the harmony. You just want something and then something else and then never have enough of that other thing, after after that you just think that it could have been better without a heart beating inside your chest and without all these s****y feelings and so on. You really have to be mad to love it. You have to be powerful and to love yourself, hate giving up, thinking that you can have memorable moments like you already had and always remember that if you can do that, that doesn`t mean everyone can. I won`t judge the ones that decide to kill themselves I had some moments when I wanted to do the same, but among the trouble that life offers you there is something devastatingly beautiful about it. To survive life you have to turn yourself into a specimen, to observe yourself. To survive life you have to get over the bad stuff, because who wants to get over the good stuff?! For that you just have to laugh right in its face. If nothing here matters because everything here has an end then why shouldn`t we act like it? It`s possible to enjoy life, that`s why sometimes we forget we are in such a mess and fail to bring to mind the question why we are here, we`re just busy having fun. That`s due to the fact that we remember such things when we are not in ourselves but trying to release our souls from our bodies. It made me laugh for the fact that he is just so... strangely pure. He says what most of us know in what it seems to me like a scheme sometimes. Despite the fact that this is kind of a contradiction I think that if we read and try to make an analogy it again sounds like a joke. It is funny how a joke about people in general can make you laugh. Just like:'Did I actually think that?'. Before finishing this review, which is actually just a small piece of my own opinion (like the book itself) I want to say that while washing the strawberries some days ago I felt like all of our questions regarding why we are here and how, does not make sense... none of them pretty much. Without thinking scientifically and more like a kid, do this thing: imagine a void, just... nothing... imagine nothing, right? and then imagine something out of nothing because of that something which actually came from...? Yeah. Well... nothing makes much sense, but we still have feelings, we have ourselves, I don`t know why but we are here and Cioran would have just enjoyed everything that`s happening right now if he hadn`t been a nothing right now. We have this book and I THANK YOU CIORAN for being so... flawlessly straightforward in your own vulgarity of making us read what we already tried to get away from. But... we have to live somehow Cioran and what I want to do after reading this book is make it just the opposite of what you said. No judgement, I can`t agree with all that you had written, I do agree with most but I can`t practice it. To follow your 'description' I am more like a mixed type: yeah I am a subhuman I am a superior one, I deserve to rotten, but also to grow and it is deliciously funny. Short love thoughts: you are a nullity in your eyes and... probably this is what everything that had happened to you made you feel like, but you will be in my mind... the mind of a nullity, if of course we ignore the fact that I still don`t consider myself one. For me nullity is an enlarged perspective on life that we stir from the dead when we want to give an argument for what`s happening here, but I am my own argument and I want to be here... when I`ll get there to you, I won`t come back here, but I won`t be able to regret it because I will be... nothing. So just, let`s be please! All of us. Amen! P.S: I forgot to write why I can`t practice it: because I feast on the happy moments and I want a lot of them, I`m sorry to tell you but I choose to be thrilled and have my heart skipping a beat rather than 'be not'. It may seem to you like something a 'wise human being' would never do, but what`s like to be wise when you are... nowhere Cioran? Can you see the amusing circle that`s around us? :)) Oh, the irony I feast on!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tilly

    "Anyone who speaks in the name of others is always an imposter." "By all evidence we are in the world to do nothing." Reading E. M. Cioran's aphoristic musings on the decay of modern society is not easy on the soul, but is made bearable by his beautiful turns of phrase and concise explanations (despite the fact that he uses more ellipses than a teenager on facebook chat). Cioran's essays on human life basically rest on proving its innate absurdity. God is a failure (until he created Bach), enthusi "Anyone who speaks in the name of others is always an imposter." "By all evidence we are in the world to do nothing." Reading E. M. Cioran's aphoristic musings on the decay of modern society is not easy on the soul, but is made bearable by his beautiful turns of phrase and concise explanations (despite the fact that he uses more ellipses than a teenager on facebook chat). Cioran's essays on human life basically rest on proving its innate absurdity. God is a failure (until he created Bach), enthusiasm for your ideas - any ideas on any subject - leads to nothing but bloody slaughter or despotism and existence is defined solely by the suffering you endure. Yet despite it all, this book was great - beautifully written, darkly amusing in places and interesting - I didn't agree with all, or most, that Cioran said, but I did get immersed in his world and perceptions. One for fans of existentialism, absurdism, and anything by Samuel Beckett.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Matthew W

    This book is BEYOND pessimism and nihilism! I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone that thinks positively about their future or anyone that is part of a national movement. E.M. Cioran makes no lie that he has given up on existence (aside from writing of course!).

  9. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    It is a very rare thing that a philosopher can write well stylistically. Even if I disagreed with everything said here it would have gotten 5 stars for its prose alone. Of course, I did still agree with at least half of it, so that helps.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    A brilliant masterpiece. Says so much with such artistry. Think - Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco but flavored with full-blown nihilistic humor. Cioran has me convinced by about the first paragraph that life is absurd, God wasted was a complete failure until he created Bach and totally redeemed himself, people who live in monasteries are egotistical because they care more about their own souls than living with the rest of us... only the skeptics and the decadent roman emperors had living figur A brilliant masterpiece. Says so much with such artistry. Think - Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco but flavored with full-blown nihilistic humor. Cioran has me convinced by about the first paragraph that life is absurd, God wasted was a complete failure until he created Bach and totally redeemed himself, people who live in monasteries are egotistical because they care more about their own souls than living with the rest of us... only the skeptics and the decadent roman emperors had living figured out because 'all other lives have been chained to the monotony of a vocation' - he says what I am thinking - but with pinpoint precision. Bleak, yet I cannot help but laugh. His insights pull no punches and he makes absurdism humourous -which is I think redeems the futility of living from the onslaught of suicidal thoughts that barrage the reader on every page. "I am an accident. So what's the point to be serious about life?"

  11. 4 out of 5

    sologdin

    not seeing the appeal. overt fascist muses on decadence. how many motherfuckers died to extinguish this kind of self-obsessed bullshit?

  12. 4 out of 5

    Eadweard

    Read again: July 19 - September 9 6. The abundance of solutions to the aspects of existence is equaled only by their futility. 10. By dint of accumulating non-mysteries and monopolizing non-meanings, life inspires more dread than death: it is life which is the Great Unknown. 38. In this slaughterhouse, to fold one's arms or to draw one's sword are equally vain gestures. 44. Man starts over again every day, in spite of everything he knows, against everything he knows. 54. Before an absolute tribun Read again: July 19 - September 9 6. The abundance of solutions to the aspects of existence is equaled only by their futility. 10. By dint of accumulating non-mysteries and monopolizing non-meanings, life inspires more dread than death: it is life which is the Great Unknown. 38. In this slaughterhouse, to fold one's arms or to draw one's sword are equally vain gestures. 44. Man starts over again every day, in spite of everything he knows, against everything he knows. 54. Before an absolute tribunal, only the angels would be acquitted. 72. Men mingle in a uniform fare as futile as, for the indifferent eye, as the stars - or the crosses of a military cemetary. 77. In this world, where sufferings are merged and blurred, only the Formula prevails. 84. A dust infatuated with ghosts - such is man; his absolute image, ideally lifelike, would be incarnated in a Don Quixote seen by Aeschylus. 102. "I never made anyone suffer!" - an exclamation alien to a creature of flesh and blood. 119. We are the great invalids, overwhelmed by old dreams, forever incapable of utopia, technicians of lassitude, gravediggers of the future, horrified by the avatars of the Old Adam. 172. Look at your body in the mirror; you will realize that you are mortal; run your fingers over your ribs as though across a guitar, and you will see how close you are to the grave.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Fede

    "A Short History of Decay" by E. M. Cioran, or: The Philosophical Lyricism of Desperate Hopefulness. Whenever I come across nihilism and its miserable epigone - existentialism - I cringe and roll my eyes, and that's putting it mildly. All those ramblings about the meaninglessness of human life, achievements, dreams and hopes, lost as we are in the cosmic emptiness of a universe going nowhere etc... well, everytime I read such bullshit, generally written by some pretentious wealthy dickhead with t "A Short History of Decay" by E. M. Cioran, or: The Philosophical Lyricism of Desperate Hopefulness. Whenever I come across nihilism and its miserable epigone - existentialism - I cringe and roll my eyes, and that's putting it mildly. All those ramblings about the meaninglessness of human life, achievements, dreams and hopes, lost as we are in the cosmic emptiness of a universe going nowhere etc... well, everytime I read such bullshit, generally written by some pretentious wealthy dickhead with too much spare time and nothing to do, I'd love to ask the author: "Why don't you just kill yourself, then? Be consistent with what you say and shoot yourself in the head. Shoo. Fuck off, you jinx. Good riddance. And, hey, before you do it - think of all those poor devils who really have to struggle for every... single... fucking second of their lives. Wash your shitty mouth out and see what a bunch of crap you've been preaching. Because YOUR life is useless, not the others'. YOUR existence is useless, and it's YOUR business, you cunt, not the others'." Humph...! However, Cioran was the exception to the rule. For the very simple reason that his nihilism is so desperately charged with hope that he ends up destroying his own system from within, while being perfectly aware all the time of doing so. And, besides, his writing style is just divine. From the very first lines I found myself too absorbed in the contemplation of such beauty to even care about the actual contents, and that's quite something, considering my prejudice against the subject; on page 20 I basically had to stop and start again in order to, you know, realise that I was actually loving Cioran's words AND their meaning. He wasn't even writing in his first language, by the way. In fact Cioran was Romanian, not French; and yet this book, the first he wrote in his acquired language, put him in the pantheon of French literature as soon as it was published (Gallimard, 1949). Now, nihilism is the absolute, unconditional denial of all existential achievement of mankind; it's the most genuine product of European culture after its long, exhausted history of spiritual havoc and material dissolution. After the rises and falls of so many Thousand-Year Reichs, what's left for man to believe in, either consciously or unconsciously? What's left for anybody to teach or learn, approve or despise since no system has ever been able to survive itself, let alone its devotees? Denial then, first and foremost of one's self. However, while nihilism as we've come to know it (and, in my case, loathe it) can't go any farther than that, thus ending up in a stalemate, Cioran's vision radically differs: the Romanian expat's thought is indeed the completion and overcoming of such a cosmic pessimism leading nowhere. It's the crack in the system that - paradoxically - allows it to work and make sense. Yep. What he shows in these intensely poetic aphorisms is the solution to a contradiction no other existentialist/nihilist has ever been able to solve: why didn't they take their own lives, since their superior minds had realised how insignificant life is - thus setting a good example for their admirers to follow? Because they were too full of themselves to believe in their own crap, that's why. At first Cioran draws the same conclusion: self-denial is the only way for us to escape the delusional universe we live in. But it's just the first step to be taken, the beginning of a journey leading to the Unknown rather than to the Meaningless. When all the burden has been removed; when no superstition nor prejudice prevents man to see his inner and outer void; when there's no noise interfering with one's silence, then a total cleanup of the self begins. Self-denial is no longer seen as mere renunciation. On the contrary, it's total openness to the outside, to a world naked and free from the superstructures of our ego. It's the ability to see reality as it is: a void made of unlimited potential, untarnished and unscathed, beyond the boundaries of human feeling and thought; until nature, history and life itself cease to be mere projections of our selves. No doubt the intensity of Cioran's prose puts his musings on human history and religion on a level with the most visionary writings of the Scriptures. The way he deals with his own contradictions is amazing, with an uncanny sense of the clash between earthly boundaries and transcendental desires. I daresay Cioran is a modern Qohelet, the Jew whose book will forever haunt Judaism as well as Christianity with its frightening denial of religiosity (it's indeed a mystery how and why the Hebrew and Catholic canons accepted such a monstrous work almost without flinching, thus proving how convoluted all monotheistic minds are). And, just like the Ecclesiastes did, the poet/philosopher desperately embraces religion the moment he starts destroying it. In a world deprived of all meaning, the only way out leads to the Unlikely - to what is by definition out of our reach. Thus faith - in God, mankind, art, poetry, beauty - becomes the ultimate reason for us to carry on, precisely because what we can't grasp, we can't spoil. That's what really surprised me: Cioran's intellectual honesty, especially in drawing conclusions that would lead him so far away from his premises, whereas most of his contemporaries were not very keen on self-analysis... or at least on taking stock of the flaws in their systems. They'd rather pretend not to see them, which is definitely easier, for the author as well as for the reader. Another thing I tend to dislike is the way modern authors are irresistibly drawn to join in the political/ideological controversies of their times, and therefore debase themselves along with their works. Well, domnul Emil Cioran refused to take part in any struggle or commitment: when asked to take a clear (leftist) stand by Albert Camus, he told him to go fuck himself and stop bothering him with his bullshit. Verbatim. Ah, l'esprit de délicatesse...! Aaaw, to hell with these ramblings. Just read this book for the sake of reading it. Cioran's writing is hypnotic and you'll love it, either you agree with the philosophical contents or not. After all, one doesn't need to be a Catholic fundamentalist to enjoy Dante's Comedy or Michelangelo's frescoes.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jay Green

    I love Cioran's writing but confess that he makes me laugh out loud, much in the same way that de Sade's attempts to shock raise a chuckle and the Handsome Family's modern American Gothic appeal to my Irish/English sense of the ridiculous. I simply cannot take him seriously, and for the reader, such an attitude becomes liberating: you can simply revel in the use of language and the daring with which he expresses the most life-negating ideas. They become hilarious, a joy to read. A delight.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tosh

    Nihilism as a creative act! One of the great books to have by your bedside, just to remind you what kind of world we live in. Superb!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ed Erwin

    Sometimes I agree perfectly with Cioran's pessimistic take on everything. Other times his syntax is so twisted I have no idea what he's saying. But mainly I just want to scream at him "Emil, stop acting like a disgruntled pelican!"

  17. 4 out of 5

    Travelin

    This I bought and started reading in Romania itself, albeit in translation. I balked pretty hard, like an alpha-male chicken, when I saw immediately, right on the back cover, that the author flew into Romania after fascists took power, to congratulate them. He does read like someone who went to Paris for inspiration, stayed fo the nightlife, only to regress to cynicism when certainty suits him. I'd have liked to read further for the comedy factor, since he follows long nihilistic digressions with This I bought and started reading in Romania itself, albeit in translation. I balked pretty hard, like an alpha-male chicken, when I saw immediately, right on the back cover, that the author flew into Romania after fascists took power, to congratulate them. He does read like someone who went to Paris for inspiration, stayed fo the nightlife, only to regress to cynicism when certainty suits him. I'd have liked to read further for the comedy factor, since he follows long nihilistic digressions with bizarre, wholly uncharacteristic praise for frivolity. He sounds like another Hitler-era artist who wants order on his own strange, selfish terms, but I imagine the frivolity would be literally in reading this whole book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chris Jones

    a revelation...life changing...the most readable book of philosophy ever written...pure poetry!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laszlo Szerdahelyi

    Oh, Dark Prince of Entropy, Lord of Doom and Despair, your words speak from the annals of Creation into the ears of delirious mortals, lost in the abstractions of life, in the madness of activity, thought and faith, slaves to their glands and to their own ideas or those of others, to God, to State, to love...We bow before your dark banner of Nihil ! Well, it's easy to get the wrong idea about Cioran, his writing is littered with repetitions of the uselessness of life, of your exerting oneself in Oh, Dark Prince of Entropy, Lord of Doom and Despair, your words speak from the annals of Creation into the ears of delirious mortals, lost in the abstractions of life, in the madness of activity, thought and faith, slaves to their glands and to their own ideas or those of others, to God, to State, to love...We bow before your dark banner of Nihil ! Well, it's easy to get the wrong idea about Cioran, his writing is littered with repetitions of the uselessness of life, of your exerting oneself in life, the folly of existence and the courage of the one who is willing to take their own life to end the mad carousel. However, aside from the nihilistic touch which one would want to swat away as just ''depressive'', Cioran simply shines a dirty mirror on the essence of human existence and our perception of reality and comes back with the barest, most stripped down version of it, what we see, we might not like, yet in the end he does speak the truth. We are all just a bunch of evolved apes on spinning speck of earth, tortured by our consciousness of our being human, brought into an indifferent world, assaulted by so many ills, natural or man-made, material or immaterial. His beautiful poetic writing is a reminder of the simple, dirty truths of life not with the intent of despair, on the contrary to find solace in our ability to see and to endure the absurdity of existence, the crush and alienation that we feel in daily life. Think of it in the way one listens to sad music during a breakup, it's not the goal to amplify it but to distill the feeling, the mirror and echo it back to see it for what it is, to help endure and remove the anguish in your core. Cioran is more hopeful and inspiring in his writing than most self-help, motivation writers, fuck positivity and manufactured HAPPINESS..if you want to be free of your weights, free to be, to live, to endure, to be better, accept the horror of the emptiness that lies at the core, muster your strength in knowing you can endure it and then quit your job, stop following the news, go write some poetry, listen to music, deny the slavery of manufactured abstraction and mine the richness of your inner world. That being said, he slips into bouts of defeatism and indifference, a disregard for the community of man, in a way that Camus feels far more on point in defining the nature of our being. Cioran's nihilism is individualistic and self-aggrandizing at times, he also has slight outbursts of misogyny and nationalistic essentialism (''the spirit of a Frenchman'' lol) I can defo see edgy teens going for him or edgy internet trolls justifying their ''damn it all to hell attitude'' but also falling into dangerous traps in doing so.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Luke

    As brilliant a thinker and writer as Cioran was, it became evident to me why I was not very familiar with his work, as I made my way through this collection of essays. To put it succinctly, he is dark as fuck. I honestly would not recommend reading this to anyone suffering from a serious form of depression. On the other hand, I don’t think most people who are not depressed would typically enjoy delving this deep into the ruminations of such a bleak worldview. Cioran takes his nihilism all the wa As brilliant a thinker and writer as Cioran was, it became evident to me why I was not very familiar with his work, as I made my way through this collection of essays. To put it succinctly, he is dark as fuck. I honestly would not recommend reading this to anyone suffering from a serious form of depression. On the other hand, I don’t think most people who are not depressed would typically enjoy delving this deep into the ruminations of such a bleak worldview. Cioran takes his nihilism all the way, even further than Nietzsche, widely considered the radical rebel of popular philosophy. This leaves Cioran on the fringe of the fringe. Not exactly a location suitable for a wide audience. After Nietzsche finishes philosophizing with his hammer, tearing down all of our illusions, he provides us with the tools to begin building anew. We can see the glimmer of progress and even hope if we squint hard enough. Meanwhile Cioran offers no such conveniences, instead grasping our hand only to drag us deeper into the void. There he wallows, waiting for his absurdly self-aware existence to run its futile course, all the while laughing at, not only us, but at himself as well.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alina Lucia

    One of the best books I have read recently, written with such grotesque honesty and unforgiving nihilism, to which there is no need to subscribe, in order to appreciate the lyrical value of the text. Cioran is pretty much Nietzsche on steroids, and off anti-depressants. "In Time's sentence men take their place like commas, while, in order to end it, you have immobilized yourself into a period."

  22. 5 out of 5

    Büşra Şengül

    Awaking from all acceptances, all truths that we keep believing their corrects without any doubt. Witnessing an enormous illusion which people live and seeing how that illusion hides the humanity’s ridiculious. Cioran gives a new form of human by shouting immoralities and lies. He devastates us, he takes to chaous us.

  23. 5 out of 5

    David Peak

    "As incompetent in life as in death, I loathe myself and in this loathing I dream of another life, another death. And for having sought to be a sage such as never was, I am only a madman among the mad..."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bohemothe

    Read it in a bad mood and you'll feel great, read it in a great mood and you'll feel shite.

  25. 4 out of 5

    aaron

    Nothing quite like clearing out the mental and emotional detritus of one phase of life with the neural sandblast-treatment that is some Cioran. Cioran's thought and writing can only adequately be described as 'pleasantly exhausting': no other thinker in the history of Western philosophy has so systematically contemplated the logical endpoints of nihilism, skepticism, pessimism, abnegation, and despair. And yet, published as a collection in 1949, this series of aphoristic essays is far from a Jer Nothing quite like clearing out the mental and emotional detritus of one phase of life with the neural sandblast-treatment that is some Cioran. Cioran's thought and writing can only adequately be described as 'pleasantly exhausting': no other thinker in the history of Western philosophy has so systematically contemplated the logical endpoints of nihilism, skepticism, pessimism, abnegation, and despair. And yet, published as a collection in 1949, this series of aphoristic essays is far from a Jeremiad for a post-Holocaust Europe and a post-atomic world. Cioran's florid prose cuts to the essence of Being, free of all metaphysical and idealistic baggage - offering a dark and disconcerting reality, perhaps, but one in which even the greatest cynic can finally find some mode of human agency. Cioran's aphorisms are an absolute tour-de-force of the form. A thinker who unwaveringly focussed his intellectual efforts on one sole problem - life and death itself - for his entire philosophic career, this little book offers a short and powerful insight into the psyche of one of modern Europe's greatest and most captivating minds. For my money, Cioran is the only true heir of Nietzsche; he who presaged not the destruction of systems, but the world after which the systems had already failed themselves - a latterday Diogenes still in search of the honest man.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alex Sarll

    Well, this one took a while for such a slim volume. But even aside from being an aphoristic work of philosophy (seldom the sort of thing to benefit from being read at speed), it's hard powering through a book which is one long sigh. A hymn to the futility of everything - including thinking you've gained anything by having noticed the futility of everything - it's torn between Cioran's desire to fade away, and his envy for the great monsters of history. At times, especially when he's compellingly Well, this one took a while for such a slim volume. But even aside from being an aphoristic work of philosophy (seldom the sort of thing to benefit from being read at speed), it's hard powering through a book which is one long sigh. A hymn to the futility of everything - including thinking you've gained anything by having noticed the futility of everything - it's torn between Cioran's desire to fade away, and his envy for the great monsters of history. At times, especially when he's compellingly observing how heroism is the opposite of depth, I was reminded of the works of Jeff Lint - but that may just have been because I was reading this alongside And Your Point Is?, not to mention the phenomenon I've observed before where a sentiment intended quite sincerely in French develops irony simply through being translated into English, a language fundamentally less suited to grand seriousness. But it's precisely through the grandness of his sentiments that Cioran undermines his own plea for universal renunciation. He says himself that poetry is a grander work than philosophy, and ultimately what he's achieved here is closer to the former than the latter.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dale

    Hide all firearms, sharp objects, and anything that could be twisted into a rope prior to delving into this one! To say it's a "downer" is an understatement of epic proportions but it's a fascinating read all the same. 80% of the time I had no real clue what Cioran was saying so I approached it as if it were Joyce's Finnegan's Wake -- hang on, let the words roll over you, and pray that something sticks along the way. Did I finish the book? Nope, but I'm not sure anyone could at one go without up Hide all firearms, sharp objects, and anything that could be twisted into a rope prior to delving into this one! To say it's a "downer" is an understatement of epic proportions but it's a fascinating read all the same. 80% of the time I had no real clue what Cioran was saying so I approached it as if it were Joyce's Finnegan's Wake -- hang on, let the words roll over you, and pray that something sticks along the way. Did I finish the book? Nope, but I'm not sure anyone could at one go without upping their anti-depressant meds quite a bit. If you enjoy the conflicted experience of feeling: "This guy's on to something" while at the same time thinking: "WTF?!?" than pick up a copy and have at it. This copy is going back to the Illinois State Library from whence it came via inter-library loan. Interesting side note: The book contained a mailing label to the Illinois Secretary of State; sort of gives one pause to think this is what government officials are reading, doesn't it?!?!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Bob Hartley

    Maybe the most quotable book I've read lately. I thought I was a few levels deep into a modern interpretation of cynicism before reading this, but apparently there's plenty of space below me on the scale. What do I mean? Where philosophers like Sartre or Camus might have found absurdity in the everyday, Cioran finds despair. His most striking sentiment is that suicide is the most logical decision a person can make, but humans are too illogical in nature to commit. I've even repeated it to people Maybe the most quotable book I've read lately. I thought I was a few levels deep into a modern interpretation of cynicism before reading this, but apparently there's plenty of space below me on the scale. What do I mean? Where philosophers like Sartre or Camus might have found absurdity in the everyday, Cioran finds despair. His most striking sentiment is that suicide is the most logical decision a person can make, but humans are too illogical in nature to commit. I've even repeated it to people when they tell me something I did was illogical. So if you're the sort of person who, like me, just sort of wishes they didn't exist, this might be a bit much. If you're the sort of person, however, who, like me, finds things like the numbing inanity of life itself hilarious, this'll be up your street and around the corner a bit too. Special cheers to Roy for recommending it to me.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bernardo Kaiser

    What do you get when you mix Diogenes, Heraclitus, Lao zi, the Buddha and La Rochefoucauld in a small piece of coal and crushes it under an infitiny of existential despair and cosmic horror? Cioran constantly mentions what a romantic, idealistic young man he was - though in "In the Heights of Despair" he seems as nihilistic as always - and how now he has matured, abandoning every trace of active philosophy, abandoning movement and hope. And it's true, he does reads like a mature adult and not a r What do you get when you mix Diogenes, Heraclitus, Lao zi, the Buddha and La Rochefoucauld in a small piece of coal and crushes it under an infitiny of existential despair and cosmic horror? Cioran constantly mentions what a romantic, idealistic young man he was - though in "In the Heights of Despair" he seems as nihilistic as always - and how now he has matured, abandoning every trace of active philosophy, abandoning movement and hope. And it's true, he does reads like a mature adult and not a rebellious teenager anymore. But then again, he was only 22 when he wrote In the Heights of Despair, and any sin of style and exaggeration can be forgiven due to his young age. As he aged, Cioran understood the importance of conciseness and to pick his words carefully. (But then again, isn't writing still a small sign of hope?)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Graychin

    Brief review below, but you can read a longer reflection on my blog. In Pragmatism William James writes that “the potentest of all our premises is never mentioned,” referring to the inborn temperament that so powerfully shapes our individual perceptions. Like a miscalibrated scale, we weigh the objects of the world without perceiving the bias which leads us inevitably into idiosyncrasy, mistaking the subjective for the objective and the relative for the absolute. I couldn’t help but remember this Brief review below, but you can read a longer reflection on my blog. In Pragmatism William James writes that “the potentest of all our premises is never mentioned,” referring to the inborn temperament that so powerfully shapes our individual perceptions. Like a miscalibrated scale, we weigh the objects of the world without perceiving the bias which leads us inevitably into idiosyncrasy, mistaking the subjective for the objective and the relative for the absolute. I couldn’t help but remember this notion while reading A Short History of Decay. In the tradition of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, Cioran offers up a steaming, heaping pile of unapologetic despair, nihilism, and unbridled misanthropy. No less than Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, he does so with memorable style. I tend to rather strongly disagree with Cioran on most things (having a fairly phlegmatic temperament myself) and there are limits to my tolerance for what can feel at times like puerile self-indulgence. But Cioran is so generous and broad in his denunciations that I don’t imagine anyone can read this book and not discover a great deal to appreciate.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.