Cioran, known in French as Émile Michel Cioran, was a Romanian
writer, philosopher and essayist.
son of a Romanian Orthodox priest, he lived in several cities,
including Bucharest, Berlin, and Paris. He attended Bucharest
University, where he in 1928 met Eugène Ionesco and Mircea
Eliade, and the three became lifelong friends. At the same time,
he developed a long lasting friendship with the Romanian thinker
Petre Tutea. Though he was never a member, Cioran began to take
an interest in the ideas put forth by the Iron Guard - a far right
organization whose nationalist side of their (arguably more complex)
ideology he supported until the early years of World War II, despite
allegedly disaproving of their violent methods. Cioran, Eliade,
and Tutea were adherents to the ideas of their teacher Nae Ionescu
- a tendency deemed Trairism, which fused Existentialism with
ideas common to various forms of Fascism.
later renounced not only his Platonic love for the Iron Guard,
but also their nationalist ideas, and frequently expressed regret
and repentance for his emotional implication in it. Some critics
have seen his remorse at his ideological participation in the
interwar nationalist movement in Romania as the source of the
pessimism which characterized his later work, and others trace
it back to events in his childhood (in 1935 his mother is reputed
to have told him that if she had known he was going to be so unhappy
she would have aborted him.
Cioran's pessimism (in fact, his skepticism, even nihilism) is
more than that of one who looks deeply into the abyss, yet is
able to continue existing with the tragic wisdom he has discovered
and remain, in his own particular manner, joyful; it is not a
pessimism which can be traced to such simple origins, single origins
themselves being questionable. When Cioran's mother spoke to him
of abortion, it did not disturb him, but made an extraordinary
impression which led to an insight about the nature of existence.
"I'm simply an accident. Why take it all so seriously?"
is what he later said in reference to the incident, noting that
everything is without substance. Existence is chance.
1937 scholarship from the French Institute in Bucharest brought
him to Paris, where he lived the rest of his life—though
he famously said "I have no nationality—the best possible
status for an intellectual." His early work was in Romanian,
his latter work in French, and it was mostly in the form of aphorisms
and short essays. Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer, Oswald
Spengler and Buddhism influenced him greatly.
H. Gass called Cioran's work "a philosophical romance on
modern themes of alienation, absurdity, boredom, futility, decay,
the tyranny of history, the vulgarities of change, awareness as
an agony, reason as disease."