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Infidels, Freethinkers, Humanists, and Unbelievers
Cioran, Emil M. (1911-1995)
"God: a disease we imagine we are cured of because no one dies of it nowadays."

Emil Cioran


Emil Cioran, known in French as Émile Michel Cioran, was a Romanian writer, philosopher and essayist.

The 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.

He 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.

However, 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.

A 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.

William 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."

 
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