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A Short History of Decay (Penguin Modern Classics)

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Whether he is an angel that has lost his wings or an ape that has lost his hair, he has been able to leave the anonymity of creatures only by the eclipses of his health.

But there is something that comes from ourselves, that is ourselves, an invisible but inwardly verifiable reality, an unwonted and eternal presence that we can conceive at any moment and that we never dare admit, which is real only before its consummation: death, the true criterion. How I detest, Lord, the turpitude of Your works and these syrupy ghosts who burn incense to You and resemble You! For after all He must not triumph; it is up to our irony to compromise His capital letter; up to our heart to dissolve the shudders He dispenses. Whether you do or do not subscribe to Cioran’s extreme form of pessimism doesn’t matter so much: it is simply a great work of literature that should be read. We betray ourselves, we exhibit our heart; executioner of the unspeakable, each of us labors to destroy all the mysteries, beginning with our own.This would not be an issue if a book is simply written, but I would say that this book is not as straightforward as the absence of an introduction implies.

a] Throughout the text, Cioran entertains several of the negative themes which permeate his work, in poetic language. Cioran confronts the place of today's world in the context of human history-focusing on such major issues of the twentieth century as human progress, fanaticism, and science-in this nihilistic and witty collection of aphoristic essays concerning the nature of civilization in mid-twentieth-century Europe. Often abandoning attention—the greatest of its privileges—such a mind yields to the temptations it has sought to escape, or becomes the prey of impure mysteries . Carla Thomas of the Goddard College Department of Philosophy praised the book's prose, describing Cioran as a "master of cynicism, of the sardonic a perçu and the trenchant aphorism.Cioran, in short, mercilessly strips away our most cherished illusions and confronts us with the stark truth of our predicament, a truth that is far from pleasant. Everyone trying to remedy everyone’s life: even beggars, even the incurable aspire to it: the sidewalks and hospitals of the world overflow with reformers. A Romanian, he lived much of his life in Paris and many of his major works were written in French, including A Short History of Decay , The Trouble with Being Born and Drawn and Quartered . It sees martyrs everywhere: some sacrificing themselves for visible needs, others for inestimable necessities, all ready to bury their names under a certitude; and, since not all of them can succeed, the majority expiate by banality the overflow of blood they have dreamed of . Born in the small Romanian village of Ràsinari in 1911, Cioran attended university in Bucharest, where he discovered the works of Pascal and Nietzsche.

Reason vainly strives to show us the infinitesimal proportions of our disasters; it fails, confronted with our penchant for cosmogonic proliferation. In itself, every idea is neutral, or should be; but man animates ideas, projects his flames and flaws into them; impure, transformed into beliefs, ideas take their place in time, take shape as events: the trajectory is complete, from logic to epilepsy . The project opened a floodgate in his thinking, resulting in some eight hundred manuscript pages and four different manuscript versions of the book. Revolted by the sublime and by carnage, the mind dreams of a provincial ennui on the scale of the universe, of a History whose stagnation would be so grot that doubt would take on the lineaments of an event and hope a calamity. Mysterious for our instincts, it takes shape, to our reflection, limpid, without glamor, and without the false lures of the unknown.When we endure the confidences of a friend or a stranger, the revelation of his secrets fills us with astonishment. The 103 third parties who use cookies on this service do so for their purposes of displaying and measuring personalized ads, generating audience insights, and developing and improving products. In terms of essays themselves the books is split into six groups of essays or in the case of section five a single essay (part 1 accounts for about half the book). But to embrace a thing by a definition, however arbitrary—and all the more serious the more arbitrary it is, since the soul then overtakes knowledge—is to reject that thing, to render it insipid and superfluous, to annihilate it. Infatuated by syllables, it loathed the mystery of heavy silences and turned them light and pure; and it too has become light and pure, indeed lightened and purified of everything.

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