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Anathemas and Admirations – by E.M. Cioran

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One of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century.

Virtually unknown in the U.S. because

1) He was Romanian, an exile living in France and writing in French

2) He abhorred fame and publicity

3) His extreme negativism was anathema to the Western view of the world

Nevertheless, he has gradually, by dint of an overpowering clarity of vision and language – even writing in French, his second language, that has been subsequently translated into English, thus rendering his thoughts not once, but twice transformed by the minds and words of others – become a clarion voice for more and more people unsatisfied by the empty successes of the supposedly “fulfilled” life.

From Anathemas and Admirations:

When we must make a crucial decision, it is extremely dangerous to consult with anyone else, since no one, with the exception of a few misguided souls, sincerely wishes us well.

One can imagine everything, predict everything, save how low one can sink.

How we must have loathed each other in the pestilential darkness of the caves! Easy to understand why the painters who managed to keep body and soul together there had no desire to immortalize the image of their kind – why they preferred the figures of animals.

The essential often appears at the end of a long conversation. The great truths are spoken on the doorstep.

Orgasm is a paroxysm; despair, too. One lasts an instant; the other, a lifetime.

Extreme fatigue goes quite as far as ecstasy, except that with fatigue you descend toward the extremities of knowledge.

What a judgment upon the living, if it is true, as has been maintained, that what dies has never existed!

To love one’s neighbor is inconceivable. Does one ask a virus to love another virus?

Since day after day I have lived in the company of Suicide, it would be unjust and ungrateful on my part to denigrate it. What could be healthier, what could be more natural? What is neither healthy nor natural is the frantic appetite to exist – a grave flaw, a flaw par excellence, my flaw.

Consciousness intervenes in our actions only to frustrate their execution; consciousness is a perpetual interrogation of life, it is perhaps the ruin of life.

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