June 8, 2009

Brief Excerpts: The Temptation to Exist

I'm currently reading The Temptation to Exist by E.M. Cioran and thought I would share some excerpts.
On a Winded Civilization

“‘If the sun and the moon should doubt, they’d immediately go out” (Blake). Europe has doubted for a long time…and if her eclipse disturbs us, the Americans and the Russians contemplate it with either composure or delight.

“America stands before the world as an impetuous void, a fatality without substance. Nothing prepared her for hegemony; yet she tends toward it, not without a certain hesitation. Unlike the other nations which have had to pass through a whole series of humiliation and defeats, she has known till now only the sterility of an uninterrupted good fortune. If, in the future, everything should continue to go as well, her appearance on the scene will have been an accident without influence. Those who preside over her destiny, those who take her interest to heart, should prepare her for bad times; in order to cease being a superficial monster, she requires an ordeal of major scope. Perhaps she is not far from one now. Having lived, hitherto, outside hell, she is preparing to descend into it. If she seeks a destiny for herself, she will find it only on the ruins of all that was her raison d’être." — E.M. Cioran, The Temptation to Exist, 1998, University of Chicago Press, p. 53-54.

“Whatever the world to come, the Western peoples will play in it the part of the Graeculi in the Roman Empire. Sought out and despised by the new conqueror, they will have, in order to impress him, only the jugglery of their intelligence or the luster of their past. The art of surviving oneself—they are already distinguished in that. Symptoms of exhaustion are everywhere: Germany has given her measure in music: what leads us to believe that she will excel in it again? She has used the resources of her profundity, as France those of her elegance. Both—and with them, this entire corner of the world—are on the verge of bankruptcy, the most glamorous since antiquity. Then will come the liquidation: a prospect which is not a negligible one, a respite whose duration cannot be estimated, a period of facility in which each man, before the deliverance finally at hand, will be happy to have behind him the throes of hope and expectation.” — E.M. Cioran, The Temptation to Exist, 1998, University of Chicago Press, p. 59-60.