‘Toward a Vegetal Wisdom’ – On the writings of E.M. Cioran (excerpt)



‘I once imagined that I was the most lucid man on earth’—E.M. Cioran


CioranPerhaps the only universe that man understands is the one that by him is most misunderstood. E.M. Cioran, a chronicler of impotence, and an iconoclast, proved himself to be independent of all superfluous discussions of reality, contemplating as he did only the world in which ‘man’ was a diversion. Brandishing scepticism like a knife, and possessing an aggressive lucidity, he rose up above himself to circle and circle like a vulture the entrails of his every superseded word. A post-posthumous thinker, Cioran was betrayed by every lexiconical universe that he himself never wrote into existence. ‘Haven’t people learned yet that the time of superficial intellectual games is over, that agony is infinitely more important than syllogism, that a cry of despair is more revealing than the most subtle thought, and teats always have deeper roots than smiles’. Suffering always from a merciless disposition towards ‘systems’, especially philosophical ones, Cioran, an opponent of ideas not his, asked only that the mind go on and that his end-chains of splenetic bile descend from even the mouth of God. Imagine a biographer of head-lice and the hagiographer of a saint, and somewhere in between you will find the ‘biography’ of Cioran, the futile itch of his own human personality.’ © Paul Stubbs, October 2013.

The full text of this essay is available in Paul Stubbs’ book The Return to Silence, and Other Poetical Essays (Black Herald Press, 2016).


9780253352675_lrgfurther reading

• Richesses de l’incertitude : Queneau et Cioran  / The Riches of Uncertainty: Queneau and Cioran, an essay by Jean-Pierre Longre, translated from the French by Rosemary Lloyd, published in The Black Herald, issue 4, October 2013.

• Searching for Cioran, Ilinca Zarifopol-Johnston (Edited by Kenneth R. Johnston, Foreword by Matei Calinescu, Indiana University Press, 2008)

• ŒUVRES, Cioran, Édition établie, présentée et annotée par Nicolas Cavaillès, avec la collaboration d’Aurélien Demars (Éditions Gallimard, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade – 1728 pages, 2011)

Various articles in English about Cioran (Portal E.M. Cioran)

• ‘Thinking against oneself’: reflections on Cioran, by Susan Sontag (1966)




4 Responses to “‘Toward a Vegetal Wisdom’ – On the writings of E.M. Cioran (excerpt)”
  1. S.C. Hickman says:

    Reblogged this on dark ecologies and commented:
    For those few who enjoy the aphoristic nihilism of Cioran, Paul Stubbs essay is at once informing and elegant proof of that solitary’s position in the canon of dark minds…

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