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March 24, 2007

On Individual and Cosmic Loneliness — by E. M. Cioran

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One can experience loneliness in two ways: by feeling lonely in the world or by feeling the loneliness of the world. Individual loneliness is a personal drama; one can feel lonely even in the midst of great natural beauty. An outcast in the world, indifferent to its being dazzling or dismal, self-consumed with triumphs and failures, engrossed in inner drama — such is the fate of the solitary. The feeling of cosmic loneliness, on the other hand, stems not so much from man's subjective agony as from an awareness of the world's isolation, of objective nothingness. It is as if all the splendors of this world were to vanish at once, leaving behind the dull monotony of a cemetary. Many are haunted by the vision of an abandoned world encased in glacial solitude, untouched by even the pale reflections of a crepuscular light. Who is more unhappy? He who feels his own loneliness or he who feels the loneliness of the world? Impossible to tell, and besides, why should I bother with a classification of loneliness? Is is not enough that one is alone?

I leave it in writing for those who will come after me that I do not believe in anything and that forgetfulness is the only salvation. I would like to forget everything, to forget myself and to forget the world. True confessions are written with tears only. But my tears would drown the world, as my inner fire would reduce it to ashes. I don't need any support, encouragement, or consolation because, although I am the lowest of men, I feel nonetheless so strong, so hard, so savage! For I am the only man who lives without hope, the apex of heroism and paradox. The ultimate madness! I should channel my chaotic and unbridled passion into forgetfulness, escaping spirit and consciousness. I too have a hope: a hope for absolute forgetfulness. But is it hope or despair? Is it not the negation of all future hopes? I want not to know, not to know even that I do not know. Why so many problems, arguments, vexations? Why the consciousness of death? How much longer all this thinking and philosophizing?

March 24, 2007 at 02:31 PM | Permalink


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