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October 7, 2007

Disintegration — by E. M. Cioran


Not everybody loses his innocence: therefore not everybody is unhappy. Those who live naively, not out of stupidity — innocence is a pure state which excludes such deficiencies — but out of instinctive and organic love for nature, whose charm innocence is always quick to discover, those are the ones who achieve harmony, an integration with life, much coveted by those who struggle on the heights of despair. Disintegration implies total loss of innocence, that lovely gift destroyed by knowledge, life's enemy. Rich ground for love and enthusiasm, innocence is delight in the natural charm of being and the unconscious experience of contradictions which no longer have a tragic character. To attain the virginal joy of innocence, one must not live contradictions consciously, or know tragedy and thoughts of death, because such knowledge is baffling, complex, and requires disjunction. Innocence resists tragedy but welcomes love, because the innocent, never troubled by inner contradictions, have generous impulses. For the man who has cut himself off from life, tragedy is intensely painful because contradictions arise not only inside himself but also between him and the rest of the world. There are only two fundamental attitudes: the naive and the heroic. All the others partake of them. One must choose between these two in order to avoid idiocy. But for the man who has come to make such a choice, innocence is no longer an option, so there remains only heroism. The latter is both a privilege and a curse for those severed from life, incapable of fulfillment and happiness. To be a hero — in the most universal sense of the word — means to aspire to absolute triumph. But such triumphs come only through death. Heroism means transcending life; it is a fatal leap into nothingness, even though the hero may not be aware that his energy springs from a life deprived of its normal supports. All that is innocence, and does not lead to it, belongs to nothingness. Can one speak of the seductions of nothingness? If we do, we must add that they are much too mysterious to penetrate.

October 7, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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