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Emil Cioran, Aphorist, “Nazist,” and Hero of the Bed

November 12, 2009

Emil Cioran’s outlook was bleak—even boundlessly so—but his’s pessimism is oddly not disturbing; it’s comforting.


meakin_armstrong-small.jpg He was a former Nazi sympathizer (or “Hitlerist” as he once called himself before he switched loyalties), a philosopher, an essayist, and an accomplished aphorist.

Google his name: Emil Cioran and his aphorisms will come forth. Here’s one: “Insomnia is the only form of heroism compatible with the bed.”

Another: “If anyone owes everything to Bach, it’s God. Without Bach, God would be a third-rate character.”

His outlook was bleak—even boundlessly so—but Cioran’s pessimism is oddly not disturbing; it’s comforting. He’s like a sitcom sidekick, full of neuroses and odd schemes (albeit, one who liked Hitler). He spoke of the “the inconvenience of existence” and even wrote a book called The Trouble With Being Born, but read him for the same reason you might drink whiskey neat: to brace you and awaken your senses. Arguably, he was the successor to Friedrich Nietzsche; what maybe Nietzsche would have become, had he not succumbed to syphilis and insanity.

As an accomplished insomniac (Cioran claimed to have not slept for fifty years) he’s also worth reading on those late nights.

Bio: Meakin Armstrong is Guernica’s fiction editor. You can follow him on Twitter at @meakinarmstrong.

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