Wednesday, 15 October 2014

The Trouble with Being Born by Emil Cioran (5/5)

First published: 1973
Original title: De l'inconvénient d'être né
Original language: French
Translation to English by: Richard Howard, 1976

Page count: 224

The back says: In this volume, which reaffirms the uncompromising brilliance of his mind, Cioran strips the human condition down to its most basic components, birth and death, suggesting that disaster lies not in the prospect of death but in the fact of birth, "that laughable accident." In the lucid, aphoristic style that characterizes his work, Cioran writes of time and death, God and religion, suicide and suffering, and the temptation to silence. In all his writing, Cioran cuts to the heart of the human experience.

I say: This is basically a book of quotes that was on my reading list for a uni course entitled The Meaning of Life. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering how to do it justice with a review and come to the conclusion that I can’t.

The synopsis says it all.

Therefore I shall simply post a few of my favourite quotes.

“It is not worth the bother of killing yourself, since you always kill yourself too late.”

“What do you do from morning to night?"
"I endure myself.”
“Sometimes I wish I were a cannibal – less for the pleasure of eating someone than for the pleasure of vomiting him.”

“I do nothing, granted. But I see the hours pass — which is better than trying to fill them.”

The quotes may all seem extremely depressing and suicidal, but what I love about them is that they voice all the things I have been pondering my entire life. Cioran puts everything into words that I have ever felt and reminds me that there is beauty in thinking about life and death.

“I do not forgive myself for being born. It is as if, creeping into this world, I had profaned a mystery, betrayed some momentous pledge, committed a fault of nameless gravity. Yet in a less assured mood, birth seems a calamity I would be miserable not having known.”

5/5 because I’ll be re-reading this my entire life.

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