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The nihilist's nihilist, E. M. Cioran, on suicide, death, meaninglessness, paradise, freedom, polytheism vs. monotheism, and humanity whose growth is out of control in a cancerous fashion

Nihilist E. M. Cioran

When people come to me saying they want to kill themselves, I tell them, “Whatʼs your rush? You can kill yourself any time you like. So calm down. Suicide is a positive act.” And they do calm down.

We dread the future only when we are not sure we can kill ourselves when we want to.

Why donʼt I kill myself? If I knew exactly what keeps me from doing so, I should have no more questions to ask myself since I should have answered them all.

Only optimists commit suicide, optimists who no longer succeed at being optimists. The others, having no reason to live, why would they have any to die?

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

The obsession with suicide is characteristic of the man who can neither live nor die, and whose attention never swerves from this double impossibility.

If death is as horrible as is claimed, how is it that after the passage of a certain period of time we consider happy any being, friend or enemy, who has ceased to live?

In a world without melancholy, nightingales would start burping.

What would be left of our tragedies if an insect were to present us theirs?

Life inspires more dread than death—it is life which is the great unknown.

Compare Bertrand Russell on why most people would sooner die than think: “We all have a tendency to think that the world must conform to our prejudices. The opposite view involves some effort of thought, and most people would die sooner than think— in fact they do so.”

Paradise was unendurable, otherwise the first man would have adapted to it, this world is no less so, since here we regret paradise or anticipate another one.

“For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened.” No sooner are they open than the drama begins. To look without understanding—that is paradise. Hell, then, would be the place where we understand, where we understand too much.

The fact that life has no meaning is a reason to live-moreover, the only one.

Universal meaninglessness gives way to ecstatic inebriation, an orgy of irrationality. Since the world has no meaning, let us live! Without definite aims or accessible ideals, let us throw ourselves into the roaring whirlwind of infinity, follow its tortuous path in space, burn in its flames, love its cosmic madness and total anarchy!

Each of us believes, quite unconsciously of course, that he alone pursues the truth, which the rest are incapable of seeking out and unworthy of attaining. This madness is so deep-rooted and so useful that it is impossible to realize what would become of each of us if it were someday to disappear.

Ideas should be neutral. But man animates them with his passions and folly. Impure and turned into BELIEFS, they take on the appearance of reality. The passage from logic is consummated. Thus are born ideologies, doctrines, and bloody farce.

Sadness is when you are feeling sad. Depression is when you are feeling nothing.

I like thought which preserves a whiff of flesh and blood, and I prefer a thousand times an idea rising from sexual tension or nervous depression to empty abstraction.

Freedom is the right to difference; being plurality, it postulates the dispersion of the absolute, its resolution into a dust of truths, equally justified and provisional. There is an underlying polytheism in liberal democracy (call it an unconscious polytheism); conversely, every authoritarian regime partakes of a disguised monotheism.

Trees are massacred, houses go up—faces, faces everywhere. Man is spreading. Man is the cancer of the earth.

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