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36151the world in which nothing is solved

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  • George Walton
    Sep 1, 2005
      Emile Cioran

      "The World in Which Nothing Is Solved"

      "Is there anything on earth which cannot be doubted except death, the only certainty in this world? To doubt and yet to live----this is a paradox, though not a tragic one, since doubt is less intense, less consuming than despair. Abstract doubt, in which one participates only partially is more frequent, whereas in despair one participates totally and organically. Not even the most orgainic and serious forms of doubt ever reach the intensity of despair. In comparison with despair, skepticism is characterized by a certain amount of dilettantism and superficiality. I can doubt everything, I may very well smile contemptuously at the world, but this will not prevent me from eating, from sleeping peacefully, and from marrying. In despair, whose depth one can only fathom by experiencing it, such actions are possible only with great effort. On the heights of despair nobody has the right to sleep. Thus a genuinely desparate man cannot forget his own tragedy....Doubt is anxiety about problems
      and things, and has its origins in the unsolvable nature of all big questions. If such questions could be solved, the skeptic would revert to more normal states. The condition of the desparate man in this respect is utterly different: if all the problems were solved, he would not be any less anxious, since his anxiety arises out of his own subjective experience. Despair is the state in which anxiety and restlessness are immanent to existence. Nobody in despair suffers from 'problems', but from his own inner torment and fire. It's a pity that nothing can be solved in this world.Yet there never was and there never will be anyone who would commit suicide for this reason. So much for the power that intellectual anxiety has over the total anxiety of our being! That is why I prfer the dramatic life, consumed by inner fires and tortured by destiny, to the intellectual, caught up in abstractions which do not engage the essense of our subjectivity. I despise the absense of risks, madness and
      passion in abstract thinking...

      It is interesting to observe the dramatic process by which men originally preoccupied with abstract and impersonal problems, so objective as to forget themselves, come to reflect upon their own subjectivity and upon existential questions once they experience sickness and suffering. Active and objective men do not have enough inner resources to make an interesting problem of their own destiny. One must descend all the circles of an inner hell to turn one's destiny into a subjective yet universal problem....Only when you do not deign even to despise this world of unsolvable problems will you finally come to achieve a superior form of personal existence. And this will be so not because you have any special value or excellence, but because nothing interests you beyond your own personal agony."

      Now, there is no way, admittedly, to confirm philosophically that Cioran's conjecture constitutes a "superior form of personal existence". You will just have to take his word for it. It is, perhaps, just the bravado of a man who had descended into his own particular, private subjunctive hell. Analogous, in other words, to the Narrator in Dostoyevsky's classic Notes From Underground. The one account of human existence in which Fyodor did not blink. Cioran [like the Narrator] is merely offereing us his own rendition of the cracks and crevices; analogous to, say, taking a stab in the dark at...uh...wisdom?

      But I would venture to say that most philosphers would not even consider it a problem worthy enough to engage....epistemologically, academically, theoretically, formally, collegiately There is nothing really here to know....to analyze. It is merely a wildly speculative implosion that does not even show up as a blip on their philosophical screens.

      In any event, my own personal rendition of the circle at or around the center of Hell is when you know intuitively what Cioran is "getting at" philosophicaly and yet you are no longer able to pursure the "dramatic life" or to "consume the inner fires" because that distraction is no longer---for all pratical purposes---an option for you. You can only be aware [however ferociously] of an introspective distinction between doubht and anxiety and despair....in the confines of your own increasingly diminished preogatives. You are reduced to writing it down and going out into cyberspace hoping that the bait might attract another similarly impaled circumstantially. Sort of like going fishing from the philosophica equivalent of a hospital bed...or a prison cell.

      Of course, the response of those would be serious philosophers reading this will generally be, "'what the fuck does this have to do with philosophy?!" To which the response of those even more serious philosphers [like Cioran] would no doubt be "why, practically nothing at all".

      And they are both making rather astute observations, wouldn't you think?


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