Phi Fic #18 “The Trouble with Being Born” by E.M. Cioran

It is not worth the bother of killing yourself, since you always kill yourself too late. –The Trouble with Being Born (1973)

In this volume of aphorisms, Emil Cioran (1911–1995) strips the human condition down to its nub to defend his proposition that the true disaster in life is not death, but birth. Cioran was considered a brilliant mind, heralded by many as belonging to the same realm as Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. He wrote extensive ruminations that were often metaphysical in nature and whose recurrent themes were death, despair, solitude, history, music, decay, and nihilism. Yet the beauty of his writing belies his famed overarching philosophical pessimism.

Join us as Mary insists that Cioran’s writing is a “joyful noise… despite everything that you might pull out of this that is concerned with despair, there is such an incredible enthusiasm… you could never convince me that he didn’t love life,” and Daniel asserts that he doesn’t think “Cioran would be one to passionately argue for free will but [that] he seemed to… believe strongly in the necessity of feeling free.” Laura is convinced his struggle comes from an early episode in which Cioran’s mother told him that if she knew he was going to be as sad as he was, she would have aborted him, and Nathan observes that Cioran “brings you to the edge… he puts you in the realm of an idea and its up to you to play in the space.”

*Note: Cezary couldn’t join us for this recording as he was traveling through the Sahara on a camel that wouldn’t share its wi-fi password.

Watch Cioran’s discussion on suicide.

Thanks to Christopher Nolen for the music.

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