The Void, of which it cannot be said that it is or is not, nor that it has consciousness or has none, while it denies absoluteness to any experiential value (alike to being and to consciousness) cannot be identified. And that is the doctrine of not-self (anatta) as I see it in one aspect at present. This voidness cannot be “is-ed” and so introduced into the worldly scheme, except as the denial of absoluteness of all particular values. It has no more effect on ordinary life than the theory of relativity. But just as that theory completely alters calculation of enormous speeds, so, as I see it, this void-element completely alters calculations of extraordinary situations, of death (as killing, suicide or the partner of old age). N.T

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Like no one ...

In no one did I find who I should be like. And I stayed like that: like no one.

Antonio Porchia

Here I stay ...

I have come one step away from everything. And here I stay, far from everything, one step away.

Antonio Porchia

Monday, November 21, 2016

Ortega y Gassat - extracts

To be surprised, to wonder, is to begin to understand.

For there is no doubt that the most radical division that it is possible to make of humanity is that which splits it into two classes of creatures: those who make great demands on themselves, piling up difficulties and duties; and those who demand nothing special of themselves, but for whom to live is to be every moment what they already are, without imposing on themselves any effort towards perfection; mere buoys that float on the waves.

The mass crushes beneath it everything that is different, everything that is excellent, individual, qualified and select. Anybody who is not like everybody, who does not think like everybody, runs the risk of being eliminated.

If I were to leave the matter here and strangle off my present essay without more ado, the reader would be left thinking, and quite justly, that this fabulous uprising of the masses above the surface of history inspired me merely with a few petulant, disdainful words, a certain amount of hatred and a certain amount of disgust. This all the more in my case, when it is well known that I uphold a radically aristocratic interpretation of history. Radically, because I have never said that human society ought to be aristocratic, but a great deal more than that. What I have said, and still believe with ever-increasing conviction, is that human society is always, whether it will or no, aristocratic by its very essence, to the extreme that it is a society in the measure that it is aristocratic, and ceases to be such when it ceases to be aristocratic. Of course I am speaking now of society and not of the State.

"This grave dissociation of past and present is the generic fact of our time and the cause of the suspicion, more or less vague, which gives rise to the confusion characteristic of our present-day existence. We feel that we actual men have suddenly been left alone on he earth; that the dead did not die in appearance only but effectively; that they can no longer help us. Any remains of the traditional spirit have evaporated. Models, norms, standards are no use to us. We have to solve our problems without any active collaboration of the past, in full actuality, be they problems of art, science, or politics. The European stands alone, without any living ghosts by his side; like Peter Schlehmil he has lost his shadow. This is what always happens when midday comes." *
* The Dehumanisation of Art.

The purchasing activity ends in the decision to buy a certain object, but for that very reason it is previously an act of choice, and the choice begins by putting before oneself the possibilities offered by the market. Hence it follows that life, in its "purchasing" aspect, consists primarily in living over the possibilities of buying as such. When people talk of life they generally forget something which to me seems most essential, namely, that our existence is at every instant and primarily the consciousness of what is possible to us. If at every moment we had before us no more than one possibility, it would be meaningless to give it that name. Rather would it be a pure necessity, But there it is: this strangest of facts that a fundamental condition of our existence is that it always has before it various prospects, which by their variety acquire the character of possibilities among which we have to make our choice.

… we live at a time when believes himself fabulously capable of creation, but he does not know what to create. Lord of all things, he is not lord of himself. He feels lost amid his own abundance. With more means at its disposal, more knowledge, more technique than ever, it turns out that the world to-day goes the same way as the worst of worlds that have been; it simply drifts.

To-day, by the very fact that everything seems possible to us, we have a feeling that the worst of all is possible: retrogression, barbarism, decadence. * This of itself would not be a bad symptom; it would mean that we are once again forming contact with that insecurity which is essential to all forms of life, that anxiety both dolorous and delicious contained in every moment, if we know how to live it to its innermost core, right down to its palpitating vitals. Generally we refuse to feel that fearsome pulsation which makes of a moment of sincerity a tiny fleeting heart; we strain in the attempt to find security and to render ourselves insensible to the fundamental drama of our destiny, by steeping it in habits, usages, topics- in every kind of chloroform. It is an excellent thing, then, that for the first time for nearly three centuries we are surprised to find ourselves with the feeling that we do not know what is going to happen to-morrow.

* This is the root-origin of all our diagnoses of decadence. Not that we are decadent, but that, being predisposed to admit every possibility, we do not exclude that of decadence.

THIS essay is an attempt to discover the diagnosis of our time, of our actual existence. We have indicated the first part of it, which may be resumed thus: our life as a programme of possibilities is magnificent, exuberant, superior to all others known to history. But by the very fact that its scope is greater, it has overflowed all the channels, principles, norms, ideals handed down by tradition. It is more life than all previous existence, and therefore all the more problematical. It can find no direction from the past. * It has to discover its own destiny.

* We shall see, nevertheless, how it is possible to obtain from the past, if not positive orientation, certain negative counsel. The past will not tell us what we ought to do, but it will what we ought to avoid.

Surprising condition, this, of our existence! To live is to feel ourselves fatally obliged to exercise our liberty, to decide what we are going to be in this world. Not for a single moment is our activity of decision allowed to rest. Even when in desperation we abandon ourselves to whatever may happen, we have decided not to decide.

The mass-man is he whose life lacks any purpose, and simply goes drifting along. Consequently, though his possibilities and his powers be enormous, he constructs nothing.

The actual abundance of possibilities will change into practical scarcity, a pitiful impotence, a real decadence. For the rebellion of the masses is one and the same thing with what Rathenau called "the vertical invasion of the barbarians."

"The masses are advancing," said Hegel in apocalyptic fashion. "Without some new spiritual influence, our age, which is a revolutionary age, will produce a catastrophe," was the pronouncement of Comte. "I see the flood-tide of nihilism rising," shrieked Nietzsche from a crag of the Engadine. It is false to say that history cannot be foretold. Numberless times this has been done. If the future offered no opening to prophecy, it could not be understood when fulfilled in the present and on the point of falling back into the past. The idea that the historian is on the reverse side a prophet, sums up the whole philosophy of history, It is true that it is only possible to anticipate the general structure of the future, but that is all that we in truth understand of the past or of the present.

For, in fact, the common man, finding himself in a world so excellent, technically and socially, believes that it has been produced by nature, and never thinks of the personal efforts of highly-endowed individuals which the creation of this new world presupposed. Still less will he admit the notion that all these facilities still require the support of certain difficult human virtues, the least failure of which would cause the rapid disappearance of the whole magnificent edifice.

This leads us to note down in our psychological chart of the mass-man of to-day two fundamental traits: the free expansion of his vital desires, and therefore, of his personality; and his radical ingratitude towards an that has made possible the ease of his existence. These traits together make up the well-known psychology of the spoilt child.

To spoil means to put no limit on caprice, to give one the impression that everything is permitted to him and that he has no obligations. The young child exposed to this regime has no experience of its own limits. By reason of the removal of all external restraint, all clashing with other things, he comes actually to believe that he is the only one that exists, and gets used to not considering others, especially not considering them as superior to himself. This feeling of another's superiority could only be instilled into him by someone who, being stronger than he is, should force him to give up some desire, to restrict himself, to restrain himself. He would then have learned this fundamental discipline: "Here I end and here begins another more powerful than I am. In the world, apparently, there are two people: I myself and another superior to me."

And these spoiled masses are unintelligent enough to believe that the material and social organisation, placed at their disposition like the air, is of the same origin., since apparently it never fails them, and is almost as perfect as the natural scheme of things. My thesis, therefore, is this: the very perfection with which the XIXth Century gave an organisation to certain orders of existence has caused the masses benefited thereby to consider it, not as an organised, but as a natural system.

In the disturbances caused by scarcity of food, the mob goes in search of bread, and the means it employs is generally to wreck the bakeries. This may serve as a symbol of the attitude adopted, on a greater and more complicated scale, by the masses of to-day towards the civilisation by which they are supported.

But the man we are now analysing accustoms himself not to appeal from his own to any authority outside him. He is satisfied with himself exactly as he is. Ingenuously, without any need of being vain, as the most natural thing in the world, he will tend to consider and affirm as good everything he finds within himself: opinions, appetites, preferences, tastes. Why not, if, as we have seen, nothing and nobody force him to realise that he is a second-class man, subject to many limitations, incapable of creating or conserving that very organisation which gives his life the fullness and contentedness on which he bases this assertion of his personality?

The mass-man would never have accepted authority external to himself had not his surroundings violently forced him to do so. As to-day, his surroundings do not so force him, the everlasting mass-man, true to his character, ceases to appeal to other authority and feels himself lord of his own existence. On the contrary the select man, the excellent man is urged, by interior necessity, to appeal from himself to some standard beyond himself, superior to himself, whose service he freely accepts. Let us recall that at the start we distinguished the excellent man from the common man by saying that the former is the one who makes great demands on himself, and the latter the one who makes no demands on himself, but contents himself with what he is, and is delighted with himself. * Contrary to what is usually thought, it is the man of excellence, and not the common man who lives in essential servitude. Life has no savour for him unless he makes it consist in service to something transcendental. Hence he does not look upon the necessity of serving as an oppression. When, by chance, such necessity is lacking, he grows restless and invents some new standard, more difficult, more exigent, with which to coerce himself. This is life lived as a discipline- the noble life. Nobility is defined by the demands it makes on us- by obligations, not by rights. Noblesse oblige. "To live as one likes is plebeian; the noble man aspires to order and law" (Goethe).

That man is intellectually of the mass who, in face of any problem, is satisfied with thinking the first thing he finds in his head. On the contrary, the excellent man is he who contemns what he finds in his mind without previous effort, and only accepts as worthy of him what is still far above him and what requires a further effort in order to be reached.

For me, then, nobility is synonymous with a life of effort, ever set on excelling oneself, in passing beyond what one is to what one sets up as a duty and an obligation. In this way the noble life stands opposed to the common or inert life, which reclines statically upon itself, condemned to perpetual immobility, unless an external force compels it to come out of itself. Hence we apply the term mass to this kind of man- not so much because of his multitude as because of his inertia.

As one advances in life, one realises more and more that the majority of men- and of women- are incapable of any other effort than that strictly imposed on them as a reaction to external compulsion. And for that reason, the few individuals we have come across who are capable of a spontaneous and joyous effort stand out isolated, monumentalised, so to speak, in our experience. These are the select men, the nobles, the only ones who are active and not merely reactive, for whom life is a perpetual striving, an incessant course of training. Training = askesis. These are the ascetics.

I know well that many of my readers do not think as I do. This also is most natural and confirms the theorem. For although my opinion turn out erroneous, there will always remain the fact that many of those dissentient readers have never given five minutes' thought to this complex matter. How are they going to think as I do? But by believing that they have a right to an opinion on the matter without previous effort to work one out for themselves, they prove patently that they belong to that absurd type of human being which I have called the "rebel mass." It is precisely what I mean by having one's soul obliterated, hermetically closed. Here it would be the special case of intellectual hermetism. The individual finds himself already with a stock of ideas. He decides to content himself with them and to consider himself intellectually complete.

We find ourselves, then, met with the same difference that eternally exists between the fool and the man of sense. The latter is constantly catching himself within an inch of being a fool; hence he makes an effort to escape from the imminent folly, and in that effort lies his intelligence. The fool, on the other hand, does not suspect himself; he thinks himself the most prudent of men, hence the enviable tranquillity with which the fool settles down, instals himself in his own folly. Like those insects which it is impossible to extract from the orifice they inhabit, there is no way of dislodging the fool from his folly, to take him away for a while from his blind state. and to force him to contrast his own dull vision with other keener forms of sight. The fool is a fool for life; he is devoid of pores.

To-day, on the other hand, the average man has the most mathematical "ideas" on all that happens or ought to happen in the universe. Hence he has lost the use of his hearing. Why should he listen if he has within him all that is necessary? There is no reason now for listening, but rather for judging, pronouncing, deciding. There is no question concerning public life, in which he does not intervene, blind and deaf as he is, imposing his "opinions."

If anyone in a discussion with us is concerned with adjusting himself to truth, if he has no wish to find the truth, he is intellectually a barbarian. That, in fact, is the position of the mass-man when he speaks, lectures, or writes.

Properly speaking, there are no barbarian standards. Barbarism is the absence of standards to which appeal can be made. The varying degrees of culture are measured by the greater or less precision of the standards. Where there is little such precision, these standards rule existence only grosso modo; where there is much they penetrate in detail into the exercise of all the activities.

Historical knowledge is a technique of the first order to preserve and continue a civilisation already advanced. Not that it affords positive solutions to the new aspect of vital conditions- life is always different from what it was- but that it prevents us committing the ingenuous mistakes of other times. But if, in addition to being old and, therefore, beginning to find life difficult, you have lost the memory of the past, and do not profit by experience, then everything turns to disadvantage. Well, it is my belief that this is the situation of Europe. The most "cultured" people to-day are suffering from incredible ignorance of history.

There might be a deceptive tendency to believe that a life born into a world of plenty should be better, more really a life than one which consists in a struggle against scarcity.

All life is the struggle, the effort to be itself. The difficulties which I meet with in order to realise my existence are precisely what awakens and mobilises my activities, my capacities.

The specialist serves as a striking concrete example of the species, making clear to us the radical nature of the novelty. For, previously, men could be divided simply into the learned and the ignorant, those more or less the one, and those more or less the other. But your specialist cannot be brought in under either of these two categories. He is not learned , for he is formally ignorant of all that does not enter into his speciality; but neither is he ignorant, because he is "a scientist," and "knows" very well his own tiny portion of the universe. We shall have to say that he is a learned ignoramus, which is a very serious matter, as it implies that he is a person who is ignorant, not in the fashion of the ignorant man, but with an the petulance of one who is learned in his own special line.

And such in fact is the behaviour of the specialist. In politics, in art, in social usages, in the other sciences, he will adopt the attitude of primitive, ignorant man; but he will adopt them forcefully and with self-sufficiency, and will not admit of- this is the paradox- specialists in those matters. By specialising him, civilisation has made him hermetic and self-satisfied within his limitations; but this very inner feeling of dominance and worth will induce him to wish to predominate outside his speciality.

For philosophy to rule, it is not necessary that philosophers be the rulers- as Plato at first wished- nor even for rulers to be philosophers- as was his later, more modest, wish. Both these things are, strictly speaking, most fatal. For philosophy to rule, it is sufficient for it to exist; that is to say, for the philosophers to be philosophers. For nearly a century past, philosophers have been everything but that- politicians, pedagogues, men of letters, and men of science.

This is the gravest danger that to-day threatens civilisation: State intervention; the absorption of all spontaneous social effort by the State, that is to say, of spontaneous historical action, which in the long run sustains, nourishes, and impels human destinies. When the mass suffers any ill-fortune or simply feels some strong appetite, its great temptation is that permanent, sure possibility of obtaining everything- without effort, struggle, doubt, or risk- merely by touching a button and setting the mighty machine in motion. The mass says to itself, "L'Etat, c'est moi," which is a complete mistake.

And as, after all, it is only a machine whose existence and maintenance depend on the vital supports around it, the State, after sucking out the very marrow of society, will be left bloodless, a skeleton, dead with that rusty death of machinery, more gruesome than the death of a living organism.

Already in the times of the Antonines (IInd Century), the State overbears society with its anti-vital supremacy. Society begins to be enslaved, to be unable to live except in the service of the State. The whole of life is bureaucratised. What results? The bureaucratisation of life brings about its absolute decay in all orders. Wealth diminishes, births are few. Then the State, in order to attend to its own needs, forces on still more the bureaucratisation of human existence. This bureaucratisation to the second power is the militarisation of society. The State's most urgent need is its apparatus of war, its army. Before all the State is the producer of security (that security, be it remembered, of which the mass-man is born). Hence, above all, an army. The Severi, of African origin, militarise the world. Vain task! Misery increases, women are every day less fruitful, even soldiers are lacking. After the time of the Severi, the army has to be recruited from foreigners. Is the paradoxical, tragic process of Statism now realised? Society, that it may live better, creates the State as an instrument. Then the State gets the upper hand and society has to begin to live for the State. * But for all that the State is still composed of the members of that society. But soon these do not suffice to support it, and it has to call in foreigners: first Dalmatians, then Germans. These foreigners take possession of the State, and the rest of society, the former populace, has to live as their slaves- slaves of people with whom they have nothing in common. This is what State intervention leads to: the people are converted into fuel to feed the mere machine which is the State. The skeleton eats up the flesh around it. The scaffolding becomes the owner and tenant of the house.
* Recall the last words of Septimus Severus to his sons: "Remain united, pay the soldiers, and take no heed of the rest."

A concrete example of this mechanism is found in one of the most alarming phenomena of the last thirty years: the enormous increase in the police force of all countries. The increase of population has inevitably rendered it necessary. However accustomed we may be to it, the terrible paradox should not escape our minds that the population of a great modern city, in order to move about peaceably and attend to its business, necessarily requires a police force to regulate the circulation. But it is foolishness for the party of "law and order" to imagine that these "forces of public authority" created to preserve order are always going to be content to preserve the order that that party desires. Inevitably they will end by themselves defining and deciding on the order they are going to impose- which, naturally, will be that which suits them best.

The majority of men have no opinions, and these have to be pumped into them from outside, like lubricants into machinery. Hence it is necessary that some mind or other should hold and exercise authority, so that the people without opinions- the majority- can start having opinions. For without these, the common life of humanity would be chaos, a historic void, lacking in any organic structure. Consequently, without a spiritual power, without someone to command, and in proportion as this is lacking, chaos reigns over mankind.

The world at the present day is behaving in a way which is a very model of childishness. In school, when someone gives the word that the master has left the class, the mob of youngsters breaks loose, kicks up its heels, and goes wild. Each of them experiences the delights of escaping the pressure imposed by the master's presence; of throwing off the yoke of rule, of feeling himself the master of his fate. But as, once the plan which directed their occupations and tasks is suspended, the youthful mob has no formal occupation of its own, no task with a meaning, a continuity, and a purpose, it follows that it can only do one thing- stand on its head. The frivolous spectacle offered by the smaller nations to-day is deplorable.

Human life, by its very nature, has to be dedicated to something, an enterprise glorious or humble, a destiny illustrious or trivial. We are faced with a condition, strange but inexorable, involved in our very existence. On the one hand, to live is something which each one does of himself and for himself. On the other hand, if that life of mine, which only concerns myself, is not directed by me towards something, it will be disjointed, lacking in tension and in "form." In these years we are witnessing the gigantic spectacle of innumerable human lives wandering about lost in their own labyrinths, through not having anything to which to give themselves. All imperatives, all commands, are in a state of suspension. The situation might seem to be an ideal one, since every existence is left entirely free to do just as it pleases- to look after itself. The same with every nation. Europe has slackened its pressure on the world. But the result has been contrary to what might have been expected. Given over to itself, every life has been left empty, with nothing to do. And as it has to be filled with something, it invents frivolities for itself, gives itself to false occupations which impose nothing intimate, sincere. To-day it is one thing, to-morrow another, opposite to the first. Life is lost at finding itself all alone. Mere egoism is a labyrinth. This is quite understandable. Really to live is to be directed towards something, to progress towards a goal.

When we are really going to do something and have dedicated ourselves to a purpose, we cannot be expected to be ready at hand to look after every passer-by and to lend ourselves to every chance display of altruism. One of the things that most delight travellers in Spain is that if they ask someone in the street where such a building or square is, the asked will often turn aside from his own path and generously sacrifice himself to the stranger, conducting him to the point he is interested in. I am not going to deny that there may be in this disposition of the worthy Spaniard some element of generosity, and I rejoice that the foreigner so interprets his conduct. But I have never, when hearing or reading of this, been able to repress a suspicion: "Was my countryman, when thus questioned, really going anywhere?" Because it might very well be, in many cases, that the Spaniard is going nowhere, has no purpose or mission, but rather goes out into life to see if others' lives can fill his own a little. In many instances I know quite well that my countrymen go out to the street to see if they will come across some stranger to accompany on his way.

The man who is capable of steering a clear course through it, who can perceive under the chaos presented by every vital situation the hidden anatomy of the movement, the man, in a word, who does not lose himself in life, that is the man with the really clear head. Take stock of those around you and you will see them wandering about lost through life, like sleep-walkers in the midst of their good or evil fortune, without the slightest suspicion of what is happening to them. You will hear them talk in precise terms about themselves and their surroundings, which would seem to point to them having ideas on the matter. But start to analyse those ideas and you will find that they hardly reflect in any way the reality to which they appear to refer, and if you go deeper you will discover that there is not even an attempt to adjust the ideas to this reality. Quite the contrary: through these notions the individual is trying to cut off any personal vision of reality, of his own very life. For life is at the start a chaos in which one is lost. The individual suspects this, but he is frightened at finding himself face to face with this terrible reality, and tries to cover it over with a curtain of fantasy, where everything is clear. It does not worry him that his "ideas" are not true, he uses them as trenches for the defence of his existence, as scarcecrows to frighten away reality.


And more than this: That no one has any certainty, apart from faith, whether he wake or sleep, seeing that in sleep we firmly believe we are awake, we believe that we see space, figure, and motion, we are aware of the lapse and measure of time; in a word we act as though we were awake. So that half of our life being passed in sleep, we have by our own avowal, no idea of truth, whatever we may suppose. Since then all our sentiments are illusions, who can tell but that the other half of life wherein we fancy ourselves awake be not another sleep somewhat different from the former, from which we wake when we fancy ourselves asleep?

And who doubts that if we dreamt in company, and if by chance men’s dreams agreed, which is common enough, and if we were always alone when awake, we should believe that the conditions were reversed? In a word, as we often dream that we dream, and heap vision upon vision, it may well be that this life itself is but a dream, on which the others are grafted, from which we wake at death; having in our lifetime as few principles of what is good and true, as during natural sleep, the different thoughts which agitate us being perhaps only illusions like those of the flight of time and the vain fantasies of our dreams. . . . (…)

Were we to dream the same thing every night, this would affect us as much as the objects we see every day, and were an artisan sure to dream every night, for twelve hours at a stretch, that he was a king. I think he would be almost as happy as a king who should dream every night for twelve hours at a stretch that he was an artisan.

Should we dream every night that we were pursued by enemies, and harassed by these painful phantoms, or that we were passing all our days in various occupations, as in travelling, we should suffer almost as much as if the dream were real, and should fear to sleep, as now we fear to wake when we expect in truth to enter on such misfortunes. And, in fact, it would bring about nearly the same troubles as the reality. But since dreams are all different, and each single dream is diversified, what we see in them affects us much less than what we see when awake, because that is continuous, not indeed so continuous and level as never to change, but the change is less abrupt, except occasionally, as when we travel, and then we say, “I think I am dreaming,” for life is but a little less inconstant dream.


Our true home

'Is it possible that existence is our exile and nothingness our home?'


Disgust for the world

If disgust for the world conferred sanctity of itself, I fail to see how I could avoid canonization.

Where my place might be?

On the mantelpiece, the photograph of a chimpanzee and a statuette of the Buddha. This proximity, more accidental than intentional, makes me wonder over and over where my place might be between these two extrems, man's pre and transfiguration.


Poverty: Mental Stimulant

 To keep the mind vigilant, there is only coffee, disease, insomnia, or the obsession of death; poverty contributes to this condition in equal measure, if not more effectively: terror of tomorrow as much as that of eternity, money troubles as much as metaphysical fears, exclude repose and oblivion. All our humiliations come from the fact that we cannot bring ourselves to die of hunger. We pay dearly for this cowardice. To be dependent on men, without the vocation of beggars! To abase ourselves before these dressed-up, lucky, infatuated marmosets! To be at the mercy of these caricatures unworthy of contempt! It is the shame of seeking anything which excites the desire to annihilate this planet, with its hierarchies and the degradations they involve. Society is not a disease, it is a disaster: what a stupid miracle that one can live in it! When we contemplate it, between rage and indifference, it becomes inexplicable that no one has been able to demolish its structure, that hitherto there have not been minds desperate and decent enough to raze it to the ground without a trace.

There is more than one resemblance between begging for a coin in the city and waiting for an answer from the silence of the universe. Avarice presides over men’s hearts and over matter. Away with this stingy existence! It hoards money and mysteries: purses are as inaccessible as the depths of the Unknown. But—maybe someday that Unknown will reveal itself and open its treasuries; never, so long as there is blood in his veins, will the Rich Man unearth his wealth. . . . He will confess his shames, his vices, his crimes: he will lie about his fortune; he will make you every confidence, hand you his life: you will not share his last secret, his pecuniary secret. . . .

Poverty is not a transitory state: it coincides with the certainty that, whatever happens, you will never have anything, that you are born on the wrong side of the circuit of goods, that you must struggle for even a breath, and conquer air itself, and hope, and sleep, and that even when society disappears, nature will be no less inclement, no less perverted. No paternal principle watched over the Creation; everywhere, buried treasures; behold the Miser as demiurge, the God on high a sly skinflint. It is He who implanted in you the terror of tomorrow: it is scarcely surprising that religion itself should be a form of this terror.

For the paupers of eternity, poverty is a kind of stimulant they have taken once and for all, without the possibility of an antidote, or a kind of innate awareness which, before any knowledge of life, could describe its inferno. . . .

Cioran, A Short History of Decay
translation: Richard Howard

So terrifying ...

One can readily imagine in what terms a man of today would speak if called upon to make a pronouncement on the only religion ever to have introduced a radical formula of salvation: "The quest for deliverance can be justified only if one believes in the transmigration, in the endless vagrancy of the self, and if one aspires to halt it. But for us who do not believe in it, what are we to halt? This unique and negligible duration? It is obviously not long enough to deserve the effort an escape would require. For the Buddhist, the prospect of other existences is a nightmare; for us, the nightmare consists in the termination of this one, this nightmare. Give us another one, we would be tempted to clamor, so that our disgraces will not conclude too soon, so that they may, at their leisure, hound us through several lives.

Deliverance answers a necessity only for the person who feels threatened by a surfeit of existence, who fears the burden of dying and redying. For us, condemned not to reincarnate ourselves, what's the use of struggling to set ourselves free from a nonentity? to liberate ourselves from a terror whose end lies in view? Further more, what's the use of pursuing a supreme unreality when everything here-below is already unreal? One simply does not exert oneself to get rid of something so flimsily justified, so precariously grounded.

Each of us, each man unlucky enough not to believe in the eternal cycle of births and deaths, aspires to a superabundance of illusion and torment. We pine for the malediction of being reborn. Buddha took exorbitant pains to achieve what? definitive death - what we, on the contrary, are sure of obtaining without meditations and mortifications, without raising a finger." ...

That's just about how this fallen man would express himself if he consented to lay bare the depths of his thought. Who will dare throw the first stone? Who has not spoken to himself in this way? We are so addicted to our own history that we would like to see it drone on and on, relentlessly. But whether one lives one or a thousand lives, whether one has at one's disposal a single hour or all of time, the problem remains the same: an insect and a god should not differ in their manner of viewing the fact of existence as such, which is so terrifying (as only miracles can be) that, reflecting on it, one understands the will to disappear forever so as not to have to consider it again in other existences. This is what Buddha emphasized, and it seems doubtful he would have altered his conclusion had he ceased to believe in the mechanism of transmigration.

Cioran, The New Gods

I resign from humanity

“As far as I am concerned, I resign from humanity. I no longer want to be, nor can still be, a man. What should I do? Work for a social and political system, make a girl miserable? Hunt for weaknesses in philosophical systems, fight for moral and esthetic ideals? It’s all too little. I renounce my humanity even though I may find myself alone. But am I not already alone in this world from which I no longer expect anything?”

“It is of no importance to know who I am since some day I shall no longer be” – that is what each of us should answer those who bother about our identity and desire at any price to coop us up in a category or a definition”.