THE CONTRADICTORY NATURE OF THE EROS IN EMIL CIORAN’S WORK

If the mystic ecstasy is the point by which Cioran’s thinking gets in touch with the Absolute, and death, boredom and absurd become points of connection to the nothingness, the ros seems to have a double condition, being a sum of contradictions. In a larger proportion than man, woman is a highly erotic being,, she is bound to the destiny of love in a decisive and ultimate mode. Active during history, man is more independent to the erotic existence, while woman, even when she influenced the history in a significant extent, she determined it by seduction and affective implication too. Beyond a reflection topic upon history, woman can serve as pretext for metaphysical considerations.

Reinterpreting Kant’s distinction between phenomenon and numen, as well as his thesis from “Critique of Practical Reason” according to which numen means freedom, Schoppenhauer, the philosopher who established the metaphysical matter of femininity , sees the thing in itself as a volitional energy, blind, impersonal, of cosmic proportion. This force, turning into a phenomenon, generates the ontological  level of representation. The most important fact is that will is contradictory, expressing this contradiction during the whole evolutionary steps of life. The sexual element comes in as an essential part in which will forces the individuals to play in its hands. Woman pre-eminently becomes the bearer of this genius of speces, and the erotic love is interpreted by Schoppenhauer as a simple game of appearances. Although Schoppenhauer is the first European who admits his oriental influences in his doctrine, he does not on purpose interprete the connection between love and void (emptiness). Starting from this point, Cioran seems to continue Schoppenhauer’s vision, connecting the eros to the metaphysics of the void.1

Love is reinterpreted by Cioran as a defensive reflex in front of the consciousness of void, a true horror vacui consumed at the level of biology. The erotic ecstasy has a despaired expansion, satisfying in this way the ontological void over which we are all hanged up. Because of the impossibility to separate eros and thanatos, the depths of love would concern the inseparable knitting of existence and  non-existence.  This revealing of the ultimate supports, which articulates the economy of eros, explains the force, the intensity and the disinterested nature of it: “The deeper meaning of love is not intelligible neither by “the genius of species ” nor by surpassing individuality. Who may believe that it could reach such tumultuous heights, of a non-human gravity, if we were simple instruments in a trial we personally lose? Who may also admit that we would commit ourselves to such great sufferings in order to be simple victims? The sexes are not able of such a great self-denial and neither of such deception!          In fact, we love in order to protect ourselves from the void of existence, as a reactions against it. The erotic dimension of our being is a painful plenitude that fills the emptiness inside us and outside us. Without the invasion of the essential void, which gnaws the core of our being and ruins the illusion necessary to exist, love would be a simple exercise, a pleasant pretext and not a mysterious reaction or a crepuscular agony. The nothingness that surrounds us suffers from the presence of Eros, which is, at its turns, a deception touched by the existence. From everything we offer to our senses, love is a minimum of void, at which we cannot give up without opening our arms to the obvious emptiness, common and eternal. As it is the maximum of life and death, love represents an irruption of intensity in the void. And every intensity is a suffering of the void.

The torture of love-would we bear it any more if it weren’t but a gun against the cosmic boredom, the immanent rottenness? Or would we easily step to death with enchantment and sobs if we couldn’t find  a way of being towards non-existence in it? ”2

A feeling of Wagner’s seems to animate Cioran’s vision upon eros and for this reason we can consider that once again the similarity between Cioran’s ideative and Schoppenhauer’s metaphysics points out. It is also known the fact that Wagner himself was strongly influenced by Schoppenhauer. Thus, Wagner’s elements in Cioran’s works place him in the same metaphysical family from which minds like Nietzsche or Eminescu take part.

The abyss of eros concerns the voluptuousness of extinction, it is an unconscious  thanatic structure, hidden in the spasms of the carnal ecstasy. Without eros there is no initiation in the crepuscle and in the  shades og agony: “The distance towards the world can be estimated only by means of love. In the arms of a woman  the heart submitts to the instinct, but the mind wanders around the world, the sick fruit of the erotic uprooting. This is why in the sensual bubbling of blood rises a melodic and agonizing protest which we cannot always identify, but it exists in the space of a gleams, reminding us briefly of the gentle ephemerity of voluptuousness. How could we otherwise pick up the rosy death from every kiss agonizingly covered with embraces? And how could we estimate our loneliness if we didn’t look at it through the lost eyes of the woman? Through her, isolation offers itself a view of infinite” .3

Eros defines as a metaphysical remainder, outside the human being, a blind force that ruins his  existence: “Erotics bursts somewhere beyond man, it overwhelms and destroys him. This is why, overwhelmed by its force, days pass without noticing the objects around you, as, caught in the voluptuous sleep of love, because of too much life and too much death, you forget both of them, so that, once awakened from love, a lucid and unconsoled  fall follows after its torments”.4

There is a thirst for abyss in love which is the expression of the yearning for the infinite, assumed under the form of extinction: “Love is a temptation of drowning, a temptation of deepness. In this respect it ressembles to death. This is how it explains why the feeling of the end belongs only to the erotic natures. By love, you descend to the roots of life, to the inevitable freshness of death”.5

The strangeness of love consists in the fact that, although very close to the abyss, it contains a great “potential of happiness”. A certain dialectics, unintelligible for an analitic mind, makes this potential of happiness be stimulated just by the renewal and amplification of our unhappiness. This amplification of the ecstasy by means of sufferings can remind us not only of Wagner and Schoppenhauer, but also the mystic ecstasy. Because of this, Cioran assimilates love to the same condition of plenitude which the Divinity enjoys: “It is likely  that love contains a potential of  happiness which is bigger than our mind, contaminated by the heart,  is tempted to believe. Where do the funeral symphonies of the existential haziness and the scent of suicide of the embraces? {…} If love weren’t anything but an epidemic presence, it would be impossible to associate it to suffering. But it is contented to an infinite of predicates, as God too. Woman can be a null infinite, but, in front of love, the infinite pales. As everything is too little related to it. Aren’t there moments of love upon which death looks like a simple impudence?”.6 This drives love out of the condition of physiology, transferring it to the ground of metaphysics: “Love shows us to what extent we can be sick when we are healthy. The condition of love is not an organic intoxication, it is metaphysical”.7

 

The eros simultaneously involves transcendence and destruction, the infinite and the mucuses, the charms and the peaks of Tabor, the abjection and the transfiguration: “A fulfilled love, a voluptuousness that is not a delicious disaster, equally compromises man and woman. Love cannot be borne but only suffered. The head on the chest, you unearth yourself together with the earth {…}Sexuality is not an operation in which you are by turns surgeon and poet. An ecstatic slaughter, a grunt of the stars. I don’t know why when I love I have the feelings of an ex-saint…” 8

Reaching the point in which the human condition itself is exhausted, by means of erotic fusion we experience the distance towards the world and towards yourself. Thus, we pass from Wagner’s regime in tune with love to a different one in which woman becomes an exercise of amnesia deliberately assumed. The topic about woman as metaphysical sedative in front of emptiness will dominate many of Cioran’s reflections, even having the constancy of an obsession. But this “anaesthetic” effect of the woman is certainly sabotaged, if not forged by the ontological schism that equally marks the ego and the things: “When you don’t feel human at all but still keep on loving, the contradiction increases to an inexpressible suffering, infernal. Love – fortunately or not-is derived from the condition of the living being as such, and concerning man, it is not a fulfillment unless it belongs, by all its weaknesses, to the form of life it represents. Woman – this human being in the highest sense of the word -you cannot raise her up to you, the least can you get down to her. Than, you live around her and you suffer, covering her in non-humanity. This perversion, of loving a human being when you don’t have human feelings, when are neither above nor below, but beyond the human fate. And the illusion of a woman makes you believe you forget everything but she does nothing else but keeping you away from everything and anything!…” 9

From this ontological fracture nourishes a true vicious circle of unhappiness, a slow administration of death and loneliness. Marriage becomes a trade of unfulfilment, an anguish lived in two: “Stepping over the pleasure of dying in yourself day by day, sharing in two the burden of existing, having a neighbor for your deceptions! Woman trades in the mysterious, and in marriage you sell helpings of loneliness and the curse of existing becomes merchandise. The source of unhappiness in love is the fear of being loved, the voluptuousness of loneliness overwhelms the embraces. A woman does not leave willingly, but she feels very good the spot of lucidity on the deception of the double fainting. Trully speaking, she will never understand how somebody can be a practitioner of  the unhappiness and neither the way in which her presence affects the perfection of isolation”.10

The scission which the woman brought in the universe, starting the history (Cioran resorts to the biblical myth according to which the loss of the paradise condition occurs because of the woman) becomes a method of gaining conscience, an awakening from an ontological sleep. It is just the amplification of the conscience that points out the horizon of despair, which is consubstantial to the history itself: “Since Eve woke up Adam from the sleep of  the futile perfection, her descendants continue the work of revival and until nowadays they keep luring us to non-existence {…}. Life means eternalizing the moment of desolate fear, in which Adam,  just expelled from heaven, he realized the inexpressible loss and the infinite perdition that expects him. Don’t we all re-edit – during our lives- the despairing illumination of that cruel moment?” 11. It is this ontological degradation started by the woman which produces the difigurement  that the mystery of femininity itself suffers from, every time when the signs of paradisiac melancholy are wiped out in the favor of the vulgarity of the immanence: “The scene of a happy woman exceeds in terms of vulgarity the vulgarity itself. It is however curious the fact that everything that should make us less strangers in this world, in fact it digs deeper the abyss between us and it”.12

Vulgarity does not necessarily emerge from the expressed joy, but simply from the determined and objectual character which every feminine manifestation can have. This objectual character is the one that goes into the condition of exclusion towards the paradisiac remanences. But the ground in which the conflict between objectuality and indetermination takes place is still the eyes. It occurs the same difference which Heidegger stated between Furcht and Angst, namely between the fear of something determined and the fear of nothing determined. For this reason, the essence of the feminine vulgarity is intentionally related to determination, while the paradisiac origin of femininity could be related to the indetermination that melancholy implies. It is not only the nothingness that reveals in indetermination, but also the trails of the paradise: “The woman who looks at something offers a view of rare vulgarity. Her melancholic eyes invite you, on the contrary, to an air destruction, and the thirst for intangible which is satisfied by the funeral and scented azure stops you from being yourself. The eyes that see nothing and in front of which you disappear so as not to blot their infinite with the purpose of you being there. The pure looking of melancholy is the strangest way by which a woman makes us believe that once she was our companion in paradise”.13

Vulgarity can be interpreted from another perspective than the one of a simple episodic appearance. It can become a principle with transcendental worth from the moment we see its apocaliptic nature. By the apocaliptic symbol of Babylon, represented as a prostitute, we hint at a vulgarity that is inherent to the history. For this reason, vulgarity cannot be analyzed under the conditions of the accidental. It is this signification of femininity, which comes to concentrate in itself the fate of the whole history or the ontological position of history towards Divinity, that concerns in an intimate manner the antinomic way in which Transcendence reveals. Nowhere does Transcendence become more profound than when it reveals in the proximity of the abjection. Cioran speculates the double meaning of the symbol of the prostitute, on the one hand she is the environment of Divinity, on the other hand she is on principle antithetic to Transcendence. In this last perspective, the prostitute stands assimilated to the apocaliptic symbol of Babylon, which represents the essence of the indecency of the immanence: “There is nothing else more pleasant and troubling but thinking of God when you stay in the arms of a lost woman…{…}We could hardly perceive a greater separation but the one resulting from the divine presence in vulgarity! It is irrelevant to think of God after reading a page of mystics or after an oratory. But meeting Him in the corner of the street, to see Him coming together with the common women! Ah! Look how the void and the loneliness of God revives! The apocaliptic touch of the Great Prostitute would make me forget Him”.14

The whole ontologic course of the position which a woman would occupy in a topography of the being oscilates betweenthe ecstatic extreme of Transcendence and the abyssal one of a mechanics of death that would reveal by means of eros. Between these two registers metaphysically opposed, but connected through antinomy, we can find all the versions of femininity, from the holy woman to the woman in the common marriage and finally the woman with easy virtues. This metaphysical spectrum limits the condition of the woman seen through the eyes of a nihilist. To conclude, we can say that Cioran’s approach concerning femininity and eros does not lack ambiguities; the nihilist accents cross the eulogium and contest (dispute) crosses the apology.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   VASILE CHIRA

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ph. D. In Philosophy

                                                                                                                         Lecturer at the “Andrei Şaguna” Faculty of Theology

                                                                                                                                            “Lucian Blaga” University of Sibiu, Romania

NOTES:

 

1        The doctrine of the general emptiness (sunyavada), developped by Nāgārjuna (the 2nd century A.D) although apparently denies the Buddhist principles, in its essence it is a brilliant speculative approach with a deep ontological and soteriological content that tries to demonstrate the fact the the Ultimate Truth (paramarthata) cannot be expressed by language.

2         Cioran, Emil, Dusk of Thoughts( Romanian edition), Humanitas, Bucharest, 1991, p. 79.

3         IBIDEM, p. 77-78.

4          IBIDEM, p. 78.

5          IBIDEM.

6          IBIDEM, p. 80.

7          IBIDEM, p. 82.

8          IBIDEM.

9          IBIDEM, p. 88.

10        IBIDEM, p. 66.

11        IBIDEM, p. 85-86.

12        IBIDEM, p. 54.

13        IBIDEM, p. 31.

14      Cioran, Emil, Tears and Saints(Fourth edition in Romanian),Humanitas,2001 p.86.

Published in: on Decembrie 16, 2011 at 2:29 pm  Lasă un comentariu  

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