Cahiers du Vertebrata

a human being is never what he is but the self he seeks

E.M. Cioran, The Trouble of being born

Three in the morning. I realize this second, then this one, then the next: I draw up the balance sheet for each minute. And why all this? Because I was born. It is a special type of sleeplessness that produces the indictment of birth.

§

No one has lived so close to his skeleton as i have lived to mine: from which results an endless dialogue and certain truths which I manage neither to accept nor to reject.

§

I forgive X everything because of his obsolete smile.

§

It is easier to get on with vices than with virtues. The vices, accommodating by nature, help each other, are full of mutual indulgence, whereas the jealous virtues combat and annihilate each other, showing in everything their incompatibility and their intolerance.

§

He who hates himself is not humble.

§

In certain men, everything, absolutely everything, derives from physiology: their body is their mind, their mind is their body.

§

Time, fertile in resources, more inventive and more charitable then we think, possesses a remarkable capacity to help us out, to afford us at any hour of the day some new humiliation.

§

I have always sought out landscapes that preceded God. Whence my weakness for Chaos.

§

I have decided not to oppose anyone ever again, since I have noticed that I always end by resembling my latest enemy.

§

For a long while I have lived with the notion that I was the most normal being that ever existed. This notion gave me the taste, even the passion for being unproductive: what was the use of being prized in a world inhabited by madmen, a world mired in mania and stupidity? For whom was one to bother, and to what end? It remains to be seen if I have quite freed myself from this certitude, salvation in the absolute, ruin in the immediate.

§

Write books only if you are going to say in them the things you would never dare confide to anyone.

§

We say: he has no talent, only tone. But tone is precisely what cannot be invented — we’re born with it. Tone is an inherited grace, the privilege some of us have of making our organic pulsations felt — tone is more than talent, it is its essence.

§

The same feeling of not belonging, of futility, wherever I go: I pretend interest in what matters nothing to me, I bestir myself mechanically or out of charity, without ever being caught up, without ever being somewhere. What attracts me is somewhere else, and I don’t know what that elsewhere is.

§

My vision of the future is so exact that if I had children, I should strangle them here and now.

§

In a metropolis as in a hamlet, what we still love best is to watch the fall of one of our kind.

§

A disease is ours only from the moment we are told its name, the moment when the rope is put around our neck. . . .

§

The ideal being? An angel ravaged by humor.

§

Indispensable condition for spiritual fulfillment: to have always placed the wrong bet.

§

We have convictions only if we have studied nothing thoroughly.

§

I do nothing, granted. But I see the hours pass — which is better than trying to fill them.

§

No need to elaborate works – merely say something that can be murmured in the ear of a drunkard or a dying man.

§

There is a god at the outset, if not at the end, of every joy.

§

True contact between beings is established only by mute presence, by apparent non-communication, by that mysterious and wordless exchange which resembles inward prayer.

§

In the deepest part of yourself, aspire to be as dispossessed, as lamentable as God.

§

What I know at sixty, I knew as well at twenty. Forty years of a long, a superfluous, labor of verification.

§

Even in childhood I watched the hours flow, independent of any reference, any action, any event, the disjunction of time from what was not itself, its autonomous existence, its special status, its empire, its tyranny. I remember clearly that afternoon when, for the first time, confronting the empty universe, I was no more than a passage of moments reluctant to go on playing their proper parts. Time was coming unstuck from being — at my expense.

§

If death had only negative aspects, dying would be an unmanageable action.

§

Everything exists; nothing exists. Either formula affords a like serenity. The man of anxiety, to his misfortune, remains between them, trembling and perplexed, forever at the mercy of a nuance, incapable of gaining a foothold in the security of being or in the absence of being.

§

“In this our life” — to be in life: suddenly I am struck by the strangeness of such an expression, as if it applied to no one.

§

Whenever I flag and feel sorry for my brain, I am carried away by an irresistible desire toproclaim. That is the moment I realize the paltry depths out of which rise reformers, prophets, and saviors.

§

As the years pass, the number of those we can communicate with diminishes. When there is no longer anyone to talk to, at last we will be as we were before stooping to a name.

§

Some have misfortunes; others, obsessions. Which are worse off?

§

Thought is never innocent, for it is pitiless, it is aggressive, it helps us burst our bonds. Were we to suppress what is evil and even demonic in thought, we should have to renounce the very concept of deliverance.

§

It is not my beginnings, it is the beginning that matters to me. If I bump into my birth, into a minor obsession, it is because I cannot grapple with the first moment of time. Every individual discomfort leads back, ultimately, to a cosmogonic discomfort, each of our sensation, by which Being crept out of somewhere. . . .

§

There was a time when time did not yet exist. . . . The rejection of birth is nothing but the nostalgia for this time before time.

§

In major perplexities, try to live as if history were done with and to react like a monster riddled by serenity.

§

Amid anxiety and distress, sudden calm at the thought of the foetus one has been.

§

Endlessly to refer to a world where nothing yet stooped to occurrence, where you anticipated consciousness without desiring it, where, wallowing in the virtual, you rejoiced in the null plenitude of a self anterior to selfhood. . . .

Not to have been born, merely musing on that — what happiness, what freedom, what space!

§

There is a kind of knowledge that strips whatever you do of weight and scope: for such knowledge, everything is without basis except itself. Pure to the point of abhorring even the notion of an object, it translates that extreme science according to which doing or not doing something comes down to the same thing and is accompanied by an equally extreme satisfaction: that of being able to rehearse, each time, the discovery that any gesture performed is not worth defending, that nothing is enhanced by the merest vestige of substance, that “reality” falls within the province of lunacy. Such knowledge deserves to be called posthumous: it functions as if the knower were alive and not alive, a being and the memory of a being. “It’s already in the past,” he says about all that he achieves, even as he achieves it, thereby forever destitute of the present.

§

If we could see ourselves as others see us, we would vanish on the spot.

§

When I happen to be busy, I never give a moment’s thought to the “meaning” of anything, particularly of whatever it is I am doing. A proof that the secret of everything is in the action and not in abstention, that fatal cause of consciousness.

§

To stretch out in a field, to smell the earth and tell yourself it is the end as well as the hope of our dejections, that it would be futile to search for anything better to rest on, to dissolve into. . . .

§

This craving to revise our enthusiasms, to change idols, to pray elsewhere . . .

§

Only God has the privilege of abandoning us. Men can only drop us.

§

This very second has vanished forever, lost in the anonymous mass of the irrevocable. It will never return. I suffer from this, and I do not. Everything is unique — and insignificant.

§

Self-knowledge — the bitterest knowledge of all and also the kind we cultivate least: what is the use of catching ourselves out, morning to night, in the act of illusion, pitilessly tracing each act back to its root, and losing case after case before our own tribunal?

§

Once we appeal to our most intimate selves, once we begin to labor and to produce, we lay claim to gifts, we become unconscious of our own gaps. No one is in a position to admit that what comes out of his own depths might be worthless. “Self-knowledge”? A contradiction in terms.

§

At the climax of failure, at the moment when shame is about to do us in, suddenly we are swept away by a frenzy of pride which lasts only long enough to drain us, to leave us without energy, to lower, with our powers, the intensity of our shame.

§

More than once I have managed to leave my room, for if I had stayed there I could not be sure of being able to resist some sudden resolution. The street is more reassuring, you think less about yourself there, there everything weakens and wilts, beginning with your own confusion.

§

He detested objective truths, the burden of argument, sustained reasoning. He disliked demonstrating, he wanted to convince no one. Others are a dialectician’s invention.

§

The mind that puts everything in question reaches, after a thousand interrogations, an almost total inertia, a situation which the inert, in fact, know from the start, by instinct. For what is inertia but a congenital perplexity?

§

Having lived in fear of being surprised by the worst, I have tried in every circumstance to a get a head start, flinging myself into misfortune long before it occurred.

§

Imaginary pains are by far the most real we suffer, since we feel a constant need for them and invent them because there is no way of doing without them.

§

O to have been born before man!

§

The most effective way to avoid dejection, motivated or gratuitous, is to take a dictionary, preferably of a language you scarcely know, and to look up word after word in it, making sure that they are the kind you will never use. . . .

§

As long as you live on this side of the terrible, you will find words to express it; once you know it from inside, you will no longer find a single one.

§

To realize, in rage and desolation alike, that nature, as Bossuet says, will not long grant us “this morsel of matter she lends.” — This morsel of matter: by dint of pondering it we reach peace, though a peace it would be better never to have known.

§

Paradox is not suited to burials, nor to weddings or births, in fact. Sinister — or grotesque — events require commonplaces; the terrible, like the painful, accommodates only the cliche.

§

The Aztecs were right to believe the gods must be appeased, to offer them human blood every day in order to keep the universe from sinking back into chaos.

We long since ceased to believe in the gods, and we no longer offer them sacrifices. Yet the world is still here. No doubt. Only we no longer have the good luck to know why it does not collapse on the spot.

§

Think about those who haven’t long to live, who know that everything is over and done with, except the time in which the thought of their end unrolls. Deal with that time. Write for thegladiators. . . .

§

Moral disintegration when we spend time in a place that is too beautiful: the self dissolves upon contact with paradise. No doubt it was to avoid this danger that the first man made the choice he did.

§

We had nothing to say to one another, and while I was manufacturing my phrases I felt that the earth was falling through space and that I was falling with it at a speed that made me dizzy.

§

Years and years to waken from that sleep in which the others loll; then years and years to escape that awakening . . .

§

A task to be done, something I have undertaken out of necessity or choice: no sooner have I started in than everything seems important, everything attracts me, except that.

§

Erosion of our being by our infirmities: the resulting void is filled by the presence of consciousness, what am I saying? — that void is consciousness itself.

§

The substance of a work is the impossible — what we have not been able to attain, what could not be given to us: the sum of all the things which were refused us.

§

Gogol, in hopes of a “regeneration,” journeys to Nazareth and discovers he is as bored there as “in a Russian railroad station” — this is what happens to us all when we look outside ourselves for what can exist only inside.

§

Kill yourself because you are what you are, yes, but not because all humanity would spit in your face!

§

Why fear the nothing in store for us when it is no different from the nothing which preceded us: this argument of the Ancients against the fear of death is unacceptable as consolation. Before, we had the luck not to exist; now we exist, and it is this particle of existence, hence of misfortune, which dreads death. Particle is not the word, since each of us prefers himself to the universe, at any rate considers himself equal to it.

§

When we discern the unreality of everything, we ourselves become unreal, we begin to survive ourselves, however powerful our vitality, however imperious our instincts. But they are no longer anything but false instincts, and false vitality.

§

If you are doomed to devour yourself, nothing can keep you from it: a trifle will impel you as much as a tragedy. Resign yourself to erosion at all times: your fate wills it so.

§

To live is to lose ground.

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To think that so many have succeeded in dying.

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Impossible not to resent those who write us overwhelming letters.

§

In a remote province in India, everything was explained by dreams, and what is more important, dreams were used to cure diseases as well. It was according to dreams that business was conducted and matters of life and death decided. Until the English came. Since then, one native said, “We no longer dream.”

In what we have agreed to call “civilization,” there resides, undeniably, a diabolic principle man has become conscious of too late, when it was no longer possible to remedy it.

§

Lucidity without the corrective of ambition leads to stagnation. It is essential that the one sustain the other, that the one combat the other without winning, for a work, for a life to be possible.

§

We cannot forgive those we have praised to the skies, we are impatient to break with them, to snap the most delicate chain of all: the chain of admiration . . . , not out of insolence, but out of aspiration to find our bearings, to be free, to be . . . ourselves. Which we manage only by an act of injustice.

§

The problem of responsibility would have a meaning only if we had been consulted before our birth and had consented to be precisely who we are.

§

The energy and virulence of my taedium vitae continue to astound me. So much vigor in a disease so decrepit! To this paradox I owe my present incapacity to choose my final hour.

§

Children turn, and must turn, against their parents, and the parents can do nothing about it, for they are subject to a law which decrees the relations among all the living: i.e., that each engenders his own enemy.

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In a Gnostic work of the second century of our era, we read: “The prayer of a melancholy man will never have the strength to rise unto God.” . . . Since man prays only in despondency, we may deduce that no prayer has ever reached its destination.

§

He was above all others, and had had nothing to do with it: he had simply forgotten to desire. . . .

§

No one exclaims he is feeling well and that he is free, yet this is what all who know this double blessing should do. Nothing condemns us more than our incapacity to shout our good luck.

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To have failed in everything, always, out of a love of discouragement!

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The sole means of protecting your solitude is to offend everyone, beginning with those you love.

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A book is a postponed suicide.

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Say what we will, death is the best thing nature has found to please everyone. With each of us, everything vanishes, everything stops forever. What an advantage, what an abuse! Without the least effort on our part, we own the universe, we drag it into our own disappearance. No doubt about it, dying is immoral. . . .

*

— E. M. Cioran
(The Trouble with Being Born)

Keith Jarrett, The Bremen Concert 1975, bootleg

Takashi Yoshimatsu – Pleiades Dances, Kyoko Tabe

David Lang – Cheating, Lying, Stealing

 

 

A couple of years ago, I started thinking about how so often when classical composers write a piece of music, they are trying to tell you something that they are proud of and like about themselves. Here’s this big gushing melody, see how emotional I am. Or, here’s this abstract hard-to-figure-out piece, see how complicated I am, see my really big brain. I am more noble, more sensitive, I am so happy. The composer really believes he or she is exemplary in this or that area. It’s interesting, but it’s not very humble. So I thought, What would it be like if composers based pieces on what they thought was wrong with them? Like, here’s a piece that shows you how miserable I am. Or, here’s a piece that shows you what a liar I am, what a cheater I am. I wanted to make a piece that was about something disreputable. It’s a hard line to cross. You have to work against all your training. You are not taught to find the dirty seams in music. You are not taught to be low-down, clumsy, sly and underhanded. In ”cheating, lying, stealing,” although phrased in a comic way, I am trying to look at something dark. There is a swagger, but it is not trustworthy. In fact, the instruction in the score for how to play it says: Ominous funk.

—David Lang

Byung-Chul Han, Beyond Disciplinary Society

burnout society.jpg

Today’s society is no longer Foucault’s disciplinary world of hospitals, madhouses, prisons, barracks, and factories. It has long been replaced by another regime, namely a society of fitness studios, office towers, banks, airports, shopping malls, and genetic laboratories. Twenty-first-century society is no longer a disciplinary society, but rather an achievement society [Leistungsgesellschaft]. Also, its inhabitants are no longer “obedience-subjects” but “achievement-subjects.” They are entrepreneurs of themselves. The walls of disciplinary institutions, which separate the normal from the abnormal, have come to seem archaic. Foucault’s analysis of power cannot account for the psychic and topological changes that occurred as disciplinary society transformed into achievement society. Nor does the commonly employed concept of “control society” do justice to this change. It still contains too much negativity.

Disciplinary society is a society of negativity. It is defined by the negativity of prohibition. The negative modal verb that governs it is May Not. By the same token, the negativity of compulsion adheres to Should. Achievement society, more and more, is in the process of discarding negativity. Increasing deregulation is abolishing it.
Unlimited Can is the positive modal verb of achievement society. Its plural form—the affirmation, “Yes, we can”—epitomizes achievement society’s positive orientation. Prohibitions, commandments, and the law are replaced by projects, initiatives, and motivation. Disciplinary society is still governed by no. Its negativity produces madmen and criminals. In contrast, achievement society creates depressives and losers.
On one level, continuity holds in the paradigm shift from disciplinary society to achievement society. Clearly, the drive to maximize production inhabits the social unconscious. Beyond a certain point of productivity, disciplinary technology—or, alternately, the negative scheme of prohibition—hits a limit. To heighten productivity, the paradigm of disciplination is replaced by the paradigm of achievement, or, in other words, by the positive scheme of Can; after a certain level of productivity obtains, the negativity of prohibition impedes further expansion. The positivity of Can is much more efficient than the negativity of Should. Therefore, the social unconscious switches from Should to Can. The achievement-subject is faster and more productive than the obedience-subject. However, the Can does not revoke the Should. The obedience-subject remains disciplined. It has now completed the disciplinary stage. Can increases the level of productivity, which is the aim of disciplinary technology, that is, the imperative of Should. Where increasing productivity is concerned, no break exists between Should and Can; continuity prevails.Alain Ehrenberg locates depression in the transition from

Alain Ehrenberg locates depression in the transition from disciplinary society to achievement society:

Depression began its ascent when the disciplinary model for behavion, the rules of authority and observance of taboos that gave social classes as well as both sexes a specific destiny, broke against norms that invited us to undertake personal initiative by enjoining us to be ourselves…. The depressed individual is unable to measure up; he is tired of having to become himself.

Problematically, however, Ehrenberg considers depression only from the perspective of the economy of the self: the social imperative only to belong to oneself makes one depressive. For Ehrenberg, depression is the pathological expression of the late-modern human being’s failure to become himself. Yet depression also follows from impoverished attachment [Bindungsarmut], which is a characteristic of the increasing fragmentation and atomization of life in society. Ehrenberg lends no attention to this aspect of depression. He also overlooks the systemic violence inhabiting achievement society which provokes psychic infarctions. It is not the imperative only to belong to oneself, but the pressure to achieve that causes exhaustive depression. Seen in this light, burnout syndrome does not express the exhausted self so much as the exhausted, burnt-out soul. According to Ehrenberg, depression spreads when the commandments and prohibitions of disciplinary society yield to self-responsibility and initiative. In reality it is not the excess of responsibility and initiative that makes one sick, but the imperative to achieve: the new commandment of late-modern labor society Ehrenberg wrongly equates the human type of the present day with Nietzsche’s “sovereign man”:

Nietzsche’s sovereign man, his own man, was becoming a mass phenomenon: there was nothing above him that could tell him who he ought to be because he was the sole owner of himself.

In fact, Nietzsche would say that that human type in the process of becoming reality en masse is no sovereign superman but “the last man,” who does nothing but work. The new human type, standing exposed to excessive positivity without any defense, lacks all sovereignty. The depressive human being is an animal laborans that exploits itself—and it does so voluntarily, without external constraints. It is predator and prey at once. The self in the strong sense of the word, still represents an immunological category. However, depression eludes all immunological schemes. It erupts at the moment when the achievement-subject is no longer able to be able [nicht mehr können kann]. First and foremost, depression is creative fatigue and exhausted ability [Schaffens- und Könnensmüdigkeit].

The complaint of the depressive individual, “Nothing is possible,” can only occur in a society that thinks, “Nothing is impossible.” No-longer-being-able-to-be-able leads to destructive self-reproach and auto-aggression. The achievement-subject finds itself fighting with itself. The depressive has been wounded by internalized war. Depression is the sickness of a society that suffers from excessive positivity. It reflects a humanity waging war on itself.

The achievement-subject stands free from any external instance of domination [Herrschaftsinstanz] forcing it to work, much less exploiting it. It is lord and master of itself. Thus, it is subject to no one—or, as the case may be, only to itself. It differs from the obedience-subject on this score. However, the disappearance of domination does not entail freedom. Instead, it makes freedom and constraint coincide. Thus, the achievement -subject gives itself over to compulsive freedom—that is, to the free constraint of maximizing achievement. Excess work and performance escalate into auto-exploitation. This is more efficient than allo-exploitation, for the feeling of freedom attends it. The exploiter is simultaneously the exploited. Perpetrator and victim can no longer be distinguished. Such self-referentiality produces a paradoxical freedom that abruptly switches over into violence because of the compulsive structures dwelling within it. The psychic indispositions of achievement society are pathological manifestations of such a paradoxical freedom.

Byung-Chul Han, The Burnout Society

Andrei Tarkovsky, Andrei Rublev

 

“…art must must carry man’s craving for the ideal, must be an expression of his reaching out towards it; that art must give man hope and faith. And the more hopeless the world in the artist’s version, the more clearly perhaps must we see the ideal that stands in opposition – otherwise life becomes impossible! Art symbolises the meaning of our existence.”
Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time

Franz Kafka, Prometej

O Prometeju govore četiri legende: Prema prvoj, jer je bogove izdao ljudima, prikovan je na Kavkazu i bogovi poslaše orlove da mu kljucaju jetra, koja bi svaki put iznova  narasla. Prema drugoj, Prometej se pred oštrim kljunovima, što ga kljucahu i nanošahu mu bol, sve jače utiskivao u stijenu, sve dok s njome nije postao jedno. Prema trećoj, njegova izdaja pala je tijekom stoljeća u zaborav; bogovi je zaboraviše, orlovi je zaboraviše, a zaboravi je i sâm. Prema četvrtoj, svi se umoriše od kazne koja postade bezrazložna. Bogovi se umoriše, orlovi se umoriše, rana se umorno zatvori. Preostade samo još neobjašnjivo stjenovito gorje. – Legenda pokušava objasniti neobjašnjivo. A kako legenda niče iz temelja istine, ona nužno mora završiti u neobjašnjivom.

(1918.)

3.50.

Tiho sam. Sjedim mirno za stolom i slušam, Franz, ali ne otvara mi se svijet kako si bio rekao. Možda jer je već konačno skroz otvorena ta pukotina u bezvremenost. Približili smo udaljenosti a vrijeme odmakli u beskonačnost. Nema više vremena, Franz. Nema više obećanja trajanja, nema više supstancije. Nakon katastrofe obično sve postane neobjašnjivo tiho, osim ptica koje i daje pjevaju. Kavezi, čekajući ptice, Franz. Tiho sam i osluškujem kako se u vremenu i s vremenom sve udaljava od mene. Umjetnik u gladovanju, Franz. Sanjao sam je kako se sjedinjujemo i postajemo jedno. Na kraju je nju nekako zahvatio požar, Franz. Kažeš postoji cilj ali nema puta. Ono što zovemo putom jest oklijevanje. I žališ se na tu mirnoću, na beznadnost te mirnoće, zid Dobrog. Na zaborav i umor. I tišinu sirena, koju nitko još nije uspio izbjeći. I jedna rana koja se umorno zatvara.

3.49.

Najgore što se može dogoditi ovisniku jest da dobije ono što želi.

3.48.

 

Zvijeri u sebi se pristupa pametno, mirno i staloženo. Sa pripremljenim planom akcije. Unaprijed  šahovski simuliran svaki njegov potez i pripremljen odgovor. Ako počne lajati, primirit se. Ako se počne pretvarati, govori istinu. Ako izbjegava tvoj pogled, privuci mu pažnju… Ako si dovoljno dugo, mirno i strpljivo prisutan kraj njega, primirit će se. Tada ga možeš odvezati i pustiti.

No da bi se uopće suočio sa Zvijeri u sebi, prvo moraš napustiti Dijete u sebi, koliko god kmečilo i plakalo.

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Izrječiti se iz Stvari - poezija

a human being is never what he is but the self he seeks

roškofrenija

a human being is never what he is but the self he seeks

Sve ostalo su priče

a human being is never what he is but the self he seeks

six glasses of water

I could afford to be good, kind, generous, loyal and so forth, since I was free of envy. Envy was the one thing I was never a victim of.