150 Quotes by Emil Cioran

Emil Cioran, a Romanian-French philosopher and essayist, is known for his profound explorations of existential despair, nihilism, and the human condition. His writings, which often grapple with the futility of existence and the inevitability of suffering, delve into themes of solitude, absurdity, and the complexities of consciousness.

Cioran's philosophical stance, influenced by existentialism and pessimism, offers a deep and provocative examination of the darker aspects of life and the challenges of finding meaning in an uncertain world. His distinctive style and his ability to articulate the depths of human anguish have earned him a place among the notable philosophers of the 20th century, leaving readers with a profound sense of contemplation about the nature of existence.

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Emil Cioran Quotes

We are all geniuses when we dream. (Meaning)

Tears do not burn except in solitude. (Quote Meaning)

Melancholy: an appetite no misery satisfies. (Meaning)

We cannot be normal and alive at the same time. (Quote Meaning)

Ennui is the echo in us of time tearing itself apart. (Meaning)

To have committed every crime but that of being a father. (Quote Meaning)

To venture upon an undertaking of any kind, even the most insignificant, is to sacrifice to envy. (Meaning)

Negation is the mind's first freedom, yet a negative habit is fruitful only so long as we exert ourselves to overcome it, adapt it to our needs; once acquired it can imprison us. (Quote Meaning)

We are all deep in a hell each moment of which is a miracle. (Meaning)

When you have understood that nothing is, that things do not even deserve the status of appearances, you no longer need to be saved, you are saved, and miserable forever. (Quote Meaning)

You are done for - a living dead man - not when you stop loving but stop hating. Hatred preserves: in it, in its chemistry, resides the mystery of life. (Meaning)

Every thought derives from a thwarted sensation. (Quote Meaning)

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Speech and silence. We feel safer with a madman who talks than with one who cannot open his mouth. (Meaning)

Tyranny destroys or strengthens the individual. (Quote Meaning)

The universal view melts things into a blur. (Meaning)

Do I look like someone who has something to do here on earth? —That's what I'd like to answer the busybodies who inquire into my activities.

By all evidence we are in the world to do nothing. (Quote Meaning)

Our first intuitions are the true ones.

The fact that life has no meaning is a reason to live - moreover, the only one.

The only way of enduring one disaster after the next is to love the very idea of disaster: if we succeed, there are no further surprises, we are superior to whatever occurs, we are invincible victims.

Only optimists commit suicide, optimists who no longer succeed at being optimists. The others, having no reason to live, why would they have any to die?

Chaos is rejecting all you have learned, chaos is being yourself. (Meaning)

The more one has suffered, the less one demands. To protest is a sign one has traversed no hell.

Paradise was unendurable, otherwise the first man would have adapted to it; this world is no less so, since here we regret paradise or anticipate another one. What to do? Where to go? Do nothing and go nowhere, easy enough.

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How important can it be that I suffer and think? My presence in this world will disturb a few tranquil lives and will unsettle the unconscious and pleasant naiveté of others.

Death makes no sense except to people who have passionately loved life. How can one die without having something to part from? Detachment is a negation of both life and death. Whoever has overcome his fear of death has also triumphed over life. For life is nothing but another word for this fear.

Better to be an animal than a man, an insect than an animal, a plant than an insect, and so on. Salvation? Whatever diminishes the kingdom of consciousness and compromises its supremacy.

Trees are massacred, houses go up — faces, faces everywhere. Man is spreading. Man is the cancer of the earth.

Ideas should be neutral. But man animates them with his passions and folly. Impure and turned into beliefs, they take on the appearance of reality. The passage from logic is consummated. Thus are born ideologies, doctrines, and bloody farce.

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? (Quote Meaning)

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

Life creates itself in delirium and is undone in ennui.

Since all life is futility, then the decision to exist must be the most irrational of all.

It is not worth the bother of killing yourself, since you always kill yourself too late. (Meaning)

What do you do from morning to night? I endure myself.

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

Not to be born is undoubtedly the best plan of all. Unfortunately, it is within no one's reach. (Quote Meaning)

How good would it be if one could die by throwing oneself into an infinite void.

The need for novelty is the characteristic of an alienated gorilla.

I would like to explode, flow, crumble into dust, and my disintegration would be my masterpiece.

How easy it is to be "deep": all you have to do is let yourself sink into your own flaws.

History is nothing but a procession of false Absolutes, a series of temples raised to pretexts, a degradation of the mind before the Improbable.

Democracy: a festival of mediocrity.

No one recovers from the disease of being born, a deadly wound if there ever was one. (Meaning)

To accomplish nothing and die of the strain

To live in any sense of the word is to reject others; to accept them, one must renounce, do oneself violence.

I feel completely detached from any country, any group. I am a metaphysically displaced person

It is because we are all impostors that we endure each other. The man who does not consent to lie will see the earth shrink under his feet: we are biologically obliged to the false

The obsession with suicide is characteristic of the man who can neither live nor die, and whose attention never swerves from this double impossibility. (Quote Meaning)

Sometimes I wish I were a cannibal – less for the pleasure of eating someone than for the pleasure of vomiting him.

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

No matter which way we go, it is no better than any other. It is all the same whether you achieve something or not, have faith or not, just as it is all the same whether you cry or remain silent.

I never met one interesting mind that was not richly endowed with inadmissible deficiencies.

Only those moments count, when the desire to remain by yourself is so powerful that you'd prefer to blow your brains out than exchange a word with someone.

Man starts over again everyday, in spite of all he knows, against all he knows. (Meaning)

We would not be interested in human beings if we did not have the hope of someday meeting someone worse off than ourselves.

Nothing sweeter than to drag oneself along behind events; and nothing more reasonable. But without a strong dose of madness, no initiative, no enterprise, no gesture. Reason: the rust of our vitality. It is the madman in us who forces us to adventure; once he abandons us, we are lost; everything depends on him, even our vegetative life; it is he who invites us, who obliges us to breathe, and it is also he who forces our blood to venture through our veins. Once he withdraws, we are alone indeed! We cannot be normal and alive at the same time.

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.

Old age, after all, is merely the punishment for having lived.

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

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

Life inspires more dread than death - it is life which is the great unknown.

Much more than our other needs and endeavors, it is sexuality that puts us on an even footing with our kind: the more we practice it, the more we become like everyone else: it is in the performance of a reputedly bestial function that we prove our status as citizens: nothing is more public than the sexual act.

A decadent civilization compromises with its disease, cherishes the virus infecting it, loses its self-respect.

I'm simply an accident. Why take it all so seriously?

To possess a high degree of consciousness, to be always aware of yourself in relation to the world, to live in the permanent tension of knowledge, means to be lost for life.

My mission is to kill time, and time's to kill me in its turn. How comfortable one is among murderers.

Only one thing matters: learning to be the loser.

I live only because it is in my power to die when I choose to: without the idea of suicide, I'd have killed myself right away.

There was a time when time did not yet exist.

If we manage to last in spite of everything, it is because our infirmities are so many and so contradictory that they cancel each other out.

The desire to die was my one and only concern; to it I have sacrificed everything, even death.

The only free mind is one that, pure of all intimacy with beings or objects, plies its own vacuity.

To Live signifies to believe and hope - to lie and to lie to oneself.

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

Consciousness is much more than the thorn, it is the dagger in the flesh. (Quote Meaning)

Show me one thing here on earth which has begun well and not ended badly. The proudest palpitations are engulfed in a sewer, where they cease throbbing, as though having reached their natural term: this downfall constitutes the heart's drama and the negative meaning of history.

Anyone can escape into sleep, we are all geniuses when we dream, the butcher's the poet's equal there. (Meaning)

Everything is pathology, except for indifference. (Quote Meaning)

Psychoanalysis is a technique we practice at our cost; psychoanalysis degrades our risks, our dangers, our depths; it strips us of our impurities, of all that made us curious about ourselves.

I don’t understand why we must do things in this world, why we must have friends and aspirations, hopes and dreams. Wouldn’t it be better to retreat to a faraway corner of the world, where all its noise and complications would be heard no more? Then we could renounce culture and ambitions; we would lose everything and gain nothing; for what is there to be gained from this world?

As long as one believes in philosophy, one is healthy; sickness begins when one starts to think.

Whenever I happen to be in a city of any size, I marvel that riots do not break out everyday: Massacres, unspeakable carnage, a doomsday chaos. How can so many human beings coexist in a space so confined without hating each other to death?

Between Ennui and Ecstasy unwinds our whole experience of time.

We rightly scorn those who have no made use of their defects, who have not exploited their deficiencies, and have not been enriched by their losses, as we despise any man who does not suffer at being a man or simply at being. Hence no graver insult can be inflicted than to call someone 'happy', no greater flattery than to grant him a 'vein of melancholy'... This is because gaiety is link to no important action and because, except for the mad, no one laughs when he is alone.

What would be left of our tragedies if an insect were to present us his? (Meaning)

A great step forward was made the day men understood that in order to torment one another more efficiently they would have to gather together, to organize themselves into a society

A distant enemy is always preferable to one at the gate.

A man who fears ridicule will never go far, for good or ill: he remains on this side of this talents, and even if he has genius, he is doomed to mediocrity.

However much I have frequented the mystics, deep down I have always sided with the Devil; unable to equal him in power, I have tried to be worthy of him, at least, in insolence, acrimony, arbitrariness and caprice.

By what aberration has suicide, the only truly normal action, become the attribute of the flawed?

I would like to go mad on one condition, namely, that I would become a happy madman, lively and always in a good mood, without any troubles and obsessions, laughing senselessly from morning to night.

Consciousness is nature's nightmare. (Quote Meaning)

He who hates himself is not humble. (Meaning)

The Art of Love: knowing how to combine the temperament of a vampire with the discretion of an anemone.

Existing is plagiarism.

When people come to me saying they want to kill themselves, I tell them, "What’s your rush? You can kill yourself any time you like. So calm down. Suicide is a positive act." And they do calm down.

If you're unlucky enough not to have alcoholic parents, it takes you a whole lifetime of intoxication to overcome the dead weight of their virtues.

Never to have occasion to take a position, to make up one's mind, or to define oneself - there is no wish I make more often.

The more we try to rest ourselves from our Egos, the deeper we sink into it.

We have convictions only if we have studied nothing thoroughly.

One hardly saves a world without ruling it.

I am like a broken puppet whose eyes have fallen inside.

If each of us were to confess his most secret desire, the one that inspires all his plans, all his actions, he would say: "I want to be praised."

What can be said, lacks reality. Only what fails to make its way into words exists and counts.

The true hero fights and dies in the name of his destiny, and not in the name of a belief.

To act is to anchor in the imminent future.

Beware of thinkers whose minds function only when they are fueled by a quotation.

Alone, even doing nothing, you do not waste your time. You do, almost always, in company. No encounter with yourself can be altogether sterile: Something necessarily emerges, even if only the hope of some day meeting yourself again.

The truly solitary being is not the man who is abandoned by men, but the man who suffers in their midst, who drags his desert through the marketplace and deploys his talents as a smiling leper, a mountebank of the irreparable.

Time is heavy sometimes; imagine how heavy eternity must be.

The source of our actions resides in an unconscious propensity to regard ourselves as the center, the cause, and the conclusion of time. Our reflexes and our pride transform into a planet the parcel of flesh and consciousness we are.

We are born to exist, not to know, to be, not to assert ourselves.

Does our ferocity not derive from the fact that our instincts are all too interested in other people? If we attended more to ourselves and became the center, the object of our murderous inclinations, the sum of our intolerances would diminish.

If we had the courage to confront the doubts we timidly conceive about ourselves, none of us would utter an 'I' without shame.

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

Humanity adores only those who cause it to perish.

Torment, for some men, is a need, an appetite, and an accomplishment.

To read is to let someone else work for you - the most delicate form of exploitation.

Try to be free: you will die of hunger.

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.

A golden rule: to leave an incomplete image of oneself.

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

Where are my sensations? They have melted into... me, and what is this me, this self, but the sum of these evaporated sensations?

If truth were not boring, science would have done away with God long ago. But God as well as the saints is a means to escape the dull banality of truth.

Anyone who speaks in the name of others is always an impostor.

What does the future, that half of time, matter to the man who is infatuated with eternity?

I don’t understand how people can believe in God, even when I myself think of him everyday.

One is and remains a slave as long as one is not cured of hoping.

A civilization begins to decline the moment Life becomes its sole obsession.

We inhabit a language rather than a country. (Quote Meaning)

What is that one crucifixion compared to the daily kind any insomniac endures? (Meaning)

Society: an inferno of saviors!

For you who no longer possess it, freedom is everything, for us who do, it is merely an illusion.

What surrounds us we endure better for giving it a name - and moving on.

When every man has realized that his birth is a defeat, existence, endurable at last, will seem like the day after a surrender, like the relief and the repose of the conquered.

What are you waiting for in order to give up? (Quote Meaning)

No human beings more dangerous than those who have suffered for a belief: the great persecutors are recruited from the martyrs not quite beheaded. Far from diminishing the appetite for power, suffering exasperates it.

Far from diminishing the appetite for power, suffering exasperates it.

Knowledge, having irritated and stimulated our appetite for power, will lead us inexorably to our ruin.

Nothing proves that we are more than nothing.

After having struggled madly to solve all problems, after having suffered on the heights of despair, in the supreme hour of revelation, you will find that the only answer, the only reality, is silence.

Shame on the man who goes to his grave escorted by the miserable hopes that have kept him alive.

Wisdom disguises our wounds; it teaches us how to bleed in secret.

Utopia is a mixture of childish rationalism and secularized angelism.

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

What every man who loves his country hopes for in his inmost heart: the suppression of half his compatriots.

Each time I fail to think about death, I have the impression of cheating, of deceiving someone in me.

There is not much difference between a mortal man and a dying man. The absurdity of making plans is only slightly more obvious in the second case.

It is enough for me to hear someone talk sincerely about ideals, about the future, about philosophy, to hear him say “we" with a certain inflection of assurance, to hear him invoke "others" and regard himself as their interpreter - for me to consider him my enemy.

Transmitting one's flaws [through procreation] to someone else is a crime. I could never consent to give life to someone who would inherent my ailments.

We dread the future only when we are not sure we can kill ourselves when we want to.

What pride to discover that nothing belongs to you - what a revelation.

All people see fires, storms, explosions, or landscapes; but how many feel the flames, the lightnings, the whirlwinds, or the harmony? How many have an inner beauty that tinges their melancholy?

The refutation of suicide: is it not inelegant to abandon a world which has so willingly put itself at the service of our melancholy?

Only superficial minds approach an idea with delicacy.

All that shimmers on the surface of the world, all that we call interesting, is the fruit of ignorance and inebriation.

If a man has not, by the time he is thirty, yielded to the fascination of every form of extremism — I don't know whether he is to be admired or scorned, regarded as a saint or a corpse.

Think of God and not religion, of ecstasy and not mysticism. The difference between the theoretician of faith and the believer is as great as between the psychiatrist and the psychotic.

By all evidence we are in the world to do nothing; but instead of nonchalantly promenading our own corruption, we exude our sweat and grow winded upon the fetid air.

There is only one thing worse than boredom, and that is the fear of boredom.

Between the demand to be clear and the temptation to be obscure, impossible to decide which deserves more respect.

― Emil Cioran Quotes

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