December 30, 2017

Today's Kindle off ramp: "CONSCIOUSNESS IS NATURE’S NIGHTMARE."

I told you how I love reading a book in Kindle because words and phrases are like signs for off ramps, and you can take them anytime you want. Highlight the text and make it a Google search and you're out of the main thing and poking around the side roads.

You might remember that I was reading the David Foster Wallace story "The Suffering Channel" when I took an off ramp marked "squunched."

Well, I am still trying to get to the end of the highway called "The Suffering Channel," but today I took the off ramp at "CONSCIOUSNESS IS NATURE’S NIGHTMARE" — all caps in the original — which was said to be the "Registered motto of Chicago IL’s O Verily Productions."

I thought what a great aphorism and wondered what people had said about that. The first thing I saw was a song (from 2016) with that title by "a certain especially bizarre avant-garde black metal band: one of the most prolific one-man projects in metal, Jute Gyte." (What is "black metal"?)

I did not slow down for that, but the second hit, "Emil Cioran - Wikiquote"...
... drew me in for hours. "Emil Cioran (8 April 1911 – 20 June 1995) was a Romanian philosopher and essayist, who published works in both Romanian and French." The corporate motto from the David Foster Wallace story — "Consciousness is nature's nightmare" — began as an aphorism in Cioran's "Tears and Saints" (1937).

What a phenomenal collection of aphorisms on this page!

"One of the greatest delusions of the average man is to forget that life is death's prisoner." That's from "On the Heights of Despair" (1934).
"What we want is not freedom but its appearances. It is for these simulacra that man has always striven. And since freedom, as has been said, is no more than a sensation, what difference is there between being free and believing ourselves free?"

"I am displeased with everything. If they made me God, I would immediately resign."

"Read day and night, devour books—these sleeping pills—not to know but to forget! Through books you can retrace your way back to the origins of spleen, discarding history and its illusions."

Through Kindle books you can retrace your way back to the origin of nature's nightmare, Emil Cioran.

"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."

"Only the idiot is equipped to breathe."

I was not finding this depressing but actually quite hilarious, though I did worry about getting infected with whatever might have caused David Foster Wallace to kill himself. But:

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

I was imagining becoming a standup comedian using just Cioran's aphorisms: "Only optimists commit suicide, the optimists who can no longer be...optimists. The others, having no reason to live, why should they have any to die?"

You'd need the right costume. The right demeanor. Timing. Etc.

But then I was reading Cioran's Wikipedia page and got to this:
In 1933 [when Cioran was 22], he received a scholarship to the University of Berlin... While in Berlin, he became interested in the policies of the Nazi regime, contributed a column to Vremea dealing with the topic (in which Cioran confessed that "there is no present-day politician that I see as more sympathetic and admirable than Hitler," while expressing his approval for the Night of the Long Knives—"what has humanity lost if the lives of a few imbeciles were taken")....
He relocated to Paris, and he seems to have renounced these ideas later (but who wouldn't?!). His obituary in the NYT makes no mention of Nazism (but then it calls him a "novelist" and has to append a correction to say he never wrote a novel). Was he evil? "Mr. Cioran lived reclusively in a simple Left Bank apartment, frequenting the area around the Luxembourg Gardens and avoiding the company of other literary figures." He lived to be 84, you might want to know.

I'd like to take the aphorisms for whatever they are. The text speaks for itself.

"My mission is to see things as they are. Exactly the contrary of a mission."

27 comments:

madAsHell said...

Gematria.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm just going to assume that's the name of a black metal group.

madAsHell said...

My assumption would be a new STD, but it is a Jewish numbering system. They assign numeric values to letters, words, and phrases. Sentences of similar value are thought to be related.

It just sounds so similar to your pursuit of squunch.

madAsHell said...

....and Google assigns values, and orders the list of the most relevant phrases.

Dickin'Bimbos@Home said...

CiNN, death metal or hip hop, for sure.

YoungHegelian said...

In 1933 [when Cioran was 22], he received a scholarship to the University of Berlin... While in Berlin, he became interested in the policies of the Nazi regime, contributed a column to Vremea dealing with the topic (in which Cioran confessed that "there is no present-day politician that I see as more sympathetic and admirable than Hitler,"

In his support of National Socialism, Cioran was just going along with the tide in post-WWI Roumania, including such movements as The Iron Guard, & the Antonescu government in general. Romania was an ally of Nazi Germany in WWII. Politically, it was far national right for quite some time before 1940, but, in 1940, Stalin's Red Army helped itself not only to half of Poland, but to Roumania's provinces of Bessarabia & Northern Bukovina for the sheer heck of it (the two countries were not at war). Stalin's imperialistic stupidity immediately made every country in Eastern Europe not yet under Soviet rule an ally of Hitler out of self-preservation, if for no other reason.

There's something about far right wing ideologies that let grumpy, life-weary guys see themselves as moral warriors, soldiering on bravely against the rising tide of mediocrity. Add to that the standard dosage of Eastern European general cultural piss & vinegar, & you come up with lots of brilliant guys who are best watched from a distance.

daskol said...

Believe you're laughing at the gloomy Romanian, not with.

James K said...

"There's something about far right wing ideologies that let grumpy, life-weary guys see themselves as moral warriors, soldiering on bravely against the rising tide of mediocrity."

Ok, but remind me how Nazism is "right wing"? Not biting.

YoungHegelian said...

@James,

Ok, but remind me how Nazism is "right wing"? Not biting.

I'm sorry, but this is one of the most tiresome of historical tropes on the modern American Right. Nazism certainly isn't leftist, that's for sure. An ideology based on racial struggle isn't the same as a Marxist ideology of class struggle.

Both the Right & the Left just seem to go brain dead on the question of "Socialism". All socialism is is the control and/or ownership of the means of production by the state. The nature of that state is irrelevant.

In 1932, among European countries, the country with the greatest state ownership was the USSR. The second was Fascist Italy. Both were "socialist". One was right wing, the other left. Unless, of course, you just enjoy legislating language as a way of proposing arguments.

zipity said...

Hi from beautiful Fargo, ND. High temp today was -17F. Overnight low is -27F with a -43F wind chill.

Why do we live here? My wife will only live someplace where once a year, Mother Nature kills ALL the bugs.

traditionalguy said...

I once represented a famous cancer researcher/MD that published cutting edge science. It had gotten him in trouble with the Medical Establishment who suspected he was trying new stuff they did not know. The other Doctors had dropped a dime on him to the Federal DA in Atlanta who then worked up imaginary crimes to charge him with that closed down his business in a big PR campaign that he had probably used poisons on patients.

In the end the Feds dropped charges for a release from him of a False Prosecution suit and pleading NOLO to a misdemeanor on Billing Codes for Medicare, and his paying a made up fine. The Criminal Defense lawyer's fees he had to pay were the real weapons used to destroy him. He was a short Indian Hindoo, as many Doctors are around here.

I say all that to say we became friends through years of dealing with his legal problems. After seeing life and death his entire career, and losing nearly everthing in the end, he still kept up a good attitude. Both his kids were successful Doctors and they would take care of him financially. He would joke, " You know God always wins in the end...we all die."

David said...

So is death. Quite the paradox.

James K said...

I'm sorry, but this is one of the most tiresome of historical tropes on the modern American Right. Nazism certainly isn't leftist, that's for sure. An ideology based on racial struggle isn't the same as a Marxist ideology of class struggle.

Ok, so you have no actual answer. Just confirming. I wasn't claiming it was leftism. Insisting on a right-left label is what is actually tiresome.

Mark said...

I'm sorry, YH, but you're going to have to do a better job of explanation than that. Communism (international socialism), Nazism (national socialism), and Fascism are all variations on a theme, not opposite extremes on a scale. And an ideology based on racial struggle or the superiority of a given race (nation) is not an idea of the "right," at least to the extent that "conservative" in the modern-day American sense is "right."

traditionalguy said...

As for Nazis being right wing socialists or Communist socialists, that is a useless argument. They are the same at the Murder level. Both want to murder nearly everybody else for some ideology excuse. Then they live as Kings.

It's the murder and steal, stupid. The British Empire was a Murder and Steal system once too. That is why Washington and Jackson knowing that fought them to the death.

n.n said...

Nazism is certainly not rightist. At least not by American standards. They most closely match the left in that they choose the state over personal, color over character, congruence over principle, Choice over life. They also have a history of carrying out social justice adventures (e.g. elective wars), and indulging in redistributive change schemes (e.g. too much, you didn't build that). The left is not limited or defined by class struggle. More often, it's a means to an end. Maybe they were transitional.

n.n said...

Actually, the left-right paradigm is unhelpful, and even distracting, because people and groups are defined by a constellation that does not map to a single dimension. At least not until they are forced. The problem is that the left has enjoyed political, social, and even economic progress through exploitation of this conventional spectrum. And, not surprisingly, people respond in kind, which is a mistake for two reasons. One, you will miss the tree for the forest. Two, it's a leverage game, which often creates a handicap when people operate within their persecutors' frame of reference. I wonder who was first to weaponize labels.

n.n said...

socialists or Communist socialists, that is a useless argument. They are the same at the Murder level

They are invariably supremacist ideologies, that fail, avoid, or ignore reconciliation of moral, natural, and personal imperatives. They also by design concentrate capital and control, which is a first-order forcing of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change with a stable of narcissistic leaders, and a dearth of competing interests to prevent them from running amuck. Perhaps diversity mitigates that risk, but not when it is class-based, which evolves as a class struggle (e.g. so-called "identity politics").

robother said...

I agree that Left/Right is analytically useless. Both fascism and communism are products of an Hegelian "Arc of History" philosophic-historical view. They reject the conservative view that political and cultural arrangements are the hard-won results of a long struggle against enduring risks inherent to the human condition.

A society is simply a work of art, a palette for the superior beings who are on the Right Side of History, who are endowed with the Will to remake society in accordance with their vision. Kulaks and Jews who stand in the way of historical necessity, whose presence offends the artistic unity of the envisioned masterpiece, are to be liquidated without any conscience.

Guildofcannonballs said...

YH is calling Japan (1940's) racist, correctly, if we wanna call the Japanese or Nazis distinct races united into something we then want to label as right-wing for some reason, so far, unstated.

In the first place I mean why would he label it right-wing, to start, if it wasn't, you know right-wing? Like, that's like, why he called them that, cause like that's what they are and junk.

See?

Mark said...

Even the language of red state / blue state and conservative / liberal have been perverted. Red is the self-styled color of the left. And today's conservative is most typically adheres to the principles of liberty, that is, today's conservative is more properly a classical liberal, although there are also classical conservatives who call themselves conservative now.

Richard Dolan said...

A good aphorism is hard to come by, yet this fellow seems to have had a gift for the,. I remember a philosophy seminar in college, where one of the assignments was to summarize a philosopher's key insight on a postcard. Much harder than you might think, if you take it seriously. The professor certainly did.

Ron said...

I'm getting a Schoepenhaurian Borscht Belt vibe with this guy...

"Take My Life. Please!"

Ron said...

You'd lose a few friends if you were in the "Night of The Long Knives" Fan Club... wonder if they do cosplay?

n.n said...

Nature willed consciousness, to reproduce, renovate, and innovate.

Jupiter said...

YoungHegelian said...

"I'm sorry, but this is one of the most tiresome of historical tropes on the modern American Right. Nazism certainly isn't leftist, that's for sure. An ideology based on racial struggle isn't the same as a Marxist ideology of class struggle."

YH, the Z in NAZI is for Zocialism. The "modern American Right" didn't put it there, Hitler did. The fact that some Socialists were International Socialists does not mean that the National Socialists were not Socialists. It simply means that an ideology that justifies seizing control of everything of value in the name of The People has a lot of curb appeal. Are you going to argue that BLM is not Leftist, because the B stands for Black? All Socialists act in the name of The People. The question is, which People?

D. B. Light said...

That's the problem with Kindle -- off ramps. Sometimes it takes several weeks to read a nonfiction book because I spend so much time exploring side streets. Come to think of it, though, that's really not a problem -- actually it creates a much more dense learning experience.