Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Selections from E.M. Cioran (1911-1995)
As art sinks into paralysis, artists multiply. This anomaly ceases to be one if we realize that art, on its way to exhaustion, has become both impossible and easy.
What will be the physiognomy of painting, of poetry, of music ,in a hundred years? No one can tell. As after the fall of Athens, of Rome, a long pause will intervene, caused by the exhaustion of consciousness itself. Humanity, to rejoin the past, must invent a second naiveté, without which the arts can never begin again.
When modes of expression are worn out, art tends toward non-sense, toward a private and incommunicable universe. An intelligble shudder, whether in painting, in music, or in poetry, strikes us, and rightly, as vulgar or out-of-date. The public will soon disappear; art will follow shortly. A civilization which began with the cathedrals has to end with the hermeticism of schizophrenia.
A work is finished when we can no longer improve it, though we know it to be inadequate and incomplete. We are so over taxed by it that we no longer have the power to add a single comma, however indispensable. What determines the degree to which a work is done is not a requirement of art or of truth, it is exhaustion and, even more, disgust.
Only unfinished - because unfinishable - works prompt us to speculate about the essence of art.
What can be said, lacks reality. Only what fails to make its way into words exists and counts.
There is value only in that which bursts forth from inspiration, which springs up from the irrational depths of our being, from the secret center of subjectivity. The fruit of labor, effort, and endeavor has no value, and the offspring of intelligence is sterile and uninteresting. I delight in the barbaric and spontaneous elan of inspiration, effervescent spiritual states, essential lyricism, and inner tension - these things make inspiration the only reality of creation.
I have no ideas, only obsessions. Anybody can have ideas. Ideas have never caused anybody's downfall.