By E. M. Cioran, Richard Howard, Eugene Thacker
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Extra resources for Drawn and Quartered
Cast to earth in order to learn how to choose, he was condemned to action, to risk, and was apt for it only insofar as he stifled the spectator in himself. Heaven alone permits neutrality to a certain point, while history, quite the contrary, appears to be the punishment of those who, before their incarnation, had found no reason to join one camp rather than another. We realize why human beings are so eager to espouse causes, to club together, to rally round a truth. Around what kind of truth? In later Buddhism, especially in the Madya-mika school, emphasis is placed on the radical opposition between real truth or paramartha, attribute of the delivered, and ordinary truth or samvriti, “veiled” truth or more exactly “truth of error,” privilege or curse of the nonliberated.
It will be objected. Undeniably they exist, though serenity is but a brilliant nightmare, no more than a Calvary that has come off. Impossible to concede that the tragic is the individual’s lot, and not that of history. Far from escaping it, history is subject to the tragic and marked by it even more than the tragic hero himself, the way it will come out being at the center of the curiosity it provokes. We are fascinated by history because we know by instinct what surprises lie in wait for it, and what splendid issue it offers to apprehension .
We should then have been dispensed from taking part in it, enduring it. What is the good of adding anything at all to what is or seems to be? History, a futile Odyssey, has no excuse, and on occasion we are tempted to inculpate art itself, however imperious the need from which it emanates. To produce is accessory; what matters is to draw on one’s own depths, to be oneself in a total fashion, without stooping to any form of expression. To have built great cathedrals derives from the same error as to have waged great battles.
Drawn and Quartered by E. M. Cioran, Richard Howard, Eugene Thacker