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Episode #156 ... Emil Cioran part 2 - Failure and Suicide

2021-08-09 | 🔗

Today we continue talking about Cioran. 

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hello, everyone, I'm Stephen West. This is philosophize this thank you to everyone in their generosity unpatriotic. Thank you also to the people doing direct contributions and getting March the website it philosophize this dot org. Today's episode is part two on the work of a meal Tehran. I hope you'll have the show today so which IRAN like to do after clocked out for the day when its feet hurt his back, hurt his eyes were tight. When you finally got home after a long day of navigating the sheer absurdity and meaninglessness Absolutely everything, but around like to do, is sit down at his desk and just write. The result of this was certainly plenty of books on the heights of despair. The trouble with being born a short history of decay, just to name a few
but one thing we have to clarify two people to truly understand the man behind this work. Is that his intention in writing? All of these things was never to give you answers. It was never to construct a narrative. It was never to write a story. He wasn't writing these. Are some long form, persuasive essayed, to try to get you to think the same way. He does not in fact, part of the beauty of Tehran as a writer. Is he really doesn't care? What you think about his writing? He would tons of awards riding in French, not even his first language rejected almost every one of you didn't care see. He was running for a different reason. On this particular day to day, he was riding for a personal reason. Writing to Tehran with something to be a practitioner of writing to him was the greatest form of therapy he ever came across in his life whenever he wrote something the intent behind it.
was always first to express something because, as he said, whenever you express something that you're feeling inside it instantly makes it far more bearable to live with. When you understand that this was ultimately his first priority and is writing, you can clearly see that writing to him was not about being in the New York Times. Writing to him was a matter of life and death. It was a way that he could work through tragedian life insomnia, which he struggled with horribly. It was a way to contend with the melancholy and read that we talk about last episode. Writing a book was, as he said, quote suicide postponed. So knowing all this about the guy, not a surprise at the stuffy generally chooses to write about, are gonna, be these taboo dark feeling. States that were not allowed to talk about and polite society also makes sense, but
right in fragments, you know, instead of following some cookie cutter plot art with a clear beginning, middle and end he's on building an argument for his way of seeing things piece by piece, he's just riding and writing beautifully for the record. Don't believe me just go to was page on Wiki quotas Half have day scrolling down reading all the quotable one liner city produced during his time here. But an important thing to note is that, because he's never limited by traditional literary formats, it becomes a bit of a good news, bad news situation for the reader, the bad news, is, if you're somebody foolish enough to try to nail him down and define him it's impossible, I mean
What kind of a more on what you have to be to try to make upon cast episode about this guy, but on the flip side, it's good news. If you're looking for an unbridled exploration of the absurdity of existence, the best anyone can ever do is break down his fragments into general themes, concepts that he visits and revisits over multiple works and always seems to have something new to say about them. Things like melancholy, dread, depression but, more importantly, the one's going to focus on today. Failure and suicide now, it should be said even trying to deconstruct his thought in the themes is a losing battle as well. He often completely contradicts himself in his work even within the same book, sometimes he'll, say one thing and then something almost diametrically opposed to what a few pages later. We should all understand, though, that once again running was ultimately therapeutic to Tehran, not instructive. When someone called amount for contradicting himself he'd be like. Who cares that wasn't the point
writing anyway. I wasn't on some crusade to indoctrinate you and a way of thinking about things to Tehran. Contradicting yourself is just a part of being an honest person who was still alive learning growing. And participating in life, and it may even be an indicator that you're more tapped into the true absurdity of reality. Following this general theme, it won't come as a surprise that Tehran saw in its biggest failures elements of beauty and success and in his biggest successes in winning every award widespread critical acclaim. He often found a way to see these things as failures, because, if we're just looking at the theme of failure that he's fascinated him when doing his work, what you might come away with after having read his work
is a completely different perspective about how you might interact with failure in your life. Seek failure is yet another example of one of these taboo subjects. We talk about last episode that we're not supposed to bring up in polite conversation like if you're at a party- and he saw somebody the unseen in years, but you knew recently they try to open up a vague store and it failed miserably. How messed up would it be free to lead the conversation with pay? So whatever happened to that rape store yeah, you sell a lotta mango flavoured smoke. These days has a vapor portfolio. Do I know you don't say that to some one you're not supposed to ask people about their failures at its root, its intrusive we're supposed to only talk about nice things at a party but which IRAN but say his picture, that exact same party say it's a.
Five year high school reunions, who do you want to talk to more really, the guy that married his high school sweetheart, went to college for accounting or something and everything worked out exactly the way you planned it. When you wrote that note in your yearbook on the last day of school, or do you want to talk to the person that failed? Do you want to talk to somebody that wanted to become an engineer, but it backfired? So if they found themselves hopeless, in debt and out of desperation they took a job at a meat packing plant in Germany and once again, they failed miserably at packing. Meet like they did is couldn't find a way to get the bologna into the container so out of further desperation, they try to become a yoga struck but here's the thing they don't know anything about yoga. They just tell people are due cart, wheels and dance around with ribbons and stuff. When you consider all that this person went through at the end of the story, honestly, Tehran would ask: who is the better conversation? Who would you rather talk to at that party? The failure or the
excess Tolstoy famously said, only opening line of Anna Karenina quote happy. Families are all alike. Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. End quote, both Tolstoy insurance or touching on similar themes. Here, people that are successful generally aim for the same things related to security, and that outcome is usually very predictable. They all ultimately look like the same person, but when you fail and fail spectacularly, sometimes it can be like an art project. The two gonna mind of its own? It can be chaos. There are so many more ways to fail than to succeed and its IRAN failures are just far more interesting and not to mention funny so What do we make such an ever to run from them or not talk about them? What would happen in theory if, instead of avoiding failure, we stared into it? How would that change? The way we make decisions and our life now tell me you're, probably thinking here.
I think, I see which runs gone with all this similar to last episode when he recommended that, instead of running from these inconvenient aspects of existence like dread or melancholy,. Instead of finding a clever rationalization that diffuses the power, these feelings have over us Jerome, recommends that we steer into them and embrace them because, for We know there are the most important part of the human experience. Who are we to negate any of them? Well, maybe he's doing the same thing here: what the concept of failure and that what is ultimately going to say is that we should embrace failure, because it's only through failure that we in the growing as people. Well, yes, that's part of it, but more accurately, it's a very small piece of what he is saying about, failing, Failure to children with something much bigger than something that can be distilled down into some self help maxim like that failure, but something that pervaded what it even is to be a human something that run so deep into our lives that you can almost see it at a metaphysical level. That is, if making metaphors
proclaims was really something to IRAN was interested in doing see. His go here wasn't rationally explained the universe through the lens of failure. His goal was to get us out of the silly holding pattern we're stuck and where we can talk about failure in polite society, and in doing so, we miss out on just how important a resource failure potentially is for us. So let's this case from the ground up at the level of metaphysics, member Tehran, muses and a tongue in cheek way that the world is messed up because
whenever amazing deity out there, this apparently responsible for all of it must have created it in a messed up way. God failed on this particular project. Humanity itself is a failed project, in other words, even before getting started on whatever project we decide to embark on in life were already at best building on top of a foundation of failure. Failure is written into the equation, but consider this even once we do decide how to spend our time in this life. Our relationship with failure is a very special one as the years go on, because failure has a special kind of omnipresence that other aspects of life. Just don't have see, friends and loved ones may come and go successes triumphs or temporary, but failure to Tehran failure sticks with you. Every failure is a scarlet letter that you carry around with you. People around you know about your past failures. They remember them and while they may not say anything,
the second being nice and going along with that societal taboo. Your collection of failures, as a companion the follows you no matter where you decide to move or how you decide to dress so weird around. My begin is by asking, since we know that our failures are a companion, that's going to stick around with us. Would you rather be friends with that companion? or enemies? Do you want failure to be an embarrassing acquaintance? They have to dance around talking about in conversations, or is it possible to make it a friend, a friend that you're proud of a friend that you draw inspiration Given that failure as such an integral part of this whole process, how do we not run from it around I should like our failures away with some story, but instead steer into it to do so is going to require us to completely rephrase the way we look at failure, and maybe the best place to start doing. That is to consider just how much IRAN thinks failure is responsible for the entire trajectory of the human species. Let me started
waiting here? Whenever anyone makes any important decision in life, they do so income the duration of failure. When you, side. What relationships you want your life when a scientist decides what experiments to run when a country decides their foreign policy, we all make these decisions doing our best to get to what we see as a successful outcome, but whenever you're Amy her success as a target. Your naturally trying to aim away from potential failures along the way. So in this way our level of comfort and familiarity around the concept of failure directly impacts any import decision we make in life even on the
full of nations and the global community when failure is something that we can talk about when failure is something we avoid reflecting on, will be dont fully understand what we're trying to avoid and why we are never able to aim for success as effectively as we otherwise could. Having a close relationship with failure, ironically, is one of the best places to be. If you want to succeed at anything because any universe, that's full of absurdity and devoid of meaning a failure, has the exact same exchange value as a success. Why would we throw out such a valuable resources at our disposal? Just like last episode, the answer this question that IRAN is a very simple and obvious one failing and recounting our failures makes us feel extremely uncomfortable, but in the end most of us three framing how we see. Failure on today's episode something Matthew to the bottom of his: what eggs
actually is so uncomfortable about acknowledging our failures. What part of it has to be that by acknowledging a failure, you are also simultaneously acknowledging at least a minor lack of self awareness written into every failure is a formula you wanted to do something you thought you were capable of doing it. You aimed for six, Yes, and then you were smacked in the face by reality when you hit some limitation of your abilities that caused you to fail. The point is you wanted to succeed, doesn't feel very good to be made aware that you're not good enough to do something, and it definitely does we'll go to be reminded of that fact are asked about it at a party much IRAN understands all this, but I think it's a hold on a second. Let me ask you something about failure. Whenever you fail at something, what is it that you always get from failure that you absolutely never get from success. One thing failure never fails to do is to give us an honest picture of who we actually are
Tehran says it well here, failure is quote always essential reveals to us ourselves permits us to see ourselves, as God sees us, whereas success distances us from what is most inward in ourselves, and indeed in everything, and quote, for example, here are some middle aged dude that, after work everyday dries down to the elementary school with his exercise? had banned on and he takes on all the fourth graters in a friendly game, a basketball he's posting em up rhythm, the ball from him. Blocking all their shots. Trash talking. This dude is a hundred and eighty three, no in basketball games against elementary school kids he's the best in the business, but here's the thing Lebron James, goes down to the very same elementary school? He too would be one hundred and eighty three uno against those kids. So if this was the we sample we had to go off of how anyone really know who the better basketball players, how can the men age dude ever truly know how good he is a basketball until he dares to channel himself enough to fail and see what
his limitations are. Failure in this way is one of the best friends you could ever possibly have failure is the gateway to truly knowing who you are not just whatever story, have up in your head about who you are. You may be a hundred and eighty three and know in life, because you ve never actually challenged yourself, lotta people there that think, really highly of their abilities with perfect batting averages. There are actually pretty lost when it comes. Where to go on the map of life, but really, even if you have the best compass in the world, how can you ever know how to get to where you want to go on the map. If you don't even know where you're starting from Tehran once said that its only quote in failure in the greatness of a catastrophe that you can know someone end quote, IRAN failure has a unique ability to show you exactly where you are right now in a way that success. Just can't do Gironde once said that he wanted to have a quote existence constantly transfigured by failure and quote transfigured, meaning to transform into something more beautiful or
Elevated see he truly soft failure in this positive white failure is the voice of reason that keeps us honest about who we really are. He said he actually aimed towards failure throughout his life and he wasn't beings casting here, because to be able to look back at a life that was frequently punctuated by failure. That says a lot about a person not that they were a failure, as some people might conclude, I mean to Tehran. Of course they were failures. We're all failures, know someone who lived a life with the law. Failures also lived a life where they were courageous enough to push themselves and go for it. They may have misjudged their abilities and aim to high at Times church, but at least they did something worse than being. A failure to Tehran is to be someone so terrified of failure that you sit around a never do anything with your life Sadly, though, this is where a lot of people end up, people develop a relationship with failure like some schoolyard bully. They live in fear of it avoided at all costs.
go out of their way to make sure they never crossed paths with it when they finally have to face it. They see the entire interaction is a negative, painful experience. There embarrassed to talk about it, so they never do. Member to Tehran being able to express something, makes it a little more bearable to deal with these people. Don't even have that is an option when it comes to their failures, their left to pretend an act as though their failures and this bully doesn't even exist, but just like last episode with melancholy and dread, Tehran is going to ask. Why does it have to be this way? What if we embraced failure so into it. Side, as beautiful, unique and interesting is surrounded. Imagine never being scared of failing at anything, not because you're dumber something, but because he saw failure as the only way to truly see how far you ve come since the last time. You failed you softly. Here as an opportunity to get a one on one personalize lesson for how to adjust your strategy for success. Next time you see failure not as something to avoid, but some of the only evidence that you're,
actually living a life where you're not just playing. Fourth graters in basketball all day long Tehran deeply admired people who were failures, sometimes calling them outright losers. Tehran grew up in Romania and at the time, he saw his country, is a prime example of absolute failure on the world stage. So when left Romania to go to school in Bucharest, yet a keen eye for people who he thought were complete failures and gravitated towards some endlessly fascinated by their lives. He said quote in Bucharest: I met lots of people, many interesting people, especially losers, who would show up at the cafe talking endlessly and doing nothing. I have to say that, for me, these were the most interesting people, their people who didn't, in all their lives but who otherwise were brilliant input to Tehran? Failure was if nothing else way more interesting than success. Every failure is like a runaway art projects and every person embodying failure was a painting that required explanation.
The artist Tehran embraced failure so much that he even lived his resembling a failure, even though he was far from it in actuality. He once said quote the big success of my life is that have managed to live without having a job? He also said I preferred to live like a parasite, rather than to destroy myself by keeping a job. He actually brag about being forty years old that here, still enrolled in school eating at the student cafeteria. He wore this image of failure around like a badge of honor, which actually It means something. Hemingway said once not about IRAN. Specifically, was speaking more generally. He basically said in a world where so many people want to wear the metals around in public, but they don't want to do the work to earn the metals and private here is Jerome a shining example, the opposite. Here's a guy whose work is getting widespread, critical acclaim award after award, and he rejects all of them
and instead chooses to live his life resembling a total failure? The overall point is this: to Tehran. Here is this massive concept? Failure and we're not even supposed to talk about it, we're supposed to be embarrassed, our failures and we could theoretically live a life, but we never actually try Anything and therefore never experience, failure the same way. We can rationalize away feelings of dread and melancholy, but to Tehran. Sometimes we need to push ourselves into existence. We need to reach in the areas where we can essentially fail just to make sure we know we're still moving in life and worst case, even if we fail. We at least know exactly who we truly are at this moment the trick than I guess is being able to realise that failure is not the worst case scenario. In many ways. Constant success would be the worse.
Quick aside, some of your probably wondering how someone so sold on the idea that the world is meaningless and absurd could ever even speak in terms of success and failure. How does he even decide what to spend his time on if there's no rule book to follow but consider this to RON with soda the key to the cause. He was so committed to the world being meaningless that he lived as other actually were meanings two things he lived in this way, just so that he can protest reality and undermine the design of whatever God created. This whole thing in theory, moving on, though, neither taboo subject that we're not supposed to talk about that fascinated around throughout his life is suicide and here's the thing, but I'm talking about all these Fortunate aspects of being a person and these solutions we conjure up to try to deal with them, doesn't take much creativity to arrive at what might seem like the ultimate solution to these problems to just in your life,
well sure on obviously realise this, and he didn't think this was the right answer for several reasons, but it should be said that, even after a rising at that position, it didn't stop him from continuing to reflect on suicide as yet another aspect of existence that has ever present that we are not supposed to talk about. He wants to ask no different than all the other forbidden subjects we touch on so far. What are we potentially missing out on by putting suicide into this forbidden category? And I think the best way to understand where to IRAN is coming from here to think about suicide not as something that is actionable. Try for a second not to think about suicide as actually something that you're gonna do as a last resort. Try to think about suicide in the third person almost from the outside. Try considering the idea of suicide is something that's available to everyone as an aspect of their existence, in other words,
suicide is an option. It's an option. Just like all the other options you haven't life like, for example, you have the option to drop and do twenty pushups right now. That is an option that's available to you. So Tehran might ask why don't you do it? Let's say you decide Do it then one things pressure, the only reason you're doing twenty pushups right now is because you have some goal that your aspiring to where twenty pushups actually gets you closer to that goal. Thinking about it in this way to IRAN would ask what problem is suicide really getting you closer to solving Tehran that that suicide was both a temporal problem and an error and understanding about life? These are the two main ways you can think of his argument against suicide, its temporial in the sense that What I mean he said it best that you always commit suicide too late, meaning that you ve already experienced the inherent pain of existence and you have idea what the future holds.
ending your life to solve a problem. That's already come and gone doesnt actually solved. The problem, the other more interesting argument he hasn't suicide- is that someone who consider suicide as a solution to a problem is almost always some one that has not thought through the nature of existence at a deep enough level. Yet there always still at some rest along the way of their long journey of understanding reality in coming to terms with it. Honestly, he said quote only optimists commit suicide. Optimist, who no longer succeed at being optimists. The others having no reason to live. Why would they have any to die and quote now, of course, here he is reference in the optimism we talked about last episode: and you are confronted by the sheer meaninglessness and absurdity of existence. Common tactic is to join one of these optimism, colts that allow you to feel connected to something higher than yourself
To run it's only someone immersed in one of these clever rationalizations of meaning that whatever even think to be disappointed when they confront how disinterested the universe truly is. A totally neutral party would be confronted with meaninglessness and they wouldn't have any reason to think one where the other about it once again, as he says, if your reason to commit suicide is that there's no reason to live? Why are you assuming that there's some reason to die now someone might respond back to that and say well there's tremendous suffering associated with continue. to live. Why not ended, but not only to suicide, not solve the problem of the suffering you ve already been through. I mean you're already at this point, this by saying that ending it as a good option. You are not being intellectually consistent, your claiming that the universe is entirely absurd And yet you're making value judgments that your suffering is something to avoid the employee.
And being there that the alleviation of that suffering would cut the legs out from your entire argument. Here's the point to some one truly tapped into the absurdity of things. Just as a failure has the same exchange value as a success. A moment of suffering has the same exchange value as a moment. bliss and just as feelings of dread and melancholy may be an absolutely crucial part of being a human being suffering may be something that grounds us in ways that we don't always fully understand, this is why, at any one moment you may choose to commit suicide? Tehran thinks you're, making both they temporial air and an air of understanding, because once again, you're always committing suicide too late.
and you are clearly still bringing a delusional type of optimism about what existence actually entails. No keep in mind. This argument is not supposed to be some catch all antidote to these feelings. This is just the beginning of his look at suicide as a concept and as a concept. This is a philosophical rebuttal, not necessarily a practical rebuttal at all. This is a philosophical rebuttal to using the option of suicide as an ultimate solution to a problem. Not work, and this is an important point to emphasise, because if you are truly one of these people, they could just steer into the meaninglessness of life without fail. Besides just your own interest in the subject matter. What reason would you really have to think about suicide at all so alive What to run says about suicide is most useful to one of these optimist we're a longer journey in coming to terms with the human condition and to these people, of which he was one
IRAN would say something along the lines of just never forget that you, too, are on a journey. its both tragic and hilarious at the same time. But you are a type of creature that seems to natural, We desire to seek meaning and right stories to make sense of things, and you are on a journey through an absurd round that is completely devoid of meaning. Once again, this would be funny if it wasn't so problematic to so many people, so maybe, as one of these people, you decide to attach yourself to one of these stories in rationalizations. You feel better for a while and you generally get through life pretty good, but every once in a while, you had a rough patch word. The reality of the universe, isn't something that's. It easily brushed under the rug with a bedtime story. Maybe you start to entertain the idea that suicide is an option because, what's the point and maybe his argument of while, what's the point of suicide and a meaningless world, maybe that's just not compelling. Do you, I think what he might begin with his to say. Ok,
and what's the rush on it, truly though suicide may be an option sure but explained why it such a pressing option right this. Second, why does it need to be done right now, once again think of suicide third person. Think of it as an idea or an option, that's available to practically every human being. Has the opportunity to exist? Ok, when starting from this impersonal place terrain began to think of suicide as a concept that he thought was much more connected to freedom than to any sort of last. Ditch effort to in suffering in a moment of pain. Terrain once said quote but really saved me was the idea of suicide. Without the idea of suicide, I would have surely killed myself and quote see. There's that separation, it's a bizarre statement, but that distinction between the idea of suicide. In the
Actual act is critical for Turon suicide to Tehran, with something the brought him comfort, just knowing that, no matter what he isn't trapped here, he said: suicide quote INS subsistence as a nightmare. He exe recently said that he could never endured life if it weren't for this freedom that was available to him this option that comforted him, because it's always there, so it allowed him to continue to exist. However, he wanted to so. The question becomes not whether or not it's the right decision to commit suicide from some moral standpoint, the question a person has to answer is simply why right now, as chairman said, what's the rush, because if there is some sort of rush associated with that decision, maybe it's not being made for the best reasons, and you can look at that as we covered you're, certainly not trapped here, and you can't undo what you ve already been through you're already here in this moment. So why not stick around
and at least spectators? The absurdity of it all try to find pieces of an interesting try to enjoy the absurdity, not because a connected to some greater overarching rise home of meaning that you're a piece of, but simply for the sake of the absurdity suicide it may be one option of many at your disposal, but it's also option to Morrow morning after you slept on it, it's an option a week from now it's an option. Six months from now after that thing, you're looking forward to for almost everyone, life is not constant suffering and subsistence is not a nightmare. So once you are confronted with what you see is reality, why not stick around enjoy your time? enjoy your family enjoy the sporting events you like so much enjoy staring at your phone, enjoy it all immersed in this It's a dream were apparently nothing really matters. Thank you for listening I'll talk to you next time
Transcript generated on 2021-08-10.