By E. M. Cioran, Richard Howard, Eugene Thacker
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Extra info for Drawn and Quartered
Both anticipate a calamity analogous to the one which the Delaware Indians projected into the past, and during which, according to their traditions, not only men prayed in terror, but the beasts as well. And the periods of calm? 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.
Each of us labors against his interests: we are not conscious of this so long as we work, but examine any period and we see that action and sacrifice are almost always undertaken for a virtual or a declared enemy: the men of the Revolution for Bonaparte, Bonaparte for the Bourbons, the Bourbons for the Orleanists . . Can history inspire only sneers—has it no goal? Yes, more than one, many in fact, but it achieves them in reverse. The phenomenon is universally verifiable. We realize the opposite of what we have pursued, we advance counter to the splendid lie we have made to ourselves; whence the interest of biographies, least boring of the suspect genres.
They are “inhuman” truths, truths of vertigo, and we reject them because no one can do without props disguised as slogans or as gods. What is painful is to see that in each period it is the iconoclasts or those who claim to be such who most often resort to fictions and to lies. The ancient world must have been terribly afflicted to need so crude an antidote as the one Christianity was to administer. The modern world is just as badly off, judging by the remedies from which it expects miracles. Epicurus, the least fanatic of the wise, was the great loser then, as he is today.