Jean-Paul Enthoven, I think this is your first appearance on television
and I've asked you to talk to us about Cioran, who you like very much,
whom you've appreciated for a long time.
Besides, you're from a secret society where people liked him a bit, they knew how to make him powerful.
A few people who revolve around him somewhat
even though he's rather discreet and doesn't really meet...
And he doesn't want to go on television.
He's from another planet.
He doesn't refuse anything, though, he doesn't hate television at all, he watches it occasionally,
but that's not his thing, that's absolutely not his thing.
So, his deal, is writing.
So here's two books.
So first of all, let's mention that he's Romanian.
Yes. Cioran was born in 1911 in the small Carpates village.
His father was an Orthodox priest.
Besides, that was something that was important for him.
And he arrived in France around 1935-1936.
And then, there was a sort of genuine...
He was in Dieppe and he was translating Mallarmé.
And then, all of a sudden, it occurred to him that he had to write in French.
Besides, he often says that that's the only type of religious experience, of religious conversion, that he's ever had.
It's sort of like a desire for French.
He could have just as well used German or English.
First of all, he masters French perfectly.
Yes. So this, this is rather remarkable:
he chose to write in French but not in any old French.
He chose to use 18th century French, if you will,
so, a well-kept French, Diderot's language.
He chose it specifically because he probably felt that it had a somewhat Balkan nature,
a bit turbulent with convulsions, excesses, disappointments
and he needed something to hold him.
And he didn't find anything better than 18th century French,
and frankly, I think he made the right decision because...
There's a magnificent phrase about French by Cioran, I think it's in the Idiome.
Hopefully I'm quoting it right: "The ideal idiom for delicately expressing ambiguous feelings".
Yes, and he also says that "It has braking effects" regarding its nature.
So, then, he published a certain number of books.
So the book, the first one you're talking about, "Tears and Saints", is a book that he published...
when he was 23, 24 years old.
A book written in Romanian then, and Cioran was quite young.
I mean, he was inebriated with reading.
He reads Chamfort, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard,
and already, Cioran is interested in what will interest him the rest of his life since he always wrote the same book.
It nevertheless remains a very crucial fact.
So then, he interests himself in things that will hold him back later on.
He's interested in the saint
and in sainthood, which seems to be one of the only truly acceptable variables in human condition
along with absolute despair, besides, we'll see this later on.
And he's also very interested in insomnia.
To be precise, he's interested in religions that would allow men to save themselves from worshipping God.
So to sum things up, he's a negative theologist?
Yes, there, that's it.
He moves very slowly, from Romania to a sort of Buddhism that's rather remarkable
and in which he's now a part of.
Nothingness is already very present.
"Tears and Saints" was published in Romania in 1937...
The year that he arrived in France.
The year that he arrived in France.
So me, I know all of these facts thanks to the translator.
But, for example, there's this:
"Will I one day be able to no longer quote God?
Men and saints themselves don't have a name.
Only God has one but what do we know about him
other than the fact that he's despair, beginning where others end?".
Already, he had all of these themes already.
Yes, it started to interest him, yet, I think that Cioran, for all that I know...
Besides, we'd have to know why he's not here.
But no, he doesn't want to, he doesn't want to.
Cioran doesn't have a religious spirit at all.
It's not something that he worries about at all, really.
He describes himself as a sort of fanatic without credo.
What he likes in religion, is the proximity that it offers to states that are at the edge, such as ecstasy.
That's why he's very interested in mysticism, for example,
or when it provokes great damnations,
with people who, all of a sudden, go very very far from God and throw themselves into violent convulsions.
But this isn't a religious spirit.
On the contrary, he's always sees the beginning of a catastrophe there, doesn't he?
And that, that's something that he's trying to conjure.
Gabriel Matzneff published a portrait of Cioran that I thought was very interesting
in the Figaro Magazine, maybe one or two issues ago.
And this is what he says. I'd like your opinion on this.
"You have to suffer from an extreme absence of metaphysical sensitivity
to not understand that the furious combat that Cioran leads against God has nothing,
and I mean nothing at all to do with agnosticism,
the indifference that, in Western Europe, followed many of our contemporaries.
"God, I never think about it" one young woman would say. As for Cioran, it's the opposite.
He always thinks about it.
"In the end, it's just me and him" he whispered in "Tears and Saints".
First of all, that's Matzneff's point of view, and it might be young Cioran's point of view.
Currently, I think that Cioran falls within that perspective.
So today's Cioran, who just wrote "Anathemas and Admirations"...
So today's Cioran,
is ultimately someone who reuses these themes
which he developed in the books that have great titles which I must name.
"The Trouble With Being Born", "The Fall into Time"...
"A Short History of Decay"...
Which was his first book published in French.
Which means what it says.
What do you mean?
Well, I think that the aphorism that will remain his main writing style,
"Aphorisms, he says, are the expression of a disintegrated me".
What is Cioran?
It's a disintegrated me that predicts something like radical nothingness.
In which he nevertheless has predecessors
because there are individuals in the Bible who have remained there, loyal to their role, watchful and radical.
Job, for example, on his manure,
or Jeremy in his laments.
Cioran really makes me think of those prophets.
Job on his manure, that's one of the great figures of Cioran.
He really likes being on top of his manure.
No, but what you have to understand with Cioran, is that in all of his books, he tries to explain just one thing.
It's because the only way to approach life without being unhappy, is to expect the worst.
That's what he wanted to say right from the beginning.
Everything is for the worst in the worst of worlds?
The only way to not be disappointed, is to keep yourself in a state of absolute unhappiness.