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A Short History of Decay
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A Short History of Decay

4.32 of 5 stars 4.32  ·  rating details  ·  988 ratings  ·  51 reviews
"In the fact of being born there is such an absence of necessity that when you think about it a little more than usual you are left... with a foolish grin" -E.M. Cioran

E.M. Cioran confronts the place of today's world in the context of human history. He focuses on such major issues of the twentieth century as human progress, fanaticism, and science.
Paperback, 186 pages
Published September 15th 1998 by Arcade Publishing (first published 1949)
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The Republic by PlatoThus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich NietzscheCritique of Pure Reason by Immanuel KantMeditations by Marcus AureliusBeing and Time by Martin Heidegger
Best Philosophy Book
190th out of 563 books — 659 voters
The Stranger by Albert CamusSiddhartha by Hermann Hesse1984 by George OrwellThe Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-ExupéryCrime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Best Philosophical Literature
309th out of 532 books — 1,571 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,782)
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The hermeneutics of the void via prose poetry. Declared anathema: faith, love, action, dogma, suicide, living, hope. Deemed exemplary: laughter, cynicism, poetry, inertia, acceptance of death and the futility of existence, doubt. Cioran is a diagnostician of decay, the type to carouse with madmen, crooks, layabouts, and roués—to hold that Jesus ruined the tragedy of his crucifixion by appending it with his resurrection, thus imbuing his followers with the dream of eternal life, an abhorrent and...more
If you think you hate life, or maybe just the world around you this book will make you kick yourself repeatedly for being just too much of a goddamn optimist. This is one bleak and beautiful book. How Cioran could live with thoughts like these and not end his own life is beyond me, but like a character out of Beckett he continues going on. This is the second book of his that I've read and it's even darker than his more youthful and lighthearted Tears and Saints which was really not the kind of b...more
Bill  Kerwin

A series of epigrammatic reflections on how things fall apart. This is a bleak, atheistic book, but it is strangely comforting and even humorous in its unembarrassed nihilism.

Characteristic Cioran quotes:

"Anyone who speaks in the name of others is always an imposter."

"By all evidence we are in the world to do nothing."

"Chaos is rejecting all you have learned, Chaos is being yourself."
Matthew W
This book is BEYOND pessimism and nihilism! I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone that thinks positively about their future or anyone that is part of a national movement. E.M. Cioran makes no lie that he has given up on existence (aside from writing of course!).
"Anyone who speaks in the name of others is always an imposter."

"By all evidence we are in the world to do nothing."

Reading E. M. Cioran's aphoristic musings on the decay of modern society is not easy on the soul, but is made bearable by his beautiful turns of phrase and concise explanations (despite the fact that he uses more ellipses than a teenager on facebook chat). Cioran's essays on human life basically rest on proving its innate absurdity. God is a failure (until he created Bach), enthusi...more
A brilliant masterpiece. Says so much with such artistry. Think - Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco but flavored with full-blown nihilistic humor. Cioran has me convinced by about the first paragraph that life is absurd, God wasted was a complete failure until he created Bach and totally redeemed himself, people who live in monasteries are egotistical because they care more about their own souls than living with the rest of us... only the skeptics and the decadent roman emperors had living figur...more
Nihilism as a creative act! One of the great books to have by your bedside, just to remind you what kind of world we live in. Superb!
Hide all firearms, sharp objects, and anything that could be twisted into a rope prior to delving into this one! To say it's a "downer" is an understatement of epic proportions but it's a fascinating read all the same. 80% of the time I had no real clue what Cioran was saying so I approached it as if it were Joyce's Finnegan's Wake -- hang on, let the words roll over you, and pray that something sticks along the way.

Did I finish the book? Nope, but I'm not sure anyone could at one go without up...more
Nothing quite like clearing out the mental and emotional detritus of one phase of life with the neural sandblast-treatment that is some Cioran. Cioran's thought and writing can only adequately be described as 'pleasantly exhausting': no other thinker in the history of Western philosophy has so systematically contemplated the logical endpoints of nihilism, skepticism, pessimism, abnegation, and despair. And yet, published as a collection in 1949, this series of aphoristic essays is far from a Jer...more
Alex Sarll
Well, this one took a while for such a slim volume. But even aside from being an aphoristic work of philosophy (seldom the sort of thing to benefit from being read at speed), it's hard powering through a book which is one long sigh. A hymn to the futility of everything - including thinking you've gained anything by having noticed the futility of everything, it's torn between Cioran's desire to fade away, and his envy for the great monsters of history. At times, especially when he's compellingly...more
Despair was never so consistently depicted, sustained for so many pages without a glimmer of hope in anything. The author lambasts every single thing imaginable. Starting with prophecy and religion, he carves up humanity, history, genius, art, literature, goodness, virtue, peace, saints, Jesus and even himself. Nothing is spared. Everything is depicted as an evil influence on mankind. He praises music and Satan at a few occasions but apart from thar, everything is a fair target for his pessimism...more
Ensar Ulupınar
"her şey, unsurlar ve filler, seni yaralamada elbirliği ederler. burun kıvırmanın zırhına mı bürünmelisin? kendini bir tiksinti kalesinde tecrit mi etmelisin? insanüstü kayıtsızlıklar mı düşlemelisin? zamanın yankıları seni son yokluklarının içinde de mağdur edeceklerdir... kanamanın önüne hiçbiri geçemediğinde, fikirler bile kırmızıya boyanır, ya da tümörler gibi birbirinin üzerine tırmanır... eczanelerde varoluşa karşı hiçbir özel ilaç yoktur – yalnızca palavracılar için küçük ilaçlar... peki,...more
This guy is best aphorist since Nietzsche, though that isn't saying much since there's not a lot of competition. One of the most misanthropic books I've ever read. I hear his others are more of the same. I'm psyched.
And I think of an ideal moralist - a combination of cynicism and lyric ardor - exalted and icy, vague and incisive...
Christian Deysson
Good old standby for my darker moments.
Jan 31, 2008 novia marked it as to-read
fonts and layouts do matter.
Ferda Nihat Köksoy
Kitaptan Alıntılar ve Sentezler:
Tarih, bir Sahte Mutlaklar Geçidi'nden, bir İdeal İmalathanesi'nden, bahaneler adına dikilmiş bir tapınaklar dizisinden, zihnin Gayri Muhtemel önünde küçülmesinden ibarettir. Akıl Tanrıçası'nın, ulus, sınıf ya da ırk fikrinin yol açtığı aşırılıklar, Engizisyon'un yada Reform'unkilerle akrabadır.
Yazılı tarih, en az kendisini yaratan olaylar kadar insanlıkdışıdır.

(Kuşkuculuk okulunun kurucusu) Pyrrhon'un yanı...more
"There is more wisdom in letting yourself be carried by the waves than in struggling against them."

Above is a line from one of Cioran's passages that caught my attention. Agree or disagree with his sentiments, Cioran has an unparalleled gift for aphorisms. This is my third experience with Cioran, after On the Heights of Despair and Tears and Saints. While I did enjoye reading his first two works, I think that A Short History of Decay is Cioran's first work that exhibits his intellectual maturit...more
Hayata/dine/ideallere/fikiradamlarına/kahramanlara/felsefe ye çok farklı bir bakış açısıyla yazılmış bir kitap..Okurken hayattan sogutturan bir eleştiri açışıyla yazılıp derlenmiş..Hertrülü ieoloji ve fikre taviz vermeden açık ve net şekilde eleştirilmiş..Hayata dair tarihin ilk gününden bugüne çürümüşlüğüne edebi bir dille anlatmış..

"Aslında her fikir yansızdır,ya da öyle olmalıdır;ama insan onu canlandırır,alevlerini ve cinnetlerini yansıtır ona;saflığını yitirmiş,inanca dönüştürülmüş fikir,za...more
Emin Erenoğlu
"(Tanrım, bana hiç dua etmeme gücü verin, her nevi tapınma saçmalığından koruyun, beni Siz'in elinize hepten teslim edecek o sevgi eğilimini benden uzak tutun. Kalbimle gökyüzü arasındaki boşluk genişlesin! Issızlıklarımı mevcudiyetinizle doldurmanızı, gecelerimi nurunuzla hırpalamanızı, Sibiryalarımı güneşinizle eritmenizi hiç temenni etmiyorum. Sizden de yalnız, ellerim tertemiz kalsın istiyorum; yeryüzünü yoğururken ve dünya işlerine karışırken hepten kirlenen ellerinizin aksine.... Sersem ka...more
HuDa AljaNabi
لا يوجد إنسان لم يتمنّ- لا شعورياً على الأقل - موت إنسان آخر, كلّ واحد يجرّ وراءهُ مقبرةُ أصدقاء وأعداء, وليس من المهم كثيراً ان تكون تلك المقبرة قد أحيلت إلى مهاوي القلب أو أسقطت على سطح الرغبات.

أول كتاب لسيوران, بعنوان موجز التفكيك, نسختهُ العربية نادرة جداً ولم تنشر, كان حظّي كبيراً حين أتى اليّ :)
Biz sonuncularız: Gelecekten, daha fazla da kendimizden bezdik; toprağın suyunu sıktık ve gökleri soyup soğana çevirdik. Artık düşlerimizi madde de ruh da besleyemez: Bu evren yüreklerimiz kadar kurumuş. Artık hiçbir yerde cevher yok: Atalarımız bize paçavraya dönmüş ruhlarını ve kurtlanmış iliklerini bıraktı. Macera son buluyor; bilinç can çekişiyor; ezgilerimiz uçup gitti; ölenlerin güneşi parlıyor işte!
A deep rich work of pessimism, managing to fuse a Nietzschean style of writing with a Schopenhauerian line of thought. Unrelentingly bleak, only showing promise when the optimism of suicide is raised, Cioran's pathos can depress and amuse in equal measure. There are some deliberately humourous moments ("the world is a receptacle for sobs") but largely this is the meandering of an insomniac and depressive realising that- when it comes down to it- the things that make life manageable are the thing...more
Sven Anton
Tänks, Cioran.
Alfonso Forssell
tormenta de lucidez, radicalísimo pensador, obligado
Иван Собаков
Što sam shvatio, shvatio sam. Ali je odlično napisano, iznenađujuće zabavno i lucidno, iako je mračno, mračno koliko može da bude.
Ili nije.
Ne znam.
Eda Çınar
"Aslında her fikir yansızdır, ya da öyle olmalıdır; ama insan onu canlandırır, alevlerini ve cinnetlerini yansıtır ona; saflığını yitirmiş, inanca dönüştürülmüş fikir, zaman içindeki yerini alır, bir olay çehresine bürünür:Mantıktan sara hastalığına geçiş tamamlanmış olur... İdeolojiler, doktrinler ve kanlı şakalar böyle doğar."
Midway between Pessoa (for mindset) and Nietzsche (for method).

Very incisive. The first book in ages that had me reaching for a pen to note turns of phrase.

If you like Twilight of the Idols, The Book of Disquiet, and The Occult Technology of Power, you will greatly enjoy this.
Mutlu Cankay
Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, ve Foucault'un görüşlerini harmanlayan, nefret dolu nihilizm savunuları içeren bir metin. Deneme kabulünde olan eser, dayanaksız öznel görüşlerin vahşi savunularının kimi yerde saldırılara dönüştüğü ağır ve ağdalı bir dil kullanıyor.
Ben Rogers
In a very odd and depressing way, this book helps me more genuinely appreciate everything about life. As far as being a difficult read it CAN be incredibly boring, but I keep being reminded of personal experiences, page after page.
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Born in 1911 in Rasinari, a small village in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania, raised under the rule of a father who was a Romanian Orthodox priest and a mother who was prone to depression, Emil Cioran wrote his first five books in Romanian. Some of these are collections of brief essays (one or two pages, on average); others are collections of aphorisms. Suffering from insomnia since his adoles...more
More about Emil Cioran...
On the Heights of Despair The Trouble With Being Born المياه كلها بلون الغرق The Temptation to Exist لو كان آدم سعيداً

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“Chaos is rejecting all you have learned, Chaos is being yourself.” 153 likes
“The true hero fights and dies in the name of his destiny, and not in the name of a belief.” 24 likes
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