EMIL CIORAN – THE TRANSFIGURATION OF ROMANIA
If we didn’t have a deeper adherence to the phenomenon of Romania and could be perfectly objective with it, we couldn’t care less if it would play a part in the world or not. Then we would find it natural to see it enframed in the destiny of minor nations, and anonimity wouldn’t hurt us at all. But the passion for Romania cannot accept its eternal condemnation to the mediocre destiny of which she has received the eucharist until now.
It is not comfortable at all to be born in a second-hand country. Lucidity becomes tragedy. And if a messianic fury doesn’t strangle you, the soul is drown into a sea of desolation.
Any man who wants or is called to play a prophetic role in Romania’s life has to know that in this country any gesture, any action, any attitude is an absolute beginning, that there is no continuation, no resuming, no lines and directives. For what needs to be done nobody will precede us, nobody will urge us, nobody will help us. Other peoples have lived their beginnings in a naive, unconscious, unreflected way, waking up from the sleep of the matter to the historical life through an insensible process, with a natural evolution, with an imperceptible slide. We, on the contrary, know and must know that we are starting to, we are obliged to have the lucidity of the beginnings of life, the alive and reflected consciousness of the aurora.
We must stand with animation the tragedy of the null culture, to offend through our own force the void of the past, and to try to achieve, out of an unexpected initiative, all that has vegetated in our historical sleep. Our self-pride has to satisfy itself in the fact that everything is to be done, that each and everyone of us can be the God of our history, that there is no line that we would be forced to follow, that our line is the destiny of our country. That everyone’s existence may be an element of Romania’s foundation. May this be our mission. All that is not prophecy in Romania is an assault against Romania.
We will never be able to crown Romania with a historical nimbus until each and every one of us will be able to live, with a stormy and painful passion, all the humilities that have filled our sad past. Unless we subjectively try the regression in its disaster and tragedy, we are lost for the future transfiguring of this people, because this people itself will be lost. I cannot understand how it is that there are persons who can have a quiet sleep after thinking of the underground existence of a persecuted people, of the centuries of darkness, horror and slavery. When I see the Ardeal, I visualise a plastical configuration of mute sufferings, of a trapped and stiffled drama, of a time without history. One thousand years in a subhistorical monotony, one thousand years as a monstruous multiplication of a moment, of one moment only! The invariable show of persecution gives me cold shivers; because I am frightened by a drama with only one incentive. The same lack of freedom in the other provinces; only that the variations of the landscape give the illusion of a historical game.
In my moments of sadness I like to increase their intensity sliding towards the distances of my people and to torment myself submerged in its sufferings. I love the curses that this people has thrown along the centuries and I’m frightened by the submission, groans and lamentations consumed in the shadow.
Don’t you have moments when you hear our past, when everything that this people has lived comes alive within you, and sublimates in a music of oriental monotone lengths, in the melancholic tarrying of our popular tunes? Doesn’t it sometimes burn you as a poison, all the series of humiliations endured and aren’t they cracking inside you, all the wishes for revenge accumulated in hundreds of years?
He for whom Romania is not a painful obsession has not understood anything of its problems. The lucid and bitter vision of its past must be lived up to the last consequences so that we can understand the sense of a great mission. Lost is he for whom the reliving of our destiny is not a turning point in his life, and also a reason of tragedy. He is not a nationalist who is not tormented up to hallucination the fact that we, the Romanians, have not made history until now, but have waited for history to make us, to stimulate a torrent that transcends our being; he is not a nationalist who is not tormented by the fatal limitation that imprisons Romania in the circle and fatality of small cultures, of those cultures which do not have the courage to turn around their own axis; he is not a nationalist who doesn’t suffer that Romania has not got the historical mission of a great culture, the political imperialism, the inherent megalomany and the endless will of power which are characteristic of the great nations; and he is not a nationalist who doesn’t enthusiastically wish for the transfigurating leap forward.
Romania cannot be loved naively, unproblematically, with the acknowledgement of the exigences of an obvious love, because it is not that obvious that Romania must be loved. How many of those who have tried to perceive the sense of our absences and discontinuities, of the lability of our form of life and of the organic structure of our historical style – how many of those have not confessed in their entire life the contempt for the romanian form of existence, a total distrust and an ironical scepticism! It is a sign of prophetical aspiration in the impetus of those who, after having clearly confronted themselves with all the ironies and strange paradoxes of Romania, have not refused it the chance of a nimbus, of a fate and of a destiny.
It’s not a big thing to love Romania out of instinct; it is not a merit. But to love it after having totally despaired because of her destiny, this is everything. And he who has never despaired because of Romania’s destiny, has never understood anything of the complexity of this problem, and will never be prophetically engaged in the destiny of this country. For doubtful spirits, who are aware of the universal history’s shadows more than of its lights, who understand that there are doomed peoples and fatal failures, early decadences and inevitable anonymities, the adherence to the internal direction of a people in birth is not a spontaneous act.
Our first historical step must coincide with an assertion of maturity of the spirit. Romania has vegetated for centuries because the subhistorical level does not know the imperialistic exigences of the spirit. But now it has no more time. Either a historical transfiguring, or nothing.
The greatest part of the cultures have a childhood of their own, know the auroral forms of spirit, achieve the magnificence in naivety. To us there is no other way left for reaching a historical level than to explode with all our substance, in an effort of spiritual maturity. With all that individualizes the essence of our being, with the unconsumed reserves of one people, let us raise ourselves to a historical position, from the perspective of which we will perceive in our horizons the outlines of a great nation or, if not, the assertive will of a nation. May all that we have not lived until now in our spiritual life find expression and fulfillment; and all the reserves that should have been consumed throughout centuries be channeled into the will of power. May our mission be an act of infinite revenge. And in the passion for creation, let us punish our historical sleep.
Romania is geography, it is not history. Does anyone understand the tragic of this? A country has value only when it becomes a problem for others, when its name means an attitude. We all know what France, England, Italy, Russia and Germany mean, but none of us knows what Romania means. We don’t know what Romania is, but we know perfectly what it is not. And specializing myself in its absences, I have discovered the infinite it needs to be something.
EMIL CIORAN – THE TRANSFIGURATION OF ROMANIA (1936)