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Church of the Churchless

E.M. Cioran

A Short History of Decay

A Short History of Decay is a collection of nihilistic essays, written in the middle of the 20th Century by E.M. Cioran

The tone is consistently negative. The only thing that enables us to keep on living is the thought that we can commit suicide. What we see as progress is always progress towards emptiness, and what we consider to be vices are the only things that have a chance of giving meaning to life. When we feel enthusiasm for a character of the past, we unconsciously ask ourselves: For how many people was he the cause of disaster?

I have to say that I found the essays difficult to read, and normally I would be critical of a work written in this way. The essays are unmemorable and wander around, never sticking to any argument for long enough to convince the reader of anything. But then why should a nihilist try to convince you of something, as if convincing you would make a difference. Taken in this light, the work becomes more of an art form than an argument, indeed its poetic nature explains some of my problems in reading it, as I've always found it difficult to read poetry. So it's the sort of book you might like to read an essay from now and again, but I wouldn't recommend trying to read it through from beginning to end.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews