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The Trouble With Being Born by E. M. Cioran

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

There is no other writer so gifted to have diagnosed Time as Eternity’s disease and to have endured it as a means to verify Existence as Emil Cioran. Existence, according to Cioran, would be very impractical were we to discard all our illusions. For even a single illusion of time, history, or life is enough to propel the rest of humanity forward. Such a philosophy is rare because it ties up no agonizing ends. It has a language of its own that is perpetually abnormal, profound, and instinctive.

The Trouble With Being Born by E. M. Cioran on the floor, next to coffee

The Trouble with Being Born - Emile Cioran book review

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The Trouble With Being Born is a collection of morbidly gratifying aphorisms about death, religion, time, history, and self-ness. The book has a bit of everything. No utterance of thought feels out of place. There is not a single alienated sentence in the book. Not the slightest trace of dissimilarity between the passages. I can read it over and over again - it is reality and unreality itself. What is when nothingness is the norm? And what dies when nothing can?

Cioran’s “inner metamorphosis” through his soliloquies feels absurdly familiar. His nihilism is sincere and it does not nullify humanity, it resuscitates it. He would blatantly argue with somebody who believes that philosophy is optimistic. He questions normalcy as a disease of life; and life as “a disease of matter.” This is a condition we have manufactured ourselves to become everything except what we already are.

There is no “whole truth” but there are varieties of experiences that we shed like dead skin for the sake of being born. And this burden, this responsibility, Cioran believes, is something that all of us will end up regretting sooner or later. Because to commit to any one ideal, in this realm, seems like a delusion. It is as it has always been and “probably always will be until there’s nothing left any more.”


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