March 7, 2005

Absolute lyricism  

I learned this weekend that one of my comparative literature advisors at IU had her last moments in January. Mostly I remember her for some wounding (but accurate) insights into my lack of direction as a student. But after leaving school I encountered Ilinca Zarifopol Johnston again, this time as the translator of a couple works by E. M. Cioran, whose absolute lyricism I came to love. Here's an excerpt from one of her translations:

I would like to explode, flow, crumble into dust, and my disintegration would be my masterpiece. I would like to melt in the world and for the world to melt orgasmically in me and thus in our delirium to engender an apocalyptic dream, strange and grandiose like all crepuscular visions. Let our dream bring forth mysterious splendors and triumphant shadows, let a general conflagration swallow the world, and let its flames generate crepuscular pleasures as intricate as death and as fascinating as nothingness. Lyricism reaches its ultimate form of expression only through delirium. Absolute lyricism is the lyricism of last moments.
--E. M. Cioran, from On the Heights of Despair


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