With characteristic irony the Roumanian-French philosopher E. M. Cioran comments upon the way such meditation allows us to escape from time and yet throws us back into it:

By meditation we perceive the inanity ofthe diverse and the accidental, of the past and the future, only to be engulfed more readily in the limitless moment. A thousand times better to take a vow of madness or to destroy oneself in God, than to prosper by means of such simulacra! One articulate prayer, repeated inwardly to the point of hebetude or orgasm, carries more weight than any idea, than all ideas. To prospeet any world but this one, to sink into a silent hymn to vacuity, is to indenture oneself to elsewhere . . . (46-47; the final ellipsis and emphasis on "elsewhere" are Cioran's).

Clearly, he still employs the same concerns and images as did Swinburne a century before: the prospect, the shipwreck of self, the sea of time.


Cioran, E. M. "The Tree of Life," in The Fall into Time. Trans. Richard Howard. N. Y., 1970.

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Print version published 1980; web version 1998