Eugene Ionesco on Human Condition

Eugene Ionesco

In a book dedicated to Samuel Beckett, Les Cahiers de l’Herne there is a short text on Beckett by another great thinker: Eugene Ionesco.

Here is a part of it:

… It is not from the social and political condition that Samuel Beckett suffers but rather from our existential condition, from the metaphysical situation of man. This malaise is inherent in the human condition. All societies are bad, all of humanity, all of creation, have lived in misfortune since the beginning of the world. We cannot help but suffer from it if we realize it. If we don’t realize it, we still suffer, less consciously. To be born and to die and between birth and death to kill to eat is not admissible. I was going to say, this is not “natural”. Creation has failed. It has to be redone. Doesn’t the Holy Books tell us about a renewed world? This tragic situation of man, life’s anguish, is a fact that does not come from capitalism or from Judeo-Christian thought. The Hindus, the Chinese, the pre-Colombians, all the vestiges that remain to us of archaic, or so-called primitive civilizations, prove to us that this, at least uncomfortable condition, has always been denounced or detected. Social condition only alleviates a little or aggravates this basic uneasiness of being in the world so all life is suffering. The animals themselves suffer, the whole universe suffers: aggression, defense, that is the essence of life. We struggle, we fight, against each other, we devour each other, we have to kill to eat because we live in a closed economy and nothing comes to us from elsewhere. No being accepts his death. For each being, man, animal, plant, its own death is identified with universal death. Everyone is agonizing for everyone and for everything. Our molecules also devour each other. If you look at a drop of water or a drop of blood under the microscope, you see war, destruction, killing. An ant separated from other ants, feels the threat, is anxious, tries to escape its death individual. Insect battalions wage war, rage, hurt and kill each other. It is the law of nature, it is the law of life, this is what we are told, This is also what we do not accept, it is precisely against this law that I am insurgent. This is what must be the fundamental object of our revolt. And then, afterwards, if He wants to create a new world, at least do it differently. No economic or political revolution has succeeded in abolishing this existential tragicomedy. I believe in the irremediable bankruptcy of revolutions, they only push man deeper into his misfortune. Whether we like it or not, neither Beckett, nor the great writers and artists of our time and of other times, Kafka, Dostoyevsky, Proust, Faulkner, nor philosophers like Nietzsche or Kirkegaard, can be understood without metaphysics or religion, without the essential problem that haunted them, that they could not solve and against which they came up against knowing they cannot solve it. Historical upheavals can therefore only lead us from bad to worse. We can also find in Marx and many Utopians the degraded myths of revolutions: new Jerusalem, paradise lost, going beyond history, progress, that is to say the myth of ascension, renewal of man in his transfiguration, to realize his transmutation. There is even in Marx the theme of fundamental, objective guilt, so much so that, in the so-called socialist countries, the sons of the bourgeoisie were, in the fifteen to twenty years of the beginning of the revolution, considered objectively guilty and could not pursue higher studies. The individual was born guilty. In short, all the Judeo-Christian mythology is there in Marxism, with the original sin that we must all assume.

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