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Ennui is not exactly boredom, it may mean worry, or trouble, but also lassitude, fatigue, the sense employed by Cioran. There is Sartre in that, l'affirmation de l'absurdité d'être, and the profound ennui resulting from that realisation. A french writer once explained for him the verb "faire" was trivial, unimportant, while the verb "être" on the other hand, was fundamental, expressing someone's very essence.
hmm, well looking around at the ashes of europe at that time would lead any thinking person to ask those kinds of existential questions, as in:
"we say we know who we claim to be, but look at the fruits of our actions! do they not tell more about who we really are, than the pious claims to 'progress', which are our own reflections in narcis's pool?"
interesting also that this 'god is dead' phase of nihilism in europe was harbinger to the the onrush of input from eastern religions/philosophies that started with huxley, krishnamurti, watts and others during the decade after.
our religions in the west were all about doing, and doing became our god. we neglected being in favour of doing, and became inexpert, callow and naive about our own existential qualities.
personally i believe this change has been largely positive, with some notable exceptions, and credit this sense of moral vacuum your diary describes as being the driver to seek out others' opinions and beliefs as possible alternatives to the western attitudes of cultural imperialism and taylorist industrialism whose bitter fruit lay before their stinging eyes.
yes we had dragged ourselves up out of child slavery, the black death and the inquisition...
and hitler wasn't even religious, so we couldn't use that scapegoat to explain away the collective psychosis.
it made us face that productionism had become our de facto religion, and the cosmically stupid results of taking that path.
we are still strugglng to emerge from those contradictions, imo, and you could even say that much of europe's elder generations is still in PTSD.
the old dregs of nationalism are slow to dissolve, but the young, who travel the continent like one big back yard, will bring a change, incrementally, as they see through the conditioning of cultural determinism much better than the generations presently calling the shots.
The French believe in absolute truths, like most people down south - you might have also noticed it about Italians.
actually i see it different. moral relativity is an art form here in italy!
the contributions of france to european thought and identity have been, and are immense.
placed at its heart, she represents many of our finest qualities, chief of which is nuance.
what i am happy to see lampooned is the pretentiousness that is also a national characteristic, and thin-skinned defensiveness at the merest suggestion we outside france may have some claims to culture too, lol! too self-referential...
it's often said that visitors can see a country in some ways better than its inhabitants, de toqueville was a good example of that.
'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
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