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It was a time of triumph for the morons
personales [ ]
A dialogue with Alexandru Paleologu by Fabian Anton

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por [Alexandru_Paleologu ]

2008-07-12  | [Este texto, tienes que leerlo en romana]    |  Inscrito en la biblioteca por Fabian Anton

Mr. Paleologu, to begin with, let us say that this talk is the result of certain hostile attitudes, especially in the Western media, concerning Mircea Eliade and what we call here “Generation ’27”. I would like to first thank you for having agreed to this dialogue and, before we begin, we should point out that you actually did not belong to the 1927 Generation.
Absolutely not!

In 1927 you were what? Seven years old?
In 1927 I was eight.

Nevertheless, maybe due to the friendship that has always tied you to the representatives of that generation, to Mircea Eliade, to Constantin Noica, to Emil Cioran, younger people think of you as belonging to “Generation ’27”.
To be honest, we never had such a great friendship… There were some interesting coincidences, however, in my life, that had to do with Eliade. He was born on Melody Street, at no. 1, and I was born twelve years later at no. 8 of the same Melody Street. These two places were not actually across the street from each other, but they were close enough, in the same section of it. Eliade went to the Mîntuleasa primary school, as I did, then to the “Spiru Haret” High School, as I did. He also debuted – for it is there he actually made his literary debut: he was obviously writing, while in high school, for that magazine called The Scion, in which he played an important part.
Well, I too experienced all these… I too went to the Mîntuleasa school, I too was a student at “Spiru Haret”, I too was part of the editorial board of The Scion. I thought then that all these circumstances were somehow dawn-like and auspicious for me, since I saw Eliade as an older brother, a brother in whose tracks I did not step, however, because I was in no way an Eliade-ist. I was interested in what he wrote, because he always wrote attractively. I was fifteen when his book Oceanography was published and I have read and reread it all my life, until not so long ago. Well, I don’t read anything any longer, but that is another story… That book has always seemed to me one of the smartest books ever written in any of the world’s common languages of culture. But I have never been an Eliade-ist, as I have never been too close to the young generation of that time, since I was their junior by at least a decade or so.

I have never been too close to the young generation of that time

There was a twelve-year difference between Eliade and yourself.
Yes, that is why I have never been an Eliade-ist. I was actually an anti-Eliade-ist, an anti-young generation. I sided with the elders.

When you say “the young generation”, you mean what is now called “Generation ’27”?
Yes. We call it now “Generation ’27”, because it so happened that they made themselves known in 1927… But it is fairer to call it the young generation of that time. I remember an article by Mihail Sebastian published in the Journal of the Royal Foundations, entitled “Paul Zarifopol and the young generation”. But at that time, when the article was published, there was no longer any dispute, no more hostility between Paul Zarifopol as an “old man”, one who died at the age of fifty-nine – so he didn’t die too old, after all, did he? – and the younger generation. Because Paul Zarifopol was, initially, some kind of black sheep in the eyes of those younger men who thought him to be too rationalistic, too “oldish”, that he advocated obsolete things, that he did not share the younger generation’s sense of the pathetic, the compassionate, the dramatic and, most of all, their general mental attitude of hopelessness – that I, for one, found ridiculous. Because they all pretended to be desperate, they were all under the influence of Cioran’s book, a book I loathed back then…

You mean his “Acmes of Despair”?
Yes. That is a book I have disliked ever since. I liked Cioran as a French writer. He was a great artist of French prose-writing and a wretched quarrelsome Romanian columnist. That was him! Fortunately, he left for France and turned French. Otherwise, he would have remained a buffoon. That was my opinion then and I stick to it now. Eliade was somehow close to Cioran, but he had roots that went deeper into the cultures of the previous generations and entertained fine personal relationships with people from the older generation.

A moron is a moron especially when he is young

Mr. Paleologu, since we have come to this point where we talk about what you call the “younger generation” and the “older generation”, please allow me to quote from an article written by Nae Ionescu in 1927. It goes like this:“Every crossroad that commands the paths of our activities has been seized by dull, impotent old men with the mental attitude of a quartermaster: humble in front of the ones above, a tyrant to those below him; envious, devoid of generosity, ignoring what the joy of having a disciple means; choosing their followers from among those who lack self-respect and the freedom of spirit; seeing the learned youths only as ‘mules’ to be put to work, fit only to put out magazines that they, the old men, ‘rule’ upon, to carry their briefcases, to organize their lectures, to advertize them in the magazines, to write essays that they, the ‘old men’, only sign. (I wish anybody blamed me for libelling.) It is so true! The old men’s inability to adapt to the new life conditions, their creative impotence smother our public life and discourage the nation’s energies. In today’s Romania, there is no man in his fifties – with disparagingly few exceptions – who does not occupy the place of another, younger and more capable. Most of them are aware of it. But who is so much out of his mind as to give up all those ‘well-deserved rights’? So they stay. They stay and school the youths. Their schooling means routine and rusting, lack of courage and self-respect, ‘reasonableness’ and lack of generosity. This is how we all grow up: with the mentality of attending pages who lack a personality of their own and are coward enough to think and create for themselves. We are wary and grown older before our time. And the way we are – so is our country. No wonder therefore that the nations around us live their lives at an entirely different pace, at the victorious pace of creation!” Well, then Nae Ionescu concludes his article by saying: “Other nations were fortunate enough to lose their old too in war. All we lost was our young…”
This text by Nae Ionescu, that I did not know and I am glad to have learned about today, does not however invalidate my former opinion. In fact, I think Nae Ionescu was one of the cleverest men who have ever lived on this planet. There are many who do not believe this, either because they did not know him or because they do not know what cleverness is. I am aware that Nae wrote a lot of nonsense in his lifetime – that is why he only wrote for periodicals and gathered very little of what he wrote in book-form –, but this text you have just read to me is absolutely and exceptionally idiotic; it couldn’t be more stupid than that. But it is also interesting to point something out: this text is entitled “Old Age”, when it should have been called “On Fools”, because so many young people were so incredibly foolish…

Mr. Paleologu, do you think that such a text, published in 1927, may have stimulated the struggle of Cioran, Eliade and the rest against their elders?
I don’t think so, but it might have… They may have shared the same feverishness, the same moronic self-importance that the young displayed at that time. They may have been like that too… But I also read good texts by them, texts written later, when these men were old and clever. They were not clever because they were old. They were old and clever. A clever man is clever, whether old or young. But a moron is a moron especially when he is young. The older he gets, the more authoritarian he becomes, which gives his moronity a certain self-assurance. But he is still a moron. And this text by Nae Ionescu I think could not be more stupid than it is. I am glad I have, before I die, this proof so clear that that time was indeed an age of imbecility. I do mean Eliade, who was a very clever man, but who also had this juvenile whim, this stupid idea “let us make room for the young!” This idea of the young blood is foolish. A few years ago, I met the German ambassador in Bucharest. This man spoke the best French I have ever heard, he had a first-class European culture, a German and French culture in the first place, and he was exceptionally clever. His last assignment was in Bucharest, because he was going to be sixty-five and would have to retire, no matter what. To “make room for the young”! “Let us do away with the old!” – that is the mental attitude in the West even now.

Not just in the West. It has always been in this country as well…
It has been in this country as well, indeed, but rather at a jabberish level. Putting into practice this stupid principle “shut out the old and bring in the young” is a tremendous cruelty. Because there is no certainty that the young are cleverer. In my opinion, they’re not. A young man is foolish even when he is clever! Even if he is endowed with a remarkable intelligence, his youth drives him to act foolishly because of the overreacting, because of the rhetoric. Moreover, there are many young people who are considered to be good in the beginning, when they show off, and only later seen as the morons they actually were. But they were morons because they were morons. As I said before: a moron is a moron at any age. Hence, there are many old morons, too. Most of the old are morons not because they are old, but because they are morons. I sided with the elders of Romanian culture, because I looked up to Paul Zarifopol and I looked up to Titu Maiorescu who was much older than I was and had actually died long before I was born. I entertained many personal relationships, through my family, with the older intellectuals. In fact, what did “older” mean? People who were in their forties or fifties back then. Those were the old… as compared to the other ones, who had barely come of age, who were in their late twenties at the most and thought they were smarter because all they had was their youth. I rediscover now the feeling I had then: my loathing of the young.
I am horrified by these imbecil young men! Not because now, when I am very old, you may think I find it gratifying. There is no joy in being old, there is no joy in coming closer and closer to death. But it is only too natural to accept the approach of death and to modify your way of living, at the proper time, in order to prepare yourself for dying. This is the only clever thing a man can do from a certain age on. And yet, those activist young men – most of them, anyway – never ceased to believe they belonged with life instead of death, even after they had grown old. Morons! Clear-as-daylight morons!

Well, Mr. Paleologu, but Mircea Eliade, who was deemed to be the “leader of the 1927 Generation” – although Arșavir Acterian, for instance, claimed that the actual leader of the 1927 Generation was Mircea Vulcănescu –, Eliade, then, followed the line drawn by Nae Ionescu in the article I have just quoted to you from, I mean he too fought against the old. While another representative of that generation, Emil Cioran, wrote an article entitled “The Dictatorship of Rheumatism”.
The title is not bad… I find it amusing… But it’s still stupid!

Well, but they all… What about Eugen Ionescu, for instance, who boasted that whenever he saw a sulkier face while walking down the Victoria Avenue, he would take off his hat to that face and call it loudly “You, blockhead!” Why do you think they behaved like that? Just to show off, or what?!
Maybe they wished to show off, maybe they needed to come out in bold relief or to have some remarkable or prophetical gesture of theirs remembered… But it is still foolish!

There is this Romanian habit of admiring the swindlers

It obviously is foolish…
A bullish young man enjoys certain balls – I like this word for what it means –, but the whole thing proves useless, because it doesn’t last long. It is over before you know. And then you remain the blockhead you used to be… If we look around, generally speaking, we can see that the idea of the young blood is an old mental disease that did not appear in the 1920s. It is the old theory that it is “so beautiful to be young”. It is not in the least beautiful! Being old is not any uglier. Old age is beautiful too, because it brings about certain perspectives, certain corrections in one’s mental attitude, more tolerance, more tenderness, more strictness, that the commanding proximity of death calls for. But the young have no idea of it. I am not an anti-young, because a clever man is clever whether young or old. The only real difference is that between the clever and the fool. The only essential difference, from which all the conflicts in the world and all the sufferings of mankind derive, for thousands and thousands of years, is the contradiction and inadequacy brought about by the existence and coexistence of the clever and the fool. This is the great problem! And there is no compromise here. The fools must be despised, they must shown for what they are and flung out of the world – of course I am exaggerating now… what would we do without our fools?! It’s not that the fools are useful so we may dupe them. They are still the ones who dupe us. Look, I have noticed something very interesting… There is this Romanian habit of admiring the swindlers. Being a swindler or a slyboots passes for a great intellectual achievement. It strikes me very hard that I have heard the sentence “he is dangerously clever” hundreds, maybe even thousands of times. What the heck, only a fool is dangerous! A clever man is an asset. But the battle against the fools has always been and always will be fought, no matter how hypocritical and presumptuous, and, especially, by capitulating and having clever men play fools just to help the fools feel comfortable in their skins. It’s useless! There is only one sure thing about the fools: that they never fail to detect intelligence and they join forces, actively and functionally, against it. Fools hate intelligence! They loathe it! In this country of ours, for instance, I notice that a fool always suspects a clever man of Machiavellian, of ominous, of diabolic plans. This idea of a “dangerous intelligence”, of the “danger of intelligence” is an old fixation of the moron. This is their policy! That’s why the whole age around 1927 was a time of triumph for the morons!

Well, but didn’t they know that? Didn’t they realize they were stupid, awkward and moronic?
Whether they realized it or not is of no consequence, because at their age they gained nothing from knowing it. A young man is seldom active and creative. Sometimes you hear say: “Oh, such a great young poet!” It may be… It just may. But a great poet is, more often than not, an old poet. But suppose it is just like that… Such intellectual qualities do not come at certain given ages; you have them whenever you happen to have them. If you happen to have them all your life, it means you have them when you are old as you had them when you were young. If you happen to have them only when you are young, then it means you are a glorious young imbecile…

But these “morons”, as you call them, had produced “Acmes of Despair”, a book that was awarded a prize back then…
A prize awarded by some old men…

And Eugen Ionescu had produced a fabulous “No”, that was, in fact, another brag.
It was the book of a braggart, but it was, at least, a sincere prank. He was a sincere prankster, honest in his sincerity. I mean he did not believe anything else, all he wanted was to leave people flabbergasted, to frighten them, to make an impression…

This was another book awarded a prize by some old men… As was Noica’s “Mathesis”… Were they all the books of braggarts? Did they all publish their books simply to make an impression with them?
I guess there was something else too… There was a certain obsoleteness of the major academic figures. Many important scholars had grown old, who were important not so much through their talent, as they were through their works, useful works that are even now basic references. And their growing old brought along a concealed falling out of favour. I mean the fact that they had fallen out of favour could only be perceived by the shrewdest people, because otherwise it remained hidden behind their scholarly authority, that was both alleged and taken for granted. It is also very true that many old men are equally imbecile. No doubt about that! But not because they are old, but because they are imbecile. It never happens to a man who is clever when young to become an imbecile just because he grows old. Senile, yes – he can become senile. But not an imbecile. Of course, senility is a form of imbecility – in the Latin, etymological sense of the word imbecility, that is, helplessness. But such youngish bravado is an impudence. There are, however, certain nuances… For instance, Nae Ionescu’s bragging was, above all, amusing. They found it amusing, in the first place, to do all those things and then boast about having done them. There were also old, clever men who also found it amusing. There was another thing that should be noticed… The so-called “old men” those youngsters fought, or pretended to fight, the ones they attacked and claimed to be doomed, were in their forties at the most, if not younger. Mihai Ralea, for instance, was around forty at that time and he was the prototype of the “old man”, he was loathed for being an “old man” because of his aged culture, a culture that had its roots in the previous century, hence a solid culture.

The text I have read you from, Nae Ionescu’s text, was published when its author was thirty-seven, so he was not too old himself… Let me ask you this: if Nae Ionescu had not started this fight, if he had not set the course of this struggle, do you think his apprentices – Mircea Eliade, Emil Cioran, Petre Þuțea – would still have clashed with their elders? Or else, if Nae Ionescu had simply moderated them a little, a book like “Acmes of Despair” would still have come out?
Well, to me it is immaterial whether a book like “Acmes of Despair” exists or not. It is a mediocre book that I find absolutely boring. A book with no literary value or with very little such value. Cioran’s great creation is his French one, the one he produced when he was already an old man.

But if it hadn’t been for that attitude of the young people back then, do you think there would still have been books like “Maitreyi” or “Isabel and the Devil’s Waters”?
“Isabel and the Devil’s Waters”?! Such a bad book… It’s impossible to read, it’s a piece of nonsense! But these books were very much commented upon and I think it made a good impression to pretend you liked them. It made a good impression to read such text, you could play revolutionary.

It was a fashion, then…
It was a stupid fashion, but a fashion… Like any fashion, it was stupid. Well, fashions are stupid because they are fashions, but there some fashions that are more pleasing, more graceful, more beautiful than others that are uglier and even more stupid. Fashions are not equally worthwhile during a given age. There have been fashions full of charm and original ideas, as there have been incredibly stupid fashions. Just as it happens nowadays: we all lose our minds to fashions that are shamefully moronic.

So Emil Cioran, Eugen Ionescu, Arșavir Acterian, or Jeni Acterian read all those books to “make a good impression”?
Well, there was this feeling of emulation and a kind of solidarity… I must say, however, that Jeni Acterian was definitely opposed to the young generation of those times. She had absolutely no taste for the pathetic babbling Cioran and Arșavir gave themselves up to.

For their existentialism…
I was telling you once about this gathering of middle-class young men, very comfortably set, with very refined and very stylish means of living. Arșavir Acterian was one of them. What they had among them was a climate of intellectual despair and Arșavir was the most desperate of them all, that is, he, the one who got on best. Of course, you can be desperate because of some circumstances in your life, but not because you advocate a philosophy of despair – that’s no philosophy, it’s nonsense – and you can be desperate while being either very rich or very poor. It goes without saying that the poor man’s despair is greater than the rich man’s – that’s a deception, a quasi-deception. But I am glad we’re having this talk now, that it’s being recorded, because it helps me recall how indignant I felt back then, when I was sixteen, seventeen, twenty years old and bitterly anti-juvenile. And the liking and admiration I felt towards Mircea Eliade were censored by an “in spite of”. Today I have, as it were, something of a compensation. I have the opportunity to criticize Eliade at an older age for his poor literary creations, or better said his literary attempts, not creations, for his poor literature all in all. With the single exception of one of his novels, a very good prose, resourceful, convincing, beautiful, a normal, an absolutely normal book – that is, an old-fashioned book, his only book that is not stupid in his entire prose writing. “The Hooligans”, for instance, is an interesting documentary novel, but, aside from that, it is like most of his novels, I mean perfectly stupid.

Eliade thought “The Midsummer Night” was his best novel…
He said it was his masterpiece. It’s a book he wrote when he was old, after the London bombardments he was a witness of. It’s a book that has a couple of well-written passages. With aging, the man had realized a few things about life and picked up several genuine elements that he was able to identify in real life. So it’s a book that has some good fragments, it’s not a good book.

To acknowledge yourself as a non-believer is proof of foolishness

Mr. Paleologu, one other matter regarding the 1927 Generation is whether or not they had faith in God.
Some of them lived under the impression they had faith, but I don’t think they actually had any. They may have thought they were believers, but they also thought it was fashionable to pretend they did not believe. Anyway, they believed in another god than the God referred to in all the traditional religions.

Cioran said: “Following Eliade’s example, we are all former believers, we are all religious spirits devoid of a religion”…
This quote is from “Exercises in Admiration”, a good, beautiful book written when he was old, a book he could in no way have written when young. He was much too stupid to write such a book in his younger years. He was too stupid in the sense of state of being, or temporary condition. There was this budding genius touch about him, that blossomed much later, after he learned a proper French and read the great authors. After he read them thoroughly, with both a visual and an emotional memory. This is how he became a great writer, by assimilating the well-developed art of the French genius.

But were they “religious spirits devoid of a religion”?
No! I think they just didn’t care very much about believing, but cared enough for feigning it.

Do you think Nae Ionescu was a believer?
Yes! I think he was!

Then why would his followers have been “religious spirits devoid of a religion”?
Whether they were any such thing or not we can no longer tell today. They were hypocrites. They showed off. When a man shows off, you cannot tell what his actual mind is. He simply shows off, so his main concern is showing off, not acting clever.

Many wonder whether Eliade was a believer, whether he was an Orthodox. Cioran also said about Eliade that his writing of a treatise of “ History of the Religions”, his having drawn an “inventory of saints” does not prove any religious atittude on his part.
Of course it doesn’t.

Well, then, was Eliade a believer? Was he a true Orthodox?
This matter of being an Orthodox or being a non-Orthodox should be reduced to a simpler scheme. This is not the question: to be an Orthodox or be a Catholic. The question is: was he a believer or not? I think he was. But in the sense in which a young man considers faith: it is there provided the young man is not a moron. Because I, for one, think that the lack of faith is proof of stupidity. This is it and I will repeat: to acknowledge yourself as a non-believer is proof of foolishness. I can still see this in my own generation: there are people who still cling to their skepticism back then. They get stubborn in their non-believing, so they are not taken for suckers, for people who take for granted a bunch of illusions. But non-believing is a sign of stupidity. It’s as simple as that! And a fool cannot believe in God, even if he imagines he does.
I was reading this essay on this matter. It said: Was Eliade a man of faith? Of course not. There was no way he could have believed in God as long as he wanted himself incinerated after death, as long as he did absolutely nothing to prove himself as a man of faith. This question about Eliade is a little more intricate… First of all, not only the dying man decides whether he is to be incinerated or not, but the ones who survive him as well.

It appears that Eliade made this decision himself.
He may have… If it is true, then we have here the best proof that he did not renounce his juvenile foolishness. I know people, from my own family, who have been buried like Christians – thank God! –, because they eventually came to their senses. They had made reservations, they had booked their places at the crematory… They had made this choice for the sake of hygiene, because they thought it is better to burn instead of rot. One couldn’t be more stupid than that, since the rotting does not take place in the open, it takes place underground.

There were even voices, in the Orthodox Church, that advocated Eliade’s sanctification.
This is what I think: we shouldn’t consider this matter the way the hypocrites, the Pharisees and the bigots do. We should consider it like decent human beings. Man is capable of sin, because this is a never-ending temptation in the human self. This sin, the sin of the lack of faith, affects even the best of believers. If the tempted happens to be a complainer or a show-man or one who plays virtuoso, then he may also feign the lack of faith, while being an entirely faithful man. A significant gesture doesn’t mean anything. It is precisely the significant gestures that prove insignificant eventually.

Eliade was no fascist

Now for a last topic I would like us to dwell upon, that we cannot avoid when we talk about Eliade and the 1927 Generation in general: it is about their fascist, Legionary Movement allegiances. Tens of volumes have been written on this matter… Let me ask you, Mr. Paleologu: Was Eliade a fascist?
Certainly not! Absolutely not!

There is this text published in Italy, that says: “Eliade’s writings of the 1930s and 1940s, and his subsequent work as well, even if less obviously, praizes not only the distruction of the modern world, but also the foundation of the new Reich on the sacrifice the Jews”. This is a text signed by Fernando Nessi in 1998.
It is a text of no consequence.

Yes, but many people have told me, mostly in the West: “Eliade cannot be recovered because of his attitude, because he was a fascist”.
Nonsense! There are so many morons and those are obviously among them! What do they mean fascist?! There is no fascism for a clever man! Well, there are clever people who advocate a maybe more authoritarian policy. Or maybe a clever man who has no taste for the elective system or for its so-called democratic babbling. There may be a man who does not believe in democracy. Such a position is acceptable, because democracy is not always entirely convincing. All those who blame others for fascism are morons. Take Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine’s book “Cioran, Eliade, Ionescu: Forgetting Fascism”: it is a stupid book, as if this were everybody’s concern, not to forget fascism. I am not interested in fascism! I know for sure that fascism was a horrible thing, that it has to be avoided, but I do not concern myself with always investigating “who else could be a fascist”. I have never been a Securitate-man and I do not like this Securitate-like habit of probing into people’s conscience.

But such attitudes are bound to destroy somebody’s work. There are British publishers who refuse to publish Eliade, because they suspect him of having been a fascist.
Then they are stupid British publishers. Forget about such a moron. It is clear as daylight.

Then all those attitudes are transferred here…
…And give birth to politicizing polemics between morons. Because only morons cannot help thinking politically.

Is this an attempt to destroy Eliade? Or Cioran?
There may be some who aspire to this, but they are stupid enough not to realize they will never accomplish it.

Why do you think they will never accomplish it?
Because they have no talent! Because they are morons! That’s why!

Do you think they may go for this motive? Shouldn’t we clarify things better?
No! A moron has no motive. A moron will always be a moron!

What about the students, the young who get this idea into their heads: “Eliade cannot be read! Eliade was a fascist!”
How come you cannot read him, if you are clever enough?! You can read him all right, because there is plenty to read in his books. Maybe not so much his novels, which are bad, but there is anyway plenty to read. For instance his essays, which are brilliant.

Patriotism leads to huge stupidities

Claudio Mutti says in his book that Eliade advocated “Romanian-ism”…
He did not advocate any bloody Romanian-ism! He may have resorted to this phrasing, because he cast some kind of a bait: “being a Romanian”, “being a good Romanian”… For him, “being a good Romanian” meant, in fact, “to be or not to be a moron”.

Nae Ionescu wrote on this subject of “being a Romanian and being a good Romanian”… He said, for instance, that an Itzak may be a Romanian, but will never be a good Romanian.
Cannot be a good Romanian?! Any Itzak can be as good a Romanian as any other Ion or Gheorghe. This is of no consequence… It is foolish this talk about being a good Romanian or a bad Romanian, a good Frenchman or a bad Frenchman, a good or a bad German! Some are overly concerned about this patriotic or rather chauvinistic stupid rash. Because patriotism leads to huge stupidities. I do not find words of praise for patriotism turned into rhetoric. You must love your country because it is your country, because it is only too normal that you should love your country and its people, since you know them better than anyone else, you know their sorrows better since you have come to this world among them, since you and this or that among them understand each other only through feelings, through an exchanged glance, since you and they criticize the same things – very harshly, at times –, because it’s your country, after all. But turning patriotism into a dogma beats any standards of idiocy!

The 1927 Generation made indeed a dogma out of patriotism…
So what?! It still is stupid!

However, the young pick their raw models from precisely that area…
So much the worse for them! As you know, stupidities are recurrent, they come up again. But they are still stupidities!

Eliade said the following about Romanian-ism, in a 1934 article: “The word Romanian-ism is utterly compromised. Who would dare call himself a nationalist in public, these days? He would as soon be labelled a Hitlerite, a hooligan, a racist, a fascist, a mercenary, and accused of advocating the war. Let it be known that Romanian-ism does not mean fascism, nor chauvinism, it simply refers to the wish to establish an organic, unified, ethnical and unprejudiced state”.
There are details here, that call for a discussion. For instance, what does an “ethnical state” mean? Why should that be an essential asset for a state? I for one do not find it interesting… Ethnicity is a different kind of value, that strives to overlap with a person’s nationality, but it does not solve the problem once and for all.

You think, then, that such questions raised now, whether Eliade was a believer or not, whether he was a fascist, a Legionary Movement man, or not are not important?
Of course not. This thing about the Legionary Movement … Nae Ionescu had nothing to do with the Legionary Movement either – what a terrible stupidity…

There are documents, however, that prove they ran for offices on the Legionary Movement lists.
They may have… Running for an office comes from someone’s craving to accomplish something, to obtain some parliamentary duty or whatever… So running for offices is nothing more than sheer ambition.

So did Eliade exhibit legionary cravings?
Not in the least, not in the least!

So why all these accusations?
People remember those times and make connections between things that have nothing in common.

…And have no importance?
Maybe they had some importance for those involved in them, at the time, but…

But how is this important for the young? Is it important that they should go study the documents at the Academy Library, in order to establish whether or not Eliade had anything to do with the Legionary Movement?
That is a stupid thing to do. It’s a proof of painful stupidity!

So it is not important, it’s of no consequence…
Maybe it helps detect imbecility.

They say one cannot talk about Eliade’s work unless one knows about his life.
That is a different thing… You cannot talk about anyone unless you know his life, all his life, with all its avatars, which does not mean you can be prejudiced or passionate.

Well, what is then left of Eliade in your memory now?
His intelligence! This is precisely what he himself says at the very beginning of his book Oceanography: “This is a book of intelligence!” Of intelligence! – I repeat. All that matters starts from intelligence. The rest is nil!

So that is all…
No! That is all that counts! Everything worthwhile in writing has to do with intelligence, with nothing else. Intelligence makes all the difference! Everything else is stupid and must be rejected – well, we cannot reject everything, since the world is so full of stupidity. We are therefore compelled to acknowledge its invincible and never-ending existence. The fools cannot be exterminated. Unfortunately, they cannot! And even if we could, it would be as bad, because too few of the rest of us would be left.

Thank you very much, Mr. Paleologu!
Don’t mention it.

(Photos from the Paleologu family archives)

This interview was taken in February 2005.

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