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Eugéne Ionesco

Geburtstag: 26. November 1909
Todesdatum: 28. März 1994

Eugène Ionesco war ein französisch-rumänischer Autor. Er gilt als bedeutendster französischer Dramatiker der Nachkriegszeit und als ein führender Vertreter des absurden Theaters. Ab den 1980er Jahren trat Ionesco auch als Maler hervor.

„Morgen für Morgen kommt man zur Welt.“

—  Eugéne Ionesco

Der König stirbt. Deutsch von Claus Bremer (1924-1996) und Hans Rudolf Stauffacher (1923-1977). In: Spectaculum: Moderne Theaterstücke, Band 7. Suhrkamp 1965, S. 178

„The more you make revolutions, the worse it gets.“

—  Eugéne Ionesco

The Paris Review interview (1984)
Kontext: The French Revolution liberated people from the power of the aristocrats. But the bourgeoisie that took over represented the exploitation of man by man, and had to be destroyed—as in the Russian Revolution, which then degenerated into totalitarianism, Stalinism, and genocide. The more you make revolutions, the worse it gets. Man is driven by evil instincts that are often stronger than moral laws … there is a higher order, but man can separate himself from it because he is free — which is what we have done. We have lost the sense of this higher order, and things will get worse and worse, culminating perhaps in a nuclear holocaust — the destruction predicted in the Apocalyptic texts. Only our apocalypse will be absurd and ridiculous because it will not be related to any transcendence. Modern man is a puppet, a jumping jack.

„It won’t matter to me at all whether the Church canonizes him or not. The important thing is that such a man existed.“

—  Eugéne Ionesco

The Paris Review interview (1984)
Kontext: It’s a play about the life and martyrdom of a modern saint, who has just been canonized by the Church — or is it beatified? Which comes first? I’m not sure. Anyway, his name was Father Maximilian Kolbe, a Pole, and he died in Auschwitz. They were going to send some prisoners to a mine, where they would die of hunger and thirst. Father Kolbe offered to go instead of a man who had a wife and children and didn’t want to die. That man is still alive. … It won’t matter to me at all whether the Church canonizes him or not. The important thing is that such a man existed.

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„They are miserable and they don’t know why. They are puppets, undone. In short, they represent modern man. Their situation is not tragic, since it has no relation to a higher order. Instead, it’s ridiculous, laughable, and derisory.“

—  Eugéne Ionesco

The Paris Review interview (1984)
Kontext: I found ancestors, like Shakespeare, who said, in Macbeth, that the world is full of sound and fury, a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing. Macbeth is a victim of fate. So is Oedipus. But what happens to them is not absurd in the eyes of destiny, because destiny, or fate, has its own norms, its own morality, its own laws, which cannot be flouted with impunity. Oedipus sleeps with his Mummy, kills his Daddy, and breaks the laws of fate. He must pay for it by suffering. It is tragic and absurd, but at the same time it’s reassuring and comforting, since the idea is that if we don’t break destiny’s laws, we should be all right. Not so with our characters. They have no metaphysics, no order, no law. They are miserable and they don’t know why. They are puppets, undone. In short, they represent modern man. Their situation is not tragic, since it has no relation to a higher order. Instead, it’s ridiculous, laughable, and derisory.

„No society has been able to abolish human sadness, no political system can deliver us from the pain of living, from our fear of death, our thirst for the absolute. It is the human condition that directs the social condition, not vice versa.“

—  Eugéne Ionesco

"A Reply to Kenneth Tynan: The Playwright's Role" in The Observer (29 June 1958)
Kontext: I believe that what separates us all from one another is simply society itself, or, if you like, politics. This is what raises barriers between men, this is what creates misunderstanding.
If I may be allowed to express myself paradoxically, I should say that the truest society, the authentic human community, is extra-social — a wider, deeper society, that which is revealed by our common anxieties, our desires, our secret nostalgias. The whole history of the world has been governed by nostalgias and anxieties, which political action does no more than reflect and interpret, very imperfectly. No society has been able to abolish human sadness, no political system can deliver us from the pain of living, from our fear of death, our thirst for the absolute. It is the human condition that directs the social condition, not vice versa.

„You know, the Cathars believed that the world was not created by God but by a demon who had stolen a few technological secrets from Him and made this world — which is why it doesn’t work.“

—  Eugéne Ionesco

canular refers to hoaxes, humorous deceptions.
The Paris Review interview (1984)
Kontext: You know, the Cathars believed that the world was not created by God but by a demon who had stolen a few technological secrets from Him and made this world — which is why it doesn’t work. I don’t share this heresy. I’m too afraid! But I put it in a play called This Extraordinary Brothel, in which the protagonist doesn’t talk at all. There is a revolution, everybody kills everybody else, and he doesn’t understand. But at the very end, he speaks for the first time. He points his finger towards the sky and shakes it at God, saying, “You rogue! You little rogue!” and he bursts out laughing. He understands that the world is an enormous farce, a canular played by God against man, and that he has to play God’s game and laugh about it.

„He understands that the world is an enormous farce, a canular played by God against man, and that he has to play God’s game and laugh about it.“

—  Eugéne Ionesco

canular refers to hoaxes, humorous deceptions.
The Paris Review interview (1984)
Kontext: You know, the Cathars believed that the world was not created by God but by a demon who had stolen a few technological secrets from Him and made this world — which is why it doesn’t work. I don’t share this heresy. I’m too afraid! But I put it in a play called This Extraordinary Brothel, in which the protagonist doesn’t talk at all. There is a revolution, everybody kills everybody else, and he doesn’t understand. But at the very end, he speaks for the first time. He points his finger towards the sky and shakes it at God, saying, “You rogue! You little rogue!” and he bursts out laughing. He understands that the world is an enormous farce, a canular played by God against man, and that he has to play God’s game and laugh about it.

„The most implacable enemies of culture — Rimbaud, Lautréamont, dadaism, surrealism — end up being assimilated and absorbed by it.“

—  Eugéne Ionesco

The Paris Review interview (1984)
Kontext: The most implacable enemies of culture — Rimbaud, Lautréamont, dadaism, surrealism — end up being assimilated and absorbed by it. They all wanted to destroy culture, at least organized culture, and now they’re part of our heritage. It’s culture and not the bourgeoisie, as has been alleged, that is capable of absorbing everything for its own nourishment. As for the oneiric element, that is due partly to surrealism, but to a larger extent due to personal taste and to Romanian folklore — werewolves and magical practices. For example, when someone is dying, women surround him and chant, “Be careful! Don’t tarry on the way! Don’t be afraid of the wolf; it is not a real wolf!”—exactly as in Exit the King. They do that so the dead man won’t stay in infernal regions.<!-- The same thing can be found in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which had a great impact on me too. However, my deepest anxieties were awakened, or reactivated, through Kafka.

„My thoughts were not yet organized or coherent at that age, but I had feelings, a certain nascent [[humanism], and I found these things inadmissible.“

—  Eugéne Ionesco

The Paris Review interview (1984)
Kontext: I remember one day there was a military parade. A lieutenant was marching in front of the palace guards. I can still see him carrying the flag. I was standing beside a peasant with a big fur hat who was watching the parade, absolutely wide-eyed. Suddenly the lieutenant broke rank, rushed toward us, and slapped the peasant, saying, “Take off your hat when you see the flag!” I was horrified. My thoughts were not yet organized or coherent at that age, but I had feelings, a certain nascent [[humanism], and I found these things inadmissible. The worst thing of all, for an adolescent, was to be different from everyone else. Could I be right and the whole country wrong?

„That's not it. That's not it at all. You always have a tendency to add. But one must be able to subtract too. It's not enough to integrate, you must also disintegrate. That's the way life is.“

—  Eugéne Ionesco

The Professor in The Lesson (1951)
Kontext: That's not it. That's not it at all. You always have a tendency to add. But one must be able to subtract too. It's not enough to integrate, you must also disintegrate. That's the way life is. That's philosophy. That's science. That's progress, civilization.

„Writers who try to prove something are unattractive to me, because there is nothing to prove and everything to imagine. So I let words and images emerge from within. If you do that, you might prove something in the process.“

—  Eugéne Ionesco

The Paris Review interview (1984)
Kontext: I let characters and symbols emerge from me, as if I were dreaming. I always use what remains of my dreams of the night before. Dreams are reality at its most profound, and what you invent is truth because invention, by its nature, can’t be a lie. Writers who try to prove something are unattractive to me, because there is nothing to prove and everything to imagine. So I let words and images emerge from within. If you do that, you might prove something in the process.

„The absence of ideology in a work does not mean an absence of ideas; on the contrary it fertilizes them.“

—  Eugéne Ionesco

"A Reply to Kenneth Tynan: The Playwright's Role" in The Observer (29 June 1958)
Kontext: Every work of art (unless it is a psuedo-intellectualist work, a work already comprised in some ideology that it merely illustrates, as with Brecht) is outside ideology, is not reducible to ideology. Ideology circumscribes without penetrating it. The absence of ideology in a work does not mean an absence of ideas; on the contrary it fertilizes them.

„People always try to find base motives behind every good action.“

—  Eugéne Ionesco

The Paris Review interview (1984)
Kontext: People always try to find base motives behind every good action. We are afraid of pure goodness and of pure evil.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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