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Wednesday May 2nd, I had the pleasure to meet Fernando Sabater at Instituto Cervantes, NY.

The conversation was lighthearted and included many anecdotes and trvia, but also a good dose of Philosophy and Psychology wisdom and aphorisms (like those by Andrés Newman). Here are some delicious quotes by him:

  • Don’t attack, don’t comply
  • Childhood is always bad: wether because it was bad and left you a trauma, or because it was good and it frustrates you to leave it behind
  • Happyness is also hard to bear
  • Skepticism grows, and that’s why when I am about to make a statement (particularly if it is a grand one) I end up laughing. That’s why although I was going to become a great philoshoper, I ended up a simple professor
  • The difficulty of leaving the pack
  • I don’t have arguments to support good things… just try them!
  • One phylosophizes in order not to stop asking questions
  • Do not be shy on contradictions

And others quoted by him:

We live dramatically in a non-dramatic world

Santayana

Tell me the lie you consider more worthy of being true

Mon Faust (Paul Valéry)

If the young knew and the old could!

Old French proverb

Patent portas

Wrongly attributed by him to Epictetus (it is actually by Marcus Tullius Cicero)

Things are changing so much, I don’t even know if I’m on our side anymore

Anonymous quote after the Spanish Civil War

The difference between a civilized and a barbaric man is that the civilized man is willing to die for that in which he does not completely believes in

Isaiah Berlin

I know Paris “with Poe, in a dream”

Lovecraft (… but Poe had never been to Paris either!)

I propose to add to the Fundamental Bill of Rights: a right to contradict oneself, and a right to leave

Baudelaire

So, at the end of his talk, and since he had translated some of E. M. Cioran’s work and knew him personally, I asked him one question about the Romanian philosopher that has haunted me for decades: given his line of thought, why didn’t Cioran kill himself?

Sabater explained to me that he himself tried to be more of a nihilist and negativist in his early twenties, but Cioran told him: you do not look like a nihilist, with that body. And answering my question, Sabater told me how Cioran knew he could always kill himself, so he always left it for another day.