Insomnia | An interview with Emil Cioran, 1984

Emile Cioran by Sophie Bassouls, 1977

"Anyone can escape into sleep, we are all geniuses when we dream, 
the butcher's the poet's equal there."

"In the hours without sleep, each moment is so full and so vacant that it 
suggests itself as a rival of Time."

"Read day and night, devour books - these sleeping pills - not to know but to forget! Through
 books you can retrace your way back to the origins of spleen, discarding history and its illusions."

"I lost my sleep, and this is the greatest tragedy that can befall someone.
 It is much worse than sitting in prison."

Emil Cioran

Emile Cioran by Sophie Bassouls, 1977

When did these sleepless nights begin?

They began in my youth, at about nineteen.  It wasn’t simply a medical problem, it was deeper than that.  It was the fundamental period of my life,
the most serious experience.  All the rest is secondary.  Those sleepless nights opened my eyes, everything changed for me because of that.

 Do you suffer it still? 

 A lot less. But that was a precise period, about six or seven years, where my whole perspective on the world changed. I think it’s a very important problem. It happens like this: normally someone who goes to bed and sleeps all night, the next day he begins a new life almost. It’s not simply another day, it’s another life. And so, he can undertake things, he can express himself, he has a present, a future, and so on. But for someone who doesn’t sleep, from the time of going to bed at night to waking up in the morning it’s all continuous, there’s no interruption. Which means, there is no suppression of consciousness. It all turns around that. So, instead of starting a new life, at eight in the morning you’re like you were at eight the evening before. The nightmare continues uninterrupted in a way, and in the morning, start what? Since there’s no difference from the night before. That new life doesn’t exist. The whole day is a trial, it’s the continuity of the trial. While everyone rushes toward the future, you are outside. So, when that’s stretched out for months and years, it causes the sense of things, the conception of life, to be forcibly changed. You don’t see what future to look forward to, because you don’t have any future. And I really consider that the most terrible, most unsettling, in short the principal experience of my life. There’s also the fact that you are alone with yourself. In the middle of the night, everyone’s asleep, you are the only one who is awake. Right away I’m not a part of mankind, I live in another world. And it requires an extraordinary will to not succumb.

Succumb to what, madness?

Yes.  To the temptation of suicide.  In my opinion, almost all suicides, about ninety percent say, are due to insomnia.  I can’t prove that, but I’m convinced.

Have you met other insomniacs through the years who suffered like that?

Not to that degree, no.  Perhaps in a lunatic asylum one might.  But I wasn’t crazy at all, that’s what’s interesting.  What I often liked to do, I should say, was go for walks at night.  Curiously enough, I did that in Paris as well, until about ten years ago.  Very often, in the middle of the night, if I couldn’t sleep, I’d get up and go walking through Paris for two or three hours.  Now it’s become too dangerous to just go out for a walk like that at four in the morning.  I liked to go all over the place.  I’d wait till people were going to work, and then I’d come home and sleep a little.  But I was doing better by then.


Break, Break, Break | Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1835

Roy Lichtenstein, Sea Shore, 1964

Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

O, well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

Break, Break, Break,  Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1835

 Illustration to the poem by W. E. F. Britten, 1901

The poem is an elegy that describes Tennyson's feelings of loss after Arthur Henry Hallam 
died and his feelings of isolation while at Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire. He is standing on the 
rocky sea shore and writing this poem.

On Writing | Mickey Spillane, 1918 - 2006

Mickey Spillane with a L.C. Smith Standard Super Speed typewriter, 1952

"Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle. They read it to get to the end."

"The first page sells that book. The last page sells your next book."

"I was one of the first guys writing comic books, I wrote Captain America, with guys like
Stan Lee, who became famous later on with Marvel Comics. Stan could write on three
typewriters at once! I wrote the Human Torch, Submariner. I worked my way down.
I started off at the high level, in the slick magazines, but they didn't use my name,
they used house names. Anyway, then I went downhill to the pulps, then downhill
further to the comics. I went downhill class-wise, but I went uphill, money-wise!
I was making more money in the comics. I wrote the original Mike Hammer
as a comic, Mike Danger."

“See, heroes never die. John Wayne isn't dead, Elvis isn't dead. Otherwise you don’t
have a hero. You can’t kill a hero. That’s why I never let him get older.”

"I always wanted to have Mike Mazurki play [detective character]
Mike Hammer... too bad he couldn't act."

"I don't research anything. If I need something, I'll invent it."

“If you're a singer you lose your voice. A baseball player loses his arm. A writer
gets more knowledge, and if he's good, the older he gets, the better he writes.”

"Hemingway hated me. I sold 200 million books, and he didn't. Of course most of
mine sold for 25 cents, but still... you look at all this stuff with a grain of salt."

“Those big-shot writers could never dig the fact that there are more
salted peanuts consumed than caviar.”

“I don't give a damn about reviews. What I like to read are royalty checks.”

"I'm actually a softie. Tough guys get killed too early... "

Mickey Spillane, 1918-2006

Mickey Spillane (1918-2006) was an American crime novelist, whose stories often feature
his signature detective character, Mike Hammer. More than 225 million copies of his books
have sold internationally. Spillane was also an occasional actor, once even playing
Hammer himself.

Mike Hammer novels:
I, the Jury, 1947 / My Gun is Quick, 1950 / Vengeance is Mine!, 1950 / One Lonely Night, 1951 /
 The Big Kill, 1951 / Kiss Me Deadly, 1952 / The Girl Hunters, 1962 / The Snake, 1964 /
The Twisted Thing, 1966 / The Body Lovers, 1967 / Survival...Zero!, 1970 / The Killing Man, 1989 /
Black Alley, 1996


Music is an experience, not a science | Ennio Morricone, 1928-2020

Ennio Morricone fix a paint on his house wall, Rome, 1966

“I was born in 1928, so in 1943, 1944, we had the war in Rome. There were a lot of 
hardships, a lack of food, many shortages. So when I worked with the Americans,
 the English, and the Canadians soon after the war, when I played with them, they paid 
me with food. That will give you an idea how widespread poverty was at that time.”

"I was offered a free villa in Hollywood, but I said no thank you, I prefer to live in Italy."

“In my youth, cinemas showed two films in one day. I used to watch both of them. 
It may sound strange, but ‘West Side Story’ was the only musical I liked. I didn’t like 
musicals, or films with songs, at all. I always thought they were not real, that the songs
 sounded a little bit false. But in the case of ‘West Side Story,’ things were different.”

"My favourite type of pizza is a Napoletana: tomatoes, mozzarella, 
and very few anchovies. It must have a thin base."

Ennio Morricone, Janiculum Hill, Rome, 1966

"Music is an experience, not a science."

“I often use the same harmonies as pop music because 
the complexity of what I do is elsewhere.”

"I come from a background of experimental music which mingled 
real sounds together with musical sounds."

“My more risky or avant garde music is not that well known 
to a wider audience, but I wish it was.”

"Bernard Herrmann used to write all his scores by himself. So did Bach, Beethoven 
and Stravinsky. I dont understand why this happens in the movie industry."

"You can see my decision as either a distinctive factor 
or as a limitation. I don't feel it is a limitation."

"We live in a modern world, and in contemporary music the central fact is 
contamination. Not the contamination of disease but the contamination of 
musical styles. If you find this in me, that is good."

Ennio Morricone and Sergio Leone pose together in the primary school year book, 1937

"I also used these realistic sounds in a psychological way. With The Good, the Bad and the
Ugly, I used animal sounds - as you say, the coyote sound - so the sound of the animal
 became the main theme of the movie."

“Music needs room to breathe.”

“In music, what is very important is temporality of space and length, based on the 
breathing space the director gives the music within the film, by separating the music 
from various elements of reality, like noises, dialogues… That’s how you treat music 
properly, but it doesn’t always happen this way. Music is often blamed, but it’s 
not its fault.”

"Popularity doesn't bother me. It attests to the affection and comprehension of the 
public. The important thing is to retain the pioneer spirit. I profoundly love the 
profession, and I work on each film as if it were the first - and the last. Giving the 
best of myself. Many of the 'greats' ask their arranger to write their scores for them. 
Me, I write all alone, from the first note to the last. All."

Ennio Morricone

"It could have been extremely boring to write musical scores for only westerns 
of horror films. It was really exciting for me to work in all these various genres."

“I want people to know about all the kinds of music that I write. 
Some believe I just write film scores, which is not true.”

"I like to feel and understand people's contentment with what I've done."

Ennio Morricone, 1928-2020

Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, 1978

Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza (also known as The Group or Il Gruppo) was 
an avant-garde free improvisation group considered the first experimental composers collective.
Main Members: Franco Evangelisti (piano, percussion) -Ennio Morricone (trumpet, flute) 
- Egisto Macchi

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