These smallest of literary forms are variously judged as hubristic, timid, virtuosic, lazy, wise. “Humans were taking pills long before there were any effective ones,” JPJ writes.
Charles Baxter: “No one ever said that sonnets or haiku were evidence of short attention spans.” Pascal: “The present letter is very long, simply because I had no leisure to make it shorter.” Don Paterson: “The aphorism is a “make, do”), the utmost condition of madeness. I don’t necessarily abhor context, complexity, depth, qualification, specification, or volume per se; I simply abhor filler. After the human genome was sequenced in 2000, it was determined that 98 percent of chromosomal material consisted of noncoding DNA, assumed to serve no function. On Geary’s website, which serves in part as an appendix to the book, he distinguishes between aphorisms and twenty-eight other very small forms, including the adage, the apothegm, and the axiom. “Likewise, we have not yet given up on prayer.” 20.
I’ve memorized three passages from Rosemary Edmonds’s translation of one about Anna’s son: “She had not had time to undo, and so carried back with her, the parcel of toys she had chosen so sadly and with so much love the day before”; one about Constantine’s brother: “Constantine saw that it simply was that life had become unbearable to his brother”; and one about Karenin’s frustration that it is impossible to speak to Anna both casually and tenderly: “He would involuntarily assume his usual bantering tone, which jeered at those who spoke like that [i.e., sincerely]. But, for all I know, philosophers might describe them as thoughts without all the philosophy getting in the way.” 16. Maybe the aphorist’s goal — or some aphorists’ goal — is to achieve the permanence of the proverb while retaining authorship.
At my most conceited and delusional, I imagine myself a literary scavenger, recovering sentences that might otherwise be lost in an excess of surrounding sentences. A sound bite is just something some politician said.” The weakest seem tacitly to acknowledge that, although some of the twenty-eight labels are essentially synonymic, one may as well finish the list: “A witticism, like an aphorism, can achieve immortality, but it is just funny rather than philosophical. Keep your eyes peeled or you’ll miss it.” I can’t blame him; after a fifty-century romp, starting with the through some of the best examples of the form, it’s hard to resist having a go at it oneself. In his introduction to the Oxford book, Gross also sets out to distinguish aphorisms from other one-line forms: “All too often a maxim suggests a tag, a stock response, something waiting to be trotted out in the spirit of Polonius. Nietzsche: “It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what everyone else says in a whole book — what everyone else does not say in a whole book.” George Murray: “I describe them as poems without all the poetry getting in the way.
Still, the proliferation of new names does not seem to be slowing. The third distinguishing mark of an aphorism, in fact, is that it is a form of literature” — which is to say, it is signed by an author. In the poet James Richardson’s: “No one will ever write a novel by accident. But if I say ‘Pick a word’ and you say one, where did it come from?
Gross gently dismantles his second point by adding, “Once or twice I have also broken the rule which says that aphorisms ought to deal with universals rather than particulars — but only, I hope, when the epigram in question readily lends itself to a more extended application.” He describes his collection as containing “a fair number of slightly longer passages, some poetry, a few mock-aphorisms, a sprinkling of miscellaneous outbursts and oddities.” I admire his editorial humility. Many of the best lines in James Lough and Alex Stein’s new collection of aphorisms by contemporary writers, appear in the introductory essays written by the aphorists themselves.Then, in 2012, several research groups discovered that so-called junk DNA actually contained genetic switches essential to the function of the organism; 80 percent of all chromosomal material was then believed by many scientists to be biochemically active. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, coined the word “aphorism” in the fifth century ” But the whole aphorism goes like this: “Life is short, and Art long; the crisis fleeting; experience perilous, and decision difficult. (I like his corollary: “This is what distinguishes the form from proverbs, for instance, which are really worn-out aphorisms that have had the identity of the original author rubbed away through repeated use.”) It must be philosophical. The best of these distinctions are very good: “A great maxim is also an aphorism. It occurs to me only now that JPJ could be a woman. Of the 500 or so writers in the Oxford anthology’s index, there are fifty women at most, and I’m not sure why these three lines by the poet Stevie Smith are among them: “Ceux qui luttent ce sont ceux qui vivent, / And down here they luttent a very great deal indeed.Two years later, after further studies, that amount was amended to 8.2 percent. The physician must not only be prepared to do what is right himself, but also to make the patient, the attendants, and externals cooperate.” His second aphorism begins: “In disorders of the bowels and vomitings, occurring spontaneously, if the matters purged be such as ought to be purged, they do good, and are well borne; but if not, the contrary.” In his several hundred aphorisms, Hippocrates writes much more about purging than he does about art. / But if life be the desideratum, why grieve, ils vivent.” I guess the first line (“Those who struggle are those who live”) sounds definitive yet personal.I can’t pretend I’m really rescuing a sentence that has already been rescued by so many others. Why read a book when you could buy Cheryl Strayed’s a digest of 132 bite-size passages from her three previous books? Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes. Despite its redundancy, it will outsell most other books published this year. I don’t read prose so much as root through it for sentences in need of rescue. Inside an aphorism, it is minds that collide and the new matter that spins out at the speed of thought is that elusive thing we call wisdom. A fair number of aphorisms seek to justify or explain the form itself.But I have a thing for writers who deliver their work by the line, the epigram, the apercu. ’ and it will say, ‘Food and rest.’ ” The author’s silence confers a glamorous anonymity on these aphorisms, the illusion of their having come from a disembodied source. This is how Geary, a former editor at writes about aphorisms: “Trying to track the particles in [a] miniature big bang is like blowing up a haystack and trying to spot a needle as the debris flies past. Without losing ourselves in a wilderness of definitions, we can all agree that the most obvious characteristic of an aphorism, apart from its brevity, is that it is a generalization. One-liners must be in the middle of that spectrum.” 15. The term “” was coined by Ramón Gómez de la Serna, the twentieth-century Spanish writer who defines it as “humor plus metaphor.” Some of his own: “The moon is the contact lens of the sky.” “The stray dog is looking for lost wallets.” “The egg has its wings hidden.” 11. You certainly don’t say you ‘wrote it’ or ‘created it’ — more like you chose it, or it chose you.Arguments consist of premises leading to a conclusion.Like a concerto, then, essays generally adhere to a logical form.