Wednesday, 18 November 2015


Aphorisms for Modern Living


 This is a short collection of some of the more interesting aphorisms of modern-day aphorists (or in most part, as a fair number of these aphorisms are not done by professed aphorists, or by people who see themselves as aphorist), whose work doesn’t always see much airing in the literary world, or anywhere else come to think of it. But in it being so, and perhaps more relevantly, among ordinary people (where aphorisms rarely come to the fore, and if they do are hardly ever taken too seriously) it could also be called a sort of “public open forum” for contemporary aphorists, much like I am myself (on a good day).
 In looking for material for this collection, I have found that the production of aphorisms nowadays is as common and widespread as it has always been with people. Indeed, with the phenomenal growth of the Internet it may be getting more common an occurrence, even with those who have never thought of doing a “do it yourself” aphorism before, probably because they have no “natural talent” for creating them anyway. Obviously, the sophisticated linguistic trade of aphoristic construction is over estimated, over bearing, and over subscribed, but there is still only so much room at the top for the mediocre, and even less for the really talented.
 I occasionally wonder where all the good aphorists have got to in the world: it appears that in acceptable literary circles nowadays they seem to be as rare as hen’s teeth in a chicken coop. But then (on second thought) I come to my senses, and for a bit of light relief I would pop over to one of the few relevant aphorism websites that pop up from time to time on the Internet. One such phenomenon is James Geary’s “All Aphorism, All The Time” blog, on his professional resume website, which basically is a “grab-bag” of exotic aphoristic talent. Another is Olivia Dresher’s now “mothballed” but, literaturely speaking, still almost legendary “FragLit” Internet-based literary magazine. (Literally, it being a “literary fragments website”, full of unfinished tales complete with fragmentary sentences – literarily a goldmine for experimental writers, etc.) Both of these websites show how popular the thinking up of aphorisms still is in the world: clearly, the writing of aphorisms is not a dying art but one constantly renewing itself. Though other aphoristic websites come and go, and go more often than they come.
 Obviously, there are many more websites and blogs, which are of interest to the budding aphorists amongst us, but they mostly exhibiting the work of single aphorists, and perhaps are not so full of fascinating “aphoristic titbits” as the two mentioned above. Here, as they are presented in various formats on these websites, and an few others, I can look fleetingly at the work of a few “budding” modern-day aphorists, whose aphoristic input probably never really see much airing in the haughtily-cliquish world of English literature. In fact, popping round to these aphoristic websites can occasionally make my day, and so things seem to become a bit clearer then (in a vaguely heartening sort of way).
 Certainly, in regard to provenance and originality, as the Internet develops it is reasonable to assume that some of the social networking sites now appearing on the Internet, could, as taken as a whole, serve as a kind of virtual public forum for this old literary art form. A place which, despite its constraining, media based restrictions, providing a meeting place for refinement, debate, critique, and probably much argument, for people are looking virtually everywhere for condensed thoughts of a revealing nature. Hopefully, however, not so much though, as too much of a good thing is always bad for its progenitors.
 Most of these “aphoristic concoctions” posted up on these various short-lived websites that litter the Internet, be they Internet forums, simple banter-fuelled blogs, the more restrained authors websites, or the various web-based “literary magazines”, will still have been produced by well-meaning, intelligent people. (Twitter, the social networking website, could itself be held up as being a fairly good example of this phenomenon, although it is probably prudent not to take this idea too seriously.) Enthusiastic, aspirational individuals yes, but who, on the whole, will never really stand head and shoulders above the anonymous crowd of humanity, shall always be those ordinary people who never really create anything remotely unique in the literary world in their entire lives. But then, so it goes, as we all cannot be aphoristic geniuses, so why even bother to try? As for that, I have no real answer, having myself begun to put together aphorisms as a hobby, one that (long ago) grew out of looking at interesting quotations while looking for something to make things clearer to me, as through a glass, darkly, preferably with a handy glass of beer to hand.
 I have never found much of that unfettered, freely gathered clarity in aphorisms, but I did find the need to think in that way: to think “aphoristically”, so to speak. Now, apparently, it has become rather harder for me not to think like it, or hard not to be distracted by some intrusive aphoristic thought that seems to pop out of nowhere to bother me and my peace of mind. As John Morley, the Edwardian English statesman and writer, once said, “Beware of cultivating this delicate art.” I think he was right about that, and of course, exploring the possibilities of aphorism is a bit like navel gazing, and so has all its pitfalls, so to speak. But still, as an amateurish attempt at self-psychoanalysis, composing aphorisms is just as effective a method of investigation for looking for truth as any other: If you are looking for the grand-ultimate truth, just look in the mirror with a bit of idle reflection. But whatever you find there (blemishes and all), do not worry, it will all come out in the wash.
 Those aphorisms with a neat twist of logic or with a healthy bite of humour to them, say, in illuminating some poignant observations on the significance of introspection, do, in fact, make us think. But thinking of what, and then consequently of how relevant that is, is yet another matter. However, many more modern aphorisms are not all up to the exacting standards of their illustrious predecessors, those ones produced by the legendary greats of the aphoristic world, and so do not quite “cut the mustard”, so to speak. That, of course, should not stop any budding aphorists from saying what they think in the manner they think best, but it should certainly make them think of what they want to say, and how it should be said.
 The huge mass of the literature of the world is “chock-full” of things that will never be of any great interest to anybody but their original writers themselves. Which is always something to be avoided by anybody who wants to be considered as a real, or serious aphorist. As Friedrich Nietzsche, the 19th century German philosopher and writer, said on the subject of fame and the aphorist: “Whoever writes in blood and aphorisms wants not to be learned but to be learned by heart.” Achieving that standard of excellence, certainly, is the hard part of writing reams of pertinent aphorisms, but, thankfully, taken just as a hobby, this caveat need not worry most aphoristic thinkers out there in the literary world. That is only for the few budding literati who take writing aphorisms possibly just a bit too seriously to be a thoroughly healthy pursuit.
 Much of the initial “in-fill” material collated for it, that help to “bulk-up” the pages of this collection, I found while perusing the archived list of contributor’s aphorisms posted on various authors’ websites, or other critical, now Internet-based websites of small literary magazines, etc., which dot the Internet like stars reflected in a pail of water. I make no apology for re-posting them here on this blog: These aphoristic titbits, in being freely available on the Internet, are readily available for anyone to copy, or then even to use and reuse as their reader may wish. Assuming the usual copyright restrictions are complied with when doing so, of course.
 Whether these aphorisms are all directly attributable to the people and organizations who posted them I am not always quite sure; some may simply be quotations, some, may simply be derived from anonymous Internet traffic, or simply be summaries of older quotations and anonymous witticisms. In the rush to publish them, some very few may have been attributed to completely spurious individuals; or, that is, however odd it may seem to those who do not do such things, possibly even to people who really do not exist at all (or I am no judge of strange names, ones clearly made up to fool the unwary into believing in the sagacious credibility of what is being said). Others, however, would be as they seem: strongly worded sentences from those people who bothered to post something on these various websites, simply that. But as I say, I do not always have any real or foolproof way of knowing the difference, or can never be quite certain. Or, at least, not in most cases, where an aphorism or aphorist is completely new to me. Or, more simply, an aphorism has no real provenance due to the nature of the source I have taken it from. So it goes.
 In my opinion, as an “amateur aphorist” myself, people (or every would-be “aphorist” posting on it) have the given right to post whatever they wish on these various social media websites, where their concoctions can be so easily found. That is, just so long as their brief productions sound (or seem) basically aphoristic in content and form, structure and style, intent and purpose. After all, apparently, that is what these websites are there for. In pursuit of this quite interesting hobby of writing aphorisms, I have frequently posted my aphoristic thoughts on website myself (particularly in the “comments” sections), however poorly accomplished the aphorisms were, or were not. After all, anyone with some linguistic clarity can write an aphorism, although it takes some skill to do it well, or else in the attempt he just opens himself up to being derided for his amateurish aphoristic efforts. However, now I wonder whether that was really such a good idea, or not, as, really, too much of a good thing cannot be all that good for anybody, and especially for the “highly strung” type, which, I think, probably defines most people with an aphoristic bent anyway.
 The following pages of aphorisms are chock-full of the thoughtful aphoristic concoctions of curious, creative, even occasionally innovative people, people whom I feel are full of aphoristic promise. Despite this, they are here seen desperately dragging themselves up above the ordinary, mundane level of their fellow humanity for a brief moment, but then to be crushed like little squeaking things under the ever-moving ploughshare of mass-media observation, always cultivating new, fertile ground before it.
 These few terse aphorisms that I have recorded here are some of my favourites from these little known websites that tend to collect them, as are presented there, randomly bundled together for anyone interested to take a look at. Such a one is the author’s website produced in London by the American-born aphorist come journalist, James Geary, on whose associated blog I have found many an aphoristic gem (as if hauled up in clumps from the cloying muck of human endeavour), and hidden among the usual literary trivia he apparently occupies his free time with. Needless to say, I have included many of them here I could, as a way of redistributing them without the trouble of going elsewhere to find similar, or even better examples.
 These various collections and groupings of aphorisms, which can be found dotted about the Internet in profusion, being, on the whole, contemporary, modern day aphorisms that, when I see them pop up on the computer screen before me, are ones I think at least have some interest to them or have a message that at least strikes a chord with me, however briefly. However, having said that, I sometimes think that the inner meaning of composing aphorisms is that there is none (but do not tell anybody, as the well of thought might dry up). But what of the aphorist, what exactly is he, and why does he do it? He is an occasional writer, even if not a full-time one, obviously. And then I suppose he could even be called “a dweller in the obscure hinterland between poetry and prose,” but in saying that about him, at least, then it’s probably best not to get so involved in such slippery definitions, as it might take all the fun out of it.
 For some, apparently, an “aphorism can slip off the tongue like a duck falling off a water-slide arse-backwards in a moment of unguarded haste”. However, some more complex aphorisms seem to evolve, be corrected, and change around the more they are fiddled with; so much so that, at the end of the process, the author of such an aphorism may even be questioned as to if it were ever one of his in the first place. Like this one for example: “The truth is of variable quality, bartered between fools.” Which must be a classic aphorism, if I have ever seen one (and if I am the only judge of it).
 Now I am sure I came up with that curious line myself somewhere in the dim, distant past, only I am no longer sure where it came from, or even if it is really quite valid (or true and all correct) as an aphorism anyway. However, I have been pulling this brief little phrase about for so long now I am not even certain it is one of mine anymore, as really to me it sounds more like something Wittgenstein might have said. Now if I did not work this one out, work on it like liquorish pulled and bashed about on a marble slab in a confectioner’s workshop, it certainly would not have occurred to me in a quick flash of inspiration. Unless I am wrong and it is someone else’s flash in the pan, and my “prized example” of an evolved aphorism just does not hold water.
 Many aphorisms, stylistically, in form and content, when done well could have been created by anyone with a bit of literary savvy, and what could have been an inspirational remark of a competent aphorist is often ascribed immediately to some famous aphorist or other on the strength of being similar to what he once said, and so, he must have said that as well. “Churchillian drift”, it has been called (a phrase originally coined by Nigel Rees, the English writer and broadcaster, I believe), but really it is just sloppy research, or, worse still, a casual indulgence in artful indifference. Like some of the examples on this short blog, many of the aphorisms could be said to have been inspired by other people’s aphorisms, people whom are better known in aphoristic circles. I am not the judge of that, or how similar many of them are to other aphorisms, or where exactly many of these aphorisms that follow had their origins, or what other aphoristic writings inspired them.
 The aphorisms ascribed to the people here (and, in many instances, as published for the first time on the Internet by the authors themselves) are interesting examples of the craft, and as such they interest me. Despite the fascinating diversity of curious sounding names included here (and many of these names I find I have never come across before – and many might be called curiously exotic, to those unfamiliar with them), the names of the individuals who wrote them I always regarded as being secondary in importance to the content of the aphorisms.
 I have always found the aphorisms themselves of more interest to me that who exactly wrote them, although aphorisms must clearly be ascribed to someone or else they get lost in the shuffle and just become generic proverbs. However, on these various and diverse websites, the undoubted attribution of an original author to each entry would be hard to prove, and often cannot be accepted without some misgivings, but its attribution may as well be taken on trust alone, and if not particularly true is at least quite believable, if not taken too much of faith alone. At any rate, to me it has always been that the power of an aphorism is not in its author’s name, but in its message, whatever that is.
 Regardless of any reservations I may have about the curious subject of aphorisms itself (and what, eventually, should become of them all as a clipped class of literature, or fragmentary genre of the oft-abused medium of writing), I have collected these few aphorisms together especially for the perusal of whoever reads this blog – whomsoever he would be. And if he is reading this (right here, right now), then I advise him to go and do something more useful with his time other than wasting too much of his spare time in perusing aphorisms, and as soon as humanly possible too. This, at least, is something that needs to be thought about, for a while.
 It can be said that aphorisms at their very best are distilled insights into a very wide and diverse field of human experience. Really good aphorisms actually do manage to do something defining in respect of their subject matter. In fact, clustered about almost every weak point in human nature, or vicious spot in human life, there is deposited a crystallization of thoughtful aphorisms for posterity to paw over in thoughtful consternation. Inevitably, it is best not to waste time on trivialities such as aphorisms, unless their reader has some sort of specific goal in mind from doing so. My own purpose in studying aphorisms, by the way, has always been to learn something useful from them; which is actually quite possible, just so long as their reader does not take them all too seriously in doing so.
 In today’s fast-paced modern world of fast-fixes and the quick promises of instant gratification of our deepest desires, we certainly need good, practical ideas to help shape and regulate our personal conduct more than ever, and to give us the courage, determination, robustness, understanding, and humour to get through the day without bawling out eyes out. Aphorisms, in their random, stumbling, intrepidness, I think have always gone a long way to serving this particular need of ours. They being a sort of security blanket for the terminally insecure (or a compensation for falling into one of life’s many quixotic quandaries in the dark), although most of the time we do manage to forget what they were about at the most inopportune moments. However, how effective a balm they are to us all, at all times and in all ways, for the wounds inflicted on us by life remains a rather subjective judgement for those they manage to influence. A balm that, like a rubber band that can stretch only so far, always has a breaking point, or a limit to its effectiveness as a tool of personal enlightenment.
 But what exactly is an aphorism? An “itch of wisdom one just cannot scratch”, “the wily wickedness of the wicked world concentrated into a pithy, memorable little phrase like this one”, “a terse statement of a truth or opinion with a wickedly-logical twist to it”, or, and especially for the more prosaically minded mentality, “an original thought, spoken or written in a laconic and easily memorable form by a complete bore”. Or then, even that “an aphorism is a saying that makes a point or expresses the opinion of the speaker by illustrating or describing the horizon of that perspective, and then goes beyond it”. Each of these pert little definitions would fit the mould easily enough, although any one of them would certainly not be definitive, or mutually exclusive either. But as a group they will do to be getting along with, but if I were you it is probably wiser to “choose your own poison”, as then it will taste better, or at least less bitter.
 Originally, or to begin with in the dark depths of history (once people realized that they existed in the wide realm of abstract thought), the word “aphorism” comes from the Greek “aphorismos”, meaning “to delimit” or “define.” Indeed, it could be said that, for the Ancient Greeks, aphorisms were a gift of the gods, and which, to them, was something that could be both a boon, and a curse. An aphorism “draws a tight ring around – and then occupies – a very intimate space”, which, in turn, is encompassed completely in a man’s mind (which, in turn, gives it a bit of room to manoeuvre); where it goes from there is anybody’s guess. With aphorisms, it is wise to remember what happened to the man who had too much wisdom derived solely from aphorisms: he became so enlightened by what he found there that he travelled to the infinite and disappeared, and so was never heard of again. Indeed, some say that it was as if he never existed at all, if he ever did.
 But once the common occurrence of the aphorism in society has been established beyond reasonable doubt, what then exactly distinguishes the good aphorism from the bad example, the rotten apples from the “always ready to eat” ripe ones? Roger Scruton, the English writer and philosopher, defines them thus, “Aphorisms are like stock cubes. They are dry, salty, compact; and they are intended, when dissolved in thought, to be nourishing.” Which clearly, is a very tasty definition; and so, in good taste, cannot be possibly argued with. Clearly, if someone likes the feel of a pert phrase that professes to be an aphorism, for him that is a “nice one”, and it probably is rather good, regardless of that judgement. Aphorisms come with the territory that people necessarily inhabit in this world, and aphorisms go with them as chalk does with cheese, that is: with some delicacy, or not at all.
 With the proliferation of aphorisms come the aphorists, turning up in every historic era that had any creative literary spark to it. As a sub-branch of literature the aphorism has been practiced by the literary-minded ever since literary endeavour emerged out of the ashes of thought left by the storytellers gathered around the campfires of our primeval past. Aphorists have strutted the world’s stage from time immemorial, and they are still around to carry on a tradition that still seems to have no end in sight. Everything that has been said has been said before, and mostly very well indeed, but for the gifted aphorists among us there is always a new way to say it. In this long list of thought-condensing wordsmiths (and certainly not always writers), well known aphorists have included Samuel Johnson, William Blake, Joseph Joubert, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Winston Churchill, Franz Kafka, Albert Einstein, Groucho Marx, Mae West, Malcolm de Chazal, Yogi Berra, Woody Allen, Barbara Kruger, and Jenny Holzer, to name but a few.
 Exactly how is it that someone can come to think up a worthwhile aphorism, “off the top of his head”, supposing he is particularly interested in doing so anyway? Does he do so as easily as it is to fall of off a log, or is it slightly harder than giving birth to the blues? Certainly, when it comes to attempting to write one there are a couple of problems that go along with it before even beginning. It seems that writing aphorisms is something that cannot really be taught, or that is, all the grammatical forms and rules to write one can be taught but that doesn’t teach someone how to write one, only how they are made up out of the basic building blocks of language.
 It appears that writing aphorisms is certainly something that can be learned by someone who is willing to learn (and then subsequently learn to disregard) all the rules for creating them, and especially if he already has a natural talent for witty, sarcastic, even cynical one-liners. After reading a lot of aphorisms, and consequently thinking about aphorisms rather a lot, the style of writing tends to sink into one’s brain, or is absorbed as if through osmosis into one’s mind, and one finds oneself writing, sometimes speaking, aphoristically (as Samuel Johnson would have appreciated); how healthy all this is remains open to question.
 Interestingly enough, not all poets are natural born aphorists, and then most of these would not admit that writing them is beyond their capabilities. While usually, if pressed, most poets can only come up with something they are sure is an aphorism, that sounds like an aphorism, and might very well be called a perfectly formed aphorism. But their original attempt at aphoristic originality is still just dull and lacklustre, is often just a bit of a clanger, or is still simply something that just doesn’t shine-out like the best aphorisms do: Despite all the poetic credits a skilful poet may gather in his poetry over a long career as a poet, that still doesn’t make him an aphorist, or an efficient producer of aphorisms. But still, conversely, some poets are natural-born aphorists, and still do not know it.
 It needs to be said that having a natural talent, or “knack” for writing aphorisms well only comes with the luck of the draw, if it can be called luck. But then if someone does decide to have a go at composing them despite that, well, maybe something can be made of it after all. As, after all, anyone can write one, though it takes some skill to do it well, and especially while trying to juggle all literary integrity in the air all at once in the process.
 Yes, it is a hard life being a practicing modern aphorist plonked down among the mass of disinterested literary laymen missing out on literary enlightenment simply because of their preferential disinterest. But, hopefully on a lighter point, of the best modern aphorists working today we can say this: that if they cannot find a job doing anything else more useful, at least they shall always be able to find gainful employment writing mottoes for the insides of Christmas crackers, to say nothing about writing them for the insides of Chinese-American fortune cookies. However, in seriously speaking about a subject that always has its amusing points, I certainly would not take it all too seriously if I were you, as we are all just a bunch of purely temporal, ratter trivial beings playing about in the peripherals of eternity anyway. And I am usually correct about these sorts of things, that is, on a good day, if only that I have not yet been proven to be wrong yet.
 As for aphorisms, as “gems of truth condensed in a nutshell”, teaching us how to live better lives, I am not so sure that they do. Or at least that if their eager-beaver reader ever learned something about life from them, he would quickly forget what that was when it was most useful for him to remember it. But still, in my literary layman’s humble opinion, what has to be learned best for living life better can still be gotten from a number of helpful aphoristic compilations on the subject, probably those ones which were custom-made to become classics in the subject in their own right (both from the present time and the distant past).
 These anthologies of pertinent philosophical thought, brevity and wit (even some of the more recent, least known ones), I expect would roughly be classified as part of the “mirrors for princes” genre: an ancient navel-gazing pastime for introverted thinkers (usually with chips on their shoulders) not always of much use to practical men of the world, but there you are. However, I always like to learn something from an aphorism (if only if it is that “there is nothing there”), and if I do not I am somehow disappointed by it, as if I have been short-changed or something.
 A short collection of contemporary, modern-day aphorisms follow below, as presented in no particular order, except one after the other, all in a row (as if in an open book of briefly-penned notes). As I say, this is a purely personal selection of aphorisms (from a purely amateur aphorist with his own epistemological axe to grind), it is not definitive of what is put out on these various websites, only some of which I have mentioned, nor is it complete; it is just a selection of the sort of aphorisms I like, or which have interested me when I have seen them. As Gabriel Laub, a Jewish émigré journalist, satirist, and aphorist, says about books of aphorisms, “Collections of aphorisms: the cheapest clearance sale.” I only hope that these few “gems of wisdom” of these aphorists that follow are more to their reader’s liking: to their kind of mentality, their kind of taste. Although, after all, they are all subject to the vagaries of taste, and the judgement of other as to their relevance, enjoyment, and interest to them, like all forms of writing.
 Collections, or anthologies of random aphorisms by various authors are usually arranged according to themes, or keywords. This is mainly because they have to be arranged somehow, and this is a fine way for any random enquirer to find something once it is known what it is that he is looking for. However, it has been said that this basic arrangement is not always the best method of ordering the aphorism, because often it has several themes and interpretations. Which is a view I can agree with, with reservations, and for me, arranging aphorisms as quotations in any way other than as they come together, or as they fall, is basically artificial; or, if not completely artificial, is at least intrusive in its intentions.
 Deciding how to present aphorisms to their readers always presents an editorial problem when collating a book chock-full of them, but I think not a particularly worrying one: Our time should be reserved for worrying about serious things, not to be wasted on trivial matters; as aphorisms, for all they are, inevitably are still trivial things. In this, I think that arranging these aphorisms here as randomly as possible, or as they fall (like petals from a rosebud), is not such a bad idea; nor is it a bad way of presenting them in a small collection of aphorisms as is set out below. So, perhaps, somehow it is better to follow that line of thinking, as far as it goes. Some aphorists may disagree with me over this simple choice, but in such a matter as this I think that they really do not have a reason to do so, or probably not much of one. It is just variance of opinion, and with opinion the best way of ordering things as one likes is always the best way one can. That at least cannot be argued with, much.
 Aphorism collections, by their very nature, try to connect what wants to stand alone, unique, individual: they consistently try to link what has no naturally occurring links. Each aphorism is bundled together like this in some uncouth editorial process, but still wants to go its own way, wild, untamed, unique: to remain essentially unconstrained by other aphorisms or by their inclusively-collective whole. However, no one has ever stipulated that this essential “dichotomy” of purpose is any reason not to compile educational collections of aphorisms; indeed, it may actually be a very good reason to try.
 I doubt that people ever read many aphorisms just for pleasure, to satisfy their own need for investigation, for relevance, for understanding, or simply to bear witness to their lives. However, despite that compendiums of wisdom literature, as set out in the form of short, measured aphoristic doses of wisdom, have always been popular. It passes much without argument that a book of aphorisms can be compiled in two different ways, either by collecting a compendium of quotations purely at random, or with a single author’s work, uninterruptedly, page by page, with its reader trying to understand a single author’s poetic message (that is, if ever there was much of one to be found there in the first place). It appears though that in the modern world the first mode is still much more popular then the second.
 Most casual readers of aphorisms nowadays (picking them up as easily as they subsequently discard them) do not much care about who writes aphorisms, or particularly whom wrote the ones they might warm to as long as they are good ones: Essentially, people in search of a good aphorism only pay attention to the aphorism itself in a bid to extract its “gutsy-gist” from its esoteric innards. This is the main reason why there are a good number of quotational anthologies on the book market ordered by themes rather than by authors. It definitely explains why searchers for aphoristic wisdom on the Internet are always searching for aphorisms on wit, humour, love, friendship, marriage, wisdom, death, life, modern day malapropos, etc., instead of a particular author of a pertinent, telling remark on the subject that most interests them.
 Of course, there are more than enough of most of these various mundane, everyday subjects represented here in this short collection of modern day aphorisms, possibly even too many. But that is not why I have collected these examples together – to examine popular themes as explored by aphorism – no, I have simply done this to satisfy my own need to investigate, to explore, and to examine the modern aphoristic form through modern aphorisms. If this is all that I have done here, then for me it is quite enough to be getting along with.
 Other than their authors (in their natural right to possess them), as to who exactly controls and owns these following examples outright right now, as they drift about in the murky electronic either of the Internet, or where they dwell in perpetuity nowadays other than on the Internet, I would not know. I only know that there they are, drifting about in cyberspace waiting furtively to be read by nobody in particular, if at all. So, as I say, here are a few examples of the ones I rather like, or can appreciate for what they are; and, as I generally like to order things as I like when I like as I can when I can, I thought I would put them here, in this short little book.
 As these aphorisms are each owned, under international copyright law as “original intellectual material”, it is difficult to easily justify bringing them together in such a collection (and especially without paying royalties for doing so). However, it is not actually illegal to do so, just so long as the original sources and rightful authors are acknowledged, as is the case in any mass-market quotation book. But regardless of this minor “sticking point”, I am sure that any real aphorist out there in the real world should at least be mildly pleased at seeing his or her aphorisms included in any compilation or compendium of modern aphorisms, whether he or she received any royalties from it or not. I know I would be (“chuffed”, that is), if any I created were. But just for a brief time, in unending time, I suppose here they all are anyway, regardless, as presented “as is” for any interested reader’s contemplation and approval (if not complete understanding). As for how “worldly wise” they are, well, as the say, “Wisdom comes, and wisdom goes; wisdom lingers, and wisdom knows,” but nonetheless most of it is forgotten in an instant. If then you would wish to find the best place to learn wisdom, well, it’s probably better just to start (and finish) sitting quietly at your mother’s knee (or so I have been told) and listening closely to what she has to say to you on the matter. 




Aphorisms

What we want to hear determines almost everything people say.
Richard Krause

The best disguise is the one everyone else is wearing.
James Richardson

Happiness is everywhere but still in short supply.
Ma Changshan

We wait for everything except what comes.
William Markiewicz

People are at their most brilliant while defending themselves against their own conscience.
Irena Karafilly

Too varnished a style makes the eyes glaze over.
Lori Ellison

Some things must be seen through to be seen.
Gregory Norminton

What a monumental effort it would take to leave no trace at all.
Bo Fowler

Eternity merely postpones the inevitable.
John Alejandro King

In life, as in love, graceful leave-taking is the epitome of gratitude.
Yahia Lababidi

Truth is what you see when you wake up.
Bill Chapko

You can’t save the present moment for a rainy day.
Oleg Vishnepolsky

Puppets go to sleep the moment they break free from their strings.
Les Coleman

Planning ahead, the best we can do is to choose with care our future regrets.
Gregory Norminton

We’re all victims of someone’s beliefs, namely our own.
Greg Linster

If you think people are out to get you, they already have.
Richard Krause

The only true loss is trying to remember what it was.
Peter Yovu

When you are free to choose, the choice is compulsory.
Ville Hytönen

Happiness, like water, is always available, but so often it seems we’d prefer a different drink.
James Richardson

We prefer to suffer than to recover from those ills that defines us.
Gregory Norminton

In society we all mask our true intentions, and a universal hypocrisy is the way of the world.
Michael Dirda

Strong women are those who do not do everything they can.
Ljupka Cvetanova

The listener gives therapy; the talker takes it.
Markku Envall

Laughter blows away the dust from our eyes.
James Geary

Most people go to soothsayers in hopes of hearing something soothing.
Lori Ellison

A good listener is one who helps us overhear ourselves.
Yahia Lababidi

Worry is a playground for those with time enough to visit it.
George Murray

In a world of assumption everything is possible.
Gijsbert van Eijsden

Nothing lasts these days except what we throw away.
Olivia Dresher

When smashing idols, always begin with your own.
Marty Rubin

You can’t expect a change of scenery if you never veer from the beaten track.
James Geary

It isn’t that you can’t cheat death, it’s that death can’t cheat you.
John Alejandro King

When you are washed up you never realize the extent of shoreline you have to yourself.
Richard Krause

Poking around in the embers of one’s bright ideas might yield more ash than fire.
George Murray

No matter which way you turn there’s always something you’re not facing.
Robert Priest

The winner and the loser have a lost dream in common.
Theo Mestrum

Pleasures are things that we take, whereas joy is in moments that we are given.
Lori Ellison

People who don’t need people are the second luckiest people in the world.
John Alejandro King

Our most powerful emotion is indifference.
Daniel Liebert

Any mirror gazed at too long becomes stagnant.
Alfred Corn

Almost everything can be tolerated – as long as we do not know what we want.
Simon May

The joys of bondage are tied up intimately with our fear of freedom.
Richard Krause

Even the most sophisticated dinner party has trouble under its tabletop.
Hannah Davidson

Sometimes a dumb thing is a thing worth saying.
Alan Dupont

If you can’t live up to your expectations, lower them.
Jay Friedenberg

We are all accountable, even those hiding behind luck.
Frances Jenkins

Despair will never get to you. But hope might.
Tim Collins

Once you’re caught in the mousetrap, why not eat the cheese?
John Alejandro King

There’s nothing that can be said which is not improved by the satisfactory varnish of sarcasm.
John Holt

Religion is an aid to coping with the realisation that you are the only person you will ever be.
John Connell

The only subject one can talk incessantly about is love.
Eugene Kolda

Character is the ability to accept your own stupidity.
Scott Kessinger

Our bodies did not evolve merely to be dragged through life.
Ajay Kalra

The only power you have over people is the ability to do without them.
Irena Karafilly

It’s dangerous to beat your chest if you have a heart of stone. 
Leonid S. Sukhorukov

Make your next move from where you actually are.
Frank Kuppner

Talent imitates, genius cuts and pastes.
Faris Yakob

An unwelcome passion, like an unwelcome guest, should be ejected as politely as possible.
Peter Capofreddi

An epiphany is a whim that sticks.
Brian Jay Stanley

For every shortcut, there’s a reason it’s not the main road.
Kate Smith

Before offering an opinion consider, at some length, the unique silence of thickly falling snow.
Jack Gardner

You don’t save time
by going faster.
Peter Schmidt

The tragedy of a thoughtless man is not that he doesn’t think, but that he thinks that he’s thinking.
Andrzej Majewski

In a flight of stairs, the first one is the most uplifting.
Fritz Lagusad

Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted.
Randy Pausch

Nothing less interesting than the conversation meant to be overheard.
James Guida

Charm is the ability to insult people without offending them.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Like cars in an amusement park, our direction is often determined through collisions.
Yahia Lababidi

Tact is the most agreeable form of intimidation.
Simon May

Cynics taste life, spit it out and die of hunger.
Daniel Liebert

Travel is for people who don’t know the way home.
Theo Mestrum

Experiences for which there are no words get along fine without them.
Marty Rubin

Some people change because they see the light; others because they feel the heat.
John Drybred

Flux is victorious but cannot accept the award.
Michael Theune

Often shadows are more interesting than what cast them.
William Markiewicz

Collusive versions of the truth bury the truth.
Candadai Tirumalai

A mask is prepared to face anything.
Leonid S. Sukhorukov

He who is looking for a donkey always will find a mirror.
Gerd de Ley

Some people fall in love with themselves and then suffer a broken heart.
Jay Friedenberg

Our convictions are like the moon: they have a dark side we can only guess at.
Alfred Corn

Everyone is vain about his choice of what not to be vain about.
Aaron Haspel

A woman withers when she is watered only with tears.
Andrzej Majewski

Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. It will spoil the lawn.
Leonid S. Sukhorukov

It is better to seek forgiveness than permission.
Stephen Lindsay

You have permission to look at life sideways.
Katie Jergens

Men make a long story short. Women make a short story long.
Maarten P. Kappert

The selfish may give, but they do not share.
Igor D. Radovic

Don’t search for something you don’t want to see.
Marielle de Torres

We are free once we learn not to want consolation for living.
Jim O’Sullivan

All pleasantries are fake, in the presence of desire.
Martin Langford

Success comes more easily for the one who promises power than for the one who offers only truth.
Roger Scruton

Only the especially qualified can put things back together; recreate the mystery.
Ben Wilkinson

There are few things in the universe more stubborn than a bad idea.
Tim Daly

When in doubt, leap. One needs a little courage to live.
Marty Rubin

Let the facts lie for themselves.
John Alejandro King

The unsaid doesn’t have power. It has potential.
Olivia Dresher

Modesty, like other social trainings, can be unlearnt.
Ajay Kalra

The sky never quite recovers from a fallen tree.
Peter Yovu

Life requires grit, struggle, and on occasion a singe that can scar.
Mark Vernon

Life would rather be kissed than hugged.
Olivia Dresher

The myth of individuality keeps the herd together.
Eero Suvilehto

Listen hardest to the one you hope is not telling the truth.
James Richardson

If less is more, how much is the same amount?
John Alejandro King

The version of a fact is more important than the fact itself.
Augusto Sales

Knowing what others have thought is not (yet) thinking.
Julien David

Love shows that folly is not alien to the wisest.
Kristina Mangov

Nothing lasts as long as the present moment.
Bruce Kriger

The fearful are often more dangerous than the man who seeks to do you harm.
Emile Benoit

Sometimes, good craftsmanship can reveal that there was nothing there in the first place.
Martin Langford

It’s easier to keep your knife sharp than it is to sharpen your knife.
Howard B. Schechter

All men become rakes when they try on a hat.
Solomon Slade

Eternal vigilance leads to permanent insomnia.
Aleksandar Krzavac

The television remote is the most proximate thing.
Candadai Tirumalai

When you find yourself in denial, plant seeds.
Tim Daly

Jugglers magically replace a moment with the same moment.
Daniel Liebert

Untested beliefs are the most firmly held.
Aaron Haspel

What’s blindingly obvious cannot be looked at.
Gregory Norminton

Forgiveness is the vengeance of the strong.
Reginald Oliver

Tolerance is apt to decrease in relation to experience.
Janice James

The quickest way to ruin a relationship is to start one.
Kristen Chang

The sacred is a fine hiding place for the profane.
David Mitchell

Search and you shall find – yourself, searching.
Eino Vastaranta

To regard oneself as the exception is the rule.
Aaron Haspel

“Don’t allow people to push your buttons.” Wear your clothes inside out.
Rami M. Shapiro

The innocent can’t account for their whereabouts nearly as well as the guilty.
Solomon Slade

We occupy the margins through fate, not allegiance.
Don Paterson

Even the top of the food chain worries.
Peter Siviglia

Never buy a round trip ticket to the point of no return.
Oleg Vishnepolsky

By the time progress comes around, there isn’t any.
Scott Allen

Happiness thrives on a diet of reduced expectations.
Beston Jack Abrams

The fascination with annihilation lives forever.
Bill Chapko

If you discover only one pearl, do not change it for a box of marbles.
Daniel Desbiens

The last thing the madman loses is reason.
William Markiewicz

Hope dies last. It tortures us the longest.
Dejan Tofcevic

The cruelest disappointment is when you let yourself down.
Jenny Holzer

The past is a silent song that’s always being sung.
Olivia Dresher

You can’t regret the life you didn’t lead.
Junot Díaz

If you want to say something badly enough, you will say it badly enough.
John Robert Colombo

Whoever speaks with hidden meanings disappoints opened hearts.
Daniel Desbiens

Even if you ate a giant, you will not become one.
Bruce Kriger

The most vicious arguments are over how to count things.
Aaron Haspel

Lying is like committing suicide, you’ve killed your character.
Julius Seizer

Who can make people laugh has an absolute advantage, over those who can make them cry.
Bruce Kriger

Our rights extend only to the property line of our own life.
Brian Jay Stanley

The best things in life aren’t things.
Lu Farah

Boredom is the price one pays for not enjoying everything.
Marty Rubin

Predicting one’s fate is much easier than changing it.
Bruce Kriger

In a world of assumption everything is possible.
Gijsbert van Eijsden

The distance a goldfish swims is not controlled by the bowl.
Les Coleman

It’s much easier to blow the horn of plenty when it’s empty.
Leonid S. Sukhorukov

Defying gravity is easy; not falling is the hard thing.
Marty Rubin

The worst insult I can inflict on life is that I do not reflect on its meaning.
Kedar Joshi

We all die the same way, but we all disagree over the details.
Sabahudin Hadzialic

It takes judgment to know when more is less and less is more.
Candadai Tirumalai

Our love of solutions forces us to keep company with problems.
Brian Jay Stanley

Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be dusty.
John Alejandro King

Really being able to follow your whims is a talent requiring a long and secret gestation.
James Guida

Imagining the worst is no talisman against it.
Don Paterson

Better to counsel realism than foster illusion.
Michael Schmidt

Accepting blame is often a subterfuge for stopping criticism.
Solomon Slade

Life is full of doors and fools with the wrong keys.
Leonid S. Sukhorukov

You get just one chance to dip your toe in the river; might as well make a splash.
James Geary

The time to take a stand is when you’re walking on eggs.
John Drybred

Appearance is everything, given the uncertainty of who we are.
Richard Krause

People who argue whether the glass is half empty or half full are probably not thirsty.
Ljupka Cvetanova

You must know where you stop and the world begins.
Jenny Holzer

Every liar must possess in memory what he lacks in conscience.
Thomas Fitzgerald

Within the limitations of our circumstances our life is as good as we are.
Robert P. Recktenwald

Detachment is the key to enlightenment, but who cares?
Rami M. Shapiro

It takes a miser to enjoy making do.
Igor D. Radovic

To always be prepared: to be ever lacking in common sense.
John Alejandro King

Going without is one of the best ways of going within.
Mardy Grothe

The grey cells of dogmatists are completely escape-proof.
André Brie

Arrogance is the price you pay for being superior.
Barry Krush

It’s not whether I arrive; it’s how I lose my way.
Andrew Boyd

The best way to get rid of the fantasies is get them fulfilled.
Bruce Kriger

Sarcasm is less the lowest form of wit and more a testament to the colossal effort of maintaining constant pessimism.
Ben Wilkinson

The most sincere are seldom the most frank.
Lori Ellison

Longing is innocent compared to expecting.
Olivia Dresher

Of the ordinary fellow it may be said that there is less there than meets the eye.
David P. Gontar

Raised voices (should) raise skepticism.
Thomas Farber

He who is not an enigma to himself doesn’t know himself.
Marty Rubin

Every man of action needs woman of action – to clean up after him.
Vesna Dencic

One day your life
will stop ringing.
Answer it.
Eric Nelson

Sometimes you have to spit on the world to make it shine.
Michael Theune

Fear management should be at the top of everyone’s success list.
Junot Díaz

Nothing so hampers creativity as having all the right tools.
James Richardson

Life’s gifts are sometimes poorly wrapped.
Harry L.S. Knopf

How high do you have to jump to get over yourself?
Marty Rubin

There’s a thing that’s never dulled with use; and that thing is dullness.
John Alejandro King

If you judge only by the most superficial appearances, so many people have depth.
Paul Hurt

What we fear more than anything is that there are no ghosts.
Jack Gardner

Some statements become true only when experience catches up with them.
Arthur Krystal

Everybody talks but only the weak have to listen.
William Markiewicz

Ideologies are the second-hand clothes of the intellectual world.
Rick Bayan

What you don’t understand, you can make mean anything.
Chuck Palahniuk

The world is not rational until we can find someone to blame for our troubles.
David P. Gontar

As struggles go, being an artist isn’t that much of one.
Brian Eno

If people take their clothes off outdoors, what are they up to inside?
Toby Amies

It’s amazing how hard it is to actually create simplicity.
Laird Henderson

Prayer begins with our hands together and ends with our hands out.
Hart Pomerantz

It’s never too late to learn that, if you need a second to think, it’s too late.
John Drybred

It is the cruelest irony that so many are imprisoned behind unlocked doors.
Tim Daly

Some people are just too temporary for anything permanent.
Jonathan Anthes

The honest shape of truth in words is not a complete sentence.
Bianco Luno

Liars are always the last to hear the truths they speak.
Stephen Wallace Coltin

The silent will get you back for everything they don’t say.
Richard Krause

Greed will do whatever it needs to do to get what it does not need.
Michael Curran

Few things are less distinguished than the wish to be different.
David P. Gontar

Some echoes are spitefully returned
to themselves unheard.
David Giannini

The will drives to create the world in its image.
Kimble James Greenwood

Stillness overcomes you when you least expect it.
Jim Malachi

Feeling young won’t get you through a marathon.
David Hunter

You can kill earnestness with jesting – but not jesting with earnestness.
Joseph F. Conte

When thoughts don’t sell, faces are offered for sale.
Eero Suvilehto.

When fortune smiles on you, check to see if she’s licking her chops.
John Alejandro King

Even time stops for a moment, to bow, astonished, to real happiness.
Nick Piombino

You can’t forgive yourself without forgiving others.
Robert Priest

Pride hates his own face and wishes for none other.
Steven Carter

In any error or act, the last thing we see is our complicity.
Jim Finnegan

If you say more than you know, pretend that you know more than you say.
Oleg Vishnepolsky

Better to do nothing
Than waste time.
Eric Nelson

Faith is a room with more exits than entrances.
George Murray

Some people will believe anything – so long as it isn’t actually true.
Tim Daly

If you’re waiting for fortune to smile, you may endure many a dark day.
Stanley Fish

People drown in shallow thoughts.
Ljupka Cvetanova

The veneer of civilization is three meals thick.
Howard B. Schechter

Hatred, like love, thrives on silly details.
James Richardson

The tolerant cannot afford to tolerate the intolerant.
Lionel E. Deimel

If you want someone to love you, you must capture their imagination.
Martin Langford

Whoever shouts is heard from far away but is not understood from close up.
Theo Mestrum

Only by deciding on the sort of thing one is looking for can one hope to find it.
Gary Morsen

The words we’re listening to always threaten to deviate from what we want them to mean.
Robert Rowland Smith

Life is a tragedy when experiencing it, a comedy when observing it.
Eric Idle

Those for whom the natural is extraordinary, tend to find the extraordinary natural.
Yahia Lababidi

The empty bottle rejoices, knowing it has given its all.
Marty Rubin

Everybody’s pushing my buttons today – except the one that says on.
Nick Piombino

One does not need to peregrinate in remote parts to give witness to the marvelous.
Liam Heneghan

Truth is stranger than fiction, but fiction is more honest.
Stephanie McAllister

The self-deceived deceiver thinks he is helping others, not cheating them.
Candadai Tirumalai

The eyes believe themselves; the ears believe other people.
Sylvia Peay

Ignore the ones who talk behind your back, they belong behind you.
Wiz Khalifa

Having perfected our disguise, we spend our lives searching for someone we don’t fool.
Robert Brault

The only reliable form of time travel is living.
George Murray

Action stutters louder than words.
John Alejandro King

There are silences harder to take back than words.
James Richardson

Procrastination is the soul rebelling against entrapment.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Only an unholy aphorist, I tend to think, never laughs at his own jokes.
James Guida

All my slavery is the fruit of a free choice.
Fulvio Fiori

In matters of the highest importance,
only fools are edified by exposition.
Stephen Colti

You cannot get rid of your roots until you are six feet under.
Eino Vastaranta

If nature could speak, it would remain silent.
Sami Feiring

There is no strength or weakness but only varying degrees of authenticity.
Kent Thune

That the unbearable can be bearable is what makes it unbearable.
Bo Fowler

It’s not at all unreasonable to feel sorry for someone who is happier than you are.
Paul Hurt

Privacy is life’s consolation prize for worldly insignificance.
Brian Jay Stanley

It’s never the changes we want that change everything.
Junot Díaz

Impulses we attempt to strangle only develop stronger muscles.
Yahia Lababidi

Sadness follows some people around like a broken leg they don’t have yet.
Richard Krause

Illusion is the first of all pleasures.
Hugo Heyrman

One must know what is obvious before one can know what is interesting.
Murray S. Davis

Meaning is found not in abstract answers, but in thoughts that speak to life.
Mark Vernon

Truth is the goal but plausibility is the destination.
Gregory Norminton

We treat as the most shameful personal secrets fears we almost all share.
Alain de Botton

It’s not the illusion of reality that need persist, only the illusion of persistence.
John Alejandro King

Step furtively into the territory of the inauthentic.
Barry Krusch

Sleep is a lost and found of great thought.
George Murray

The tragedy of Beauty is its brevity.
Patrick Hunt

What are analogies but efforts to find mirrors for abstractions?
Barbara F. Lefcowitz

True wisdom is knowing when to compromise your principles.
David Batchelor

In the long run, no one can live with just one lie; he will certainly need some more.
Wolfgang Mocker

There are people who want to achieve – and then there are sane people.
Richard Koch

Originality is not only being in touch with yourself, but also shamelessly fondling what no one else will.
Richard Krause

The only objective definition of aging is when a person starts to talk about it.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Impatience is not wanting to understand that you don’t understand.
James Richardson

We spend our lives arguing for the terms under which we will be judged.
Martin Langford

Patience and procrastination are the ego’s credit cards.
Nick Piombino

Sometimes we feel that life is a mystery that lacks mystery.
Francisco Rodríguez Barrientos

We wouldn’t know nearly as much about ourselves and others without our errors.
Jessica Ferri

In a room full of fools one can never find a mirror.
Jim Finnegan

Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.
Robert Brault

People begin as dreams and end as memories.
Robert Priest

Men are joined by chains of loneliness.
Eise Osman

You can’t change people wanting to change people.
Bo Fowler

A philosophy should be able to fit into one sentence. Perhaps two.
Solomon Slade

By all means aspire to the stars, but try not to suck up to them.
Peter Robinson

We don’t believe until we see, and we don’t see once we believe.
Eino Vastaranta

Love gets twice as deceitful once we believe in its omnipotence.
Kristina Mangov

Of all the ways to avoid living, perfect discipline is the most admired.
James Richardson

In the world of the imagination, impossible just means the next opportunity to get real.
Charles Bernstein

Life is a series of choices, all made at too young an age.
Robert Brault

Whilst stories cannot die, some are never told.
Tim Daly

An innovation in one medium is always a cliché in another.
Don Paterson

Sometimes out of ignorance childish wisdom spills out.
Stephen Fry

Happiness is discovered by chance. But the chance is made by living.
Mark Vernon

There are still lessons to be learnt from examining how curiosity was set free.
Philip Ball

Only an egomaniac is offended by an egomaniac.
Greg Linster

The most effective liars are those who begin by lying to themselves.
Reginald Oliver

Anything that can educate can also manipulate.
Arthur Krystal

Erudition is a conspicuous consumption of time.
John Klein

You are most likely to slip and fall when things get too smooth.
Leonid S. Sukhorukov

When you get old enough youth is beauty.
Richard Krause

To have unclear thoughts is to mumble in silence.
Renzo Llorente

If irony is hypocrisy with style, parody is love with attitude.
Sharon Dolin

Differences aren’t monsters, just harmless insects.
Olivia Dresher

The individual of no guile will be well acquainted with gall.
David P. Gontar

To have a mind is to change it. Only the dead are consistent.
Bo Fowler

Comparisons are the seeds of prejudice.
Justin Wayne van Bibber Jr.

Who has not been held up, does not go far.
Frank Rawel

We’re all on our deathbed, but some of us are jumping up and down on the mattress.
John Alejandro King

In the long run, no one can live with just one lie; he will certainly need some more.
Wolfgang Mocker

It would do no harm to be a mirror of one’s better self.
Robert P. Recktenwald

We confuse the map with the territory, and are, time and again, surprised, that they don’t coincide.
Carlo Strenger

The hardest thing to do in matters of the heart is to resist the temptations of common sense.
Robert Brault

Don’t reconcile yourself to disappointment: make a home in it.
Gregory Norminton

When you find yourself in denial, plant seeds.
Tim Daly

Everything is not what it seems but only what you think it is.
Anton Weinberg

The ear is a better communicator than the tongue.
Beston Jack Abrams

Nothing blows brilliance to the wind like caution.
Richard Krause

You do not need to stand on your head to get a different view of world.
Aleksandar Krzavac

With a friend, poison is sweet; sweetness, with an enemy, poisons.
Theodore Worozbyt

If nobody needs us, we don’t need ourselves.
William Markiewicz

Much of what passes for giving is getting rid of.
Igor D. Radovic

We live on and on hoping to find this “on and on.”
Scott Allen

Hold your reality in your hand, and think about it.
Andrew Graham-Dixon

Nothing is valid unless it creates its own necessary space.
Justin Vicari

Truly wicked people are a rare breed, weak people are not.
Yahia Lababidi

The most telling artifact is usually in the garbage.
Clint Frakes

Doing something great and doing something small are equal in the eyes of eternity.
Rami M. Shapiro

Really being able to follow your whims is a talent requiring a long and secret gestation.
James Guida

Even paradox looks glib when it makes an exhibition of itself.
Gregory Norminton

Only the first is content with leaving its question unanswered.
Sharon Dolin

Love knows no bounds, yet it binds.
Gerd de Ley

Life is a banquet to which no one has been invited.
David P. Gontar

When we envy, we set ourselves on fire so as to light the strengths of our rivals.
Michael Curran

Nothing of value is achieved by an exertion of the will.
Neil McLachlan

Impulses we attempt to strangle only develop stronger muscles.
Yahia Lababidi

Everything holds the possibility of falseness, except tragedy.
Olivia Dresher

Some thinking can only be done in the dark.
Sarah J. Sloat

The philosopher’s stone stays wisely in hiding.
Iiris Hälli

To accept reality is only to encourage it.
Robert Brault

To reach perfection one must adapt to circumstance.
Christopher Maurer

When you don’t have a friend in the world, befriend yourself.
Robert D. Dangoor

The most common form of suicide is by neglecting one’s talents.
Kenneth D. Rotar

Without people, whips would be useless.
Vasil Tolevski

As a rule, after a high obstacle there comes an abyss.
Valeriu Butulescu

Few people complete their experience of an event until they have talked about it.
Martin Langford

Rationality is, more often than one might expect, the irrational act of reason.
Emile Benoit

When we can get all that we want, we’ll grow used to choosing the worst.
Michael Curran

A dog only urinates on that which stands firm.
John Alejandro King

Rain speaks many dialects, yet no one ever requires a translator.
John Bradley

In this world what feels impossible to bear is a heart-wrenching possibility.
Sabrina Orah Mark

Travel far enough, you meet yourself.
David Mitchell

The world of the prophet differs from that of the wit.
Gary Morson

Sometimes it’s not that people break your heart, but that you break your heart against them.
Dean Anthony Granitsas

Of the seven deadly sins, only envy is no fun at all.
Joseph Epstein

The world anchors the madness of our thoughts.
Bill Chapko

Hell is when there is no reason to live and no courage to die.
William Markiewicz

Boredom is the cruelest aphrodisiac.
Mark Leidner

To hate something properly you must have liked it once.
Aaron Haspel

Our task is not to understand the existing, but try it.
Tiina Lehikoinen

Pessimism isn’t necessarily deep, nor optimism shallow.
Alain de Botton

Self-evident untruths and half-truths will always be popular.
Paul Hurt

The normal is just the alien grown accustomed to us.
Bo Fowler

Ask a penis anything and it will answer with a sigh.
John Bradley

Narcissism is the other side of self-pity.
Jack Friedland

Anyone understood becomes predictable.
Richard Kostelanetz

Life lasts too long to make predictions but it’s too short to make plans.
Sandro Montalto

Those who cannot get lost in the heights are only interested in controlling their feet.
Marco Aurelio Ángel-Lara

Every day the invisible challenges the imagination to a duel.
Fabrizio Caramagna

Ignore, knowing everything. There’s no aphrodisiac more powerful.
Cecilia Seppia

To have unclear thoughts is to mumble in silence.
Renzo Llorente

Sometimes we caress one another so as not to go deeper.
Amedeo Ansaldi

The future does not take care of those who take care of the future.
Igor Yuganov

Anguish is proof of the soul.
Patrick Hunt

Life evaporates and leaves memory salt.
Daniel Liebert

Whereof we cannot speak, thereof someone will make a wisecrack.
Gregory Norminton

No loneliness is less self-aware than the loneliness of a poor listener.
Steven Carter

The truth shall set you upon anyone who will listen.
Arron Haspel

Only a fool believes that a man is intentionally self-created.
Emile Benoit

Nothing dates faster than yesterday’s view of the future.
Michael Portillo

Just because your opinion counts doesn’t mean it should multiply.
John Alejandro King

An option hides where we don’t want it to hide.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Just keep movin’ straight ahead. Every now and then you find yourself in a different place.
George Carlin

Living like you’ll die today means you’re more likely to die today.
Matt Hershberger

If a man wants to help people, he is bound to become a liar.
Dustin Atlas

Shame can live for years on its own excrement.
Daniel Liebert

To the true pessimist, everyone else is an optimist.
George Murray

Wealth gives no help for ennui except a choice of which chair to be bored in.
Brian Jay Stanley

A performer can do great things if he’s comfortable with the walls placed around him.
Ted Trautman

The destination of any journey is as important as the journey itself.
Rachel Agnew

If you light a candle, you create a gathering of shadows.
Marco Aurelio Ángel-Lara

Whole worlds open up where we distrust a word.
Timothy Siniscalchi

You can have anything you want – if you do not want any more.
Igor Yuganov

Bitterness: anger that forgot where it came from.
Alain de Botton

Acknowledgements, as a form of confession, are a temptation.
Tracy B. Strong

One argues to persuade that one is the sort of person who can be argued with.
Aaron Haspel

It takes a lot of skills to be virtuous without being boring.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

One cannot believe concluded opinion without delusion.
Róbert Gál

The definition of ennui: So little to do and so much time to do it in.
Manfred Weidhorn

Happy memories
Eric Nelson

The underside of any good image is an archetype.
Jim Finnegan

The world is the place in which the heart is revealed.
Peter Yovu

Temptation is the only noun I know of that acts like a verb.
Bradley Denton Reese, Jr.

A secret admirer is never so delightful once unmasked.
Elizabeth McCracken

Signifying nothing is harder than it looks.
Eric Jarosinski

The meaning of life is what remains when life loses its meaning.
Róbert Gál

Much can be tolerated by condemning it.
Steven Carter

Nothing dirtier than old soap.
James Richardson

Knowledge is what happens when you rob suspicion of doubt.
George Murray

To climb a new mountain, wear old shoes.
Lance Larsen

Eternity is the insomnia of Time.
Charles Simic

The best remedy for worry is disaster.
Steven Carter

Nihilists insist they worship nothing, but they actually worship Nothing.
James Lough

Deep charm: despair lightly, humorously (non-accusingly) worn.
Alain de Botton

Knowledge is what happens when you rob suspicion of doubt.
George Murray

Success repeats itself until it is failure.
James Richardson

To see clearly, one must very often squint.
James Geary

Don’t turn your head – there is nothing behind you that is not dead.
Jim Finnegan

The gravity of the situation depends on its weight.
Bradley Denton Reese, Jr.

Dare to be great, but remember to be adequate.
Aaron Haspel

A win without surprise is a loss worse than loss.
Mark Leidner

One can only be noble when no one is looking.
Jim Finnegan

Sometimes, the one who puts somebody else on a pedestal falls flat on his face.
Robert D. Dangoor

All is said, but not to everyone.
Eero Suvilehto

The version of a fact is more important than the fact itself.
Augusto Sales

When the dog barks at the owner, it means it wants to exchange places.
Fritz Lagusad