Monday, September 19, 2011

20 Aphorisms - September 2011

I've been trying Twitter, and I'm enjoying the economy of language.  There is also an irreverent mood to Twitter, which encourages quips.

These combine in the aphorism, which tries to encapsulate truths in crisp, striking statements.

In my books and newspaper columns, I try to include this combination of brevity and punch every now and then.   (Usually clumsily.)  Twitter is amplifying this urge.

Here are a collection of twenty aphorisms on life, writing, philosophy and Lady Gaga.  Do any take your fancy?

  1. Addiction: when distractions from life become life itself.
  2. 'Nature': often a fashionable bag for smuggling our prejudices in.
  3. The curse of Twitter: mistaking haste for decisiveness, brevity for wit.
  4. Writing, like running, requires daily discipline, competition with oneself, and moments of thoughtless effort.
  5. Hospitals: where injury meets the insult of daytime television.
  6. Lady Gaga: a cult of impersonality.
  7. Sunny day: infinity in a blue dress.
  8. 'Living in the moment' is amnesia rephrased as philosophy.
  9. The word 'god' is obviously well travelled - just check its semantic baggage.
  10. To be a writer, one needs more than skill and passion. One needs a taste for austerity.
  11. Self-belief is often easier than self-mastery. Put another way: it's easier to be confident than free.
  12. Talented people fail regularly - but by their own measures, not others'.
  13. The best way to 'free your mind' is to train it well, and use it bravely.
  14. It can be quietly embarrassing to think. We see our old ideals, awkward like old fashions.
  15. Gossip is often about ourselves, not about others: we ease the pain of existence with the anaesthesia of chatter.
  16. Folks ask philosophy students: "What will you do with that?" We reply with a similar question: "What will you do with that, your life?"
  17. Those who believe in the 'Death of the Author' still receive royalties. Clearly there are some 'limits' they recognise.
  18. Many a narcissist has a shadow as well as a mirror - someone he needs to hate, mock or wilfully ignore. Elections are won with this...
  19. One of the most important lessons of school: how to disobey. Start early, and do it artfully.
  20. Intellectual gentrification: the fashionable take possession of ideas built, at great cost, by artists and thinkers they once reviled.

(Illustration: Toni DAgonstinho)


Emma Kirsopp said...

oh, yes! This is fantastic. Thank you.

I have been using twitter for a little while now and have found it a useful tool to hone my writing, oddly enough (mostly, learning to get to the point quickly)

Damon Young said...

Thanks, Emma. Yes, it's a very handy tool, combining constraints with an audience. It encourages brevity that'll be read (very different to writing for no audience).

Having said this, it can also be a time- and energy-sucking monster, and I'm understandably wary...

Alister Scott said...

Great list again. Do you follow Alain de Botton on Twitter? I love his thoughts:!/alaindebotton

Damon Young said...

Thanks, Alister. Yes, I do follow Alain.