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