The Science, Psychology and Soul of Wit
Wit is often thought of as simply being funny. But wit is more than just having a knack for snappy comebacks. Wit is the quick, instinctive intelligence that allows us to think, say or do the right thing at the right time in the right place.
Wit’s End shows how wit is a state of mind as well as a sense of humor and why wit and wisdom are really the same thing.
I Is an Other
The Secret Life of Metaphor and
How It Shapes the Way We See the World
New York Times bestselling author James Geary offers a fascinating look at metaphors and their influence in every aspect of our lives, from ordinary conversation and commercial messaging to news reports and political speeches.
Geary's Guide to the
World's Great Aphorists
Geary's Guide is the result of a lifetime's obsession with aphorisms and a year's death-defying research in the British Library. More than 350 authors from around the world, some of whom appear here in English for the first time, are brought together in this lively and thought-provoking compendium.
The World in a Phrase
A Brief History of the Aphorism
The World in a Phrase is a whimsical, humorous tour through the history of this remarkable literary form and its extraordinary practitioners. The book chronicles the varied, often idiosyncratic backgrounds of the world’s key thinkers and shows, as eighteenth-century aphorist Vauvenargues puts it, just how much “the maxims of men reveal their hearts”.
The Body Electric
An Anatomy Of The New Bionic Senses
Drawing on fields as diverse as artificial intelligence and neuroscience, The Body Electric provides an exciting synthesis of the people and technology making the convergence between biology and technology possible, while addressing the psychological, social and philosophical implications of these startling developments.
Aphorisms by Sarah Manguso
"I don’t read prose so much as root through it for sentences in need of rescue." This is the first sentence in Sarah Manguso's 2016 examination of the aphorism in Harper's, 'In Short: Thirty-six ways of looking at the aphorism,' in which she also confesses she has "a thing for writers who deliver their work by the line, the epigram, the apercu." Manguso is one of those writers herself, as she demonstrates in her collection of aphorisms, 300 Arguments (Graywolf Press, 2017).
Manguso's Harper's essay is an aphoristic consideration of the aphorism as a literary form. In item #27 of 'In Short's' 36-section sequence, she rejects the idea that the aphorism is a modern, Twitter-induced phenomenon and, as such, is evidence that our attention spans are contracting faster than matter at the edge of a black hole. "Please don’t try to convince me that my romance with concision follows from the way we experience reality now, in interrupted and interruptive increments," she writes, "or that if I like short literature I should be on Twitter; or that my taste is merely a symptom of a pathological inability to focus or commit; or that since I have a child I no longer have the time to write at length. I have always loved concision."
One of the aphorisms in Manguso's essay about aphorisms is:
Brevity isn’t the soul of witlessness; shallowness is.
The aphorism is the oldest written art form on the planet. It is now and always has been a discipline and style of philosophical thought, not some psychic shortcut to drive-thru insights. Aphorisms are words without ends. As Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (Geary's Guide, pp. 116–118) put it,
An aphorism is the last link in a long chain of thought.
Manguso's aphorisms are indeed 'arguments'; i.e., they put forward a point of view, a position, from which readers can form their own chains of thought. The arguments in 300 Arguments are not the partisan bickering we've become accustomed to, but part of the writer's process of working on, reasoning through, and figuring out that also catalyzes that same process in the reader. In so doing, Manguso's apercus fit Julien de Valckenaere's (Geary's Guide, pp. 61–62) definition of aphoristic excellence:
The shortest aphorism that makes you think the longest is the best.
A selection from 300 Arguments:
The first beautiful songs you hear tend to stay beautiful because better than beauty, which is everywhere, is the memory of first discovering beauty.
If you want to know someone's secret, don't ask a thing. Just listen.
Achieve a goal and suffer its loss.
The trouble with setting goals is that you're constantly working toward what you used to want.
I grew up amid violently white winters and green summers and roaring autumns. Now, in a place without such seasons, I'm stuck in a waiting room with the TV on the same channel all day, and I'm never called in for my appointment.
Giving up hope and submitting to suffering looks the same as achieving total detachment and surpassing the Buddha but for one detail: the smile. Remember to smile.