Aphorisms by William Markiewicz

I don’t know much about William Markiewicz, except that he sent an email via this website directing me to his aphorisms, which he calls “Extracts of Existence.” He writes a straightforward, unadorned kind of aphorism that more often than not takes the form of a definition; i.e. X is Y. (The Definition is one of the eight basic types of aphorism, as defined in the forthcoming Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorists.) I believe Mr. Markiewicz is Canadian, making him part of a group of contemporary Canadian aphorists who have featured on this site recently, the others being John Robert Colombo and Irena Karafilly. He also makes the illustrations that accompany some of his aphorisms. A few extracts from “Extracts of Existence”:

The problem is physical if you can change it and philosophical if you must change yourself.

Conditions are normal when we don’t have to understand them in order to operate within them. The fish doesn’t have to ‘understand’ the water.

The last thing the madman loses is reason.

All that we cannot point a finger at is art.

Anyone who wants to accomplish the ‘transcendental’ is like a reflection that wants to leave a mark upon a mirror.

Mountains are uplifting not because you direct your gaze to the sky but to the earth.

Aphorisms by John Robert Colombo

I thought I had a serious aphorism addiction problem, until I came across the work of Canadian author and anthologist John Robert Colombo. He has compiled such books as The Penguin Dictionary of Popular Canadian Quotations (2006), Colombo’s All-Time Great Canadian Quotations (1994), andThe Dictionary of Canadian Quotations (1991), among others. In Canada, he has been called John “Bartlett” Colombo for his quotation collecting abilities. He is also something of a theorist of the aphorism. In the prefaces to books of his own aphorisms, he has defined the aphorism as “the expression, composed in a stylish yet concise manner, of a notion as well as an emotion.” Like me, he also believes aphorisms are the oldest form of literature on the planet: “It is often said, ‘The oldest things in the world are poetry and pottery.’ To these two survivals may be added a third: the aphorisms of the ancients. Whether ancient or avant-garde, aphorisms have served as the guide of Everyman through the ages.” He has even coined an incredibly apt term for the aphorism, one that captures the grand sweep these sayings have had since antiquity with the modern penchant for brevity in communication: aphorisms, he says, are “epicgrams.” Colombo is a prolific aphorist himself. A small selection from All the Aphorisms of John RobertColombo , a collection of 3,000+ sayings:

In politics, an alliance is a dalliance.

Light travels faster than sound; people appear bright until you hear them speak.

Belief systems are essentially relief systems.

Every builder knows that you must excavate (dig down) to elevate (raise up).

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

A woman wants a man to perform an involuntary act. A man wants a woman to perform a voluntary act.