On Thread

A loose thread protruding from my favorite sweater. So this is what everything hangs by, this is what holds it all together. A thread can never relax; it shrivels if you cut it too much slack. Tension is the only thing that gives it shape, purpose. It gladly bears the stress even as it starts to fray around the edges. Once shorn from its pattern, though, a thread becomes lost, distraught, useless as a snapped violin string, a coil of old rope. This no doubt explains a thread’s tenacity, knowing how quickly things unravel, that clinging is its only strength.

A version of this abbreviated essay appears in the June-July issue of Ode.

Aphorisms by Oleg Vishnepolsky

Oleg Vishnepolsky was one of the early technologists and researchers at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center in the 1980s, and was thus present at the creation of some of the critical advances that made the Internet possible. Some of his sayings come out of his corporate experience: “Good project management is building a novel out of a bunch of short stories.” Vishnepolsky’s father was an editor at Pravda; his mother a professor of the arts. Despite his choice of a technical career, Vishnepolsky retained a love for art, journalism, poetry, and aphorisms. A selection of his own:

A choice is the only thing you kill by making it.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you create an environmental problem.

Small actions beat big intentions.

A relationship that lasts is built not on a win-win but on a sacrifice-sacrifice.

A relationship is an hourglass; sometimes, you have to turn it upside down to get it going again.

If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around, the firewood is yours for the taking.

A joke is a soap bar; it gets thinner with use.

If you bump into a devil you do not know, quickly introduce yourself.

The last person into an elevator is the first person out.

Aphorisms by Kanye West

Rap star Kanye West doesn’t read books. But he knows what he likes, and what he likes are aphorisms, or at least something that almost sort of kind of approximates aphorisms. Despite his aversion to the printed word, West has co-authored a book of “thoughts and theories,” according to Canada’s National Post. The book, Thank You and You’re Welcome, is just 52 pages long, and apparently some of those pages are blank. “I am a proud non-reader of books,” West told the National Post. “I like to get information from doing stuff like actually talking to people and living real life.” A selection of “Kanye-isms” follows. For more, you’ll have to read all 52 pages of the book.

Life is 5% what happens and 95% how you react!

I hate the word hate!

Get used to being used.