New Aphorisms by Ramon Gomez de la Serna

Along with Malcolm de Chazal, Ramon Gomez de la Serna is one of the weirdest and most wonderful (and most woefully neglected) aphorists in the entire history of the form. Gomez de la Serna (see pages 370-371 of Geary’s Guide) died in the early 1960s, having written dozens of books and hundreds of so-called “greguerias“—his own peculiar form of the aphorism. A while back, Laurie-Anne Laget, a professor at France’s Sorbonne, discovered a cache of unpublished greguerias in some boxes deposited at the University of Pittsburgh by the writer’s widow in 1970. This article from the Latin American Herald Tribune tells the story, though sadly it does not name the book in which the new aphorisms appear: 400 Unpublished Gomez de la Serna Aphorisms Come to Light. (If anyone can track the title down, please leave a comment on this post!) Here are a few of Gomez de la Serna’s long-lost sayings… Once again, I thank the ever aphoristically alert Jim Finnegan (check out his blog, ursprache) for bringing this find to my attention.

Words are the skeleton of things and for that reason last longer than things do.

The water lily is a flower that escaped from the trees to navigate the waters.

Capitalist: a gymnast with many telephones.

An ironing board wears a striped undershirt.

Octopi are the gloves of the sea.

What does the moon do in a pond? It washes its face.

Aphorisms by Sabahudin Hadžiali?

Sabahudin Hadžiali? is another Balkan aphorist and also deputy editor-in-chief of the online satirical weekly Zikison. Like many Balkan aphorists, Hadžiali? works as a journalist. In 2009, Hadžiali? published a book of aphorisms, satirical dramas, and short stories called Abecedna Azbuka. Balkan aphorisms tend to be blunt rather than surgically sharp, so that when the blade of satire passes through your mind it leaves a rough and jagged path in its wake, a path that is immediately covered over with a kind of oozing black humor.

There is only one life, but you die many times.

Forbidden fruit is sweetest, but it very rarely ripens.

Great pain is mute.

Human beings are like rivers: pure at the source and dirty at the mouth.

Aphorisms by Zoran Matic Mazos

Zoran Matic Mazos hails from Serbia, which has to be the geographic location with the highest per capita proportion of active aphorists in the world, perhaps because the political situation there has been so ripe for aphorisms for so long. Mazos, a graphic designer by profession and a cartoonist by vocation, writes a form of political satirical aphorism currently being perfected in that part of the world. He is founder and editor-in-chief of the electronic weekly for political satire, humor, cartoons and comics Zikison.

What good is it to see future when we can’t change it?

To avoid a misdeed; that is a heroic deed!

Our blood starts to flow when our ideas dry up.

Aphorisms by ‘Solomon Slade’

‘Solomon Slade’ is the pseudonym of an aphorist who has penned three hundred sayings (Solomon’s 300, Maxims for the 21st Century) as a gift for family and friends this Christmas. Giving aphorisms as gifts is a dangerous business, since the wise words themselves are not always so festive. But Slade’s sayings come from a very generous spirit, though Solomon is not the first aphorist who comes to mind when reading them. These are more the observations of a suburban La Rochefoucauld—meditations on marriage, sex, politics, house pets, backyards, etc… that address the big existential questions that crack domestic routine like crabgrass through a sidewalk. There is also the occasional surreal touch, a Ramon Gomez de la Serna-like ability to spot the macabre in the mundane. Mr. Slade says he uses a pseudonym as “a way to deflect criticism.” He should be more worried about it deflecting praise.

Losing a great love is an eternal regret—and often a great relief.

The innocent can’t account for their whereabouts nearly as well as the guilty.

The best advice is a bad example.

Charity is a vampire with sugared fangs.

People with dogs at home know a hero’s welcome on a daily basis.

Immortality doesn’t last as long as it used to.

Words and tornadoes are made of the same thing and can be equally destructive.

Most people praise monogamy for moral reasons, but they practice it for financial ones.

A good lover makes a good breakfast.

The sounds leading up to vomiting and those leading up to an election are equally disgusting.

Getting naked is sexier than being naked.

Shallow water and shallow people are most easily agitated.

All men become rakes when they try on a hat.

No speech can be good enough to distract from a speaker’s unzipped fly.

A philosophy should be able to fit into one sentence. Perhaps two.