David Brooks on Metaphor

David Brooks penned an interesting piece on metaphor in yesterday’s New York Times, Poetry for Everyday Life: “Being aware of metaphors reminds you of the central role that poetic skills play in our thought. If much of our thinking is shaped and driven by metaphor, then the skilled thinker will be able to recognize patterns, blend patterns, apprehend the relationships and pursue unexpected likenesses. Even the hardest of the sciences depend on a foundation of metaphors. To be aware of metaphors is to be humbled by the complexity of the world, to realize that deep in the undercurrents of thought there are thousands of lenses popping up between us and the world, and that we’re surrounded at all times by what Steven Pinker of Harvard once called ‘pedestrian poetry’.”

Aphorisms in Hotel Amerika

Hotel Amerika CoverIn magazine journalism, writing a cover story is a big deal. Your first cover story is one of the milestones in your career. These stories can be several thousand words long and take weeks, if not months, to report and write. The actual covers themselves are the kinds of things you frame and hang on your office wall. So I was honored and delighted to see that I have a cover story in the current issue of Hotel Amerika, an issue entirely devoted to aphorisms. Unlike my previous cover stories, this one consists of just six words and took me about one second to write (or about 40 years, depending on if you count all the background research I had been unwittingly doing simply by being alive). That story, in full:

When in doubt, remain in doubt.

If you’re interested in aphorisms, this issue is a must-have. It’s not online, so contact Hotel Amerika and order a copy. It is a brilliant compendium of contemporary aphorisms and aphorists. Regular readers of this blog will encounter many familiar aphorists, but there are just as many that will be new. Editor David Lazar has assembled a lively collection of aphorisms that chronicles and celebrates the diversity and vitality of the form. Below is just a brief sampling of some of the treasures. Get your own copy and enjoy!

A series of aphorisms, however well executed, is torture to get through, with the possible exception of books where one aphorism only is printed on each page. Then the field of white space relaxes the eye, and in the luxury of the pause, one realizes how deeply one wants to throw the book across the room.  — Sara Levine

You might get away with murder, but you can never get away with life. — Holly Woodward

Hatred, like love, thrives on silly details. — James Richardson

I am an excerpt from my own life. —Denis Saleh

Comedy, like religious ritual, needs an assembly of like-minded people. —Manfred Weidhor

Faith is a room with more exits than entrances. —George Murray

My watch band broke leaving my arm exposed to eternity. —Daniel Liebert

Leading horses to water is management;

Making them drink is leadership. —Rick Rauch

How hard is it to concentrate? Any garden hose can do it. —Anne Lauinger

Language was created not to break our silence, but as an alternative to screaming. —Matthew Westbrook

Better to do nothing
Than waste time.
—Eric Nelson

The people that we are tired of we usually sleep with. —Richard Krause