Aphorisms by Peter Yovu

“My life has always occurred at the nexus of psychology, spirituality, and art,” writes Peter Yovu, and that’s exactly the spot his lines hit with unerring aphoristic accuracy. There are several other aphorists who have occupied a similar space. Antonio Porchia, a long-time Yovu favorite, is a master of Zen-like pronouncements such as

 

The loss of a thing affects us until we have lost it altogether.

 

Yovu strikes similar wistful, though haiku-inflected rather than koan-ish, note:

 

If you wish to give me something I’ll keep, you’ll have to steal it from me first.

 

Yovu also has a sharp, serenely surreal eye (and a sense of humor!):

 

A jellyfish is one of the sun’s muscles.

 

that partakes of Malcom de Chazal’s painterly observations:

 

Space is the widest open of all mouths.

 

But Yovu’s voice and perspective are uniquely his own. He has published a couple of books of haiku-influenced poems, “but the aphorisms go in a different, though sometimes not too different direction,” he says. “I love paradox and a poetic/spiritual quirkiness.” The quirk is, in fact, the elementary particle from which all true aphorisms are made. Like neutrinos, quirks stream through and around us, though we can’t see them and rarely even detect them. Only sayings of the finest mesh capture their fleeting spark. Peter Yovu has spread his net of quirkiness wide and come up with some remarkable catches.

 

Always leave your glasses where you can see them.

 

The more I try to escape, the more the arrow of Everything considers me its bull’s eye.

 

When a tiger attacks you, become a jungle.

 

It is often not what you take off that leaves you naked, but what you take on.

 

A celebrity is everyone but himself.

 

An introvert is happy to be no one. To be someone requires the consent of too many people.

 

I’m well over sixty. That’s not always true. Sometimes I’m fairly ill over it.

 

The sky never quite recovers from a fallen tree.

 

I only write the lines I would highlight in a novel or essay. Why bother with the rest?

 

There are no right angles in the brain, though there may be wry tangles.

 

A book, lying unopened on the bed: a stack of horizons.

 

It will soon be over is the longest thought.

 

What is foreign to you can only increase your vocabulary.

 

The only true loss is trying to remember what it was.

 

The darkness lies under me. My face is the hull of a great ship.

 

Like a razor a mirror is dulled by too much use.

 

I wish to develop all my senses, and there are, of course, many more than five. A sense of the absurd, for example, the organ for which is found in many a church.

 

There are senses I do not wish to lose—sight, certainly, or hearing. But equally I would not wish to lose my sense of the absurd. What would be the name for someone who lost his sense of the absurd? I can think of two: blind, deaf.

Aphorisms by Jay Friedenberg

Jay Friedenberg is professor of psychology and chair of the Psychology Department at Manhattan College, where he founded and directs the Cognitive Science Program. His research interests are in vision (symmetry detection, center of mass estimation, and art perception) and has written books on cognitive science, artificial intelligence, and non-linear dynamics. Though plenty of scientists/inventors have been aphorists, there are not a lot of aphorisms about technology itself. Alfred North Whitehead’s

 

Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can can perform without thinking of them

 

is one of the few sayings that directly addresses technology. “Moore’s law” (the number of transistors on a circuit doubles roughly every two years) doesn’t count, since that’s an axiom not an aphorism. Friedenberg’s sayings occupy a niche within that science-technology-aphorism gap, a place where psychology and biology rub shoulders—with surprising results…

 

Some people fall in love with themselves and then suffer a broken heart.

 

The mind is what the brain does.

 

Wine in, whine out.

 

Arrogance: being wrong in a loud voice.

 

The more complicated something is the greater the number of ways it can break down.

 

Buy what you need and you will never want. Buy what you want and you will forever be in need.