More Aphorisms by William Stafford

Back in 2009 Jim Finnegan, proprietor of the ursprache blog and author of the aphoristically amazing Tramp Freighter, sent news of William Stafford’s aphorisms. These are now collected in Sound of the Ax, which brings together for the first time over 400 aphorisms and 26 aphoristic poems by Stafford. A selection:

 

All events and experiences are local, somewhere.

 

When the snake decided to go straight he didn’t get anywhere.

 

There are many of those who have sense enough to come in out of the rain who do not have sense enough to go out in the sun.

 

Many things true when said, the world makes untrue.

 

Every mink has a mink coat.

 

I must see farther, even when no one says, “Look!”

Aphorisms by Agnes Martin

Jim Finnegan, proprietor of the ursprache blog and author of the aphoristically amazing Tramp Freighter, points out that this month marks the 102nd anniversary of the birth of Agnes Martin, an artist who spent many years in Taos, New Mexico. Martin did some aphoristic writing, often reflecting on her practice as an artist, which can be found in Schriften (Kunstmuseum Winterthur / Edition Cantz, 1992), edited by Dieter Schwarz:

 

We need more and different flags.

 

One who has become all eyes does not see.

 

To try to understand is to court misunderstanding.

 

Not to know but to go on.

 

There are two endless directions. In and out.

 

The measure of your life is the amount of beauty and happiness of which you are aware.

 

There are no criteria. No possibility for criticism.

 

Those with security as a goal will not move.

 

In graphic arts and all the arts technique is a hazard even as it is in living life.

 

I hope I have made it clear that the work is about perfection as we are aware of it in our minds but that the paintings are very far from being perfect—completely removed in fact—even as we ourselves are.