Aphorisms by Alex Stein

The motto of the spontaneous aphorist (i.e. those who practice the ‘spontaneous combustion’ type of composition, in which aphorisms appear unedited and fully formed) might be, ‘First thought, best thought.’ That was the case for Alex Stein, whose collection of aphorisms, Weird Emptiness, was published by Wings Press in 2007. Stein sent an entirely different manuscript to Roberto Bonazzi, then an editor at Wings Press, who pointed out three pieces he thought were worthwhile. “Curiously,” says Stein, “the three pieces he pointed out were each (and even more tellingly, the only) pieces I had culled, unedited, from the notebooks that have unceasingly attended my efforts at fiction and poetry. Notebooks in which, with utter self-absorption and a transparently deluded sense of my own importance in the larger context of Literature, I had been commenting on my process, aesthetics, mentorship, artistry, and creative life.” These pieces, along with more like them, became Weird Emptiness, from which I spontaneously append a selection below:

Bridge or a Wall. If you write in order to develop a relationship with your fellow human beings and your writing becomes the sole constitution of that relationship, is your writing, then, a bridge or a wall?

The Holy Bible. Perhaps The Holy Bible was written in “the final days” of its world. A memorial, of sorts, as opposed to a visionary work. The only inspired aspect of it being that revolutionary style which makes it such a compelling read. Would it really be so strange to live in a world for which a Bible had not yet been written? Or, rather, say we have no need of prophecy in this age, having at hand so much of history for reference.

The Mystic. When the mystic stares into the eternal, he becomes the eternal. This is neither an act of will, nor a voyage of self-discovery. It is an acknowledgement of the inwardness of outwardness, which is to say it is an acknowledgement of the fact that no division exists.

Conscience. Everything I write is completely personal, as well as utterly disengaged. The issues of form, for me, always supersede the specificities of content. I draw entirely from my own life because I do not believe it is polite to speculate upon the inner world of anyone but myself. One would have to be both clairvoyant and magnanimous to do otherwise with anything like a clear conscience.

Poetry is a surprising sport. One often flushes the jester from the meadow when one is chasing butterflies.

A poem should be no longer than the person who writes it.