Aphorisms by David Mitchell

“So many books, so little time”… That’s always my excuse for not reading more contemporary fiction. Well, last summer I finally got round to reading David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and this summer I finally got round to transcribing some of the excellent aphorisms embedded in it. Cloud Atlas is a great book—ingeniously plotted and a virtuoso stylistic performance. Mitchell is also an accomplished aphorist. Almost all the main characters, whatever their many and varied tones of voice, have an aphoristic bent, some leaning toward Ben Franklin-esque musings and others toward cynical Parisian salon-style quips. A sampling…

An idler and a sluggard are as different as a gourmand and a glutton.

A half-read book is a half-finished love affair.

Faith, the least exclusive club on Earth, has the craftiest doorman.

Prejudice is permafrost.

Time is what stops history happening at once; time is the speed at which the past disappears.

Panickin’ wings your foot but it muddies your thinkin’.

The learnin’ mind is the livin’ mind.

Bein’ young ain’t easy ‘cos ev’rythin’ you’re puzzlin’ ‘n’ anxin’ you’re puzzlin’ ‘n’ anxin’ it for the first time.

A mountain you’re plannin’ on climbin’ ain’t the same as the one you ain’t.

Pretendin’ can bend bein’.

Not knowin’ the worst is badder’n knowin’ the worst.

Travel far enough, you meet yourself.

The sacred is a fine hiding place for the profane.

When your parents die they move in with you.

Power, time, gravity, love. The forces that really kick ass are all invisible.

One can shut one’s eyes but not one’s ears.

The color of monotony is blue.

What is any ocean but a multitude of drops?