Aphorisms by Leonid S. Sukhorukov

Leonid Sukhorukov first fell in love with aphorisms, he says, when he heard them from his father and mother in early childhood. “I noticed even at that time that there was a great shortage of shortness in this world,” he recalls. “Unconsciously, I was drawn to any short, witty and sharp phrase. It was as though it was God given.” A native of Ukraine, Sukhorukov has had a diverse career, working variously as a cybernetics researcher, university professor, composer, and host of Ukraine’s first disco TV show. During Soviet rule, he penned sketches for weekly political satire magazines. He has also served, with pride, as the vice-president of the International Association of Professional Bureaucrats, an organization that skewers bureaucracy in all its forms.

When he was a mere ten years old, he coined his first aphorism:

I shall always believe in immortality … as long as I live!

His parents, of course, immediately wrote it down.

Sukhorukov practices the ’spontaneous combustion’ method of aphorism composition. “Time after time, I have such Heaven-sent flashes, which I try always to note down even on the metro or bus, or during lessons, lectures at the university, and lots of other places.” His cites his aphoristic ancestors as authors like Cicero, Tolstoy, Stendhal, G.K. Chesterton, and Stanislaw Jerzy Lec. “But top of my list,” he says, “will always be the genius of Oscar Wilde.”

Here is a selection of Sukhorukov’s aphorisms, from his most recent book All About Everything and other  publications:

Life’s obstacles are God’s chance to clarify your intentions.

Obstacles create opportunities.

Virtue is the public face of vice.

A mask is prepared to face anything.

Prejudices are habits that have lost track of time.

Worry is fear in a cul-de-sac.

The future tricks us with false hopes, the past with false memories.

Some marriages give bachelors a master’s degree.

In love, we are poets; in marriage, we are philosophers.

No matter how long you teach a fool, he still knows everything.

History can’t be changed but it can easily be re-written.

Democracy opens mouths but does not fill them.