Aphorisms by Mason Cooley

Alfred Kelly alerts me to the aphorisms of the late Mason Cooley, a professor of literature at the College of Staten Island and Columbia University, who died in 2002. There is not a lot of info about Cooley online, but the Cooley listing on poemhunter.com runs to over 200 pages and, by Mr. Kelly’s count, contains some 1,500 sayings. Cooley published a series of collections called City Aphorisms, which seems to have run at least for nine separate “selections.” Wikiquote also has a compact list of Cooleyisms. Cooley has a number of aphorisms on aphorisms, including

In an aphorism, aptness counts for more than truth.

The laughter of the aphorism is sometimes triumphant, but seldom carefree.

Writing an upbeat aphorism is a temptation, but decorum forbids.

A selection of his other sayings follows. My thanks to Alfred Kelly of Hamilton College, one-time academic haunt of the great aphorists Josh Billings and Ezra Pound, for alerting me to Mason Cooley.

Wisdom remembers. Happiness forgets

Reality is the name we give to our disappointments.

The Insignificance of Man is a congenial theme; my own insignificance is a sore point.

Passion impels our deeds; ideology supplies the explanations.

By multiplying ironies, I evade commitments.

Don’t tell me it’s raining when you’re peeing on me!