Aphorisms by Michael Theune

Michael Theune describes himself as “a huge fan of aphorisms, probably bred into me by my upbringing in the church (I’m a preacher’s kid), which involved much exposure to proverbs and seductive gnomic utterances. I’ve been reading and thinking of them as an art form for more than fifteen years.” Theune is a self-confessed recovering E.M. Cioran addict. His own aphorisms are much more mischievous than Cioran’s (“so often humor is undervalued in discussions of the arts,” he says), though some rather immense and dark abysses can be glimpsed behind Theune’s puns and witticisms. Theune is also adept at glosses, clever spins on other people’s aphorisms. This is in the grand and ancient tradition of aphoristic sparring in which all lovers of the form delight. My favorite is his deflection of Walt Whitman from Leaves of Grass: ” Do I contradict myself? Fine, then I contradict myself. I am large. I contain platitudes.” Theune’s aphorisms are collectively called “Orthoparadoxy”. Here is a selection:

Flux is victorious but cannot accept the award.

Vision has become a version.

Second thoughts are tinder for the flames of Hell.

Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must scream, laugh, grunt, cry.

History consigned to the dustbin of information.

The rain that gives the roofers work sends the roofers home.

Nothing gives off more dust than stars.

All around the world, the mighty ocean musters all its strength to cry pssst! and shhh . . .

The hiss at the end of metaphysics—

I know there is something greater than me, but without me it wouldn’t matter quite so much.

Sometimes you have to spit on the world to make it shine.

So many are alive only for the sake of their salvation.

Attention founders between seeking and looking after.