Aphorisms by Mikhail Turovsky

The hyper-aphoristically alert Dave Lull once again lulls me into a true sense of complicity with this review of an exhibition of the work of Ukrainian-born artist Mikhail Turovsky, in Books & Culture, A Christian Review. Turovsky is an aphorist and painter. His book Itch of Wisdom was published in Ukranian in 1984 and translated into English in 1986. Here is Itch of Wisdom in Ukranian.

In the Books & Culture review, the author, Alissa Wilkinson, writes: “Neither aphorisms nor small works on paper are meant to be full-sized expositions of a complex theme. They are breaths, quotations, thoughts, and—on the surface—less complex than a complete work. Yet there is something about a small work—a drawing on paper or an aphorism—that makes us stop and think about it. It requires its audience to take it slowly, to chew and digest. What it says on its surface is only the beginning. So when Turovsky writes,

Broken wings fit more easily in standard-size boxes

I cannot quickly pass on. I require a moment to mentally conjure the image, then understand what it really means. ” Wilkinson is on to something here, how the brevity of aphorisms forces us to slow down and think rather than gloss quickly over and move on, a point I was trying to make in my post explaining why I disagree with Susan Sontag’s opinion of aphorisms.

I have been unable to locate a copy of Itch of Wisdom in English, but Turovsky’s Wikipedia page contains a tantalizing sampling of his aphorisms. His paintings can be seen on his personal website.

The first ape who became a man thus committed treason against his own kind.

Man is afraid of prison although he himself consists of cells.

When your legs get weaker time starts running faster.

Death is so preoccupied with life, that is has no time for anything else.

If you have got a fulcrum, there is no need to turn over the world.

The longer a dead-end, the more it looks like a road.