Aphorisms by Simon May

This month a new, revised, and slightly expanded edition of Simon May’s aphorisms is published: Thinking Aloud, from Alma Books. May (see page 343 of Geary’s Guide) is a fellow in philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London. He was also co-organizer of the first meeting of the World Aphorism Organization in London last year. He is an expert on and fan of Nietzsche, from whom he picked up a few tricks in the art of writing aphorisms with philosophical twists. May is also the author of Atomic Sushi, a travel account of Japan. Below is a selection from Thinking Aloud, but first my favorite Mayism: “To succeed, one must question the value of one’s works, but never the value of one’s work.”

The better one knows someone, the harder it is to recognize them.

Modesty shields us from others, humility from ourselves.

Not all impatience is a vice, but all vices may be forms of impatience.

Few of our deep problems can be resolved; most must be outgrown.

Chance, like a lover, is one of those awkward things of which we must be simultaneously slave and master.

What cannot be taught always needs the greatest learning.

We can deeply love what we do not know, but we cannot deeply know what we do not love.