Aphorisms by Dean Anthony Granitsas

Dean Anthony Granitsas, an undergrad from Ohio, writes what he calls “lessays, a truncated or diminutive essay.” This smattering of aphorisms comes from a collection called That: Aphorisms and Lessays.

Absurdity is hell’s miracle.

A good philosopher should study everything but philosophy.

Once you have resigned yourself to your sentence, the guard always unlocks the door.

Either no hope or a lot of hope; a little hope is the worst.

The bottom feeder also inhabits the depths.

There is no joy in simple things because there are no simple things.

Aphorisms by Zoran Doderovic

Zoran Doderovic lives in Novi Sad, Serbia, where he writes short stories, aphorisms and haiku. The former editor of Haiku Moment and Haiku Informator, he is also the author of a book of haiku, Poisoned River (2000), and contributed to the anthologies Crosswinds (2003) and PreZENt Anecdote (2006). In his aphorisms, Mr. Doderovic gives the kinder, gentler notion of haiku a decidedly darker Balkan twist…

At the police station, I found out how much injustice hurts.

An elevator is a metaphor of life; you’ll understand when you get stuck.

Privatization has yielded visible results: Beggars on every corner.

Those educated by police batons fear butterflies’ shadows.

When the moment of truth came, no one noticed.

Aphorisms by Michael Curran

Michael Curran’s aphoristic role models are La Rochefoucauld and Pascal so his sayings are, he writes, “rather serious and dark rather than witty or pointed.” His subjects are similarly La Rochefoucauld-like and Pascalesque: psychology, self-interest, pride, vice, virtue. Mr. Curran’s aphorisms are available on his blog Sentences, where the collection can also be downloaded as an ebook. A selection follows…

You don’t glimpse how shallow some people are, till they unfold their deepest beliefs.

Thinking’s the disease. More thinking’s the cure.

Sentimentalists don’t pretend to feel a real emotion, they sincerely feel a confected one.

Flattery, like fornication, can be decently done only in private between no more than two people.

Poets make an art of strange conjunctions, which they yoke together with bands of assonance.

Chance will choose your interests, and your interests choose all else for you.

More Aphorisms by Eino Vastaranta

I first blogged about Eino Vastaranta’s aphorisms in 2010. He lives and blogs in Helsinki. This new selection is from his book Vastalauseita (‘Objections’ or ‘Protests’ in English), which contains 300 aphorisms and was published last year, as well as some sayings he intends to publish in his next collection.

From a bird’s-eye view we’re all shitheads.

People and animals are tortured because they don’t talk.

Natural diversity increases, thanks to mutations.

Supporters of nuclear power tilt against windmills.

A gift for someone who has everything? A sense of proportion.

The exclamation mark: a cannon shooting its own ankle.

What you want done unto you you have to do yourself.

Still More Aphorisms by Marty Rubin

I’ve blogged about Marty Rubin’s aphorisms thrice before, in 2009, 2011 and 2012. Here’s a few more recent aphorisms, from Out of Context: pieces of a life.

He who is not an enigma to himself doesn’t know himself.

Dreams were the first movies.

Imagination, to really soar, must keep one foot on the ground.

Birds don’t fly because they’re in a hurry.


Serbian Aphorisms for Children

Serbian aphorist Aleksander Cotric (Geary’s Guide, p. 30), whom I blogged about in 2009 and 2010, sends selections from the anthology of Serbian aphorisms for children he edited. Parental guidance suggested…

Many things were not finished because they were not started. —Jovan Jovanovic Zmal (1833-1904)

Just go on reading books and you will end up being the same as those who wrote them. —Dusan Radovic (1922-1984)

Parents make mistakes. No wonder children get beaten. —Dragan Susic (1932-2009)

Where are you, my father, to give me another piece of advice I will not follow? —Branislav Crncevic (1933-2011)

When I am not noticed, I pretend not to be there. —Savo Martinovic (1935)

I walked Marina home today. Why doesn’t she live farther? —Zoran Stanojevic (1942)

I don’t know how old I am. It changes every year. —Zoran T. Popovic (1957)

When my father doesn’t want to talk to me, I know what he would like to say. —Aleksander Cotric (1966)

Yet More Aphorisms by Tim Daly

I’ve blogged about Irish aphorist Tim Daly’s aphorisms before, first in 2008 and then again in 2009. Here’s a fresh selection of Tim’s aphoristic observations, slightly askew…

The clever understand your words. The wise understand your silence.

Funny is when reality shines.

It is hard to learn anything new, blinded as we always are by everything we already know.

I almost always expect the unexpected – and I’m usually wrong.

There are few things in the universe more stubborn than a bad idea.

Beauty has more shapes than Evil has disguises.

Good lyrics are crippled poems made whole again by music.

Uncertain and unafraid should be our default setting.

A friend that behaves like an enemy is neither.

Always arrive hungry.

Unconditional love is often given by those simply too lazy to negotiate suitable terms.

Les Is No More (Les Coleman, 1945—2013)

Les Coleman (Geary’s Guide, p. 28) died on January 17. He was a kind and witty man, endlessly alert to the surreal and Dada-esque aspects of real life, which he translated into his visual and aphoristic art. I was fortunate to get to know Les over the past few years and on one visit to his South London home bought a work I treasure: a drawing of two goldfish swimming in separate compartments of a water-filled hourglass. “Les Coleman was a rare bird,” according to his friend and fellow artist Patrick Hughes, “a fine artist who devoted himself to comedy. All through his career Les stuck to his vision of art evoking laughter, a grim smile or a subtle grin.” That profound, absurdist comic vision is plain to see in Les’ wonderful aphorisms, of which I’ll never get enough…

A thorough inspection of the birthday suit revealed a number of holes.

True deception goes unnoticed.

Wind supports all flags no matter what the flag supports.

A bridge has no allegiance to either side.

The distance a goldfish swims is not controlled by the bowl.

Audience: play watched from the stage.

The more a ball bounces the less it bounces.

Puppets go to sleep the moment they break free from their strings.

Each page in a book knows its opposite page by heart.

Glass is silent until broken.

Headstone: death’s bookmark.

Metaphor and Innovation

The metaphor-minded, aphoristically inclined Dave Lull sends news of ‘Bad Metaphors, Bad Tech‘ by Rob Goodman in The Millions. “It’s only in terms of what’s old that the newest technologies make initial sense,” Goodman writes, a point also made beautifully by Owen Barfield in his exquisite book History in English Words: “When a new thing or a new idea comes into the consciousness of the community, it is described, not by a new word, but by the name of the pre-existing object which most closely resembles it.” Here’s a central paragraph from Goodman’s piece:

“More than smoothing over progress after the fact, metaphors themselves often drive progress. The insight that turned a balloon into a piece of Baroque art was the same kind of jump that turned a billowing shirt into a flying machine. But if smart figurative thinking can spark and explain new technologies, defective metaphors can do just the opposite. When the words and images we use to familiarize the new become too familiar — when metaphors start to die, or when we forget that they’re only tools — they can become some of the most powerful forces against innovation. It’s not always technical walls that stop change in its tracks. Sometimes, innovation is limited by language itself.”

Aphorisms by David Giannini

Thanks to Jim Finnegan, proprietor of the ursprache blog and author of the aphoristically amazing Tramp Freighter, for alerting me to 42 Aphoristics by David Giannini, published recently in Talisman:

Some echoes are spitefully returned
to themselves unheard

Who marinate in spotlights
are condemned to be burnt

Infinity is the last
of its kind


Let your own arms hold
you first

Down close to certain flowers
all excesses are sufficiencies


Wit defies death
but death defines wit