On Bogus Aphorisms
Great piece in the NY Times by Brian Morton, Falser Words Were Never Spoken, about why the true function of aphorisms is to make you feel NOT good about yourself, not to reassure you that everything will be alright. Aphorisms are irritants, not salves; in (metaphorical) media terms, they are ‘lean forward’ rather than ‘lean back’ experiences. “When you start to become aware of these bogus quotations, you can’t stop finding them,” Morton writes. “Henry James, George Eliot, Picasso — all of them are being kept alive in popular culture through pithy, cheery sayings they never actually said.” Inspect your coffee mugs today! Dispose of those that don’t unsettle you, as you would expired medicines discovered in a bathroom cabinet.