For the past few months, I’ve been experimenting with shorter forms of writing, ranging from one-line aphorisms to shorter 100-200 word vignettes. I find I enjoy the challenge of producing interesting prose at these lengths. My writing seems to exhibit a barbell curve of comfort. The nightmare zone for me is between 500 to 1500 words. Curiously enough, that’s the length that dominates both old and new media. I can do less than that or more than that easily, but staying within that range feels like squeezing blood from a rock.
Anyway, for the last two weeks, on Sunday evenings, I’ve been doing a rather silly “aphorism on demand” thing on Facebook where people throw topics at me and I come with aphorisms on the fly. I thought I’d share the output. Thanks to my Facebook buddies for playing. I might keep doing this on a semi-regular basis, so if you are interested in watching the live show, follow me on Facebook.
Here are the results of the first two shows. I am omitting topics and names of people who proposed them. If you tweet any of these, cc @ribbonfarm
- Intelligence is the capacity to be exhausted by futility before you even get started.
- Earnestness is what’s left behind when you subtract humor from love.
- Love is the capacity to see cynicism as just another kind of naivete.
- Progress is the heady sense of temporarily outrunning the forces of decline.
- To construe war as a choice is simply to drive it into the shadows. War and peace are not choices, but outcomes.
- Peace as a civilizational value is a distant aspiration. Hatred by contrast energizes our present realities. It is by testing our will against hatred, rather than by seeking peace, that we make any progress at all.
- Science without nihilsm is a travesty on the order of iced coffee. Science for the ‘good of humanity’ is an abomination on the order of frappuccinos.
- Cynicism is the naivete on the other side of failure.
- Aging is a process of losing dignity through repetition of increasingly trivial things. First you repeat your ideas. Then you repeat your mistakes. Then you repeat your aphorisms. Finally, you repeat your jokes.
- Absurdity at its best destroys meaning, rather than merely highlighting the meaningless. A donkey playing an accordion is merely ludicrous. A donkey playing Ode to Joy beautifully on the accordion is absurd.
- The purpose of cynicism is to find drama in the banal, and banality in the dramatic; that is what allows one to feel with depth.
- True paradoxes are more than simple contradictions; they are the beginnings of never-ending stories.
- We crave sharp boundaries because they promise clean breaks from our realities and punctuate our infinities. We need them even after we outgrow parents, gods and newer imagined agencies.
- We begin our search for meanings where we first run into our limits.
- We settle to calm our fears and wander to feed our vanities.
- To truly listen, you must be willing to let disorder and disquiet fill your mind without resistance.
- Youth gets its abundances for free; growing up is about paying for your abundances with the things you neglect