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10 February 2007 @ 08:47 am
The World in a Phrase: A Brief History of the Aphorism by James Geary  
x-posted to whatweread

The World in a Phrase: A Brief History of the Aphorism by James Geary

Love quotes? Love astute short phrases with layers of meaning that pack a punch? Horde them in journals, with highlighters, in scrapbooks? You just might be an aphorist.

James Geary defines an aphorism:
1. It must be brief
2. It must be definitive (but by no means has to be The Truth!)
3. It must be personal
4. It must have a twist
5. It must be philosophical

He then delves into the biographies of aphorists through history, drawing parallels across time between hunchback aphorists, curmudgeony aphorists, introverted hermetical aphorists, wealthy playboy aphorists. Such great aphorists as Lao Tzu, Epictetus, Benjamin Franklin and Mark Twain go under the microscope.

A preview of some of the aphorism treasures you'll find in this book:
I never let school interfere with my education. - Mark Twain
Be lamps unto yourselves. - Buddha
Trust in God, but tie your camel. - Muhammad
The art of being a slave is to rule one's master. - Diogenes
The fly that does not want to be swatted is safest if it sits on the fly-swat. - Lichtenberg
The loss of a thing affects until we have lost it altogether. - Antonio Porchia

This book took me forever to read because I kept having to stop and call someone and share something with them, or reread whole chapters because they were so delightful and engaging.

So here's my challenge to my literary friends:
Make up an aphorism on the spot and post it here. Or share one you already have committed to memory.
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chronivorechronivore on February 10th, 2007 05:56 pm (UTC)
Neat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Kburgunder on February 10th, 2007 05:59 pm (UTC)
Good morning :)
Kburgunder on February 10th, 2007 06:02 pm (UTC)
If you invest in a moment past,
Everything you do here and now won't last.
floiterfloiter on February 10th, 2007 11:41 pm (UTC)
Perhaps my all time favourite: "A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." - William James
Kburgunder on February 11th, 2007 04:46 pm (UTC)
Ha! I'm writing that one down.
Immortal (so far): EuroMikeimmortalsofar on February 11th, 2007 06:43 am (UTC)
Deriving your conclusion from the facts is science, deriving your facts from the conclusion is religion. - Mike.
Kburgunder on February 11th, 2007 04:46 pm (UTC)
A perfect aphorism :)
Varnvarn_ix on February 11th, 2007 10:37 am (UTC)
Do not be a cat, be a mousetrap.
Kburgunder on February 11th, 2007 04:47 pm (UTC)
*laugh* Damn you! It keeps coming back to haunt me.
nplusmnplusm on February 12th, 2007 05:06 am (UTC)
Never consider a movement a substituted for growth. It is the difference between experience and wisdom.