[NetBehaviour] Against Aphorisms

isabel brison ijayessbe at gmail.com
Sun Sep 23 21:16:19 CEST 2012

In one of the Lisbon underground stations (richly decorated with art at the
taxpayer's expense) there is a mural with a snippet from a well-known
portuguese poet. It reads "If I were to live forever, and eternally strive
for and attain the perfection of things".
 I always thought it sounded awfully pompous, until one day I read the poem
it was taken from. What he says immediately after that is something like "I
forget myself imagining chaste wives, nestled in mansions of transparent
glass". It turns out all the poor bugger really wanted was a posh house and
a pretty girl to go with it. So much for taking things out of context.

On 23 September 2012 04:43, Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com> wrote:

> Against Aphorisms
> Facebook is loaded with them. At one point I loved Karl Krauss,
> Adorno's Minima Moralia, Schlegel. But aphorisms out of context,
> used as slogans on Facebook, presenting the righteous act or
> moment, are deadly; they're inauthentic in the existentialist
> sense, cut off; they don't spur to action - they make one feel
> better under capital, they suture the subject with a thinned-out
> cleverness, they make it appear as if something actually has
> been accomplished. The more famous the writer quoted, the better
> the aphorism appears to be, the name lending false authority to
> the vapidity of the words. And Facebook's aphorisms stand for
> the speed-up of the attention economy; why worry about something
> if an aphorism seems to sum it up in a few words that slip by,
> require little thought? The aphorism not only stands in for
> action; it also stands in for the depth of thought and context
> necessary for understanding, particularly given the complexities
> of the world we live in. This isn't true for all aphorisms, of
> course, but the short quote, the succinct phrase, gives us
> pleasure, even when we're contemplating slaughter, racism,
> violence, and so forth. At the least, give sources and urls so
> that one might take some sort of action, instead of nothing more
> than agreement over the superstructure of word-choice. The use
> of aphorisms is as well meaning, as meaning is drained by their
> use of them. We should all wake up in the midst of the battle-
> field by any other name...
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