From: Alan Sondheim <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Cyb <email@example.com>, Wryting-L <WRYTING-L@listserv.wvu.edu>
Subject: Against Aphorisms
Date: Sat, 22 Sep 2012 23:42:57 -0400 (EDT)
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...