The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

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...

Generated by Mnemosyne 0.12.