Selected Aphorisms

by David P. Gontar (January 2013)

1.  Dante has erred only in this, that there should be words inscribed over the infernal gates informing the damned of their fate. Such a courtesy could never be allowed, lest its very iron-clad certainty provide the last refuge, the final consolation for the tormented souls. Would not the fiends know better than to extinguish the flames of hope in the hearts of their charges?

2.   Monotheism is atheism wearing a fig leaf.

3.   Democracy is a brawl settled in advance by counting heads.

4.   The smoker takes revenge for his addiction on those aound him.

5.   The rich man cannot enter the kingdom of heaven because he is already there.

6.   Nature is modest but she is not chaste.

7.   Darwin's theory of natural selection is an  intellectual dinosaur.

8.   The earth is no more a sphere than is the sea.

9.   Reality is that which prevents you from knowing what reality is.

10.  A mystery is a topic about which the more is learned the less is understood.

11.  A man's skin is the devil's parchment.

12.  Of the ordinary fellow it may be said that there is less there than meets the eye.

13.  Our destiny:  to cross the sea of life on a raft of words.

14.  It is as natural for humankind to shed tears as it is for trees to bear blossoms and fruit.

15.  “I am a part of all I met,” observes Tennyson's Ulysses, and this is well said. Summoned by a deep urge he cannot understand, the old navigator returns to the sea with the voices of the Sirens still whispering in his ears their narcotic melodies. How long can they wait for him, year after year, upon their reefs of desolation?

16.  Happiness is the reasonable expectation of being happy.

17.  The world is not rational until we can find someone to blame for our troubles.

18.  Patience is the queen of the virtues.

19.  Flattery is the shortest route to credibility.

20.  Excuses are the raiment of the soul.

21.  Blessed are the Noise Makers, for they shall not be disturbed.

22.  Mediocrity is the frame of genius.

23.  Let us not count it a miracle that the dumb be made to speak until they have said something interesting.

24.  Thought is a beast driven by whips and blows.

25.  The sage who despises stupidity is like the sailor who hates the sea.

26.  There is no surer proof of stupidity than placing a premium on cleverness.

27.  A fool with an idea is like an ape with a club.

28.  The fish would be as surprised to learn of the existence of the ocean as it would to behold mountains and valleys.

29.  The seekers of Truth find only each other.

30.  Truth is unquestionably glorious but too proud to desert the throne.  Thus the work of the world is done by legions of lies.

31.  A philosopher confused is like a fish drowned.

32.  The Owl of Minerva may perch in a blighted tree.

33.  What is philosophy after all?   Tiny marks on paper, many noises in the air.

34.  The philosopher's fallacy:  that something should be uttered simply because it happens to be true.

35.  Nirvana and Samsara are one and the same. All minds are the original Buddha mind. Everyone is enlightened. The moment you realize this . . . nothing has changed.

36.   Human beings are not fallen angels.  We are in need of salvation precisely because our ancestors were monkeys and apes.

37.  Did Divine Love create the scorpion?

38.  The gods do not take the measure of their glories by calculating the number of their mortal admirers.

39.  A long life?  The gods must find you amusing.

40.  He hath not only smiled on our undertaking, He hath laughed.

41.  If you're waiting for things to get back to normal —  they have.

42.  The ideal of equality is the surest sign of inferiority.

42.  Even the devil is tempted — by virtue.

43.  Noble qualities are claimed by everyone as part of one's essential nature, while baser traits, if acknowledged, are uniformly regarded as adventitious and imposed on us by dint of external circumstances.  

44.  The sentences of “man” are his answer to the Sentence on him.

45.  You can learn more from a bad liar than you can from an angel.

46.  Thesis:  patrimony     Antithesis:   matrimony       Synthesis:   acrimony

47.   I do not begrudge the madman his delusions, as long as they remain his private business. Lose your mind if you must, but never your manners.

48.  To see things as they are is to see them as they might be.

49.  The individual of no guile will be well acquainted with gall.

50.   A little toxin is the best tonic.

51.  Success is not the avoidance of error but the making of the right mistakes.

52.  It is better to marry than to burn —  but not much better.

53.  Keep thy tongue, keep thy friend.

54.  Parted lovers share only their quarrels.

55.  The secret which lovers cannot divulge is their plot to kill passion.

56.  A beautiful woman can never be naked, for we cover her with our desire.

57.  Plenty to eat maketh a joyful wife, but a bare larder enrageth the shrew.

58.  In the war of the sexes the casualties are not deaths but births.

59.  Nature in her bounty hath planted in every man's breast a double instinct, to beget, and to nurture that which hath been begot, the pair of which do carry on a perpetual war the one against the other in which only the impotent and infirm are spared.

60.  When we are single we are told that sex is for making babies and is restricted to the married state. After marriage, however, the doctrine is that sex is actually for single lovers. The fact is that sex is really only a topic for conversation.

61.  The man who dies neither in battle nor by his own hand ends his days like a beast.

62.  Life is a swamp of ennui inhabited by a brood of croaking catastrophes.

63.  If the sheep did not yearn to be devoured there would be no wolf.

64.  If life revealed less we would see more.

65.  Life is a banquet to which no one has been invited.

66.  In the long run there is no long run.

67.  Age is said to have great lessons to teach, but it keeps them all to itself.

68.  The hours are long but the years are swift.

69.  Those who look to the future for their salvation have need of being saved.

70.  An appraising eye is easily appraised.

71.  The straw of philosophy is spun from the gold of life.

72.  If I did everything I was supposed to do I wouldn't have time to do anything.

73.  Before one can say whether the elephant fears mice,  one must know how many mice.

74.  Love remains in marriage like a fly in amber.

75.  The groaning of the Juggernaut is the song of God.

76.  We praise Knowledge but envy ignorance.

77.  I do not say 'polysyllabic'
       When I can utter 'sesquipedalian'
       Why scribble 'My Fair Lady'
       When you can write 'Pygmalion'?
       The bourn of Letters is not set
       By spectacled Librarian
       Nor is the Conqueror of Mt. Parnassus

78.  Few things are less distinguished than the wish to be different.

79.  When our hate grows strong enough we struggle — and embrace one another.

80.  Those who yearn to live forever are already dead.

81.  When beauty ripens it becomes class.

82.  Catastrophe is the muse of journalism.

83.  An epigram is a fallen prayer.

84.  A library is the mind's way to three or four good sentences.

85.  The life of the Law is neither logic nor experience.   It is money.

86.  Wealth ages a young man, but keeps an oldster spry.

87.  The modern mind insists that there be a science of dreams, because, were there not, science itself would be only a dream.

88.  Pessimism finds happiness in the thought that no one is happy.

89.  Why do you want to know the meaning of life?  Do you assume it will prove flattering?

90.  If the faults of humanity were laid end to end, they would make the world exactly as we find it.

91.  Even the devil eats with a fork.

92.  Humility is egotism in formal attire.

93.  The tiger has its claws, the serpent its fangs, and human beings their invincible stupidity. 

94.   If the student will not learn the teacher must forget.

95.  Genius is talent that knows what to do with itself.

96.  The Tower of Babel is raised not by ignorance but by an army of facts.

97.  The proselytizer seeks to persuade himself.

98.   The aim of wisdom is not to discover the land of truth but to chart the sea of lies.

99.  Marx is correct when he says that Hegel stood philosophy on its head, but goes wrong when he announces that with himself it is put properly upright. Philosophy belongs on its head. It is only in this posture that we can achieve at once the comprehension of reality and the amusement of the people.

100.   Mankind is omniscient too.  After the fact.

David P. Gontar, Ph.D., J.D., is Adjunct Professor of English and Philosophy at Inner Mongolia University in China. His latest book is Hamlet Made Simple and Other Essays.

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