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Monday, June 13, 2016

Aforismos / Unheard Melodies

Dios aborrece las apuestas, sobre todo las apuestas sobre su propia existencia.

En Cuba mi condición de turista me impedía escribir. Toda observación posible iba a ser la de un turista. Entonces, ¿para qué? Sabía, además, que esto no podía ser de otra manera, aun antes del viaje.

Leo la secuencia "hubiéramos podido sospechar" y tengo que sospechar de estos tres verbos, por gramaticalmente intachables que sean.

El apellido más sabio es "Barbudo." No obstante los que llevan este apellido no lo son. O pueden serlo, pero no por el apellido.

La revisión de un aforismo requiere tiempo.

La invención de una música sin palabras nos condujo, después de varios siglos, a una música sin sintaxis, sin prosodia, sin árboles morfológicos.

Cualquier oración de Kafka, sacada al azar de su obra, es un aforismo.


How difficult to gather all one's belongings from hotel room or train!

The aphorism project can never amount to much. It simply accumulates more and more bulk. As it grows larger, it is increasingly repetitive and pleonastic, never becoming coherent or achieving epic scale.

Imagine a group of people with a genetic quirk that made their excrement very valuable. (We don't have to work out what the value of their shit is, for the purposes of this allegory.) They are wealthy but constrained in their movements and socially ostracized. They live in a compound and are fed a restricted diet.

A concert at which every member of the audience is thinking: I could do it better. Even though nobody in the audience happens to be a musician. And the musicians playing are themselves excellent.

Imagine hopscotch chalkings on a sidewalk. (In a child's hand but meticulously done.) After a few days the squares are smudged and faded. It has rained but very little. Write a poem or story based on this image. This is my gift to you.

The phrase "unheard melodies" never actually appears in Keats's "Ode."

Sontag denounced the aphorism, but she needed an aphorism or two to do so.

My father once called someone a superb poet. It was that word that got me: the idea that someone could be superb at that, be described with that exact word and no other. I still feel the peculiar resonance of that adjective forty years later.

When someone corrects what you throw out as a casual hyperbole, misunderstanding your rhetorical flourish. But then this hyperbole turns out to be exact. So both of you are wrong.

What if self-mastery were a real thing? What would happen if we acted as though it were real?

The best place to write aphorisms is in the blank pages at the end of a book of aphorisms.

A fear of a parking ticket, even when I have walked down town.

I have been a specialist in the 1950s for much longer than there was a "1950s."

Buy expensive paper, but only write on torn envelopes.

Aphorisms linked thematically no longer work: they become notes toward a dull treatise on something.


The idea of self-consciousness, self-awareness, or self-control is intolerable. Who exactly is controlling whom? The very idea of the self introduces an intolerable self-division.


With a really good spy movie the spectators never find out who the spies were.


Poetry is a visual and a performing art, but everyone wants to concentrate on that narrow space in poetry that is neither.

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