Apr 1, 2012

A is for : Aphorisms

According to Wikipedia, an aphorism is an original thought, spoken or written in a laconic (concise) and memorable form.

Dictionary.com says it's 'a terse saying embodying a general truth, or astute observation, as “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton).'

So basically, an aphorism is when you say something really deep without using a lot of words. It's also very quotable, which kinda takes away the 'original thought' idea of Wikipedia's definition. Aphorisms turn into cliches (a phrase which has been repeated so often, it loses its original meaning/effect) very easily. 

Here are a few of my favorites:

I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money. - Pablo Picasso

Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names. - JFK

The human race has improved everything but the human race. - Adlai Stevenson

Easy writings curse is hard reading. - Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Find more writing-related aphorisms at Huffington Post by clicking here, including this one:

I am a storyteller. If I'd wanted to send a message, I would have written a sermon. - Phillip Pullman

Do you agree or disagree with Mr. Pullman? Is it really possible not to write with a message?  Share your thoughts - or your favorite aphorism - in the comments!


Kelley said...

Ooo, really like these. I love learning new things :)

Daisy Carter said...

Excellent. I love the Picasso one especially.

S. L. Hennessy said...

I do agree with Pullman. I think lots of my story ideas have messages inherently within them, but it's not overt. I have a story to tell, and if someone finds a message within it, then great. Some people (Ayn Rand for ex) write with a purpose, others just want to tell a good story.

Great post, very thought provoking! Happy A-Z blogging!

Nancy Thompson said...

I love the Phillip Pullman one best!

Botanist said...

I think Pullman is both right and wrong.

At one level, I think all stories have a message, even if it something as bland as "love will triumph" or "sometimes the bad guys win". I don't think you can help but have something there that someone can claim as a message, otherwise you don't really have much of a story.

But I think Pullman was talking about more overt and specific messages, intended to change people's opinions. At that level, I think he's right. You can write just to entertain.

Sarah Pearson said...

I feel like a dummy, but until now I never knew the meaning of this word. Thank you!

Andrew Leon said...

I think Pullman is lying through his teeth since he has very clearly stated that the message of his books is that religion is bad and there is no God. He can't have it both ways: he just wants to have his message in there without having anyone call him on it.

And, no, I don't think you can write without including a message, because you can't write without your perspective being included, and that equals a message of some sort.

Anonymous said...

I am a storyteller. If I'd wanted to send a message, I would have written a sermon. - Phillip Pullman

Totally agree. :)

"They say money can't buy happiness...I'd like to find that out for myself."

Cari from Bubble Gum on my Shoe said...

That is food for thought. I think we all write with intention behind our writing. Even journaling has intention, although no direct message, yet it serves a purpose and we find meaning there. I would definitely say yes, if we are writing, knowing someone else will read it, there is a message.

Stopping by from A-Z Challenge.

Kimberlee Turley said...

I like the JFK one best.

I didn't realize there was a word for catch phrases, but O shouldn't be surprised with all the words listed in the dictionary.

Krista McLaughlin said...

I think I like the JFK one the best. Those really are interesting and I guess I never knew what an aphorism was. Great choice!

elizabeth seckman said...

I am currently reading "Atlas Shrugged"...it's a good read, but she should have taken a few pointers in doing just a little less sermon spewing!
But, who am I to rip a classic?

R.A.Desilets said...

Sometimes my writing has no message - other than just a story. Sometimes it is meant to be fun, without some profound insight. So I agree with her - but some of my writing also has messages hidden away inside.

One of my favorite aphorisms is:
"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."JFK.

I think that speaks to a lot of dystopian literature that has been coming out lately.

Stopping by from the A to Z challenge :)

Pammy pam said...

i personally love aphorisms. i invented them. many. some. ok i've used them.

Lisa L. Regan said...

Great post. I think the best stories are the ones that unintentionally send a message. If they set out to send a message, sometimes they can be too heavy-handed. For me, I'm just trying to tell a story.