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  • Paul D. Wilke

Aphorisms and Poppycock



Personal Photo - Ehrenberg Castle Ruins, Austria, 20 Feb 2020

- Write something, anything, and in your own words before you forget how. Who cares if it's polished or clever? Okay, me first!


- I read so I can write and write so I can think and think so I can be more than someone else's echo.


- Don't go thinking an autocrat is your friend just because he buys you knee pads and breath mints.


- Boredom is a symptom of not knowing what to do with your freedom.


- Romantic love is eventually like your favorite song heard a thousand times.


- When in doubt, give someone the benefit of the doubt.


- What you believe doesn't matter. How you believe is everything.


- Nature is chaos and our minds are chaotic. Only language brings some order out of it all.


- To make a difference, you must first overcome indifference. (Easier said than done)


- Everything is darker at night.


- The alligators came and the crocodiles went; then the crocodiles returned and the alligators left. The swamp was home, after all.


- Live in the moment, or be trapped in it. Your choice, bucko.


- The Idea that I have a gift no one wants grapples with the Fear I'm just another talent-less wannabe with nothing to offer. As the years wear on, the Idea feels more like fantasy, the Fear more like truth. Undaunted, the Idea fights on.


- The lion may be the king of beasts, but in a shark tank, he's just dinner.


- Does anyone still get smitten? Where did this word go? Or is it now considered creepy and inappropriate?


- Pure socialism is a swamp, pure capitalism a jungle. Do you want to live in either?


- The great religions tell us to help alleviate the suffering of the poor. How about dealing with the conditions that create poverty in the first place? And don't comfort the poor with dreams of a better hereafter. Make this world better. It is all we'll get. Ever.


- A jerk-off a day keeps the anarchy away! Could it be that the two greatest reasons for the drop in violence over the last couple of decades are access to free porn and socially acceptable (more or less) masturbation? All that pent up energy and latent male aggression shot into a Kleenex (or sock, or towel, or hand, or whatever). Such a little thing, really, that spunky bit of goo, but such a maddening effect it has on a young man's mind. Look what happens in places where young men lack sexual outlets. That energy builds, and if it can't be released naturally, gets sublimated into something else, often much darker. Aging has its few advantages, one of them being less bound to the chains of libido.


- Homo sapiens: a life-support system for appetites.


- The cult of celebrity is an amazing thing! People with enough fame and power can say just about anything, no matter how utterly ridiculous, and millions will still believe them. I suspect this must be a feature (not a bug) in human nature. We defer to confidently expressed bullshit as if it were true, and especially when we wish it to be true. How wonderful it must be to get the benefit of the doubt simply because you are rich, good looking, powerful, or all three! The slick narrative machines that form an ever-larger part of our world-views amplify the perception that authority speaks truth to power. And the worst part is that there is a narrative machine out there for everyone. You don't have to articulate your own thoughts by yourself. No, someone will do it for you, and better too. Just sit back and click. Just give them your eyeballs. That's not so much to ask, is it? Frightened conservatives can turn to right-wing media outlets to confirm their paranoid fears. Smug liberals can turn to left-wing media outlets to validate their haughty contempt. Truth? Irrelevant! Nuance? Too hard! When enough people do this, trouble ensues, ignorance triumphs, and society starts to come unglued.


- If you drink poison you die. But if you sip it instead, eventually an immunity builds up. The same applies to the type of information you consume. Too much of the toxic variety kills the mind. Yet, one must be able to taste this venom first to build up an immunity to it.


- As we get older, our bodies slowly turn into prisons of flesh, the product of the shitty lifestyle choices our younger selves made. We end up like Jacob Marley's ghost, dragging the chains we forged in life. The young think they'll live forever - and so they should - but they are paying in credit debts that someday will come due.


- You gotta hand it to America. We managed to take a few wise insights from Buddhism - the self is an illusion, existence is suffering, all things are transient - and turn them into just another therapeutic fad. Go ahead! Make mindfulness turn you into a more efficient person! You'll earn more money, have better sex, and get ahead in life. That's what it's all about, right? Success! Just leave the uncomfortable parts out. If it doesn't promote me, myself, and I, I'm not buying. Kind of ironic, eh? They took a religion focused on accepting the lack of a self and the ubiquity of suffering and turned it into a billion-dollar business promoting the ego and happiness. Only in America! Sooner or later, though, everyone must confront Buddhism's simple, yet keen insights.


- Inertia has a momentum all its own.


- Suffering tastes good. That's the problem.


- A child who misbehaves is naughty, an adult is unprofessional.


- Is it pedantic to use the word pedantic to describe someone's tone as pedantic? Maybe I'm overthinking this.


- If the only thing you look forward to is your next meal, then it may be time to re-look your exalted place in the universe, dear Child of God. Then, feed your dog.


- We have small talk, work talk, and conversation. I'm drowning in the first two and starving for the third. But oh, what a pure joy good conversation is! Even better when the other person is into it as well, and not awkwardly looking for the exit. I say less talk of the weather, food, kids, or the other chitty-chatty banalities of daily life! Those bore me to death and it shows. All the dull talk makes me dull as well. Tell me what you believe, why you believe it, your opinions, your hopes, and even your fears. Just say something unguarded for once without the deflector shields up. I'm listening! I remain convinced more intimate conversation is the antidote to all the alienation and loneliness out there. Why then is this so hard to find these days? I have no idea, but it sure is hot this week.


- Inches apart and miles away...


- If there is one grim consolation about the current political moment in American politics, it is that I'll forever after be able to laugh at the moral bankruptcy and ethical hypocrisy of the Christian right. Don't ever lecture us again about the moral depravity of our godless society, you hypocritical asses. You have no credibility anymore.


- We need someone to tell us our cages lock from the inside.


- The hero with no face: my dreams, which were once flights of fantasy, have become a repetition of my daily office grind. I no longer soar through the sky or explore the cosmos as before. Ah, those were the nights! An old favorite was the one where I floated in a transparent bubble above the cloud bands of Jupiter. Just me alone, quietly drifting along and taking in all that celestial beauty. But no, not anymore. These days I dream of work, and not necessarily the anxieties of work, but the soul-killing drudgery of it all, which I suppose are needle-sized anxieties of a different kind. I dream of scanning documents...forever scanning on a piece of shit that always jams; I dream of droning on to my bored staff about the importance of this or that pointless regulation. I know they know I think it's all bullshit, and yet I preach the Gospel of Compliance, of which I am ironically a high priest. They listen, or not, usually not. And the emails, they keep coming, endlessly, like Tetris. But hey, on the bright side - and I'm told a good writer these days always ends on the bright side - I guess you could say I'm living the dream.


- The modern Republican party platform can be summed up as follows: No! Hell no! Tax cuts!


- We’re little balloons floating through life in a godless universe. Nihilism is the slow leak. Or maybe it's the truth we all deny? Only the strength of our fictions keeps us aloft to drift wherever the winds of fate will take us.


- I would not call it hypocrisy to love your pets while eating animals raised in ghoulish nightmare factories. It does, however, demonstrate a tragic poverty of imagination and moral laziness.


- One of my favorite things is watching the snow falling by streetlight. Even better to walk in it, the muffled whiteness, the feel of a whole new world, one more enchanted and magical than usual.


- When it's all said and done, when we're sifting through the rubble, we'll wonder at how good we had it, at just how much we took it all for granted, and how we blew it.


- I suspect that my spirit animal is the dull, plodding ox. We can't all be lions.


- Everyone's so damn busy all the time, or so they'll have you believe. 'I'm too busy' is just another way of saying someone (or something) is not a priority. What people don't have time for says just as much about them as what they do. Priorities. Remember that.


- Humane slaughter will be our age's Orwellian epitaph to the daily atrocities committed in defense of the full belly and the satisfied palate.


- We live in an age saturated with information, but lacking in clarity. People confuse access to infinite streams of data with wisdom. No, these are nothing more than the building blocks around which to construct and curate our own little personal realities sustained only by the gravity of our egos.


- No one really believes anything anymore, not really, and those who do believe in some version of Santa Claus.


- Demand perfection, get inertia.


- Forever coiled, never sprung.


- We're moral yogis, able to contort our beliefs like pretzels to justify whatever we want. The thing is, we're too lazy to do even that most of the time.


- Nihilism is found in the Amazon shopping cart.


- Maybe depression is merely seeing the world as it truly is, stripped of all pretense and without the constant demand for distracting performance. Brute reality. The empty and dark stage. A temporary realization that all really is for naught. Like a kidney stone, this mood passes, painfully, and I get back to pretending it's otherwise. This is not a criticism of any human tendency to self-delusion, but a confession that it cannot be otherwise. This is necessary.


- The two that become one are the two that become three. The math of life is also the math of love. But love's calculus is irrational, just as life is irrational, no matter how hard we try to believe otherwise. Give me more of it!


- Time is the most valuable currency, yet we spend it chasing money.


- Fear dying, not death.


- Aphorisms are pithy nuggets of wisdom or empty piles of bullshit.

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