Sunday, December 02, 2007


Today in the Times, there was a story about a renaissance of the aphorism in Serbia:

'A sharp proverb with a twist, the aphorism has a long and rich tradition among Serbs, who have used satire and dark humor to come to terms with decades of authoritarian rule.

The art form thrived during the years of Mr. Milosevic. Now, Mr. Cotric, who until recently was a federal minister, says aphorisms are having a renaissance, embraced by everyone from students to grandmothers.

“We have had wars, hyperinflation, cult of personalities, censorship, nationalism, ethnic cleansing — and if it weren’t for this self-defensive humor, these crazy people in power would have turned us into crazy people,” he said.'

Here's an example of one, written under the regime of Slobodan Milosevic: “We have got our war assignments. We are to be the killed civilians.

At a recent gathering, a group of aphorists "recited their work in a hail of words, a style reminiscent of beat poet readings. Mr. Baljak began by alluding to the ethnic cleansing of the 1990s wars. 'What I experienced in our brotherly union, I wouldn’t wish on my own brother,' he said.

Warming to the theme, Mr. Zakic replied, 'We will do our best not to have any more fratricide. We will stop being brothers.'

Would we say that people like Jon Stewart, Jay Leno, Bill Maher, David Letterman, Chris Rock are the aphorists of our time? Who writes the American aphorism?


  1. What an amazing example of healing through dark humor.

  2. I like it. I especially like the one about being assigned to be the dead people. But what makes something an aphorism? Oh. MB informs me that it's a short, memorable saying. I guess I thought it had to be general. I always think of "A good man is hard to find." And the other sayings in O'Connor's stories.



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