DG woke the judges with a stick this morning and threw chunks of raw meat into their cage, rousing them enough to elicit a final judgment in the 2011 Numéro Cinq Aphorism Contest. It was a straight up/down vote: a paw in the air meant yes; no paw in the air meant no. (Wait a sec. There seems to be something wrong with the script. Didn’t we send this back for a rewrite?)
Rewrite: The esteemed and sapient NC judges have issued their writ; the smoke has risen from the chapel chimney, and (after the fire department left) a winner has been chosen. As is often the case, the competition at the top was fierce, bloody, internecine, sinister, foamy and radical. Really, the finalists were sublime. They all should have won, but it is the duty of a culture to crown its very best productions so that the culture, by competition, might better itself. In truth, there was much wit and arrogance in evidence, especially wit, puns, wordplay, reversals. Lovely stuff. Which, yes, required the judges to elaborate their critical demand. This time, all entries being equal on so many levels, the judges had to take into consideration the index of provocation–what was attacked? how deeply did the reader have to think to parse the aphorism?
And so the winner is:
To speak of heaven is to underestimate eternity.
This is a sly, understated, straightforward aphorism, a balanced antithesis, heaven v. eternity, that yet uproots the foundation of Western philosophy, Christianity, all religion perhaps, by simply pointing to a logical incongruence of vast consequence.
John Webster, BTW, is one of dg’s former students dating from eons ago, in the time before time, when dg used to do the summer workshop circuit across Canada. He lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick (also home of Mark Anthony Jarman and dg’s publisher Goose Lane Editions, thus very close to the Centre of the Universe). This, of course, does not imply that any favouritism came into play. DG does not know the judges personally. Aside from feeding them and taking them for walks, he has nothing to do with their deliberations.