Jul 232012
 

The aphorism is an ancient form, much ignored in the world of creative writing courses and commercial publishing but incredibly valuable in a writer’s repertoire of tools for its air of wisdom or arrogance. There is nothing like an aphorism in a piece of prose to nail a theme or a revery, to add wit and vigor. Numéro Cinq is trying to patch up the cultural hole. We have published original aphorisms (from The Devil’s Dictionary for Writers) by Steven Heighton and a collection of Russian aphorisms translated by Alex Cigale. And who can forget our aphorism contests (from the long gone days when we had energy to run contests — perhaps they will resurrect themselves)? Yahia Lababidi is an Egyptian-born aphorist, poet and essayist, a self-styled sayer of wise truths and provocative barbs. It’s a huge pleasure to present here a small selection of his oeuvre. See also below a link to an interview/conversation with Alex Stein on writing aphorisms.

dg

 

————

A poem arrives like a hand in the dark.

§

The air is dense with stray spirits, swarming for soul.

§

Heart like a minefield, one misstep and…

§

Our life is like a long day; it’s easier to fall sleep if we have remained awake.

§

Every day we’re offered this world or the next; but one cannot be myopic and farsighted at once.

§

Sometimes presence of mind is to take a leave of absence.

§

Just be yourself, they say.  Which one, I think?

§

Part of the definition of an aphorist is one who spots aphorisms, and loosens them from the prose — the way Michelangelo described his sculpting process as freeing the angel from the marble.

§

Artists are parasites. Their independence is a myth tolerated by countless hosts.

§

What often strikes us in quotations is ourselves. How these great, dead writers could articulate our innermost longing before us.

§

Certain cherished books are like old loves. We didn’t part on bad terms; but it’s complicated, and would require too much effort to resume relations.

§

There is such a thing as spiritual clutter and hoarding, too.

§

Metaphysics: a fury for allegory.

§

Best not flirt with disaster lest she decide to commit.

— Yahia Lababidi
———–

Egyptian-born, Yahia Lababidi is the author of three collections:  Signposts to Elsewhere (aphorisms), Trial by Ink: From Nietzsche to Bellydancing (essays) and Fever Dreams (poetry). Lababidi’s work has been widely published in US and international journals as well as being translated into several languages, including: Hebrew, Slovak, Spanish, German, and Italian. A juror for the 2012 Neustadt Prize for International Literature, his latest book project is a series of ecstatic, literary dialogues with Alex Stein, titled:  The Artist as Mystic: Conversations with Yahia Lababidi.

Here is a link to a conversation from The Artist as Mystic, where the author discusses how he began writing aphorisms (among other things).

  3 Responses to “Flirting With Disaster: Aphorisms — Yahia Lababidi”

  1. Well said and developed …long lost aphorism style…its a pleasure to see the revival!!

  2. Nicely drawn those thoughts.

Leave a Reply