2008 :: Issue 3/Fall :: Philosophical Notebooks
from A to W
Alienation: the crippling conviction that one is a minority of one.
Ambiguity: the bastard child of Creativity and Cowardice.
Aphorism: what is worth quoting from the soul’s dialogue with itself.
Arrogance: the vain, younger sister of confidence.
Art: the trail of breadcrumbs left by artists, to remember the way.
Astrology: a pseudo-science that postulates that the world does not revolve around us, the universe does.
Awakening: to see the old with new eyes.
Basic instincts: the ball and chain that remind us we are not free—to become gods.
Chemical warfare: psychiatry’s answer to the battlefield of the mind.
Conceit: the weakness of the strong.
Contradictions: the curse of the clever.
Crime: a sort of art made ugly.
Despair: an early surrender, where the spirit dies before the body does.
Discipline: the backbone without which potential cannot stand.
Dreams: what get us through the night, and oftentimes the day.
Eros: our last defense against the dust.
Excuses: the first refuge of the failure.
Existence: a caste system.
Eye contact: how souls catch fire.
Hope: the refusal to accept things as they are.
Idealist: lawyer who cannot see client, Life, confessing her guilt.
Ideals: maps that omit practical details—like mountain ranges.
Idol worship: a perversion of self-worship.
Imagination: the invisible hand that masturbates.
Intensity: vast emotions condensed.
Intuition: generous deposits made to our account by an unknown benefactor.
Jealousy: panic over not possessing what one already has.
Labor pains: the aches of the smaller self unable to accommodate the larger self.
Liar: one who claims to tell the truth, always.
Life: a midway point between two unknowns.
Morality: only permitting others to behave as we behave, when we behave.
Nostalgia: the familiar pinch of that outgrown garment.
Personification: literary anthropocentrism.
Philosopher: invalid instructing the able-bodied on how to live.
Physiognomy: the art that says, yes, you may judge a book by its cover.
Poetry: play on worlds.
Religion: faith in a harness.
Revelation: the application of an old truth.
Romantic: one who professes to prefer the thorns to the rose.
Sarcasm: a wolf in sheep’s skin.
Self: that invisible chain that snaps tight whenever we stray.
Self-consciousness: a weed in the garden of self-awareness.
Snakes and ladders: the game of organized religions.
Solitude: the imprisoned soul’s imprisonment of the body.
Spiritual Asthma: yearning tempered by shortage of breath.
Style: thought put to music.
Suicide: the desperate attempt to assume responsibility for what one is not responsible for.
Swear words: discomfort regarding our sex organs, and their functions.
Tattoo: graffiti on a masterpiece.
Temptation: seeds we’re forbidden to water that are showered with rain.
Time: a great engraver, or eraser.
Uncertainty: the starting and ending point of Knowledge.
Vegetarianism: the virtue of the misanthropic.
Waking: waiting at the platform of existence for one’s particular train of consciousness to arrive from strange, far-away lands.
War: the side-effect of nationalism.
Wit: the pounce of a restless insight.
These aphorisms are included in Lababidi’s book, Signposts to Elsewhere (Jane Street Press, 2008).