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Philosophical Notebooks

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2008 :: Issue 3/Fall :: Philosophical Notebooks

An Aphorist’s World

Yahia Lababidi

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.

Self-image: self-deception.

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).

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