Aphorisms Require Interpretation

The irony is that the aphorism – this shortest of forms to read – actually takes the longest time to understand. – Andrew Hui

Andrew Hui defines the aphorism as “a short saying that requires interpretation.”

What I find interesting is that the longer I work with aphorisms the more I think he is right.

I think the reason this is true is that an aphorism is free-floating. It is not tied to a context and we seldom know the author’s intent. Some are even anonymous.

It is the multi-perspectival nature of aphorisms that make them so useful. It is something to think with, rather than merely something to think on.

It allows you to think with a verbal prism in your mind. It throws off colors that you would normally not be able to see. It permits you to think outside your paradigms. If used correctly, that is. And there is the rub.

Published by

Jay N. Forrest

Zen Humanist Teacher.