The Viking Book of Aphorisms

Posted on June 6, 2014

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“Hearts may fail, and Strength outwear, and Purpose turn to Loathing,

but the everyday affairs of business, meals and clothing,

builds a bulkhead ‘twixt Despair and the Edge of Nothing.”

Rudyard Kipling

The Viking Book of Aphorisms

The Viking Book of Aphorisms

 It’s rare that a book today aims to fill the reader with a trove of nuggets of wisdom, redeemable in any and all circumstances.  Which may explain why this book was published in 1962.  Through the rebellion of the 60’s to today’s snark and superficiality, exactly how much value has wisdom lost in our culture?  And how much even more so, within this extraordinarily interconnected world, where it appears all too often, that popularity is rewarded via the lowest common denominator of merit.

In an age where everyone’s an expert, everyone can post their opinion, informed or otherwise, how refreshing is it to imbibe on the greatness of true genius and insight.

I ran across this book while perusing the local bookshop’s bargain bin.  Catching my attention, I picked up it and glanced over the cover.  “Oh”, I thought, “a book of Viking aphorisms.  This sounds very interesting!  What’s an aphorism…?”  Well, it didn’t exactly matter to me since whatever they were, they came from the strong, noble, violent, feared, misunderstood Norsemen that pillaged and terrorized all of Europe and even parts of the near Middle East.  I was very far off and realized later that Viking was the publisher.

We remember catchphrases from movies, not because the character says something new and profound to us.  We’re in on the moral as well.  But it’s the artful way that words are used to describe a situation, an event, that wakens our senses and brings the truth into an utterly refreshing light.  So rather than dilute the brilliance with my own paltry synopsis, I’ll finish by letting the book speak for itself.

Women make us poets, children make us philosophers.  – Chazal

Progress celebrates Phyrric victories over nature. – Kraus

If others had not been foolish, we should be so. – Blake

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