The Decline of the Language
Our facility with and love of language has declined over the decades until it is nothing but a means of manipulation or, at best, communication.
Let us take, for example, swearing. That's right, good, old fashioned swearing. Today, you may hear someone say "Son of a bitch," or some other expletive and consider that swearing. It is hardly worth considering, much less reacting to. Look, on the other hand, at this example from the Sixteenth Century:
"You are nothing more than a hundred pound, filthy, high-healed cheat; a whoreson, mirror-mocking, super-serviceable, finical rogue; one trunk inheriting slave; thou art nothing but the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar, and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch." I've replaced some of the slang with modern terms to make it easier to say.
It comes from Shakespeare's King Lear, which many today consider dull and boring. But that is swearing!
Another dying art, and the one we are concerned with here, is the aphorism. An aphorism is a short statement that sums up and is the final word on any topic. It can range from the usual sentence to an entire paragraph at the most, but it is packed with thought-provoking information and opinion. I think one reason it has just about died out is that we are bombarded with sound and visual stimulation 24/7 and do not have the time needed to condense everything into a single sentence. Another reason is that it doesn't pay much. You need to spend a very long time to come up with enough of them to publish in one place.
One of the greatest examples of this art is to be found below. You should print out the entire thing and read it at your leisure, a sentence or two at a time. Digest and ruminate. I am sending it in the next post so that this little introduction doesn't take up your printer ink. After that, I will send another by another master if there is an interest.