PART THREE: APHORISMS (MAXIMS)

 

 

1.    Evil is the root of all goodness.

 

2.    The truth of an obsession is the illusion of free-will.

 

3.    Where men of similar capabilities are concerned the man just past his prime is naturally inferior to the one just approaching it.

 

4.    Sleep is our natural drug.

 

5.    Women teach men the true value of man just as men teach women the true value of woman.

 

6.    Just as man represents the positive principle of life without being entirely positive, so woman represents its negative principle without being entirely negative.  A creature who was entirely the one thing or the other would be unable to exist.

 

7.    Procreation is a virtue of 'the negative', copulation a vice of 'the positive'.

 

8.    There are many so-called philanthropists who help one section of humanity chiefly by hindering another.

 

9.    One lies just as much by feigning emotions as by not telling the truth.

 

10.   Nothing is more certain than death, but, then again, nothing is more uncertain than when it will come.

 

11.   A man who shoulders more responsibility than he can reasonably carry is being just as irresponsible as one who doesn't shoulder enough.

 

12.   Truth is never more difficult to accept than when it comes from the lips of someone we dislike.

 

13.   Were it not for the demerits of the ugly one would never be able to appreciate the merits of the beautiful.  A man who loves beauty should never be one to rid the world of ugliness!

 

14.   One should always be a good despiser for the sake of those whom one admires.

 

15.   Ignorance is the root of all knowledge.

 

16.   One would only have the right to consider all men equal if one had never felt either inferior or superior to anyone.

 

17.   Astrology is to some extent a substitute for the Intervention of Providence insofar as it accedes to the intervention of planets.

 

18.   Were it not for our folly it is highly doubtful that we would take as much interest in wisdom as we do.

 

19.   If there is anything worse than the spectacle of an uneducated man who is ashamed of his ignorance, it can only be that of an educated one who is ashamed of his knowledge.

 

20.   The human kind is no more a particularly pleasant species than it is a particularly unpleasant species.  It is a combination of both.

 

21.   Where physical love is concerned, it is mainly the man who gives and the woman who takes.  But where emotional love is concerned, it is mainly the woman who gives and the man who takes.

 

22.   There is no good and evil beyond the actions of living beings.

 

23.   Sky is an illusion of the day, space a truth of the night.

 

24.   One can relate to something in everyone, to everything in no-one.

 

25.   What one says about other people usually reflects what one thinks about oneself.

 

26.   A man who lacked a capacity for cruelty could never be genuinely kind.

 

27.   One always overlooks the things one's memory remembers when criticizing it for something it forgot.

 

28.   In order to compensate women for the fact that men are generally physically stronger than themselves nature has generally taken care to endow them with more spirit.

 

29.   Truth is the object of science, illusion the subject of art.

 

30.   We are more readily inclined to forget the wrongs we have done to others than to forget the wrongs others have done to us.

 

31.   Our virtues are often vices in disguise.

 

32.   A rich man with bad health is more unfortunate than a poor one whose health is good.

 

33.   Just as we are ignorant of the extent of our knowledge, so we have no knowledge of the extent of our ignorance.

 

34.   As a rule the head prevails over the heart in man, the heart over the head in woman.

 

35.   A deeply emotional man is as unusual as a highly intellectual woman.

 

36.   Just as one would soon find the daylight intolerable if it wasn't frequently interrupted by the dark, so one would soon find goodness intolerable if it wasn't frequently interrupted by evil.

 

37.   Nature is a sovereign power that will not tolerate being dictated to by man.

 

38.   Where emotion was high the memory is long.

 

39.   If women possess more vivid memories than men it is primarily because they are more emotional.

 

40.   It is as foolish to apply religious criteria to science as to apply scientific criteria to religion.

 

41.   It is better to be rational than irrational but, all the same, one shouldn't endeavour to be too rational.

 

42.   There is a conservative element in every 'radical', a radical element in every 'conservative'.

 

43.   Just as atonal music is against tonality, so an atheist is against theism.

 

44.   An atheist may be someone who disbelieves in the existence of God, but he isn't necessarily one who disbelieves in the Devil.

 

45.   The harder one works the easier one plays.

 

46.   If the future stands in an antithetical relationship to the past, then the present must stand in a like relationship to the absent.

 

47.   People differ as widely in their conception of good and evil as in their conception of truth and illusion.

 

48.   The only consolation for being a realist in practice is to become an idealist in theory.

 

49.   There is nothing painful in life which doesn't ultimately contribute towards one's pleasure in it.

 

50.   For all her emancipation and new-found power, woman remains - and will doubtless continue to remain - in the service of man.  Every 'negative' principle exists in a like serving capacity.

 

51.   What Christians call 'faith' is to be found to some extent in every man, though not necessarily within the context of Christianity.

 

52.   Better to be materially poor but rich in spirit than materially rich but poor in spirit.

 

53.   The material universe only exists because there is a spiritual universe behind it - astrology in relation to astronomy.

 

54.   It is as inconceivable that the Universe should be entirely rational as that it should be entirely irrational.  It can only be both.

 

55.   Mind is a consequence of matter, not something that exists in an antithetical relationship to it, like a space, a vacuum, or a void.  It is formed in and by the brain.

 

56.   Never forget that the two chief functions of the mind, viz. dreaming and thinking, are interrelated, so that he who dreams well is all the better qualified to think.

 

57.   The path of wisdom lies in naturalness.  Only the jungle of artifice obscures it.

 

58.   The perfect humanistic society is always evenly balanced between competition and co-operation.

 

59.   No man can consider himself wise who does not accept his folly.

 

60.   One should beware of regarding life and death as antithetical.  For the only real antithesis to life is the not-life, the only real antithesis to death is - birth.

 

61.   Were it not for the strength of our pride, it is highly doubtful that we would be able to survive life's many humiliations.

 

62.   Shame of ignorance is a mark of ignorance, not of knowledge.

 

63.   If there is a limitation to human knowledge it isn't something of which we should feel ashamed, any more than a bird should feel ashamed for being unable to fly above a certain height.

 

64.   Inasmuch as it is the duty of politics to take care of the 'body' of a nation, it is the duty of religion to take care of its 'soul'.

 

65.   Doctors and psychiatrists exist in a negative relation to politicians and priests.  For whereas the former endeavour to rid the individual of his sickness, the latter endeavour to maintain the health of the community.

 

66.   Status is usually conferred upon a man in proportion to the extent of his intelligence, upon a woman in proportion to the extent of her beauty.

 

67.   One inevitably pays for one's abstract thought with the coinage of concrete experience.

 

68.   To the true Christian a Satanist is less of an enemy than an atheist.

 

69.   There is nothing a comedian is more serious about than the telling of jokes.

 

70.   If one could reverse time one might not make all the same mistakes again, but one would certainly make a lot of new ones!

 

71.   Were it not for his illusions, a scientist would be in no way qualified to deal with truth.  Likewise, were it not for his truths, an artist would be in no way qualified to deal with illusion.

 

72.   There are a number of grounds for believing that people of different race but similar temperament have more in common with one another than people of different temperament but similar race.

 

73.   The ego rules by day, but the soul rules at night.

 

74.   The 'objective man' is as much a figment of the imagination as the 'subjective man'.  One can only be both.

 

75.   A tolerable life is always found between multitude and solitude, never exclusively in either extreme.

 

76.   There is nothing more attractive to the eyes of a natural man than the sight of a beautiful woman.  But, conversely, there is nothing more unattractive to him than the sight of an ugly one.

 

77.   Even in the most intimate of relationships, what we know about a person is usually a very limited affair compared with what is ordinarily concealed from our knowledge.

 

78.   The act of prayer is man's most sublime form of egotism.  Through it the weak individual attains to a personal relationship with 'The Almighty'.

 

79.   Sleep is the one phenomenon that no man grows tired of.

 

80.   One best respects the essentially feminine in women by despising woman.

 

81.   Only a teacher can regularly ask a question to which he already knows the answer without feeling particularly eccentric.

 

82.   There is only one certain remedy for a man who doesn't work in accordance with his desires - namely, neurosis.

 

83.   When we cannot boast of our successes we take a perverse pride in grumbling of our failures.

 

84.   To die for a cause is usually to give birth to an effect.

 

85.   It is rather difficult for human beings to appreciate, but the fact nonetheless remains that cats have absolutely no desire to regard themselves as 'cats'.

 

86.   Those who endeavour to take delight in that which doesn't deserve to be delighted in ... inevitably weaken their ability to take delight in what does.

 

87.   There are some things which it is important to take for granted in order not to take everything for granted.

 

88.   If it is true to say that we often forget much of what we intended to remember, it is no less true to say that we often remember much of what we intended to forget.

 

89.   It is questionable whether any great artist has ever been ahead of his day.  In matters relating to his art, most of the public have usually been behind it.

 

90.   A truly great artist should possess the ability to arouse the aesthetic sensibility of even the most philistine temperament.

 

91.   Those who imagine that art should mirror life inevitably cast a poor reflection upon themselves.

 

                                  

LONDON 1977 (Revised 1978-2012)

 

Preview THE ILLUSORY TRUTH eBook