More Wit, Less Affirmation!


Illustration by Linda Huang; Photograph by Ophelia, via Getty Images.

Jessa Crispin cites two writers to illustrate the distinction she draws between aphorism and affirmation.

Aphorism: “He who fears death will never do anything worthy of a man who is alive.” (Seneca)

Affirmation: “I do not need the kind of love / that is draining, / I want someone / who energizes me.” (Rupi Kaur)

Poetry already has much in common with the aphorism, using structure, rhythm and metaphor to say something essential in a deceptively simple way. But somewhere along that road with the Instapoets, aphorism got confused with affirmation — those things you tape onto your mirror to remind yourself not to text your ex. The purpose of the aphorism is to bring unexpected perspective. The affirmation… only reinforces what we think we already know.

Crispin also plugs humor and brevity as useful tools.

With our highly divided attention, it is perhaps only humor that can provide us with a moment to pause and reflect… You know what they say: “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”

(Jessa Crispin, “Why Isn’t Instagram More Witty?” NYTimes, 6-1-19)

(c) 2019 JMN

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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1 Response to More Wit, Less Affirmation!

  1. This is interesting and tells me something I should have already known, but it’s easy to get lost in all the affirmations!

    Liked by 1 person

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