Aphoristic Tradition in the Digital Age

By Timothy Provenzano.

Published by The International Journal of the Book

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The aphoristic tradition, which dates to Heraclitus and civilization’s earliest writings, and more recently has become a primarily European phenomenon, is noteworthy for its essential brevity and concision. Given the ever-shortening span of discrete text in modern communications, one may ask if the aphorism has been subsumed within the general trends and is thus exhausted as a literary genre. It is the contention of this paper that there are specific features of the aphorism, as apart from related literary devices such as the dictum or the anecdote, that are not only not captured by the general tenor of modern communication, but indeed are directly opposed to the sensibility generally expressed therein. The paper identifies these facets as emblematic of the aphorism: compression of wide erudition, an emphasis on the irrational and refractory, and resistance to the hegemony of the new. These elements will be shown to violently contrast with the imperatives driving the use of social media and electronic communication; namely that of machine-like functionality, trend domination and ever-increasing standardization. The paper will conclude with a meditation on how the tradition may be kept vibrant into the future by a continuous "setting-apart" from intellectual and social trends.

Keywords: Reading, Writing, Literature

International Journal of the Book, Volume 13, Issue 1, March 2015, pp.7-13. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 231.048KB).

Timothy Provenzano

Campus Librarian, Library, Mohave Community College, Kingman, Arizona, USA


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