Live from TEDGlobal

James Geary at TEDGlobal 2009: Running notes from Session 2

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James Geary is an aphorist. He loves the short, witty sayings we know as aphorisms. As he takes the TEDGlobal stage, he gives us a couple of his favorites: “Baldness is the gradual transformation of the head into an ass, first in shape then in contents” and “No snowflake in an avalanche feels responsible.”

Geary reminds that aphorisms are everywhere. They’re not not just found in books. He sees them advertising yogurt: “Lick the lid of life.” He’s spotted one on a teenager’s t-shirt: “A weekend wasted is not a wasted weekend.” Not to mention all the sayings we have in our heads.

So, how can you recognize an aphorism? Geary presents his five laws of aphorisms (while juggling):
1. It must be brief.
2. It must be definitive But not necessarily true.
3. It must be personal. Common sayings are not aphorisms. Original sayings are.
4. It must be philosophical.
5. It must have a twist.

How many aphorisms do you think you can spot at TEDGlobal?