Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Twittings of @jmcdonnell123

  When I first started reading newspapers, my favorite section (after the funnies and sports) was the Editorial Points at the bottom left side of the editorial page of the old Boston globe. Every morning there'd be a neat little collection of ten or twelve zingers. I don't know if one genius was responsible for them all or if everyone lent a hand. It amazed me that they would appear there day after day. I don't know when they disappeared, but they're gone now. I remember only one of them, not for it's brilliance, but because it shocked me. It appeared the day after JFK's assassination. It said, "Our only consolation is that there are at least 50 people capable of running the country today." It probably said "50 men," but I'm going to update it. I  wish one of those people was taking over next month. What shocked me was that it was not foreordained by the Lord that LBJ was necessarily the best person for the job.
  Ennaways, this post is about gnarly thought bombs. Succinctness. Aphorisms, maxims, proverbs, Just Enough Information. When you cut the good ones they bleed. I'm a sucker for books like "Greatest Aphorisms Ever." They are always short books. You can read them through in an hour. They're full of things like, "Some lies are so cunningly told, only a fool would not believe them." That's a French one  I believe.
   I never thought I'd be an aphorist myself, but I am. When my excellent friend Mr. Steve Reynolds and I started The Raven twenty years ago (he and Jackie now do 99% of the work) it came out monthly. There was endless white space to fill. That's when my proverbial self surfaced. These things always arise from the fog of thought. They're as unpresentable at first as a newborn child. It took weeks to work up my first one: "Three views of knowledge: LaoTzu- 'He who knows does not speak.' Montaigne- 'What can I know?' Sergeant Shultz- 'I know nothing!'"  Because it feels so good to produce an original thought, I didn't care what anyone else thought. It was my baby and I loved it.
  After that first one, they started gushing out. One of the old time local papers, The Badger Rustler  used to have a section called Squibs From the Township. A squib is a tiny firecracker so I adopted that heading for my squibs in The Raven. I am proudest of the one that my mother said she liked: "Rhetoric is the Greek word for b.s." That has the virtue of brevity and does not require footnotes like the above crack.
  But sadly, as the Raven became more elaborate, production slowed and without a deadline, the squibs dried up. The one bright spot for me from the recent election is that it reignited my aphoristic fire. The upcoming head of the free world uses and abuses Twitter. I have a Twitter account. I would start plugging away as a counterweight to the looming nightmare.
  Yes I've had a Twitter account since 2009. I don't understand how Twitter works. I could get one of those Dummies books but they tend to confuse me even more. Between 2009 and the election I had 13 mostly fumbling tweets. I'm up to 90 now. I used to have five followers (all as moribound as myself) now I have 14, two of whom actually read my tweets. I can tell because they "like" some of them. I'm at the same stage I was at in my early Facebook days. I had a handful of friends but my page was dead. By posting occasionally, I got more friends and now the page is so busy I have Teresa curate it for me.
  Maybe the same thing will happen with Twitter. I tweet almost daily, but it's lonely. How do I get to the point that I no longer have time to look at it anymore? Baby pics helped my FB page take off, but I don't think that will work on Twitter.
Here are some of my best.

Political ones first:

My sin was taking him for a grotesque clown. My penance is to be determined.
I scorned his reality show, but I'll be a rapt watcher of the real show.


Joe said...

This makes sense. Aphorisms are the perfect mode of expression for the creative procrastinator.

Catherine Stenzel said...

Watch out all ye would-be aphorists! Chairman Joe is on the loose!