Occulture: The practice of actively withholding creative activity from the public domain in order to either preserve its essence or evolve it along lines which are contrary to the norm. – Urban Dictionary [Occulture]
For years, my occulture has been the aphorism: Short spells that usually arrive spontaneously and unexpectedly – and which challenge my reason. An example is: “Art is more original than the world.”
In this millennium, I’ve been experimenting with Twitter as an open workbook for aphorisms. Feedback on Twitter can be broad and quick, and it’s a handy place to test short phrases for originality and charm.
Though aphorisms enjoy a venerable tradition as ‘wisdom literature,’ in fact this genre began as an accident! Check out the surprising history of this Orphic tradition in Brian Dillon’s lucid and comprehensive view of this pithy medium, The Pleasure of Aphorisms
My favorite aphorism is the famous prescription for artists from the ancient physician Hippocrates: “Life is short, art is long, opportunity fleeting, experimenting dangerous, reasoning difficult.”
And good luck!
The aphoristic occulture is the source for most of my fiction. Given enough time and attention, the unexpected beauty or wonder in the ushered moment of an aphorism opens into narrative. Each of my fictive works has the seed-aphorism embedded somewhere in it. With “Radix,” for example, the seed is: “Mama is maw.” I believe those three words emerged after reading Robert Bly’s famous anti-war poem “The Teeth Mother Naked At Last.”
For this writer, aphorisms constitute an occulture: an aesthetic reverberant within the experiencer. The dreamweave of writing and the dreamwave of reading unfurl panoramic realities coeval with soul. And what is soul? Longing to know, I’ve spun many aphorisms:
There’s a hole inside each of us: a creative void at the core: our unconscious, once called the soul — a hole that perfectly fits the world.
Soul is the joy of life’s mournful flow.
What is soul? This fact: Everything we love we will lose.
Trying to define the ineffable quality we call soul has forced me to accept that the unimaginable creates the need for art. And text art is how we listen to soul. Hence, this aphorism: The word is an ear of the inexpressible.
The word is an ear.
Stringing together aphorisms, poetry emerges: an artifact of my occulture, which I wouldn’t share with anyone but you – my creative intimates:
Listen to the untellable:
the end of Hamlet’s verbal resources,
the word is an ear of the inexpressible.
Art begins by choosing choosing,
and then imprisons us in liberties.
The enemy of art is certainty.
Appalled witness of beauty, art invents truth
and copies the incomprehensible.
The unimaginable creates the need for art.
Only violent beauty creates. All else is imitation.
The word is an ear of the inexpressible.
The word is an ear.