My name is Fabrizio Caramagna. I was born and raised in Turin and I live there. I started writing aphorisms in early 2000 when I was 30. By looking at stock exchange diagrams and at the fortuitousness of ups and downs I was attracted by the theories of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a trader and a mathematician, who explained to me the probabilistic approach to financial markets. According to Nassim Taleb we tend to underestimate the contribution that Chance gives virtually to anything. Being dominated by the demon of appearance, we only see a story that has turned into reality instead of alternative stories.
I have always been fascinated by how the smallest sand grain (which is almost always invisible and statistically insignificant) on financial markets is responsible for the crash of the whole structure. Who could have imagined that a subprime mortage packaged by a tiny Californian bank could determine the stock market crash and the chain bankruptcy of thousands of banks in 2009. A very little additional input, namely the sand grain, causes a disproportionate effect, namely the destruction of reality.
For years on financial markets I have been struck by details, fragments and a highly unlikely event whereas many people were looking at the macro, the continuum, the likelihood of events.
My love for details is the very love that directs my taste in literature. Here I am fascinated by short forms, by the minimum, by a single line that hides within a wider subject.
I love to think of language as a fortuitousness multiplier. In everyday language we tend to consider a special realisation as the most likely one among all possible casual stories and forget that there may be others. We rely on ‘common places’ and ignore what is ‘unlikely’.
Among all language forms, aphorisms and their taste for paradoxes and reversing them, aim to look for an alternative story rather than be happy with a likely one. Here are three examples.
‘I wonder what God did before Creation’, writes Samuel Beckett.
‘I wonder what Columbus would have found had not America blocked his way’, writes Stanislaw Lec.
‘In hell the devil is a positive hero’, writes Stanislaw Lec again.
With its sense of paradox an aphorism starts precisely from the opposite point of an obvious story. It wonders what God did before Creation, what Columbus would have found if America had not blocked his way. It finds out that in hell the devil is a positive hero. Within a set of foreseeable variables, aphorisms look for a highly unlikely variable.
In the face of chances which are clearly contrary, is not an aphorist a person who can transcend them believing that somewhere there hides an aspect that no one else had considered? Is not an aphorist a person who builds up casual traps when confronted with the self-evidence of reality?
Like all aphorists, I also like to take a sentence in my hands, reckon all possible variables and look for an unexpected one, a ‘pointe’. Ordinary reality is the outcome of our ability and unwillingness to accept fortuity and aphorisms help us demolish this castle.
I wrote my first book of aphorisms in 2009. I selected a small series of aphorisms (69 – it may be a casual number too, or perhaps it is not) within a wider selection which so far is unpublished (in life you should always do things ‘at the right time at the right place’, but we are hardly ever able to do so). I called my book Contagocce (‘a dropper bulb’ – this title is not incidental either). This is my picture and this is a picture of the book.
No one has realised
that a mermaid’s tail stinks
Her imperfection is hidden
by the softness of her chant
If quotations suddenly vanished
we would know the real weight of libraries
A spider cannot tell if it is spring
It waits for the flies season.
is a symbol of ligthness
And yet it is made of thousands of invisible chains
into the thin opening
between the head and an aureole
It is a shame that a crysanthemum
should lean out
of a hearse
to show the world its beauty
shit on a monument
They do not know
that the original
is in the cellar of some museum
This blog of aphoristic readings and writings was created in January 2010 and sprang from the need to share my passion and my enthusiasm for aphorisms. It is not a box of aphorisms and quotations (on the web you can find thousands of them), and it is not a personal diary either. Those who will read these pages will find in-depth analyses and digressions on contemporary aphorisms with a look at what happens in the world with the exclusive translation of foreign writers who have never appeared in Italy. It is a laboratory of aphoristic readings and writings in a patchwork of quotations, reviews, analyses and book references.
Enjoy your reading!