The recursive point of view
At the bottom of reality lies a paradox: self-created creation, either the universe or God. This conundrum of self-causation afflicts all life and consciousness and great art. Occasionally the recursive nature of our existence is captured by a simple witty loop. Here is a fine collection of hundreds of highly evolved self-cancelling/self-generating circuits, called oxymoronics. This handsome and intelligent book is classic cybernetics. I use these witticisms as meditative koans.
Oxymoronica: Paradoxical Wit & Wisdom From History’s Greatest Wordsmiths
The superfluous is the most necessary.
Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.
I shut my eyes in order to see.
We learn from history that we do not learn from history.
We are never prepared for what we expect.
To be believed, make the truth unbelievable.
The final delusion is the belief that one has lost all delusions.
What we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.
Sydney J. Harris
When a dog runs at you, whistle for him.
Henry David Thoreau
Always be sincere, even if you don’t mean it.
Harry S. Truman
Man can believe the impossible, but can never believe the improbable.
War is a series of catastrophes which result in a victory.
First I dream my painting, then I paint my dream.
Vincent van Gogh
We are confronted by insurmountable opportunities.
Walt Kelly, From Pogo
A man chases a woman until she catches him.
I want peace and I’m willing to fight for it.
Harry S. Truman
Study the past, if you would divine the future.
Confucius, in Analects
Love is a kind of warfare.
All works of art should begin…at the end.
Edgar Allan Poe
An oxymoron has been wisely described as “a compressed paradox.” Looking at it the other way around, I think of a paradox as “an extended oxymoron.” To me, they’re close cousins because they both link up contradictory or incongruous elements. And they both play around in the most fascinating way with the difference between literal truth and figurative truth. For this reason, I include both oxymoronic and paradoxical observations (and a few others, as you shall soon see) under the rubric of oxymoronica.10/4/04