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Monday, September 13, 2004
  Don Paterson in this weekend's Saturday Telegraph (11/9) could be found attempting to revive the aphorism. I can't say it was a successful operation; either the lightening rod wasn't hoisted high enough, or the corpse-pickings of previous aphorists refused to be sewn together, with or without bolts through the neck.

The uncharitable part of me (and those who know me personally will be aware that this constitutes a high percentage of my total mass) tends to think that Paterson hasn't really got much of interest to say, and in order to keep in the literary pages has decided to embrace a 'forgotten' form; like the Coen's superfluously black-and-white 'The Man Who Wasn't There' and Southampton's recent attempts at the long-ball game. His coy little game of patsy with 'brevity' and 'truth' didn't fool me, oh no, not for a second.

Especially not once you've read a few of his minuscule musings.

I was terrified when I suddenly realised her entire conversation took place in inverted commas. She didn't dare mean a thing.

Seventy years. But your childhood was an infinity. What fools we were to sign up to time.

I read a definition of the word "solid": something which retains its shape; and find myself immediately terrified by the wilfulness of objects.

Obviously there is a lot to object to in that little sample (and I promise, I didn't just pick the worst ones). However, the thing I'd briefly like to bitch about is the vulgar over use of the idea of 'terror'. Terror is a good thing, I've long been a fan; I like the fact that it encompasses everything from bowel-evacuating fright, to the sublime uncanny. However, it also has a dark recent history, where it is just a foot-soldier in the pretentious quest to make the banal sound emphatic. Now the most terrible thing of all is to see something described as 'terrifying' as they so rarely make you want to fill a nappy or climb Mont Blanc. A shame.

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