Mason Cooley

Mason Cooley

Mason Cooley (1927 – July 25, 2002) was an American aphorist known for his witty aphorisms. One of these such aphorisms Cooley developed was "The time I kill is killing me." He was professor emeritus of French, speech and world literature at the College of Staten Island.

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Rereading we find a new book.

My thought has been shaped by books, my desires by pictures.

I read less and less. I have not forgiven books for their failure to tell me the truth and make me happy.

Other people's beliefs may be myths, but not mine.

City people make most of the fuss about the charms of country life.

The man in the street is always a stranger.

Friends are sometimes boring, but enemies never.

Cats are inquisitive but hate to admit it.

The passions are the same in every conflict, large or small.

Imagination has rules, but we can only guess what they are.

The laughter of the aphorism is sometimes triumphant but seldom carefree.

If beggars do not hate the rest of us, they are even more abject than I had imagined.

The discontented believe that their regrets are about the past.

Amazing that the human race has taken enough time out from thinking about food or sex to create the arts and sciences.

Minds will wander even during the Last Judgment.

Hatred of the mother is familiar, but the mother's hatred still comes as a surprise.

A great reader seldom recognizes his solitude.

Irony regards every simple truth as a challenge.

Fantasy mirrors desire. Imagination reshapes it.

Logic and fact keep interfering with the easy flow of conversation.

People who abhor solitude may abhor company almost as much.

Every literary critic believes he will outwit history and have the last word.

Rescue someone unwilling to look after himself and he will cling to you like a dangerous illness.

Travelers never think that they are the foreigners.

Magic trick: to make people disappear ask them to fulfill their promises.

Every day begins with an act of courage and hope: getting out of bed.

Don't stare into a mirror when you are trying to solve a problem.

I'm being treated like a sex object, cried the lady. No matter. I will take care of it, said Time soothingly.

Even cats grow lonely and anxious.

Living alone makes it harder to find someone to blame.

Unlike the actual the fictional explains itself.

A real idea keeps changing and appears in many places.

In the game of love the losers are more celebrated than the winners.

Reality is the name we give to our disappointments.

Children now expect their parents to audition for approval.

I see what you mean but I do not think what you think.

No chaos no creation. Evidence: the kitchen at mealtime.

Sloth not ill-will makes me unjust.

The time I kill is killing me.

Forgiveness is like faith. You have to keep reviving it.

Worried about being a dull fellow? You might develop your talent for being irritating.

General statements omit what we really want to know. Example: some horses run faster than others.

My parents wanted me to solace them for sorrows they denied having had.

Seeing my malevolent face in the mirror my benevolent soul shrinks back.

Stated clearly enough an idea may cancel itself out.

A happy arrangement: many people prefer cats to other people and many cats prefer people to other cats.

Romantics consider common sense vulgar.

A blocked path also offers guidance.

Many gloat over their own troubles.

The wisdom of age: don't stop walking.

In psychoanalysis only the fee is exactly what it seems to be.

The novel avoids the sublime and seeks out the interesting.

To be successful be ahead of your time but only a little.

Good parties create a temporary youthfulness.

The shades of respectability begin to close about the greying head.

My passions have never jumped out of the fireplace and set fire to the carpet.

The only peace is being out of earshot.

To confer dignity forgive. To express contempt forget.

The passion for money is never fickle.

Hypocrisy is the outside of cynicism.

Malice is always authentic and sincere.

Mistakes are the only universal form of originality.

Innocence: I am only stepping on your face because it lies in my path.

Excuses change nothing but make everyone feel better.

Taste refers to the past imagination to the future.

We are more tied to our faults than to our virtues.

Dancing and running shake up the chemistry of happiness.

Staid middle age loves the hurricane passions of opera.

Folly always knows the answer.

As equality increases so does the number of people struggling for predominance.

If you call failures experiments you can put them in your resume and claim them as achievements.

Lying just for the fun of it is either art or pathology.

Totem poles and wooden masks no longer suggest tribal villages but fashionable drawing rooms in New York and Paris.

Affection reproaches but does not denounce.

Thinking about the universe has now been handed over to specialists. The rest of us merely read about it.

Outside books we avoid colorful characters.

Opportunity knocks but doesn't always answer to its name.

An omnipotent God is the only being with no reason to lie.

Talk about yourself as much as you like but do not expect others to listen.

Reason enables us to get around in the world of ideas but cannot prescribe our thoughts.

In every death a busy world comes to an end.

Romance is tempestuous. Love is calm.

Why do we never expect dull people to be rascals?

Events are called inevitable only after they have occurred.

Bad faith likes discourse on friendship and loyalty.

I have learned to keep to myself how exceptional I am.

Melancholy is as seductive as Ecstasy.

When I prayed for success I forgot to ask for sound sleep and good digestion.

When a man bores a woman she complains. When a woman bores a man he ignores her.

What lies behind appearance is usually another appearance.

Reputation runs behind the current state of affairs.

The beginning of self-knowledge: recognizing that your motives are the same as other people's.

Observe decorum and it will open a path to morality.

I know that I am what I am. But I am not sure what I am.

Few friendships could survive the moodiness of love affairs.

The higher the moral tone the more suspect the speaker.

Writers mean more than they say and say more than they mean.

Kindness eases everything almost as much as money does.

Cruelty is softened by fear not pity.

The beloved is the ultimate fetish.

The man of sensibility is too busy talking about his feelings to have time for good deeds.

My mind is led astray by every faint rustle.

Often when I want to consult my impulses I cannot find them.

In bridge clubs and in councils of state the passions are the same.

Philosophy likes to keen common sense on the run.

Young men preen. Old men scheme.

'Be faithful to your roots' is the liberal version of 'Stay in your ghetto.'

The body has a mind of its own.

The ravaged face in the mirror hides the enchanting youth that is the real me.

If I play hard to get soon the phone stops ringing altogether.

First literature came to refer only to itself the literary theory.

Hatred observes with more care than love does.

At sixty I know little more about wisdom than I did at thirty but I know a great deal more about folly.

The lonely become either thoughtful or empty.

Never ask a bore a question.

Women encourage men to be childish then scold them.

Fears and lies intensify consciousness.

Without civilization we would not turn into animals but vegetables.

Creativity makes a leap then looks to see where it is.

Even boredom has its crises.

Human society sustains itself by transforming nature into garbage.

I did not know I was in my prime until afterwards.

Art seduces but does not exploit.

Preserving tradition has become a nice hobby like stamp collecting.

Psychology keeps trying to vindicate human nature. History keeps undermining the effort.

Poor but happy is not a phrase invented by a poor person.

The doctrine of the immortality of the soul has more threat than comfort.

Death is frightening and so is Eternal Life.

If we think about the obvious long enough it dissolves.

Some loves are like a vice that has ceased to give pleasure.

After an argument silence may mean acceptance or the continuation of resistance by other means.

To understand a literary style consider what it omits.

Flattery and insults raise the same question: What do you want?

Love begins with an image, lust with a sensation.

In the street the gaze of desire is furtive or menacing.

Documents create a paper reality we call proof.

Complainers change their complaints but they never reduce the amount of time spent in complaining.

The sage belongs to the same obsolete repertory as the virtuous maiden and the enlightened monarch.

Journalism never admits that nothing much is happening.

After my spectacular failures I could not be satisfied with an ordinary success.

Money: power at its most liquid.

The aim of literary ambition is to demonstrate one's greatness of soul.

Mind and body obstruct one another's pleasures.

Self-hatred and self-love are equally self-centered.

Office politics are bloody-minded but weak on content.

Only the broken-hearted know the truth about love.

Promiscuity is like never reading past the first page. Monogamy is like reading the same book over and over.

Fail and your friends feel superior. Succeed and they feel resentful.

When sages commend excess Desire is sick.

Moo may represent an idea but only the cow knows.

Old and young disbelieve one another's truths.

While there's life there's fear.

Most reputations are not ruined but forgotten.

Eternity eludes us even as a thought.

Cynicism is full of naive disappointments.

Listening to people keeps them entertained.

Who would not give up wit for power and beauty?

Even the most fickle are faithful to a few bad habits.

It is possible to interpret without observing but not to observe without interpreting.

Self-reform is the only kind that works.

I love you is the inscription on Pandora's box.

Humor does not rescue us from unhappiness but enables us to move back from it a little.

If you are going to break a Law of Art make the crime interesting.

Kafka: cries of helplessness in twenty powerful volumes.

If modesty disappeared so would exhibitionism.

Procrastination makes easy things hard hard things harder.

To understand someone find out how he spends his money.

Fulfillment is often more trouble than it is worth.

Faith moves mountains but you have to keep pushing while you are praying.

The horse stares at its captor barely remembering the free kicks of youth.

Innocence is thought charming because it offers delightful possibilities for exploitation.

Ultimately blind faith is the only kind.

Three meals plus bedtime make four sure blessings a day.

Language is the friendliest of the things from which we cannot escape.

An academic dialect is perfected when its terms are hard to understand and refer only to one another.

The real secrets are not the ones I tell.

Young poets bewail the passing of love, old poets the passing of time. There is surprisingly little difference.

Sincerity: willingness to spend one's own money.

Art begins in imitation and ends in innovation.

Consciousness is our only reprieve from Time.

A blunt statement can be as false as any other.

People believe that photographs are true and therefore cannot be art.

While we are reading we are all Don Quixote.

Conscious thought is the tidying up at the end.

If success is a habit it is a hard one to acquire.

Ideology has shaped the very sofa on which I sit.

Compassion brings us to a stop and for a moment we rise above ourselves.

Expensive advertising courts us with hints and images. The ordinary kind merely says Buy.

The power of lying is much less than the power of what is not to be discussed.

Never try to leap from a standstill.

Critic's delight: scolding the Mighty Dead.

Logic teaches rules for presentation not thinking.

Middle age went by while I was mourning for my lost youth.

There are different rules for reading for thinking and for talking. Writing blends all three of them.

Money is to my social existence what health is to my body.

Old age: I fall asleep during the funerals of my friends.

Rage is exciting but leaves me confused and exhausted.

For many immaturity is an ideal not a defect.

The educated do not share a common body of information but a common state of mind.

Fastidious taste makes enjoyment a struggle.

Few artists can afford artistic temperament.

In love we worry more about the meaning of silences than the meaning of words.

Lust and greed are more gullible than innocence.

We are prepared for insults but compliments leave us baffled.

Most people regard getting their way as a matter of simple justice.

If the world would apologize I might consider a reconciliation.

A sense of blessedness comes from a change of heart not from more blessings.

The gods are watching but idly yawning.

Think carefully before asking for justice. Mercy might be safer.

Cure for an obsession: get another one.

Families in which nothing is ever discussed usually have a lot not to discuss.

Well-behaved: he always speaks as if his mother might be listening.

Children use all their wiles to get their way with adults. Adults do the same with children.