The essence of epigrams

Posted by watchmen
June 6, 2024
Posted in Impulses, OPINION

By Herman M. Lagon

Epigrams are living testimony to the impact of brevity, humor and insight on language and expression. In only a few carefully selected words, these brief assertions capture intricate thoughts or observations; they are frequently hilarious or contradictory. From the classics to the social webs, epigrams have penetrated the every day to unveil fundamental realities about humanity, society and the universe.

Take the famous English writer Oscar Wilde’s epigram as an example: “I can resist everything except temptation.” In addition to demonstrating Wilde’s humor, this remark explores the shared human experience of battling desires and self-control. The harmony between moderation and excess is even a common motif in our local folklore and daily conversations, reflecting a universal reality recognized by many cultures.

The proverb “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall” is purportedly said by the ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius. This quote strikes a chord with the spirit of tenacity and determination. Our shared values reflect this outlook, especially the idea of “Bayanihan,” which stresses the importance of communal assistance and collective recovery from obstacles.

Epigrams are organic. Take the case of my personally crafted epigram, “Stay driven yet grounded,” which became apparent to me after decades of humps and bumps in life. For me, striking this balance is essential, suggesting a measure of success through one’s impact on the community.

The profound insights conveyed in epigrams have the power to unite people of different backgrounds and time periods. Asian proverbs mirror the English proverb “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” in their emphasis on preventative health practices. Here, we see health as essential to a fulfilling life regardless of time and space.

Along these lines, the profound statement made by the French author François de La Rochefoucauld, “We are more often treacherous through weakness than through calculation,” reflects the intricate dance between human frailty and morality. We should all pause to consider the worldwide ethical implications of our choices and actions in light of this universal truth about the human situation.

Additionally, epigrams can be used as a platform for contemplation and criticism of society. They often reveal hidden facts about power, inequality and human stupidity through their satirical edges, which cut through social pretenses. As an example, the astute comment made by American humorist Mark Twain, “Politicians and diapers must be changed often, and for the same reason,” captures the ubiquitous dissatisfaction with incompetence and corruption in politics, which transcends borders.

It is the shared desire of artists and art enthusiasts that epigrams will inspire viewers to look beyond surface-level characteristics when evaluating artworks. The legendary words of Vincent van Gogh, “I dream my painting, and I paint my dream,” encapsulate the power of art to give form to the intangible and resonate with artists and art lovers all around the globe.

Epigrams have long been well-known for their ability to distill complex ideas into easily understood and meaningful facts. They are cultural touchstones that mirror common goals, ideals and criticisms. We can learn more about the human condition from the wise words of Confucius to the biting insights of Oscar Wilde, because epigrams go beyond language and culture.

With their insightful commentary, humorous asides and thought-provoking questions, epigrams constantly remind us of our common humanity as we traverse the complex web of world culture. It is astounding how they unite people, make them think and celebrate the intricacy of human life. Reading them makes us feel, makes us wonder, makes us reflect, and ultimately helps us understand more about ourselves and the world.



Doc H fondly describes himself as a “student of and for life” who, like many others, aspires to a life-giving and why-driven world that is grounded in social justice and the pursuit of happiness. His views herewith do not necessarily reflect those of the institutions he is employed or connected with./WDJ

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