Asher's Maxims

Asherisms: For Asher, maxims are a way of storing his voluminous thinking on any given subject via easy-access file labels in the soul. He's been writing them since 1992, when he read Kahlil Gibran's aphorisms in Sand and Foam, and he was spurred on a bit by Oscar Wilde. Some of his maxims are personal, and some are about the world, life, the universe, writing, love, pain, monsters, and nearly anything else he encounters. Some are things that go into making characters and stories and should be considered merely speculative and not taken too seriously.

Asher's Maxim 585

Love is the choice you make, or choose not to make, when being in love has passed. If you’re going to choose it and go back on it, it’s the quality of your choosing that wasn’t enough for love. And if you do choose it, and don’t go back, you can fall in love with the same person more than once, and the quality of your love (of that choosing) sustains you in between.

Asher's Maxim 584

Love is what persists after having been in love. Love, inherently, remains, because it is what remains. That’s why it’s foolish to live together or get married when you’re in love. Being in love, you don’t know anything yet, and making promises then is gambling, not choosing.

Asher's Maxim 583

Love won’t carry you, for all that being in love feels like floating. Rather, you carry love, and sometimes, but not usually, it does the work for you. Those times are wonderful, but love mostly requires perspiration. All love is labour, and the floating is your rest in between. It’s uncool to say, but most true things are.

Asher's Maxim 582

If I say “I love you.” I don’t mean how I feel, though I may feel it at the time – I mean what I’m willing to do, and how I’m willing to bend my life to become entwined with yours. I mean I will stand with you, whether or not I’ll feel like it, and I will choose you, whether or not it’ll be inconvenient. And the times we’re in love will not be what reminds me of that choice, when other times are upon us, but the choice itself will remind me. It will become a part of who I am. If love is a body, it’s a bent tree, and only in the bending of the one and the reaching of the other, does the fruit find meaning.

Asher's Maxim 581

My romanticism lies not chiefly in romanticism, but in romancing the transcendent things that outlast the romantic. I am in love with that which is beyond being in love; adoration can only be accorded to what is permanent. The transcendent, if it can be reached in time, must also dwell outside of time. “I love” and “I love forever” are the same words, spoken from different positions.

Asher's Maxim 580

If you don’t love forever, you don’t love – you only enjoy. I will always love whatever I have ever truly loved.

Asher's Maxim 579

The reason I feel contempt for nihilists is not that they don’t respect the same things as me, but rather that they don’t respect anything at all – or at least, when they do, it’s hypocrisy, inconsistency, and pretense.

Asher's Maxim 578

Who hasn’t stood there, the world crumbling all around them, the rain coming down black and splashing the eyes with ink, and felt the heart go out of them? There’s a night that rises when our sun falls from which no day ever emerges again, and no wisdom can soar above it. Then you take the dark into yourself, or you pretend, and dismiss the extremities of light and dark altogether. For me, better the dark – seething, tumultuous, passionate, hard – than a life with neither one. Therefore, I choose a life in the black.

Asher's Maxim 577

Sometimes I’m a supernova that can’t – a big ball of passion, and no one and nothing will take it off my hands – it wants to unfold at flaming speed, and there isn’t universe enough for the energy. There’s no space in which to expand. And so I struggle not to be a collapsing star, a singularity, leaving a black hole where once there was a man.

Asher's Maxim 576

I don’t regret any time I ever defended a life – not mine, or a person I loved, or a stranger. Looking back, it was always the right decision. I don’t need an ethical philosophy to know what my feelings tell me to do, in this way.

Asher's Maxim 575

I’m not afraid of Death, I’m outraged, and I refuse to endow it with awe by refusing to think about it; when it comes, decades from now or tomorrow, I will fight it with teeth and fingernails, and I will neither accept it nor acquiesce. I will swear war on it, contempt, and opposition until it floods my mouth and comes out my eyes. I will give Death no peace. I will force Death into either cowardice to kill me with an accident or a proxy, or desperation to stoop to disease. I will give it no dignity. I scorn its ancestry.

Asher's Maxim 574

Never pass up a chance to make someone happy, if you can.

Asher's Maxim 573

Earning my dog’s trust makes me feel like a human being.

Asher's Maxim 572

When you want someone to find and care for your deepest hurt, without expectation, find those who are hurting and care for them without thought of yourself, even if they can’t return the favor. This is not a solution, but it will change the context of the whole world, including the world of your hurt. Do this continually, and because there was a piece of you in each of them, your wish is granted.

Asher's Maxim 571

When all you can give someone is words, you want to believe that words will solve their problems, but sometimes you don’t know the solutions, or can do nothing, or there are no solutions, and not being able to accept that inflicts upon them, at best, useless advice or, worse, harmful lies.

Asher's Maxim 570

When you can do nothing to help, don’t offer help; say “I can’t imagine what that’s like. It hurts. It’s real. I see that.” Then stay and don’t leave, stay as long as it hurts, and forever if it’s forever. That’s the way to help when there’s no help.

Asher's Maxim 569

I don’t care what ideology you hold – telling me to be afraid, stay angry, hate someone, and to trade ethics, liberty, and personal judgment for these, means you’ve gone insane, and I don’t take advice from the insane, even if it’s so common that you sound normal, and I don’t.

Asher's Maxim 568

Relativity tells the unobservant to grip the rail, because their train is moving, when it’s actually the one alongside, and the unintelligent that it’s better to belong to the winning side, even when it’s not the ethical side.

Asher's Maxim 567

Mortality means I cannot afford to treat as unreal whatever science has not yet decided to prove.

Asher's Maxim 566

There’s a special kind of energy that comes from emergencies and coming down to the wire, if you’re good at it; teach yourself how to tap that energy for longer term projects.

Asher's Maxim 565

Invulnerability consists not of winning conflicts but in deflating an opponent’s attempts at wielding power over the self. Deflect, diffuse or defuse, reframe, reposition, repeat.

Asher's Maxim 564

Social martial arts is training oneself to become unflappable through awareness, conditioned responses, and mindfulness. This is a project I am having to construct for myself, because it wasn’t given to me growing up, but it will be stronger because I’m working on it thoughtfully and from scratch.

Asher's Maxim 563

Those who are afraid of death are dead already.

Asher's Maxim 562

Any genuinely ethical position will only be held, if at all, by a minority of a minority of a minority, and often in silence. Therefore, search like Diogenes all you like, ethical discussion is generally a debate between pretext and pretense.

Asher's Maxim 561

There are no liberal absolutists, there are only fundamentalists who cite liberal values as the pretext for their dogmatism.

Asher's Maxim 560

Writing someone off entirely, with whatever designation, is a sign of our ethical immaturity not theirs; it shuts down the discussion, which leaves room only for the absolutism, the social equivalent of blind war.

Asher's Maxim 559

Rage is never reason.

Asher's Maxim 558

Almost any ethical position taken by most of the people we know is bound to be shallow and simplistic; therefore my options are to be shallow and simplistic or immediately take consensus as a sign that a mistake has been made.

Asher's Maxim 557

On a jury of my peers, when everyone is rushing to crucify, I know to suspect an overly simplistic judgment and dig deeper. Whether the jury is social media or another environment, vilifying someone with a gross, total judgment and presuming to pass a just sentence, are mutually exclusive; I will acquit before I am nudged into a witch hunt by peer pressure.

Asher's Maxim 556

If you’re held against your will, or pressed into service, whether the mechanism of control is force, extortion, or deprivation, you must do whatever you can, no matter what it costs, because it’s not your fault, and no one is coming for you. You must become your own hero.

Asher's Maxim 555

Maybe what we’re mostly all working toward is for our lives to make sense.

Asher's Maxim 554

It’s not always the quiet ones.

Asher's Maxim 553

My life has been extraordinary: if I can just learn what other people already know that I don’t, and combine it with what i know that they don’t, it will approach stellar.

Asher's Maxim 552

The test of universality for any platitude about positive thinking is can it be reasonably said of a child prostituted into sex slavery in Thailand, who has no prospects but a life of misery and agony, and an agonizing death alone and in disease, her self-worth ripped apart and her health ravaged and neglected? If it can’t, it’s a whitebread platitude – one that only works in a context of affluence. Doesn’t means it’s not true in that context, or useful, but let’s not pretend it’s an absolute about the world.

Asher's Maxim 551

There’s who we are, and who we are in the world, and we have to live as both.

Asher's Maxim 550

Ethical choices must always flex and flow, because the things about which we make choices do.

Asher's Maxim 549

Whenever someone appeals to common sense, I conclude they can find no support from any actual rule of logic.

Asher's Maxim 548

Stating an opinion, even an alternate one, isn’t the same as an express interest in debating it. One is offering you something you’re free to reject; the other is trying to convince you to take it once you’ve said no.

Asher's Maxim 547

Of the people who have hurt me deeply in life, the tiny percentage that could be persuaded to give an account of it break into two groups: those that didn’t regard me as having feelings like they do, and those that lacked the empathy to be aware of other people in general having feelings as they do. I conclude that I am particularly disliked by people who see other people as objects.

Asher's Maxim 546

The history of various hominid tribes that intermarried and produced offspring, including homo sapiens with neanderthal, suggests a failure, at some point, to continue to regard non-“human” persons as persons, and a shift toward domination and genocide. This same flaw in our ethos determines our attitude toward other animal species today.

Asher's Maxim 545

I suspect it pisses people off that once you provide universal healthcare, you remove the most egregious effects of a class system. Access to healthcare destroys the biological advantages of economic preference. It’s like in The Matrix, even those who don’t reap the advantages of class preference will fight to defend the sense of entitlement that justifies their lack of success in the system.

Asher's Maxim 544

I don’t live with the darkness out of being depressed and broken, but because I’m keen and strong. Think what you want about being ‘dark’, but I know myself to be happy and triumphant, despite many challenges and trials. Hunters often move in the dark. The dark is a place where mastery counts.

Asher's Maxim 543

Work is purifying, like prayer.

Asher's Maxim 542

Don’t bother appealing to authority or the majority with me; just say “moo” or “baaa” – your native language is fine.

Asher's Maxim 541

Normal people creep me out.

Asher's Maxim 540

Everything in my observation of animals declares they are simply other tribes. And if you have imagination enough, even the trees are tribes.

Asher's Maxim 539

Men’s fashion has run out of ideas. If some of my characters want to make a suit of human skin, it’s not from meanness – it’s just boredom with the other choices.

Asher's Maxim 538

Philosophy offers us purely intellectual solutions to wholistic problems.

Asher's Maxim 537

The difference between having a canvas for one’s mind and keeping your thoughts in your head is merely the confidence of going nude versus living in a closet.

Asher's Maxim 536

Why do you suppose recording my own thoughts is an arrogant conceit while voicing your own opinion is a morally neutral freedom?

Asher's Maxim 535

When people ask if I don’t want a normal life, I can’t help but recoil as much from that prospect as they do from extraordinary living. They find safety in boredom, but for me it’s the stench of stale death.

Asher's Maxim 534

No one with poetry in his soul follows the norms.

Asher's Maxim 533

Pretension is flaunting the rules everyone guesses you’ll flaunt. Art is breaking unexpected rules – ones people might not have even noticed until then.

Asher's Maxim 532

I don’t tolerate people questioning my integrity. It’s not flawless, but it’s one of the hard one freedoms I can generally afford.

Asher's Maxim 531

Trying to reformat my personality is like trying to rewrite someone else’s book. You might have a neater framework, but you’re missing the soul of the original.

Asher's Maxim 530

Open-mindedness doesn’t mean others being open to what *you* think; it means you being open to them doing fine without it.

Asher's Maxim 529

Whenever someone is more enlightened than me, I know they are enslaved by their doctrine. I wish for anyone and everyone to be more enlightened than me – leave me to the darkness.

Asher's Maxim 528

There’s no tyranny so odious as a prohibition on saying no.

Asher's Maxim 527

People aren’t just who they are, they’re also our expectations of who they are. If you’re looking to find something wrong with a person, you will, both real and imagined. If you look for good things in them, there’s no one so far gone that you won’t find something good. The question of identity isn’t just who a person is, but who do you want them to be?

Asher's Maxim 526

The problem with condemning someone as a liar, manipulator, or trouble maker of some kind is that now you presume any good ideas about them must be fake, and anything bad must be real, and that can never be true of anyone. Binaries are a form of blindness that gets mistaken for seeing so clearly that you can’t be fooled.

Asher's Maxim 525

You can scorn something directly with mockery and belittlement, or you can do it by expressing pity for it and trying to ‘help’ it. Poor dear, let me get you something better to wear, let me adjust your view of the world, let me fix what I think is wrong with you.

Asher's Maxim 524

People make fun of guys with gadgets, until they remember that we control the drones over your head. So yeah, my shoulder bag is full of heavy artillery. Still want to kick sand in my face?

Asher's Maxim 523

A believer, sociologically, is someone who interprets whatever you say according to his own grid of doctrine, tries to standardize other people – fix them – so they fit that Procrustean grid, and only affirms you when you say something that he can identify as part of it. All your thoughts are either right/wrong, good/bad, healthy/unhealthy. In that sense, belief is sawing off your feet if they hang out over another person’s view of a limited world. Belief is the monster under the bed of thought that bites off your toes if they stick out.

Asher's Maxim 522

When a believer wants to share something with you, “sharing” doesn’t mean providing something he knows both of you will enjoy – it means he wants to expound on his doctrine of how the world works.

Asher's Maxim 521

Fundamentalism isn’t a belief, it’s a belief about beliefs, a brand loyalty to some particular “jesus”. Some people’s brand of “jesus” is the universe and its “energies”, some people make the culture and its norms their “jesus” brand, and for others its some guru or book. Fundamentalism is about the wisdom of buying into one’s ideological brand over other brands. Make the brand angry, or don’t acknowledge that it’s clearly the best, and you must not understand. Fundamentalism is brand advertising broadcast on a logically unending loop.

Asher's Maxim 520

There are those who have found my tolerance so broad, for things that I don’t participate in, that they confuse it with intolerance. They insist that if I disagree, I must therefore refuse to coexist. What better example of projection is there?

Asher's Maxim 519

Peace isn’t peace, and love isn’t love, if you have to shove them down someone’s throat, and berate them if they won’t swallow.

Asher's Maxim 518

It makes no sense to try to fix a person who doesn’t think he’s broken. Don’t fix me; I’d rather be broken and think myself whole that truly break by surrendering my own judgment.

Asher's Maxim 517

The sociopath lords it over the weak; psychopaths lords it over the lords; and the sane man is lord of himself. [thinking about wannabee gangsters, Himmler, corporate life, and the conquest of self]

Asher's Maxim 516

In every person I’ve loved, I see the capacity to be vastly more than they think they can be, and I’ve loved everyone in whom I see this capacity.

Asher's Maxim 515

EHC. Every hour counts.

Asher's Maxim 514

Every few years it becomes the fashion for boys to look like girls. At such times it’s more obvious that I am neither.

Asher's Maxim 513

The world is better off not seeing me coming. Being underestimated just leaves more for me.

Asher's Maxim 512

There’s room for only one diva at a time.

Asher's Maxim 511

What I want from a woman is the depth of friendship I can have with a man, and for her to earn my respect the way a man can, so I can take her seriously the way I take myself and my colleagues seriously. What’s usually offered in place of that is tempting and destructive and ultimately doomed.

Asher's Maxim 510

The moment your point is reduced to grunts and inarticulate gestures, it means even you dare not think through what you’re saying, so why should I accept it? Support your point, and I’ll think about what you’ve said.

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