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 503

I notice those who are easily led can’t seem to find their way around on their own.

Asher's Maxim 502

Ethnic snobbery is two steps away from racism. If someone brags that generations of her Greek family were born into my religion, I point out that Christ was Jewish; if she’s bragging about being Jewish, I point out that Jesus is a Greek name and the Apostles were Hellenic writers. If you don’t want this response, you shouldn’t come around shoving your myth of bloodline at me like it’s a license for arrogance, and seeking credit for something that can’t be earned; I don’t care what loins you sprang from – I care who *you* are.

Asher's Maxim 501

Fiction writing yields self-awareness; you learn to better describe your own needs, because you can describe those of your characters.

Asher's Maxim 500

Seeing time as linear is like seeing the world as flat. It’s a choice, but not the only option.

Asher's Maxim 499

I don’t answer questions for which I don’t see the reason; “just curious” isn’t a reason, it’s a thin shield for not stating the reason. If you’re “just curious”, you don’t need to know.

Asher's Maxim 498

Every subjective criticism is a matter of context; for any context in which something about us is scorned or disdained there is yet one in which the same thing will be welcomed, accepted, and appreciated. Therefore the optimization of context should remain a continual life practice, art, and goal. All my experience, observation, and vocation teaches me this.

Asher's Maxim 497

The beginning of creativity is to take a thing, and break it in order to hack it, and see what you can do with it that wasn’t intended. On the other hand, just breaking it isn’t anything but parasitism; anything worth breaking for breaking’s sake is something you build yourself for that purpose.

Asher's Maxim 496

At some point, the only method of resistance you have left is doing the opposite of what’s expected of you. But this is powerful, because doing the unexpected is actually the root defiance, and robs the other of confidence in your predictability. It works the same way with achieving the thing they assumed you wouldn’t.

Asher's Maxim 495

The disbelief of others is an arrow that wounds our confidence when we strengthen it with our own credulity.

Asher's Maxim 494

When you decide that a thing will occur, clamp down on it and refuse to let go; tell it that the outcome is already decided – the only remaining question is how much resistance it will put up. This is how you decide that a thing will occur, and how you ensure it does occur. It’s how a thing that should occur becomes a thing that must occur.

Asher's Maxim 493

We advise ourselves by choosing who to listen to. The voices that say “this is too much for you, stay put, don’t reach too far” are always more numerous. What we’re really asking, by seeking their advice, is that they tell us it’s not our fault – that our situation was unchangeable anyway, and it would have been foolish to try. If we listen to them, it’s because we knew what they’d say and it’s what we wanted to believe; merely asking such a person is a loss of heart.

Asher's Maxim 492

The simple rule to making something hard happen is not quitting, not relenting. To paraphrase a proverb: press a finger to something long enough, and it’ll go through eventually – even through the hardest metal.

Asher's Maxim 491

People who can’t do anything that takes unrelenting effort, never really do anything at all. I talked about being self-employed, remodeling & selling my home, building a new company, selling all my stuff, and moving away, long before achieving those things. In each case, people said after a few weeks that I must have been just talking. They lost heart, on my behalf. They couldn’t stick with it, vicariously, through belief in me. And they certainly couldn’t honor the track record and see how each thing was a stage leading to the next. I look, and of course I also don’t see them doing anything that takes that kind of glued-to-it determination over time. They didn’t believe for me, because they don’t believe for themselves. In this sense, belief is simply the practical equivalent of determination mixed with desire and patience.

Asher's Maxim 490

People who are constantly doubting you’ll succeed in your goals are secretly hoping you won’t. If you quit taking it at face value, as though it were neutral and not a poison they carry, you feel some of the very weight fall away that could have made them right. We cannot allow the disbelief of others to weigh more than our own belief on the scale of opportunity.

Asher's Maxim 489

For some people, crazy is an expedient pose. For others, it’s genuine. But the crazy that’s both useful *and* authentic is a deliberate, creative adventure within the mind.

Asher's Maxim 488

If what you’re doing is a cliche, stop it. If your life is a cliche, change it.

Asher's Maxim 487

Thinking about things – not adopting the thoughts of others – but really thinking about them is an ascesis. As a kid, finding meaning in something other than a social context was considered silly; what mattered to kids was who you hooked up with, what music you listened to, and what party was happening somewhere. As an adult, the attitude hasn’t evolved, and the reasons remain roughly parallel; babies and furniture, which party you vote for, and what’s on TV. Thinking is still a trek in the desert.

Asher's Maxim 486

There are people with money who don’t know what it’s for, people with time who don’t know why they need it, and people with souls who let them wither like chained dogs in a back yard, unable to find a place for what can’t be quantified.

Asher's Maxim 485

You can’t speak to someone who is detached from the transcendent, except in terms of expedience. You say a thing is more than its utility, and their expression remains fixed, their eyes vacant and evasive, like they were witnessing the substance of a hymn sung by aliens at a shrine to an unknown god

Asher's Maxim 484

I derive as much meaning from the things that are absent from my life, as from the things it holds. When I look around the room, and see only things I use, and nothing else, I feel light as a feather.

Asher's Maxim 483

I’ve come to the conclusion that people fill their lives with things they can own to avoid facing the things they aren’t doing and probably won’t. Every new possession is an action sacrificed.

Asher's Maxim 482

Our fantasies tell us where our values lie: whitebread acquires super strength, saves brown tribe, kills opponents, gets princess, becomes king, restructures society according to his own beliefs, is consulted on everything and his word is law… regardless of we may say we ‘believe’, what we actually *want* comes out in our vicarious pleasures.

Asher's Maxim 481

Saying “sorry” all the time isn’t more polite; it implies other people are fragile and soulless to the point of operating primarily at your behest.

Asher's Maxim 480

Never saying you’re sorry might seem strong, but it’s weak; it means you’re incapable of distinguishing value or acknowledging what your actions cost someone else, either of which is an incredible handicap.

Asher's Maxim 479

My word is sufficient, when I say I know something; I don’t respond to demands that I prove I know, as if there were a basis for doubt.

Asher's Maxim 478

I don’t allow compensation to become leverage; if there’s any question at all about me getting paid, I don’t work. Likewise, I pay for all completed work, even if I’m unhappy with the result; I simply hire someone else and don’t go to that person again.

Asher's Maxim 477

When I hear the phrase “empty ritual”, I think of it like “lazy Mexican”; it’s a prejudicial claim that the adjective is the obvious stature of the noun.

Asher's Maxim 476

The feminists I admire have no truck with the pseudo-feminism of white bread college girls. They don’t construe independence in terms of power and control (same measure they’re criticizing); they don’t ask to have it both ways (when the measure is accepted, it’s on them to measure up); and they don’t castigate men with the very bigotry they claim is directed at women (two different measures).

Asher's Maxim 475

Dilettantes who think they’re bright and hear they’re bright are everywhere, especially girls since that’s a tactic of men to win their delight, but someone you can intellectually respect the way you do yourself is a rare sighting for the highly intelligent, and moreso the brighter you are. At least, if they’re not as sharp, they need intellectual integrity.

Asher's Maxim 474

If I have to pretend what a woman is saying is rational in order to maintain a relationship, she’s the wrong woman. Most men will do it, though never admit doing it, but my feeling is: either don’t challenge me intellectually or, if you do, you’re held to the same rational standards that I am – you have to be able to take it if you lose an argument – so pick one – you don’t get it both ways.

Asher's Maxim 473

People who say relationships should be like the wind – easy and self-regulating – have the shallowest or shortest kind. If they have a strong one, and are honest, they’ll admit it’s more like mastering the violin – it takes hours of practice every week and years before it’s less work than more.

Asher's Maxim 472

Facts and logic are widely mistaken for opinion, if you can’t distinguish those three things, you can’t reason at all, and further discussion is pointless.

Asher's Maxim 471

It’s telling that each of the most loudly shouted premises for current social doctrine rests on specious logic, scientific generalization, demands for fidelity under threat of stigma, and the straw men of religious superstition or scientific ignorance as the only alternatives. The intellectual dishonesty and bullying only encourages the most perceptive minds to question the ideas further.

Asher's Maxim 470

Most women are not offering a man anything he can’t buy, and for far less.

Asher's Maxim 469

The popularity of some premise, and the vigour and defensiveness with which it is asserted, is always the best indicator of its rational frailty.

Asher's Maxim 468

I feel free to disbelieve any doctrine, however deeply asserted by the culture, and however much disbelief is reviled as cultural heresy.

Asher's Maxim 467

The moment you suggest there can be no rational basis for disbelief, it indicates the idea in question is all the more suspect.

Asher's Maxim 466

The mind that doesn’t know itself accepts an idea because it is presented by all parties as the only way to see things – popularity becomes more important than individuality.

Asher's Maxim 465

The singular mind is stronger than all collectively-conditioned minds combined, because they are really only a single weak mind.

Asher's Maxim 464

Holding an intelligent idea for an unintelligent reason does not confer the quality of the idea upon the reasoner.

Asher's Maxim 463

I don’t carry around a lot of opinions on prescribed topics, so I can afford to carry thoughts on unprescribed ones.

Asher's Maxim 462

The US leaves its citizens a choice between the party of ideology fed by expedience, and the party of expedience fed by ideology.

Asher's Maxim 461

I do not accept prescriptions for life. The one thing other people, even older people, most certainly do not have is a template for anyone else.

Asher's Maxim 460

In an otherwise matched technological battle, the narcissist loses. He cannot adapt to what he doesn’t know, because it would mean he doesn’t know.

Asher's Maxim 459

Those who blame their own incompetence can be helped to feel more capable; but those who keep blaming the tools are beyond my patience, because any solution requires them to accept that they are not the standard by which all other things are measured.

Asher's Maxim 458

It’s no coincidence that people who constantly rail at technology have so much trouble with it.

Asher's Maxim 457

Every crucifixion is sponsored by Pharisees.

Asher's Maxim 456

There’s something horrible in anything.

Asher's Maxim 455

Nothing is “just” anything.

Asher's Maxim 454

Denial is thought.

Asher's Maxim 453

Pinocchio should have longed to be better at *telling* the truth than *being* a real boy.

Asher's Maxim 452

Doing is Not Being

Asher's Maxim 451

Story is a Stage.

Asher's Maxim 450

Art is real trade in a constructed means of delivering intrinsic value.

Asher's Maxim 449

If you need adherents to believe with you, in order to believe, then you don’t really believe.

Asher's Maxim 448

I am not a believer. Whatever it is, I do not believe.

Asher's Maxim 447

I’m not a writer, I’m a storyteller who sometimes writes it down.

Asher's Maxim 446

If I bleed onto the page, it’s because I shove a needle in my finger and let it out.

Asher's Maxim 445

The foyer of mutual respect is for one’s time – it gains entrance to further levels.

Asher's Maxim 444

Unsupported opinions are flypaper for the mind.

Asher's Maxim 443

Cell phones turn human beings into a service – an app – presumably available on demand; I refuse to become an app.

Asher's Maxim 442

The cell phone, unlike e-mail, is not an upgrade to the post or courier; it’s a more sophisticated form of mugging, with the stolen objects being concentration, attention, and time.

Asher's Maxim 441

Those who say it’s inappropriate to judge art or behavior are never consistent about this claim – they are merely selective in its application.

Asher's Maxim 440

When the inconsistency of an idea is demonstrated, or that it fails a test of logic, and you will not concede this point, you forfeit the intellectual honesty required for discussion.

Asher's Maxim 439

One mark of adulthood is being able to disagree passionately about firmly held ideas without taking offense.

Asher's Maxim 438

If it’s not actionable, it’s not useful. (one author said, “If your reading list doesn’t result in to-do lists, you’re reading the wrong books.”)

Asher's Maxim 437

If it’s not organized, it’s not useful. (Kanban maxim)

Asher's Maxim 436

The world of symbols is dismissed from prejudice, ignorance, or lack of perception; but moving symbols around effects the moving around of corresponding real things, whether things of substance or of the unconscious. Every liturgical, iconographic, and indeed artistic culture has included people who understood this.

Asher's Maxim 435

It is possible to dwell entirely in the symbolic world and pass generally undistinguished from other people who dwell in the “real” one, because each type of person does similar things and yet merely describes them differently.

Asher's Maxim 434

Distinguishing the symbolic layer of reality from ‘actual’ reality in a dialectical way is silly, since everything symbolizes something, and the things called “actually” real as opposed to symbols representing them are yet further symbols of yet further realities that are yet further symbols. In this way, all symbols and realities are actualized.

Asher's Maxim 433

All things are both superficial and deep.

Asher's Maxim 432

It’s easy to make fun of people who get messages from the universe and look for auras, but it’s not different in principle from taking queues from the majority or signals of attitude from one’s leaders – the difference is only in the medium.

Asher's Maxim 431

When people volunteer what they don’t like or want to fix about me, I recall that line from Gozer in Ghost Busters: “Are you a god?” (a diva maxim)

Asher's Maxim 430

Pedestrianism tells you what people think about ‘rights’. The ones that step right in front of a car because they have the right, have reified rights as an actual substance. Those who are always apologizing, and walk as though they’re in everyone’s way, consider rights as unreal as they do personal identity. The ones who act as though a car can kill them, but still demand you slow down, are the ones who equate rights with respect.

Asher's Maxim 429

When it comes to the heart, substitutes never work.

Asher's Maxim 428

People respond to nakedness one of two ways, whether emotional or physical nudity. They rush to cover you like worrisome parents pulling the foolish child from the cold, or they stand in awe of the courage and authenticity, even if you’re an imperfect specimen.

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