aka Secular Maxims; aka Aphorisms laipidaires; aka États d’âme
Note: None of the following aphorisms may be reproduced without the written permission of the author Charles Cogan.
It’s mixed, not dire (undated).
Spartan by day, sybarite by night (undated).
It takes but a little to go from fade to imagination (undated).
Re the poem “Litter-bound” etc. Don’t pay attention to the words. Pay attention to the effect (undated).
NPW – it’s not a perfect world (undated).
A meeting is a matter of theater (undated).
The timid are the most resentful (undated).
I am calm to keep from being furious (undated).
What better mark of an intelligence officer that he practice it in a foreign language (undated).
There’s only one thing worse than being at an airport, and that’s being alone at an airport (undated).
The struggle to get calm (undated).
For some people, being on time is a matter of morality (undated).
(An exaggeration but): Writing isn’t everything. It’s the only thing (undated).
The sense of the narrative vs. The sense of the analysis. Or: chronology vs structure. Cf. the remark of a social scientist “we’ve got to find a principle in all this; otherwise we’ll just be historians.” (undated).
The best papers are those that are written out but not read (undated).
If it weren’t for bodily functions we would be less ludicrous than we are (undated).
Life is a tragedy waiting to happen (undated).
God is a chip (undated).
Le pouvoir du verbe (undated).
Learn to agree (11 May 84).
Don’t let people put pressure on you. You put pressure on other people (24 Aug 84).
I bet heaven also will be a disappointment (12 Jan 85).
With the inevitable samesness that exists, a great need for avoidance of patterns (12 Jan 85).
That élite, bornée fraternité that is the CIA (4 Aug 85).
The polygraph and the confessional. To others: you people live in a box-less society (19 Sep 85).
Don’t think back. Don’t think forward. Think present (Prescription for health) (The Epicurean symbol) (3 Nov 85).
If you can’t figure out what it means write it down (15 Dec 85).
Ridiculous airs. Don’t they know they’re going to die? (19 Dec 85).
The most important, after all this parcours, is to have a calm attitude toward death (19 Dec 85).
Ne cédons pas à l’angélisme (27 Feb 86).
Terrorism. To the attacks of the weak against the strong, one must reply with the attacks of the strong against the weak (15 Apr 86).
When you realize that the big tough guys are going to wind up little old men (15 Apr 86).
Il se dédouane par la poésie (15 Jun 86).
Existentialism: man is responsible for his own existence (21 Aug 86).
La retraite, c’est l’avant-mort (21 Aug 86).
Il ne s’agit pas de ceux qui manipulent les terroristes mais de ceux qui les hébergent (21 Sep 86).
CIA: because we’re so devious, we’re the straightest people on earth (14 Jan 87).
The best we can hope for is that we’re not thrown into receivership before we pass from this earth (18 Feb 87).
Sex, sleep, and foreign languages are the three great involuntaries of our time.
Everything else is a voluntary (18 Feb 87).
Of disappointments: put distance between you and the event (i.e. time). (18 Feb 87).
Information is worthless without sources (18 Feb 87).
America: the phenomenon of the beautiful blimps (1 Sep 87).
If you don’t have it exactly in mind, write it down (1 Sep 87).
Les fesses ne sont plus rondes (21 Oct 87).
Even dinosaurs get the blues (27 Oct 87).
If you’re stuck with it, flaunt it (28 Oct 87).
Of enmities: you must not think that he likes you. And you must not give him the idea that you do not like him (6 Nov 87).
At most what we can achieve is tolerable, not what is desirable (6 Nov 87).
Cables rounded at the edges. It is not that one is not tough. It is that one needs not to be stupid (20 Dec 87).
Of immigration: Les E.U. (USA). Personne n’a le monopole (20 Dec 87).
Dans la foulée, la scoumoune (20 Dec 87).
The after-bath compositions (1 Jan 88).
Irony is the highest form of tribute (1 Jan 88).
Auto-suppression is necessary for strength (9 Jan 88).
Pay for the euphoria (24 Jan 88).
Les poèmes de la baignoire (26 Mar 88).
Ne pas tolérer la douleur. C’est nier l’existence (9 May 88).
Of physical ailments: One must never think that things don’t get better (11 May 88).
I hate rain, but I love rain in the face (5 Jul 88).
Ça finit mal, C’est ça le drame (5 Jul 88).
La main, passée au visage, Déride, un instant, Des soucis de la vie (30 Jul 88).
Of NSA: The telephone is a dangerous instrument (30 Jul 88).
We are responsible for the sins of our agents (14 Aug 88).
The case officer mentality. The worst form of discourtesy known to man is being late (11 Sep 88).
I don’t meet people well. I make friends well (14 Sep 88).
Re Brits (and other foreigners) ...that’s the way they say things (14 Sep 88).
C’est difficile d’être une fausse barbe (22 Sep 88).
The magic of life is that it doesn’t last. The world would have no magic if it were stasis (2 Oct 88).
Sun is not for taking (21 Oct 88).
“Les savants à la retraite. Cette situation est démentielle. Vous voyez Einstein ou Pasteur partir à la retraite à 68 ans? Les hommes politiques, eux, n’ont pas de limitation d’âge.” (Interview de Maurice Allais, Paris Match, 3 novembre 1988). (3 Nov 88).
“Lire” June 88, p. 31. Interview of Anthony Burgess. “Il (Graham Greene) ne réalise pas que le catholicisme, ce n’est pas seulement une religion mais une culture familiale.” (3 Nov 88).
Of end of life: none of this is going to be pleasant (9 Dec 88).
...we are never far from death (23 Dec 88).
Rogue states, rogue terrorists: The irony -- we cannot retaliate in justice; we can only retaliate in war (4 Jan 89).
...just as there is nothing rational about terrorism, so there is nothing rational about counter-terrorism (4 Jan 89).
Orieux “Talleyrand.” “Les honneurs, comme des malheurs, ne viennent jamais seuls.” (28 Jan 89).
“bad things happen.” (28 Jan 89).
Bonaparte: “obsédé par l’aventure unique de son existence.” Furet/Ozouf, p. 227 (29 Jan 89).
The alternatives are great! I have to die anyway (2 Feb 89).
La CIA: Nous sommes les vrais incorruptibles (11 Feb 89).
Il y a un déroulement dans tout. On ne peut pas rester figé (12 Feb 89).
Victory in Afghanistan. Nous sommes les vrais incorruptibles, and that is why the war was won. We asked for nothing more than that the Brezhnev Doctrine be confounded. And it has been (17 Feb 89).
The ultimate disappointment is dying (7 Mar 89).
Politics is the art of struggle (23 Mar 89).
Le problème du Mal. Comment expliquer les actions de Dieu (23 Mar 89).
My article of faith is E pluribus unum. It is the pluralism which has made us great (23 Mar 89).
What the hell is age? Age is a chronology (5 Apr 89).
La vie, c’est une série d’événements (expériences) qu’on doit subir (3 May 89).
Life is a life of struggle and luxury (7 May 89).
“S’il n’est pas toujours utile de dire tout à tous, il est indispensable de dire à tous la même chose. La confiance est à ce prix, et je n’ai jamais rien obtenu, ou du moins tenté d’obtenir, sans la confiance.” Jean Monnet, d’après André Fontaine, Le Monde (10 Nov 88).
Je me dirige cruellement vers un destin inconnu (14 May 89).
America The élan of the future. The mindless, traditionless. Ēlan of the future (14 May 89).
The four commandments of a second existence. Thou shalt not beg. Thou shalt not consult. Thou shalt not commerce. Thou shalt not garden (14 May 89).
Do not be afraid. Think of destiny (22 May 89).
Of the near-end of life: It’s going away. Cultivate a sublime indifference (24 May 89).
(Preamble) I am a man of few words, and many thoughts (31 May 89).
Réflections sur une surchauffe (i.e. caffeine, etc.). (7 Jun 89).
He’s so good with people he is virtually totally ineffective (16 Jun 89).
The pre-r.v. option: be prepared for anything to go wrong (16 Jun 89).
Youth: untold engouements (16 Jun 89).
Arrival at Harvard University, 1989: Scholar-in-resonance (25 Jun 89).
“…le refus français de payer le prix de la démocratie.” Jean-Marie Colombani,
Le Monde, 24 juin 89. (à propos des “affaires”) (24 Jun 89).
Research – it’s learning something about which you know next to nothing (24 Jun 89).
“I love you with tears”: the relation between love and death (24 Jun 89).
As politics is the art of the possible, intelligence is the art of the possible (9 Jul 89).
The Felix Bloch case. The grand public doesn’t realize that sloppy tradecraft is easier (17 Jul 89).
The Lebanese are the most loveable people on earth. But that’s not a substitute for U.S. policy (19 Aug 89).
Escape from the ordinary, The name of an outfitter, The problem of life (22 Aug 89).
Regarding arrangements concerning the Kennedy School: go with the flou. (5 Sep 89).
Re media coverage as intelligence input. If you don’t know what people are thinking, listen to what they say (10 Sep 89)
Cambridge: This is not our home away from home. This is our home away from heaven (10 Sep 89).
The hostage rescue mission: the analysts, the mavericks, the Bob Headley’s of this world who were talking about the dust storms in southern Iran at that time of year: how to listen to the voices crying in the wilderness (18 Sep 89).
The takeover of the Embassy in Tehran in November 1979 and the failure to assign responsibility for the act: how we were fooled by the “nebuleuse” (18 Sep 89).
La CIA. A great deal of insensate prejudice (20 Sep 89).
For anyone seeking knowledge, drinking beforehand is a great mistake (20 Sep 89).
The difference between Harvard and an ordinary town is that there are a lot of young people smiling to themselves because they are young (20 Sep 89).
Aphorisms is my stunt (20 Sep 89).
I come from a world in which one is used to things going wrong. (Cf. the pre-r.v. option: be prepared for anything to go wrong) (20 Sep 89).
Harvard Square. They use the ghetto-blaster because they’ve got an invisibility problem (29 Sep 89).
Those who talk of intelligence failures often have a failure of intelligence (29 Sep 89).
The posterity trade (viz. writing) (7 Nov 89).
Writing is the ultimate dignity (14 Nov 89)
André Fontaine in Le Monde, sur les Maronites: “ils ne se laisseraient pas ramener à l’état des dhimmis, de simples protégés de la Syrie ou d’un état islamiste” (24 Nov 89).
'68 reminiscent of ’89: crowds disperse le pouvoir (29 Nov 89).
Only the things of the head count (18 Dec 89).
Panama. They’ve leaked covert action out of existence (11 Jan 90).
Anything that requires will, I will do (21 Jan 90).
Creativity is more difficult than technicity (7 Feb 90).
Pressure is what makes the world go round (7 Feb 90).
I’ve reached the age of 62, and I’ve said constantly to myself, “And to think I get paid for doing this” (10 Feb 90).
Afin d’enseigner (2 Mar 90).
Il faut exaggérer (2 Mar 90).
Not going anywhere but straight to the grave (3 Mar 90).
Go gossamer (3 Mar 90).
Why die for Lithuania? (31 Mar 90).
We remember South Carolina. 1832…1860 (But: South Carolina voluntarily joined the Union. Lithuania did not). (31 Mar 90).
Why? Because writing is superior to everything else (7 Apr 90).
A propos of stereotypes: The infinite variety of individuals (8 Apr 90).
On academic guidance: Above all, people need encouragement (13 Apr 90).
Never think of what you were. Never think of what you have become. Only think of prospects (26 Apr 90).
Only the Jewish profs dare to stand up aggressively to the blacks over the Harvard Law School black prof hiring issue; only the black profs dare to stand up to the Jews on the question of consistent support to the State of Israel and its policies (11 May 90).
Unpleasant as it is, there is always something more unpleasant than the truth (14 May 90).
Korea, Vietnam. Unsatisfactory war. Unsatisfactory policy (14 May 90).
Creativity vs. technicity. Creativity must replace technicity (3 Jun 90).
Do the remembered thing first (8 Jul 90).
The DO officer. Our lives have been lives of sweet exploitation (21 Jul 90).
All friendships are friendships of opportunity? (1 Sep 90).
All knowledge is derivative (17 Jan 91).
If you don’t have fun at it, don’t do it (5 Mar 91).
With growing older, every day is different (24 May 91).
You have got to realize that creativity breeds gloom (8 Jun 91).
Not to be depressed is an act of voluntarism (8 Jun 91).
Non-gloom is a voluntary (9 Jun 91).
I am not a man of conviction. I am a man of observation (9 Jul 91).
The thing that matters is not mattering about time (23 Jul 91).
Lacouture, PMF, p. 273. “On est plus souvent dupé par défiance que par confiance.” (27 Jul 91).
Will somebody tell those Jihad folks there’s no paradise up there? (11 Sep 01).
Ready to take casualties. Again. (11 Sep 01).
Getting the REM. (rapid eye movement). Is a question of when (11 Sep 01).
…sometimes pure nationalism takes over (8 Oct 91).
Touch paper once (15 Oct 91).
Writing is gloriously in the blood (15 Nov 91).
Cultivate an excessive calm (11 Jan 92).
Aron on Clausewitz: the verity of resourcefulness (27 Nov 92).
Striding high at sixty-five (11 Jan 93).
We’re having to pay for a career spent having fun (22 Mar 93).
The Yin and Yang of Stability and Disruption (12 Mar 95).
…It was about the butchering of two citizens going unpunished, to the accompaniment of a peacock pavane in the courtroom (O.J. Simpson trial) (18 Nov 95).
J.-F. Deniau: Une vie sans aventure c’est le commun des mortels (11 Dec 95).
Never refuse a speech (19 Mar 96).
Coffee optimism (6 Mar 99).
The greatest argument in favor of God is that everyone looks different (20 Oct 99).
Camp David II, the Palestinians, and Jerusalem. They’d rather keep longing for it (27 Jul 00).
Hamas. Blowing up kids on buses. Can’t be for national liberation. Must be for sport (6 Dec 01).
Our days are so counted. We must spend them together (6 Dec 01).
They got us in our diversity (The 9/11 attacks) (11 Sept 02).
Give me the strength to defy Your supposed authority (18 Sept 02).
The most important thing is not to get mad (11 Dec 02).
A dangerous loss of faith (15 Dec 02).
This is our first post-diagnosis Christmas.We have a lot not to be thankful for (23 Dec 02).
Enforced reading (6 Jan 03).
I tend to see the end of the world approaching when it is nothing worse than the end of my own life (12 Jan 03).
Borrowed time… On this planet (16 Jan 03).
Patience is the answer. Patience is the key (28 Feb 03).
Cultivate the capacity to be surprised (16 Mar 03).
Iraq. No terrorism. No weapons of mass desctruction. Just a despicable regime (2 May 03).
Saddam’s capture. The great lesson: You take a leader out by war (14 Dec 03).
A profound refractory streak (8 June 04).
Nothing matters. You just wait to die (17 Jul 04)
A deathbed incantation: cruel God (14 Aug 04).
Every day must be different, to lessen the curse of everydayness (5 Sep 04).
“The war on terrorism.” It's like declaring war on land mines (19 Oct 04).
Thinking about death helps to approach death (24 Nov 04).
Variegated fears (30 Nov 04).
Spin doctors never come clean (20 Jan 05).
I don't think I want to do it over again; because I want to know what's next (6 Apr 05).
Advancing toward death (28 Sep 05).
Imperfect bodies (29 Sep 05).
(Death). It’s going to be an unusual experience (9 Dec 05).
We were instructed by our Mother (12 Feb 06).
Love is lawless (20 Feb 06).
Iraq. Regime change was the key awful decision – regime change without provocation (15 Mar 06).
Got to take disappointments (10 Apr 06).
The problem remains: the blacks (25 Apr 06).
Women: the receptacle mien. (25 Apr 06).
Whatever muses you on (6 Jun 06).
Agnosticism is humility: I don’t presume to know (1 Jul 06).
The dream is broken (14 Jul 06).
The website is a vanity press (22 Jul 06).
Travel has become a drug with us (9 Aug 06).
Terrible problem in the middle years. Planning out in the later years (2 Oct 06).
Crisis of self-worth (8 Oct 06).
Irrationality of thought precedes the R.E.M. (13 Oct 06).
The website vis-à-vis my private reflections. A dialectic (17 Oct 06).
It’s a question of energy (17 Oct 06).
Day of leaving for Paris. In a day of non-everydayness, every thing is a new step (17 Nov 06).
Élan vital! (20 Nov 06)
Go opaque (with people you don’t want to get involved with) (12 Dec 06).
Nothing in heat (29 Dec 06).
My blazon: Voluntarism, on a field of gules (1 Jan 07).
Live with the horrors of life (16 Feb 07).
Be prepared for anything to go wrong vs. Don’t counsel your fears (23 Jul 07).
You don’t realize the depths of the urge until it is over…How much it forms the substratum of one’s life (26 Jul 07).
I’m trying to develop an attitude toward death. An attitude of…indifference? (3 Aug 07).
To have a game plan. To have an end-game plan (7 Aug 07).
A time for…checking out (19 Aug 07).
Le pari de Pascal. Shall I take it? (19 Aug 07).
Israel. All blows are permitted, because of the past (23 Aug 07).
Sleep in the afternoon. Let it ride over (4 Sep 07).
The choice vs. life dilemma. A handicapped child becomes lovable as he grows up in a family. Should he have been killed at the outset? (5 Sep 07).
The mood has struck (finishing the paper for Laval University) (30 Sep 07).
All God’s chillun got shit (Cf. Freud: “Civilization and its Discontents”) (10 Oct 07).
All minorities are self-hating (15 Oct 07).
I don’t like to jinx the present by admiring too much the past (20 Oct 07).
Getting the REM last night. In such a desert of wakefulness, a sudden oasis of peace (7 Dec 07).
Belief in the supernatural takes one away from the real world in making decisions (18 Dec 07).
Variegated sacredness (7 Jan 08).
Take away the qualifyer; take away the superlative (Editing) (19 Jan 08).
Artiste de mots (20 Jan 08).
…as he passed away into the ether (26 Jan 08).
The tragedy that awaits us (29 Feb 08).
All of this is going to go away (29 Mar 08).
It all comes from the mother. It’s all mother-wit (29 Mar 08).
Why die for Danzig? (WDD), i.e. don’t let yourself get too passionately involved (20 May 08).
The final decade (7 Jun 08).
Harvard. “Où s’écoulèrent les jours les plus beaux de ma vie.” (Paraphrase of Alain Fournier, Le Grand Meaulnes: “…cette demeure où s’écoulèrent les jours les plus tourmentés et les plus chers de ma vie – demeure d’où partirent et où revinrent se briser, comme des vagues sur un rocher désert, nos aventures.” (p. 1) (10 Jun 08).
Chapter 1 (“La République de Dieu”) Pourquoi aimons-nous tellement laisser quelque chose derrière nous? (1 Jul 08).
With advancing age, too many pauses (15 Jul 08).
People become less angry when they’re older, because they’re weaker (15 Jul 08).
Always renewed until…not renewed (11 Aug 08).
Fidèle à ma vocation: le français (12 Aug 08).
Picture everything (in the future) (21 Aug 08).
“La République de Dieu” Part rumination, Part reminiscence, Part remonstrance (22 Aug 08).
That’s the thing about the Irish. They can pass almost anywhere. Who would have thought that Joseph R. Biden, the elegantly dressed, patrician-looking senator from that tax-haven state, Delaware, was from a Joe-Six-Pack Irish Catholic family from Scranton, PA? Cf. the book, “How the Irish Became White” (23 Aug 08).
The decision not to be operated on for a 5.2 aortal aneurism. It’s the functional equivalent of the poem about The Contract (24 Aug 08).
Unusuality (5 Sep 08).
Death is the most reckless experience (10 Sep 08).
“Agent” is what other people do for us (20 Sep 08).
Puerile things (1 Oct 08).
The chance of sex (12 Oct 08).
Everything brings a memory (28 Oct 08).
Savor every moment…because it won’t last (2 Nov 08).
E Pluribus Unum – which is what we are all about as a country – rules the day (5 Nov 08).
The strength of earlier years (9 Nov 08).
The staring-straight-ahead phase (11 Nov 08).
I’m a snob, but I’m not arrogant (11 Nov 08).
The Bordeaux conference on the privatization of intelligence…avec une sorte de gigantisme qui est quintessentiellement américain (1 Dec 08).
Extended life (10 Dec 08).
“Persepolis.” It exposes the never-ending tension between probity and sexuality (11 Dec 08).
Afghanistan 2008. It is not our business how foreign cultures comport themselves (15 Dec 08).
Head games, Not body games (2 Jan 09).
Bogged in tactical (3 Jan 09).
Aphorisms and multiple meanings (4 Jan 09).
Outliving one’s adversaries. A temporary satisfaction (8 Jan 09).
What would I do without our happy home? (8 Jan 09).
Cf. “How the Irish Became White” …dismiss it as a relic of the religious wars (9 Jan 09).
The last five years are going to be awful (9 Jan 09).
(Health) Good for my time (11 Jan 09).
In the advancing years, the rhythm of life is choice (13 Jan 09).
Death. It’s the biggest experience in life (14 Jan 09).
Le troisième âge. I’ve never had such pleasure (29 Jan 09).
Stupor mundi (31 Jan 09).
The blessed life (7 Feb 09).
A propos of the new Administration: tout commencement est decevant (9 Feb 09).
Speeders: they can be forgiven their level of testosterone (9 Feb 09).
Le français. Trying to navigate in the medium (11 Feb 09).
Hold back the impatience (28 Feb 09).
…encore un petit moment (1 Mar 09).
I don’t have to do anything. I just have to exist in time (2 Mar 09).
Le « coconisme ». Un phénomène du temps (2 Mar 09).
Rome. Incredibly moche, in the midst of past grandeur (3 Mar 09).
Energy sharpens the temper (18 Mar 09).
Return from a trip. Fresh start. Temps roboratif (23 Mar 09).
You’re being asked to believe when you don’t have any proof (24 Mar 09).
Unusualness in the midst of everydayness (24 Mar 09).
Obama. You can’t expect him to be like everyone else…that may be why he says the right things (8 Apr 09).