A report from the Third German Aphorists Conference—Wit, Image, Sense—held in Hattingen from Nov. 6-8, 2008, by Jurgen Wilbert:
“The theme of the third meeting of aphorists at Hattingen/Ruhr, near the towns of Bochum and Essen, was the three different aspects of the aphorism: wit, image, and sense. The conference again took place at the Stadtmuseum (town museum) of Hattingen, organized by the (DAphA, founded by Friedemann Spicker and Jürgen Wilbert) and the Stadtmuseum (Petra Kamburg). This convention was more international than the preceding meetings in 2004 and 2006. In her opening address, the Mayoress of Hattingen, Dr. Dagmar Goch, particularly welcomed the participants from other countries, which included Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, the U.K., Israel, and Finland.
From Jerusalem came Elazar Benyoetz, the famous German-language aphorist. His profound reading/lecture was a highlight of the opening program. The musical cabaret by the duo Faltsch Wagoni on Thursday evening delighted and inspired the audience. During Friday and Saturday, a series of lectures explored the three facets of the aphorism. James Geary presented his lively juggling aphorisms performance, with many autobiographical and literary remarks.
On Friday morning, a dozen aphorists traveled to six secondary schools in Hattingen and vicinity to present introductions to this shortest of literary genres, using lots of entertaining examples. On Friday evening there were special readings at three different locations in the center of town: the Mayas bistro, the Refugium wine bar, and the Napp (Mirhoff & Fischer) bookshop. The topics of these readings included aphorisms and medicine, aphorisms and philosophy, and aphorisms and eroticism. All venues were filled to capacity. The workshops an Saturday dealt with the central questions of the conference – wit and aphorism, image and aphorism, and sense and aphorism. There was also a workshop on how to present and perform aphorisms. At the end of the meeting, the audience was enthusiastic about Markus Jeroch, a fantastic word juggler from Berlin. Thus, the conference came to a really thrilling finale.You can read all about the conference on the website, and the results will be included in the forthcoming book based on the conference, due to be published in June.
The next German Aphorists Conference will take place in 2010, the year that the Ruhr region is the European Capital of Culture. Certainly this meeting will be even more European, because one of the fundamental subjects will be the question of how to translate aphorisms into other languages.