The title of the collection by Žarko Petan published in 1999 is Svet v enem stavku (The World in One Sentence). It is a pithy definition for an aphorism. It requires an incisive mind, the ability to observe and perceive human behaviour from a distance and power to capture the essence of the observation.
It has been said of Žarko Petan that he was born to be an aphorist-satirist. Born in Ljubljana in 1929, and in a very positive sense a citizen of the world, he always returns to it as his home port. To live in Ljubljana means to Petan, the seer of human condition, to live at the crossroads of political traditions, cultures and mind-sets of Croatia, Italy and Austria. He also lived in a time of great social upheavals; born in the Kingdom of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, experienced World War 1, the socialist Yugoslavia and the independent Slovenia. In space and time his was an ideal post for observation of comedie humaine. He says in his biography: “born in capitalism, I live in socialism and I hope to die in capitalism (as I have been promised in communism)”.
An intensely political writer at a time when it took great courage, he acted on his belief that the word is mightier than the sword. His aphorisms exposed and highlighted facets of political, social and human realities with sharp pithy observations: I have been asked why I write, and this is my reply: unfortunately I cannot shoot with the pen.
About his aphorisms Petan states:
Aphorisms do not belong to the epic or the lyrical. They belong to the ethics.
In the theatre director is god, but the actors are atheists.
Režiser je bog v gledališču, ampak igralci so ateisti.
Empty heads sooner or later rise to the surface.
Prazne glave slejkoprej splavajo na površje
All that I have on my conscience I store away in my subconscious.
Vse, kar imam na vesti spravljam v podzavest.
In knowledge is power, in ignorance overwhelming power.
V znanju je moč. v neznanju pa premoč.
History is soonest forgotten by those, who made it.
Zgodovino najprej pozabijo tisti, ki so jo delali.
All socialist fairy-tales begin like this: “Once upon a time there will be…”
Vse socialistične pravljice se začnejo tako: “Nekoč bo…”
Minority is right only when in majority.
Manjšina ima prav samo kadar je v večini.
Life is becoming life-threatening.
Življenje postaja življensko nevarno.
From the publication: Loesje, prva zbrana dela – Bodi kar si ostalih je tako že preveč. (Drustvo kreativnih ljudi Loesje, Ljubljana, 1999)
The subtitle translates into: be who you are, there are already too many others
Hugging a tree may be foolish, cutting it down even more
Objemati drevo je morda neumno, podreti ga pa še bolj
They were all on my side that is why the boat overturned
Vsi so bili na moji strani zato se je čoln prevrnil
One unemployed gives employment to ten beaurocrats
En nezaposlen daje delo desetim birokratom
Jesus had a successful career – no wonder, he was director’s son
Jezus je imel uspešno kariero – ni čudno, bil je šefov sin
The doctor told me that I must exercise that is why I began to surf the internet
Zdravnik mi je rekel, da se moram gibati zato sem začela surfati po internetu
School excursion – anywhere, as long as it is not educational
Šolska ekskurzija – kamorkoli, samo da ni poučno
Love thy neighbour that includes me
Ljubi svojega bližnjega to sem tudi jaz
With both feet on the ground you will not go far
Z obema nogama na tleh ne boš prišel daleč
When I glance at the stars there is always one that winks back at me
Ko pogledam v zvezde mi vedno ena pomežikne nazaj
The right way has many turns
Prava pot ima mnogo ovinkov
Since I had seen X Files I understand my parents much better
Odkar sem videl dosjeje x svoje starše mnogo bolje razumem
Selected from the publication: Gledam modro, vidim plavo – misli(Nova Gorica, 1998)
He, who walks in footsteps of others, does not leave traces.
Kdor hodi po stopinjah drugih, za seboj ne pušča sledi.
There is no story without events, no life without the story.
Brez dogodkov ni zgodbe, brez zgodbe ni življenja.
Everyone has his own piece of the world. Whoever knows this, has the whole world.
Vsak ima svoj košček sveta. Kdor to ve, ima ves svet.
He pays twice, who buys things, that he does not need.
Dvakrat plača, kdor kupi stvari, ki jih ne potrebuje.
Selected from the publication: Aforizmi (Gospodarski Vestnik, Ljubljana, 1996)
Veselinovic defines aphorisms:
Aphorism is above all a kind of a life’s experience.
Aforizem je predvsem taksna ali drugacna zivljenska izkusnja.
If I did not do what I am doing, I would not be what I am.
Če ne bi delal tega, kar delam, ne bi bil to kar sem.
Italians and Croats, love us so much, that they would like to eat us.
Italijani in Hrvati, nas imajo tako radi, da bi nas najraje kar pojedli.