Is there a better sign of “civilization” than laconism? To stress, to explain, to prove—so many forms of vulgarity. Anyone who pretends to a minimum of tenue, far from fearing sterility must apply himself to it, must scuttle words in the name of the Word, must compound with silence, departing from it only by moments and the better to fall back into it. The maxim, however dubious it may be as a genre, nonetheless constitutes an exercise in modesty, since it permits us to wrest ourselves from the drawbacks of verbal plethora. Less demanding, because less condensed, the portrait is generally a sort of maxim, diluted in some cases, padded in others; yet it can, under exceptional circumstances, assume the rhythm of an exploded maxim, evoking infinity by the accumulation of features and the will to be exhaustive: we are then in the presence of a phenomenon without analogy, of a case, that of a writer who, by dint of feeling too confined in a language, transcends it and escapes from it—with all the words it contains . He does them violence, uproots them, takes them into himself, in order to do with them what seems best to himself without consideration for them or for the reader, upon whom he inflicts an unforgettable, a magnificent martyrdom.

—E. M. Cioran,  Drawn and Quartered 

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