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Twisting Teen, Drei

Due to what I perceive to be a shortage in Wittgenstein anagrams, I decided to look for some.  Being also somewhat dislexic (the Dislexic Librarian is a title I sometimes use) I left out a T in the first attempt:  Ein Gent's Wit.  So I changed it to Gin Wit Tenets. The way to be sure about it is to put the letters on little bits of paper and then mess them around.  That way, no wishful thinking is involved-- you can't mentally buy a vowel, and then fail to notice you have too many.  You either use all the bits of paper, or you don't. Simple.

I don't intend to try to absorb W in the deep mathematical sense.  And I realize my comments are both wrong, and perhaps grotesquely simplified, or mis-applied.  But that is my intention--  to make the application, right or wrong, because the act of declaring creates directions, and directions have consequences, and dealing with those consequences is the essence of work.

The Tractatus is a little bit like a cat chasing its tail, but that's ok, because it's the only game we've got.  After Kurt Godel (mit umlaut), we are into a post-modern philosophy where there can be no final set of rules, and no complete system. Much the way a computer scientist must ponder whether code is, or is not, a computable algorithm, so we must be content now that some questions cannot, or logically should not be, answered.   W's ethics then, starts with what questions ought to be asked?  It seems to me that many of the most important questions cannot be answered.  Why are we here?   That's a fine example for that sort of question.  And yet, since we always want most what we can't have, it feels like the most important question of all.  Would the answer make us happy?  Well, 42 did not do much for me, did it deeply satisfy you?  I miss Doug H. like a lost family member, though.

I think the greatest value of literature is that it gives us the feeling that the unanswerables are being answered.  We know it's just fiction, but it satisfies the itch we can't scratch.

I like the poetry of the Tractatus the way I find mathematical writing to be a kind mental music.  Although I don't think W was intending poetry, he nonetheless crafts some here and there. Well, not so much poetry on the strength of the words, but in our experience of them, as we try to imagine the world they describe.

Roughly speaking: objects are colorless.

How can the all-embracing logic that mirrors the world
use such special catches and manipulations?  Only because
all these are connected in an infinitely fine network, to
the great mirror.

We cannot give a sign the wrong sense.

A composite soul, would not be a soul any longer.

Death is not an event of life. Death is not lived through.

The solution of the riddle of life in space and time
lies outside of space and time.

Not how the world is, is the mystical, but that it is.

Hmm, the 44 in the last quote is only two off from Adam's estimate.  I also happen to know that if you use the alphabet as a base-26 symbol system 44 translates to BS.  Not that that means anything.

One final note on W.  While Von Neumann invented the digital computer (largely), I think we have to give W. credit for describing Object Oriented Programming before computers were around to use it!


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 9th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)
No, actually, it's poetry, albeit not always well translated. "Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen" has a rhythm and a caesura and internal rhyme and interplay of vowels that is imperfectly rendered in "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent" and almost not at all by "That of which we cannot speak we must pass over in silence."

And the example that Erich Heller uses: "Der Philosoph behandelt eine Frage; wie eine Krankheit" has a highly consequential punctuation-reinforced caesura that is completely missed by the paraphrased "The philosopher's treatment of a question is like a physician's treatment of an illness." Not a bit of it.

This presumes that the structure of the German aphorism is itself a species of free-verse poetry, which I would maintain that it is. The limited but existent genre of single-verse poems confirms it for me.
Feb. 9th, 2009 05:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, I agree, and thanks for the Heller. That's pure gold. But who let a physician in? It's much better as: "A philosopher treats a question; as an illness." Whose illness? I would think the philosopher's. Just as W. tries to cure himself. So, and even freer translation might be "A philosopher tries to rid himself of a question; like an illness." Perhaps he felt rightly too that the semicolon is less welcome in English?

But don't you also think it is partly in the different music built into Deutsch, that gives our English ear the advantage of a poetical experience? I think the word "eine" lends itself far more to rhythmic repetition than "a" and "an" for example.

"Uber alle Fragen ist ruh" as Goethe never said, but might have done in a different age (and which has no direct bearing on this post, but just jumped into my mind and became irresistible).

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
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