Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mr Wittgenstein and his sister's ceiling

Have you never wondered, how it should be, that the same people who might berate Ludwig Wittgenstein for prodigal waste in the reconstruction of his sister's ceiling - it having been laid some few centimeters too low to permit that agreable perception of proportion which is essential to the humane occupancy of space, to say nothing of its sharing - mightn't think twice of concentrating the attention of an entire nanosecond on the inevitably mobile and  entirely conditional disposition of their own waistband?

I know the page is bound to suffer some rebuke for raising a question of human happiness in terms of structure, without so much as a sop to decoration, but not every posting can include a Rothko, unless that nice lady in Upperville should care to blog her acquisition of eleven Rothko canvases one morning, on the fly of a carefree walk in town. (Yes, but those were the days when painters would deliver). And who does not remember, as Clemenceau had said, the good Lord had no more than ten?

But our sage was plainly on to something, hounded for not lower-ing the floor as he might have done, at such vastly less expense. You know you are not just neurotic when you decline to step down, to appreciate your environment. As élitists are so quick to remind us, there's nothing defensible in being practical, if pleasure isn't possible; and the élite, need I say, are limited enough in that prospect, without enduring compressions of their domicile. We can't really leave our leaders of perception and opinion, to say nothing of our arbiters of exper-ience, to the mercies of a clement day for their delight.

But to take our truffles bending low is not so much a concession to constraint as a credit to a chef whose eggy gigli's timely toss is all it takes to turn attention's head. Not to commit a waste (a laundress' wrath being harsher than frugality's reproach), we draw nigh to the plate of gracious service.


  1. While a sister's ceiling was the object of this post I am going to be base and let my mind get caught up in the lovely shade of blue that Volkswagen is.

  2. Wittgenstein would not have failed to notice, and could make his knack for relevance sound as wacky as the one you display here. Because a clement day was all that ceiling had left him to enjoy, the conditionality of that blue's loveliness would have struck him, too. But now, Dink, it's getting dark and chilly in your longitude and latitude, and do you have some aromatic gigli to keep your head down?

  3. Rushing to the aid of so many scuples at once, I might have missed one or two. But what's a reader for, if not to make the good book?

  4. The Kundmanngasse house was meant to be an incarnation of W's rigor of logic and math. Neither he nor Gretl could (or wanted!) to live that house. Just like in logic, the form is more important than the expression of it in any matter, the house is full of endless details and precisions. It looks more like embodiment of his logical forms where rigor of details is superior to visual perception of the whole. One must not associate the physical form of the house to just one perceptual content, just like the Necker Cube, it must be seen differently according to the changing of visual aspect.

  5. The intellectual history of the house (leaving aside for the moment, its fracturing details) is fairly widely understood but the lack of intent to occupy it is, I think, not so widely assumed. But this is a very shrewdly judged comment and a large contribution to the discussion, even if the house may have been intended for her occupancy. I have never yet heard its incongruities explained (I do not mean to say, "defended") as intrinsic to the details, themselves. If I do understand this to be your suggestion, I can readily believe him capable of this attitude; and in any case I thank you for contributing here to this discussion.