Meet the Wittgensteins
A long extract with photos, from Alexander Waugh’s new book, The House of Wittgenstein, in the Telegraph. Probably won’t help understanding the Tractatus or Philosophical Investigations, but it looks interesting.
I see on my shelves there is also William Bartley II’s Wittgenstein, and Zettel, which I bet I never read. ‘Zettel’, I learn, means in German ‘a little piece of paper’. Page 96, number 550: What purpose is served by the statement:”I do have something, if I have a pain?” I don’t know. Nothing probably. This might be a pretty good party game. Read out from Zettel statement or question at random and ask the guests to volunteer a few words in response. Points to anyone who can say anything at all apart from”What?”, “oh..”, “Hah!” or “Huh!” For 550. you win maximum points for saying, “We do not say such things.” Bonuses for “Though we might say we have a pain, we tend not to philosophise about whether we have ‘something’ when we have a pain.”
Rising up in my mind from the story of the Wittgensteins is the richness of the Austrian/Austro-Hungarian intellectual milieu and the masses of writers, musicians and artists who arose from it. Is it me or can one say that if one’s reading is wide enough one always seem to get thrown back to Austria or Austrians: crisscrossing the mountain tracks of culture, it is very easy to slip down a windy path into things Austrian.
Making my own list, from the few names I remember, as signifiers of what I know would demonstrate the paucity of my knowledge. Why not parasitise someone else? Here, almost at random, though not without superficially noting a certain éclat, Austria through the eyes of a young Austrian, Dr. Bendict Mandel, who explains himself at his about this site. I Googled “Austria culture intellectual”, which threw up his page Background information Austria:Austrian and Vienna Culture at about number 7. (He does mention in his CV he’s into SEO.) A quick run down the links and you know he’s been diligently beavering away and it seems like he’s got a sense of humour ( A Guide to Fucking (a Village) in Austria).
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