25 August 2006

If I Am A Stranger + Unheimlich

Like most people today, when the alarm went off I didn't want to get out of bed. I snoozed. But then I realized that I was being lazy and I got out of bed. Good. Once I got in the car I put on Ryan Adams' song Cold Roses and boy did that get my, uh, juices flowing. Really. Gosh. I feel like a thin line, long and straight; or an electric wire; maybe a razor--sharp and, well, brittle? I feel really sharp and, well, brittle today. I attribute this feeling to not having done any drugs or drinking recently. It does a body good.

I went to Saint John's for registration; what a clusterfuck.

I still haven't done any philosophy lately. I'm working towards a proposition in On Certainty, which is around 501, that says something along the lines of, Am I not getting closer and closer to saying that in the end logic cannot be described? It's a beautiful section, about 30 propositions deep. I can't help but picture Wittgenstein sitting in a room with a chair, a desk and a bed. That bed is his deathbed. He's sitting next to his deathbed banging up against the limits of his language. He's trying to say things; and he says things. Some things maybe go beyond this limit and he's inadvertently speaking nonsense: But he knows it. He often runs his hands through his hair, and then he gets up and stalks the perimeter of the room, pacing lengthwise over and over. He sits down again and writes that he's approaching saying that logic can't be described. But, of course, to say such a thing is to describe logic. He's running up against the apparent paradox concerning boundary-concepts that Kant ran up against in the Critique of Pure Reason: I.e., that the phenomenal is what we experience and the noumenal is the limit of our experience, a purely negative concept. A boundary-concept. Of course you'd like to say, This is it! This object is a noumenon--it cannot be an object of experience. But if you could say that, then the object would be an object of experience. There isn't even a last object of experience; there's only non-experience. A negative concept.

Something like an object of non-experience is an utterance of nonsense. Earlier (around 200 in OC) Wittgenstein says that logically, Moore is certain that he has two hands. To say you know it is nonsense, because, for one reason, the negation, I don't know I have two hands, is nonsense. This typification has to do with a logic to this language-game. (God, hyphens are ugly. This must be why Joyce abhorred hyphens [but not em-dashes instead of inverted commas for dialogue].) Logic in this situation can't be described. Is the feeling one gets upon hearing an illogical proposition something like the feeling of uncanniness? Of not being home, of something vague and spectral that's just wrong? I think it could be. I'm going to do a closer reading of the relevant passages this weekend.

Why not put together the Viennese writers of the early 20c? (I.e., Freud and Wittgenstein.) This isn't a methodological or ideological likening; it's putting two men together in a time and a place; ideas are local because customs and institutions are local.