There Where You Are Not.
Text by Dr. Michael Nedo and Alec Finlay. Photographs by Guy Moreton.
Black Dog Publishing, London, 2006. 160 pp., 120 b&w and color illustrations, 9x11".
"Wittgenstein's quest for his vocation was not, as it is often seen, a flight from himself. Rather, it was a search for the right place to be at one with himself," observes co-author Michael Nedo. Ludwig Wittgenstein: There Where You Are Not is an homage to those aspects of Wittgenstein's search that resonate with each of us. By turns biography, photography and poetry, this work occupies a unique place in the expansive realm of "Wittgenstein books" written by novelists, poets, playwrights and artists over the past 30 years.
Wittgenstein himself wrote thousands of pages of what he called "philosophy" in his notebooks, but
published only two relatively short books during his lifetime. Each of these books, however, sparked a revolution in 20th-century philosophical thought. The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is a dense and intimidating work of logic which helped spawn the Viennese movement known as Logical Positivism, as hard-nosed a school of analytic philosophy as any the West had seen up to that time. After the Tractatus, Wittgenstein tried to give up philosophy, yet two decades later his second book, Philosophical Investigations, helped initiate a movement in Cambridge which came to be known as Ordinary Language Philosophy. There is much debate about the relationship between the thought of the "early" and the "later" Wittgenstein, but two things seem certain. The first is that in all his work Wittgenstein focused on the human relationship to language as a key to understanding the source of certain persistent and deeply troubling philosophical questions. The second is that professional philosophers have tended to resent the appeal that Wittgenstein's life has exercised over nonphilosophers who have struggled to understand his ideas. Nevertheless, during the past several decades Wittgenstein's enigmatic personality has exercised as much fascination over artists, poets and novelists as his provocative thought has determined the shape of philosophy in the 20th century. From Terry Eagleton and Guy Davenport to Peter Handke and Ingeborg Bachmann, Thomas Bernhard and David Markson to Ron Silliman and Steve McCaffery, from Rosmarie Waldrop to Jan Zwicky, artists and writers on both sides of the Atlantic, in the U.S. and in Canada have been inspired by the words, the thought, the life and the mysterious image of a man who has been described as the greatest logician of the 20th-century and also as one of its most puzzling mystics. DAVID CARL
To read the full review of this title, please see the Fall 2006 issue of the booklist.
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