Clive James on Wittgenstein

I've read, or at least read at, the Tractatus; I've read the first third of Philosophical Investigations; Clive James captures in a few words the gist of the greatest philosopher of the 20th century. I particularly appreciate that James understands the role of silence in Wittgenstein's view of the world. Language is so powerful within its range of action that we easily forget the vast world that lies beyond it. The job of modern poetry -- maybe all poetry always -- is to point toward that vast range of experience it cannot grasp. Poetry is a necessary gesture toward the world.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

1 thought on “Clive James on Wittgenstein”

  1. a gesture –


    At the outpost of our peculiar
    longing to persist where that last tendril
    tightening around itself seems
    the least probable to make it across
    apparent nothing (the spirit we say)
    stalling (there being no one else)
    with what’s being said these days about
    our best leaves’ loss of a taste for staying
    so little learned or saved of the first green
    (the true Christ of this mess we’ve made)
    hindering whatever we seek to help
    in the sweet bitter way we do things
    falsifying the past deceiving ourselves
    about the future comes one welcome finch.

Comments are closed.