Sunday Notes (Wittgenstein, Kishik, Szentkuthy)

“Be sure not to be dependent on the external world, then you don’t need to be afraid of what takes place in it . . . It is easier to detach oneself from things than from people. But even that is something one must master.”

In Wittgenstein’s Private Notebooks 1914-1916, translated by Marjorie Perloff, we encounter diverse threads that eventually merge in the Tractatus. These notebooks contain early speculations on how Wittgenstein could express his inner life and reveal ideas rooted in an older philosophical tradition. Though encoded, the notebooks oscillate between his work and introspective self-examination.

Wittgenstein’s scope extends beyond critiquing logic and language. His thoughts offer a blueprint for living rightly, a kind of therapy perhaps, echoing David Kishik’s Self Study, where he develops his illuminating concept of autophilosophy. Both thinkers challenge academic philosophy and employ a rich mode of expression, where “philosophie dürfte man eigentlich nur dichten,” usually translated as “philosophy could only be written as a form of poetry.” As Perloff notes, the German verb “dichten” encompasses all imaginative writing, including fiction, drama, and lyric poetry. Kishik’s book aligns with a larger project, To Imagine a Form of Life, which I intend to trace through the four earlier books.

I also read Miklós Szentkuthy’s Towards the One & Only Metaphor, my first exposure to his work, hoping to gain insight into his style of thinking and writing before exploring more of his oeuvre. I read this text with great enthusiasm as Szentkuthy keenly observes and describes the world, intertwining language and thought, merging pragmatic and symbolic elements to create a way of perceiving that irresistibly drew me into his world.

This week, I added a few books to my library: Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis, Mário de Andrade’s Macunaíma, a couple of Andrea Zanzotto’s works, and Bataille’s Critical Essays 1944-1948.