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Friday, April 25, 2008

Living with a Philosopher

JoJo read me this at the breakfast table today, from Guy Davenport's essay, "Wittgenstein":

When [Ludwig Wittgenstein] lay dying of cancer at his doctor's house, the doctor's kind wife remembered his birthday and baked him a cake. Moreover, she wrote on it with icing, "Many Happy Returns." When Wittgenstein asked her if she had examined the implications of that sentiment, she burst into tears and dropped the cake. "You see," Wittgenstein said to the doctor when he arrived on the scene, "I have neither the cake nor an answer to my question." Some days before, the doctor's wife, patient martyr in the history of philosophy, had shown Wittgenstein her new coat that she was to wear to a party that very evening. Silently he fetched the scissors, silently he snipped the buttons from the coat, silently he replaced the scissors. The sainted wife remarked that, yes indeed, come to think of it, the coat did look better without its buttons, but only when the seals are opened at Doom will the philosopher's skill with the scissors declare its meaning.

The Geography of the Imagination, p. 333

4 comments:

!! said...

I fail to see your point. Philosophy is the luxury of the man who could not hold down a steady job. It is the profession for the aspiring huxter. Perhaps if you had relayed an excerpt from the life of Hoffer you would have grabbed my attention.

Dan Johnson said...

Apparently,
(1) I did grab your attention!
(2) you and I have known very different philosophers.

Plattypus said...

...and which philosophers have you known, exactly? JP

Dan Johnson said...

Platt, you know I live with a philosopher, you've met him. Sheesh.