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Some Correspondence

Letters on Wittgenstein

by BEN TRIPP

Due to a complex and time-consuming project of such importance that it will make the entire world sit up and take notice, albeit only for one six-millionth of a second, the famous author of these occasional missives has been uncharacteristically and blessedly silent. His correspondence continues, however, and the following epistolary extracts will serve to remind readers he exists and has a book for sale. The topic concerns a series of articles Mr. Tripp wrote for various publications on the subject of Ludwig Wittgenstein, the philosopher. The names of the writers have been changed to protect their privacy, although all you have to do is switch the first letters around and you have the real names. For example Jurt Mohnssen is really Murt Johnssen. Unfortunately he hasn’t written.

Dear sir,

I am writing to point out that your capsule description of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus in Sports Illustrated is not only spurious, it’s written upside-down. In addition you characterize his position on the theories of Realism and Anti-Realism as "similar to two precocious squirrels having a check fight at Schrafft’s on 77th and Madison" and dismiss the entire concept of Realism as incoherent, especially if you’ve ever been to a wedding in Malibu. As Wittgenstein himself clearly postulates in Realism and Antimatter, "That which can be expressed through language is inherently meaningful, as long as the language of expression is public, not private, but in any case is probably not worth mentioning." I rest my case.

Yours,
Dr. Ford Nutbugle

Sir,

Of all the outrageous claptrap I have ever read, your recipe for Prawns a la Wittgenstein takes the cake. My wife and I, or to be perfectly honest my ex-wife and I (she discovered my affair with the euphonium player at Carnegie Hall, about which I wrote to you some months back), decided to throw one of those voguish cocktail parties themed after the great philosophers. I wanted to do a Kant theme because then we could save money on drinks by filling the liquor bottles with water and claiming to guests that as subjective reality is a dialectic illusion, all they had to do was drink the water and say, "boy, this is some yummy scotch", and in an hour they’d be blowing .063 on any Breathalyzer in the state. In any case the old harpy insisted on Wittgenstein, probably because she knew damn well I’d never mastered his principle of Certainty.

The upshot of this was while reading back issues of Thinker’s Digest I stumbled upon, figuratively speaking, your interesting article Recipes of the Great Philosophers. Perhaps not apprehending the humorous nature of the piece, I prepared not one, but two large platters of these prawns, at considerable cost. The hardest part was making the little crepe-paper tuxedoes, although citrus Hollandaise sauce is no walk in the park, either. When our cocktail guests started reacting to the psilocybin mushroom garnish, the party was ruined; I would guess the quantity you stipulate in the recipe is ten times the dose required to make an elephant think it’s Carlos Castaneda. I will never make another recipe on your say-so again, although the batter-fried Nietzsche Pops look tempting.

Chastened,
Grisholm H. ‘Chet’ Rooter

Mr. Tripp,

I am not in the habit of writing letters to fools, for which reason I avoid writing letters at all. You can never tell who will turn out to be a fool next. You, sir, are next in this instance. Wittgenstein not only was not a native of Prussia, he never lived on Bleecker Street. And he certainly (as certainly as anything can be certain, certainty being derived only from direct immutable fact such as "I am holding this object in my hands" or "that woman has a face like a baboon") never stated that although mathematics could not be reduced to a logical postulate, you should still avoid any funny business on your income tax. Nor, for that matter, was his mentor Bertrand Russell a journeyman electrician, as you suggest. But the most preposterous assertion you make in the course of this piece is that this great thinker had a male lover in the Semantics Department at Cambridge named ‘Plenty O’Toole’. This is purest flibber-flabber and I deplore it.

Disgusted,
Hugh Jorgen, DDS

Dear Sir,

Wittgenstein’s work in the field of rational analysis was a vital contribution to the debunking of mathematical reductionism in metaphysical postulates, although some would argue that his theories are ultimately self-serving because they deny conclusibility, which characteristic marks most of his later works and especially his Ontological Postulates and Reality: This Time It’s Personal. However, I cannot agree with your idea that Wittgenstein should probably have gone into the pants business, simply because he had the legs for it. It’s this kind of thinking that has gotten us into the mess we’re in today.

Yr Obt Svt
Enid Clams
1st Euphonium, Carnegie Hall

BEN TRIPP is an independent filmmaker and all-around swine.
His book, Square In The Nuts, may be purchased here, with other outlets to follow: http://www.lulu.com/Squareinthenuts . Swag is available as always from http://www.cafeshops/tarantulabros . And Mr. Tripp may be reached at credel@earthlink.net.