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New Play: THE SOUL OF WITTGENSTEIN

 

The Soul of Wittgenstein

Hear Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus Sung as a One-Woman Opera

Composed by Balduin Sulzer, the “one woman opera,” sung by Anna Maria Pammer.

www.openculture.com/2016/08/wittgensteins-tractatus-logico-philosophicus-as-a-german-one-woman-opera.html

 

Logic and Love in Birmingham

Press Release by the GOODBYE WITTGENSTEIN Project

Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.“ This is a popular quote by the Austrian-British philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1889 and died in Cambridge, England, in 1951. It was written down in „Tractatus logico-philosophicus“ which is recognized as a significant philosophical work of the twentieth century. The predecessor of the Tractatus, the booklet „Notes on Logic“, was mainly written in Birmingham in 1913.

Birmingham? Why Birmingham? Not only because Wittgenstein studied nearby at the University of Cambridge but also as his best friend at that time, David Hume Pinsent (1891 - 1918), lived here in Harborne. Three artists from the Austrian based art group qujOchÖ and four artists from Birmingham, Trevor Pitt, Pete Ashton, Emily Warner and Mike Johnston, take the romantic love affair between those two men as a starting point for a series of works in public space in Birmingham and Linz. The project itself is called GOODBYE WITTGENSTEIN.

W. S. Farren, later director of the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, and David Pinsent, aboard their plane in 1918

W. S. Farren, later director of the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, and David Pinsent, aboard their plane in 1918

As part of an exchange program between both cities real and fictive stories are interwoven to revive the famous philosopher and his fellow. From July 25 to August 8 2016 Verena Henetmayr, Thomas Philipp and Andre Zogholy from qujOchÖ will visit Birmingham to intervene at various places that are connected to the life of Wittgenstein and Pinsent. You have the opportunity to experience the meaning of dictation of „Notes on Logic“ at 32 Paradise Street. You will find a strange animalic reincarnation of Wittgenstein and Pinsent at 44 Lordswood Road. You can figure out why Wittgenstein was annoyed by Richard Strauss's Salome at the Town Hall. You will have the chance to enter the chapel of the lonely hearts at 59 Selly Wick Road and cry about the loss of David Hume Pinsent. And you can send your messages from the intermedia state to 105 Harborne Road, the last domicile of David.

Lordswood Road 44, residence of the family Pinsent until 1913

Lordswood Road 44, residence of the family Pinsent until 1913

Besides a presentation at Digbeth First Friday the artists will talk about GOODBYE WITTGENSTEIN on July 28 at 6:30 pm at BOM. They will give a sneak preview on the interventions there and reflect on the life of Wittgenstein and Pinsent in Birmingham and Linz. The public talk is followed by an informal networking on the cultural connex of Birmingham and Linz with Darryl Georgiou, Clayton Shaw (Sampad) and BOM Fellows.

Extract from "Notes on Logic", written on a typewriter Adler No. 7 from 1911. We will use this typewriter in one of the interventions in 32 Paradise Street. It's a kind of re-enactement on the dictation of "Notes on Logic". We will ask passers-by if they want to sit down at an old desk there. Then we will dictate "Notes on Logic" to them. In German of course (like Wittgenstein did in Oct 1913). They should type whatever they hear on the Adler No. 7, no matter if they understand and speak German or not. This intervention is called "The Meaning of Dictation".

Extract from "Notes on Logic", written on a typewriter Adler No. 7 from 1911. We will use this typewriter in one of the interventions in 32 Paradise Street. It's a kind of re-enactement on the dictation of "Notes on Logic". We will ask passers-by if they want to sit down at an old desk there. Then we will dictate "Notes on Logic" to them. In German of course (like Wittgenstein did in Oct 1913). They should type whatever they hear on the Adler No. 7, no matter if they understand and speak German or not. This intervention is called "The Meaning of Dictation".

There will be another public talk on August 4 at 7:00 pm. qujOchÖ will talk about their work at the interfaces of art, politics, society, technology and science. They will show what it feels like to enter a wellness area with the famous French philospher Michel Foucault, how to burn 9,6 million pounds on a Brazilian beach and why almost no one in Austria knows anything about „Sound of Music“. Moreover they will serve super sweet Austrian Kaiserschmarrn & Zwetschkenknödel to the audience.

Supported by Austrian Cultural Forum London, Austrian Federal Chancellery - Arts and Culture, State of Upper Austria and City of Linz.

 

Wittgenstein in Linz and Birmingham: Art Project

Upcoming international artist exchange programme between qujOchÖ artist collective based in Linz, Austria and A3 Project Space & BOM Birmingham, UK. More details.

 

 

All photos: Thomas Phillipp

 

PROJECT OUTLINE

From 1903 to 1906 Wittgenstein attended the technically oriented K.u.k. Realschule in Linz, a small state school with 300 pupils in Upper Austria. Afterwards he began to study at the Technische Hochschule in Charlottenburg, moved further to the Victoria University of Manchester and finally visited the University of Cambridge to study under Russell from 1911 to 1913. During this time it is widely regarded that Wittgenstein has fallen in love with David Hume Pinsent, a descendant of the philosopher David Hume.

In 1913 the Lordswood House in 44 Lordswood, Birmingham, was the family home of Pinsent. On the eve of his self-imposed exile to Norway and just after a holiday there with Pinsent, Wittgenstein stayed with the Pinsent family to say his goodbyes. The last time they saw each other was at a Birmingham railway station on 8 October 1913, when they said goodbye before Wittgenstein left to live in Norway.

GOODBYE WITTGENSTEIN wants to take this short little story as a starting point for an exchange program between Linz and Birmingham. The basic idea is to dig deeper into this story and to find real or fictive connections between Linz and Birmingham, based on the life of Wittgenstein. The main aim is to pay tribute to one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century and revive his life in Birmingham and Linz.

Following an invitation from A3 Project Space and Birmingham Open Media, the Austrian art collective qujOchÖ from Linz will visit Birmingham between 25 July and 7 August 2016 to enact a series of philosophical set pieces in response to Wittgenstein’s writings, in particular his early work on “Notes on Logic”. During their stay three members of qujOchÖ, Verena Henetmayr, Thomas Philipp and Andre Zogholy, will undertake a series of artistic interventions in public spaces throughout the city. They will also present their ideas as part of a discussion and networking event at BOM on August 1 and participate in the monthly art event Digbeth First Friday on August 4 2016.

Following this visit, five artists from Birmingham, Pete Ashton, Mike Johnston, Trevor Pitt, Emily Warner and Clare Thornton will participate in a four week residency at Atelierhaus Salzamt Linz in November 2016. During their residency the artists will explore the trails of Wittgenstein in Linz and develop the beginnings of new works that make connections between art and philosophy based on “Notes on Logic”.

The Freud Museum presents Wittgenstein’s Dream

The Freud Museum  presents Wittgenstein’s Dream, an exhibition of work by Gavin Turk and the latest in a critically acclaimed series curated by James Putnam. Turk’s installation and intervention in Freud’s former residence investigates the intriguing conceptual dialogue between two enlightened Viennese thinkers of the 20th century, Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951).

freud.org.uk/exhibitions/76225/wittgensteins-dream/

Wittgenstein's music

Ray Monk has set up a Spotify playlist of Wittgenstein’s favourite music. It comprises some 220 tracks of mostly German music: Brahms, Schubert, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Wagner with a little Yvette Guilbert thrown in. A listening time of 21 hours. What does the music tell us about the man?

An Evening with Wittgenstein

Report of the event on 12 March 12 hosted by the Austrian Cultural Forum >bringing together Wittgenstein’s great-niece Margaret Stonborough and the philosopher and playwright William Lyons to launch the text of his play Wittgenstein: the Crooked Roads (Bloomsbury Methuen-Drama 2015).
On Thursday March 12th the Austrian Cultural Forum hosted ‘An Evening with Wittgenstein’ bringing together Wittgenstein’s great-niece Margaret Stonborough and the philosopher and playwright William Lyons to launch the text of his play Wittgenstein: the Crooked Roads (Bloomsbury Methuen-Drama 2015). When the play had premiered at the Riverside Studios in the spring of 2011, directed by Nick Blackburn, several members of the British Wittgenstein Society were there to enjoy the vibrant performance by the cast of recently graduated students, now part of the Blackburn Company. So it was good to see members of that original cast together with us again at this meeting.

The evening began with a welcome from the Director of ACF, Elizabeth Kogler. She first introduced us to Wittgenstein’s great-niece, Margaret Stonborough who had brought several photographs from the Wittgenstein-Stonborough family archives to tell us about family memories of her ‘great-uncle Ludwig’. She began with a portrait photograph of Wittgenstein in which he stared away from the camera aloof and detached, saying how there was no emotion, no contact, no smiling. “But this is all rubbish”, she immediately said. “He had a family.” Yet although Wittgenstein within the context of his extended family was the focus of her talk, neither any of her anecdotes about him - “He always spoke demandingly, in the imperative, but was devastatingly honest” - nor any of the subsequent photographs in which he was present with his family, relieved the image of someone eccentrically withdrawn and absorbed in his own thoughts. But we were told how all his elder sisters cherished him, as was evident in the photograph in which his elder sister Hermine gently held the small boy’s shoulder. This reminded me of Hermine Wittgenstein’s brief notes about Wittgenstein in Rush Rhees’ book Ludwig Wittgenstein: Personal Recollections (Blackwell 1981). She says that her brother Ludwig had from childhood found it especially difficult to fit in with any surrounding which were uncongenial to him, yet, “In addition to his great philosophical understanding which fathoms the depth of things in such a way that he can alike comprehend the essence of a musical composition, a book, a human being……Ludwig has a big heart.” So from the accounts of both Hermine Wittgenstein, who knew him closely and personally, and his great-niece Margaret Stonborough, we get a picture of someone socially detached who combined obsessively intellectual attention, precision and strength with a high moral integrity which recognised the complex vulnerabilities of humanity.

Why should these biographical details matter to our interest in his philosophical work? Because although philosophy aims at an independent an objective understanding of all that informs our human lives, the ways in which different individuals pursue the journey of understanding depends ineliminably on aspects of their own character. Thus William Lyon’s dramatization of Wittgenstein’s life is one way in which we may engage with this particular aspect of philosophy.

William Lyons began by explaining how the title of the play, Wittgenstein: The Crooked Roads is taken from William Blake. In The Marriage of Heaven and Hell Blake wrote “Improvement makes straight roads, but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius.” Thus the conflicts and changes within Wittgenstein’s work indicate his complete unwillingness to comply with any mere ambition to produce prestigious work aiming at academic or public reception. The extract chosen to present on film at this meeting was a scene in which we are to imagine Wittgenstein undergoing his Phd viva at Trinity College Cambridge in 1929. This was of course an odd event. Wittgenstein had had submitted the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, the work already published, to fulfil the requirements for a grant supporting his research position at Cambridge, and with which both his examiners, Bertrand Russell and G.E. Moore were already very familiar. As the filmed extract began, someone in the audience nearby duly warned his companion that, “This is serious stuff for grown-ups.” Well, yes it is, but in dramatizing this event, the audience was not necessarily expected to understand anything from the Tractatus, but rather to acknowledge the tension caused by Wittgenstein’s own authority over this substantive work and Russell and Moore’s sensitivity to the limits of their own understanding.

As Wittgenstein enters the examination room both Russell and Moore express their apprehension at what they are about to be confronted with. But there is also another person present; the meeting is chaired by a woman, the Dean of the Moral Sciences Faculty. The character shows little sense of the uniqueness of the occasion and with shrill authority just repeatedly attempts to return attention to ‘correct procedures’. The inclusion of this character does provide some levity, but on afterwards being asked why he had chosen to present this character as a woman, William Lyons related it with the fact that Wittgenstein was known to have had difficulties in relating to woman. Yet although this did accentuate a general theme of this episode – of not being understood – the haughty defensiveness of this female character only shows how anyone can be difficult to relate to. But the substance of the scene is more important than this.

The Dean directs Moore to ask the first question. Moore says, hesitatingly, “Mr Wittgenstein.. At section 6.124 you say that the propositions of logic ‘have no subject matter’ but, in the same section you go on to say ‘it is clear that something about the world’ must be indicated by…the tautologies of logic. On the surface it seems…well…It might be construed that this is a…a contradiction.”
Wittgenstein replies testily “No. No. You haven’t understood anything! Haven’t even understood the most basic things.” He then gives a brief exposition of what underlies the claims of 6.124.
And towards the end of the scene, when Wittgenstein agrees impatiently to answer one last question, Russell refers to the end of the Tractatus about the sense of the world being outside the world. “This seems to imply that there are no propositions ethics. Isn’t that a dangerous thing to say?” Wittgenstein yet again responds with exasperation exclaiming, “You’ve understood nothing.” He attempts briefly to explain, but then pauses, obviously struggling with his thoughts. But then he begins again in a completely different mode. Williams introduces a passage as though from Wittgenstein’s memory of his time in the winter of 1916 in the Great War. He speaks of seeing a soldier mounted on horseback passing a column of Russian prisoners. The soldier dismounts and gives his own boots to a barefoot prisoner. “There is no rule for that either.” Then Wittgenstein once more lapses into silence.

Thus although the scene gives focus to Wittgenstein’s impatience and frustration with the lack of understanding of his work the speedy movement from the main substance of the Tractatus to the brief final sections concerning ethics shows a deeper concern with the seriousness of Wittgenstein’s philosophical journey. Introducing a memory from his wartime experience is a dramatic way of placing his concerns with logic and language in continuity with his commitment to recognising that ethical values cannot be reduced to any philosophical generalisations. The scene ends with Wittgenstein telling his examiners that much of what he wrote in the Tractatus may be wrong. That his thoughts since then have moved on. But this acknowledgment about the place of ethics in our understanding of ourselves, which here he can only show through an example which calls upon our recognition, shows what remains throughout the journey of his life. In his introduction to the text of the play Williams says that what has always interested him in the Wittgenstein’s work is not merely the depth of his thinking but in great measure the unusual intensity and integrity of this life of thought. The brief scene we were shown at this meeting itself shows something of this.

Wor(l)ds in Collision

Exegesis has an art project that intersects with the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein to coincide with the 7th BWS Annual Conference. Click to see the full-sized poster.

Wittgenstein's music

Ray Monk has set up a Spotify playlist of Wittgenstein’s favourite music. It comprises some 220 tracks of mostly German music: Brahms, Schubert, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Wagner with a little Yvette Guilbert thrown in. A listening time of 21 hours. What does the music tell us about the man?

Print by Eduardo Paolozzi

This is the first of the three prints in the suite which refer to Wittgenstein’s biography, described on Paolozzi's blog.

More here ...

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