Friday, March 03, 2006

A bookmark inside the Tractatus

I plucked Wittgenstein’s Tractatus off the bookshelf during a fit of boredom and low anxiety. The bookmark inside it is a 5 x 8 note card, which has a matrix inscribed upon it, whose entries are the numerals of certain basic passages, and can be read in different orders to achieve different and various explanations of the book’s central ideas.

I dimly recall the young man I met back in the mid-Seventies who shared my passion for logic and philosophy. He told me one could understand certain of the extended arguments in the book by making matrices of the appropriate sections. I do not remember if that was his idea, or if it was a trick he learned from someone along the way. I made several note cards inscribed with these matrices, but it appears only one has survived as an ancient bookmark.

Thus, I came to have this note card with a long forgotten matrix inscribed upon it. Should I follow some of the paths traced by the matrix; or would that be to rekindle a form of madness best left cold and distant?


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