Mr. Wittgenstein Writes to Ms. Stein



I called you many times, but you didn’t answer. This has left me no alternative, but to write you now, in order to reach you by other means.  Of course, it is as difficult to say precisely what one means, as it is to mean precisely what one says. Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent. What can one say about this?  What can it mean to say that one must be silent?  Silence is argument carried on by other means.  Silence is noiseless argument, like a city street at 2 AM, when there is much parallel parking available because there is no one there. When there is no one there—when everyone has left--- there is no there, there. And there is quiet--- quiet and emptiness, like a bowler hat perched on a mannequin’s head.  The empty streets do not speak, they only listen.  If one has nothing to say, then it is imperative that one sit very still and hum, or devise something philosophical to say. My propositions are elucidatory in this way: he who understands me finally recognizes them as senseless, when he has climbed out through them, on them, over them. He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder, after he has climbed upon it.  Of course, a ladder is mostly holes. Holes are mostly emptiness and silence.  When all is said and done, silence is empty and holy. Silence is holiness. Holiness is empty.  Unsaid, some things are better left.

Appeared in Fall, 2012 Off the Coast

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