Wednesday, March 06, 2013


"We make ourselves pictures of the facts," says Wittgenstein (T2.1). It struck me this morning, after my run in beautiful spring weather, where WCWilliams' Spring and All was on my mind (and on my lips, actually: I ran into my old boss), that this has been the theme of all my thinking for the past ten years at least. Sometime during my PhD studies I got stuck on a simple question:

"Yes, Ludwig, that may be, but HOW?"

I even played the ball over to Williams:

"If you can imagine the red wheel barrow, we'll grant you all the rest." (This is also a play on the opening sentence of Wittgenstein's On Certainty.)

Wittgenstein and Williams had, from opposite directions (philosophy and poetry) discovered, let's say, the "modern imagination". They both realized that it was in trouble.

Williams was very explicit about this in Spring and All. Like him, I believe there is a sense in which life is "hell" (S&A, p. 43) for those who, while trying to stay alive (and viable) in the modern world, insist on the primacy of imagination. We are under constant siege by entirely well-meaning people who simply don't know what they are working day and night to destroy.

Somebody's got to imagine the facts. Acts, too. Or we'll live in a world of mindless facticity, a history of heartless activity. We're getting there.

1 comment:

ayeh said...

and your final verdict on imagination would be? :)