Sunday, November 30, 2008

Leaves of Grass

There is that in me....I do not know what it is....but I know it is in me.
[...]I do not know is without is a word unsaid,
It is not in any dictionary or utterance or symbol.
[...]Do you see O my brothers and sisters?
It is not chaos or is form and union and is eternal is happiness.

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Everything that can be thought at all can be thought clearly. Everything that can be put into words can be put clearly.
Propositions can represent the whole of reality, but they cannot represent what they must have in common with reality in order to be able to represent it--logical form.
In order to be able to represent logical form, we should have to station ourselves with propositions somewhere outside logic, that is to say outside the world.
Propositions cannot represent logical form: it is mirrored in them.
What finds its reflection in language, language cannot represent.
What expresses itself in language, we cannot express by means of language...
What can be shown, cannot be said.

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Eisenheim the Illusionist

Stories, like conjuring tricks, are invented because history is inadequate to our dreams.

“Eisenheim the Illusionist,” The Barnum Museum
Steven Millhauser, 1990

The Barnum Museum

It has been said, by those who don’t understand us well, that our museum is a form of escape. In a superficial sense, this is certainly true. When we enter the Barnum Museum we are physically free of all that binds us to the outer world, to the realm of sunlight and death; and sometimes we seek relief from suffering and sorrow in the halls of the Barnum Museum. But it is a mistake to imagine that we flee into our museum in order to forget the hardships of life outside. After all, we are not children, we carry our burdens with us wherever we go. But quite apart from the impossibility of such forgetfulness, we do not enter the museum only when we are unhappy or discontent, but far more often in a spirit of peacefulness or inner exuberance. In the branching halls of the Barnum Museum we are never forgetful of the ordinary world, for it is precisely our awareness of that world which permits us to enjoy the wonders of the halls. Indeed I would argue that we are most sharply aware of our town when we leave it to enter the Barnum Museum; without our museum, we would pass through life as in a daze or dream.

"The Barnum Museum," The Barnum Museum
Steven Millhauser, 1990