Reading: Silences and Worlds: Wittgenstein and Pynchon


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Silences and Worlds: Wittgenstein and Pynchon


Sascha Pöhlmann

Ludwig Maximilians-University, Munich
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Writing about Wittgenstein, that most eminent philosopher of language, means writing about problems of translation. In his Miscellaneous Remarks, one can find this: “Philosophie dürfte man eigentlich nur dichten” (Vermischte Bemerkungen 483). One good attempt to translate that statement was made by Martin Puchner, who gives it as “Philosophy should only be done as poetry” (295), with an additional explanation that the word dichten means to write poetry but also to condense. David Schalkwyk amends Peter Winch’s translation “philosophy ought really to be written as a form of poetic composition” (56) by the term to poetize. Yet dichten not only refers to the writing of poetry, but to fictional production in general, even if it is not in written form, and it also evokes the semantic field of being sealed off, tight, consolidated, and also that of proximity. Wittgenstein’s comment on the literary nature of philosophy is already subject to the play of meaning which places it itself closer to literature than philosophy.
How to Cite: Pöhlmann, S., 2009. Silences and Worlds: Wittgenstein and Pynchon. Pynchon Notes, (56-57), pp.158–180. DOI:
Published on 22 Sep 2009.
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