on being heard
Wittgenstein, despite being so skilled, wrote of the difficulties he had writing his final work. I was surprised to find his description of these so perfectly matched those I struggle with here - I mean no other comparison by that only that I found it a great comfort.
For years, each time the end of my ramblings appeared it has proved to be a mirage. My thoughts slipped out from lines I tied them to. Diagrams I drew along my way illustrate a journey I did not know I was on. The task was recursive; words are illusions, subjective maps not actual territories. This is the Red Pill.
I arrived in Finland from London, enchanted, with no thought of being tripped up by culture. The country felt soft, the people seemed kind, and unlike Greek or Chinese, Finnish is legible. I'd fallen in love. When my love died though the society I'd been part of died too. Alone I found I was incomprehensible.
As a child I had felt lost. Simple logic became my safe place. Back then it seemed the perfect guide. With maths and science I searched for a world of black and white, but found that what appears to be simple logic, although fundamental to describing chaos, is often powerfully misleading.
Facts are unhelpful in themselves - we've not dropped far from the trees. Leaders know bravado and gibberish sway us more than courage or reason. Scientists imagine that their facts change the world but only the stories told with them do that; meanwhile the investment we have in the stories we know keeps it the same.
The internet provides new ways to criss-cross wide and disparate fields - and new ways to become lost. Having neither the wisdom nor the humility of Wittgenstein, I have ploughed on, encouraged by the passing virus that killed the Wrath-of-god, trying to complete my account of stories - on being heard.
Philosophical Investigations, : Ludwig Wittgenstein; Cambridge, January 1945, translated by G.E.M. Anscombe.
From the preface to: Philosophical Investigations, by its author: Ludwig Wittgenstein; Cambridge, January 1945, translated by G.E.M. Anscombe.
the Wrath of God
In 1405, in the city that is modern-day Shahrisabz, Uzbekistan, a tiny virus killed the last great nomadic emperor, Timur, known as the Wrath of God, as he prepared to invade China.
Timur invaded Baghdad in June 1401. After the capture of the city, 20,000 of its citizens were massacred. Timur ordered that every soldier should return with at least two severed human heads to show him. When they ran out of men to kill, many warriors killed prisoners captured earlier in the campaign, and when they ran out of prisoners to kill, many resorted to beheading their own wives.
Scholars estimate that his military campaigns caused the deaths of 17 million people.