letters from home
In his preface to 'Philosophical Investigations' Wittgenstein described the difficulties he had had with writing it. I found it a great comfort that what he said described so well the struggles I have had; I mean no other comparison.
Each time I have reached the end of my Sisyphean rambling, it has proved to be a mirage. The diagrams I drew along the way illustrate a journey I didn't know I was on, and my thoughts continue to slip from the lines I try and tie them to. Telling a story about signs, and the words of stories, is a recursive task. This is the Red Pill. Words, whether Korzybski's or mine, Wittgenstein's or yours, are illusions, subjective maps not actual territories.
I arrived in Finland from London, enchanted, with no thought of being tripped up by the 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 as I searched for a world of black and white, together with maths and science. However, what I found was that logic, while appearing to be simple, and fundamental to describing chaos, can often be powerfully misleading.
Facts are unhelpful in themselves. We've not dropped far from the trees. Leaders know gibberish and bravado sway us more than reason or courage. While scientists might imagine that their facts will change the world it's only the stories told with them that do that. Meanwhile, the investments we've made in the stories that we know keep it the same.
The internet has provided us with a new way to criss-cross wide and disparate fields, but at the same time, perhaps more importantly, it has mazed us in ways to become lost. Having neither the wisdom nor the humility of Wittgenstein however, I ploughed on trying to complete this online story about stories - on being heard, encouraged by that passing virus which killed the Wrath-of-god.
the wrath of god
Timur, the last great nomadic emperor, known as the 'Wrath-of-God', invaded Baghdad in June 1401. After capturing the city, Timur ordered every soldier to present him with at least two severed human heads. When there were no more men to kill, many warriors killed prisoners captured earlier in the campaign, and when they ran out of prisoners many resorted to beheading their own wives; 20,000 citizens were massacred. Scholars estimate that Timur's military campaigns overall caused the deaths of 17 million people. Four years later, in the city that is modern-day Shahrisabz, as the 'Wrath-of-God' prepared to invade China he was killed by a virus.
From the preface to: Philosophical Investigations, by its author: Ludwig Wittgenstein; Cambridge, January 1945, translated by G.E.M. Anscombe.
While writing appears as transparent as speech, we can only imagine the meaning behind words and signs. It is quite surprising, therefore, that what we imagine is ever correct. More often than not we need to have a conversation to understand each other - whereas computers never need to have one, because they understand nothing at all.
To fight the devils that came to them in the isolation of their cells, monks were told to keep journals. Writing is a development process. Both hemispheres of the brain are engaged simultaneously in it. Joined together, a 'conversation' takes place between them, a contemplation, widening the writer's perception.
In February 1941, T.S Eliot began work on his poem 'Little Gidding' but with each draft became increasingly dissatisfied. He understood that the problems he was having were with himself not with the poem, so in September he stopped writing altogether, finishing the poem a year later. Despite his skills or because of them, for him too, writing was a journey.
 Left hemisphere speech: 'Parts of the brain involved in speech', healthline.com, May 2019, retrieved: 5 Jan 2022.
 'Writing with the right hemisphere', Steven, Rapcsak, Pelagie, Beeson, and Rubens, Nov 1991, in 'Brain and Language', Elsevier.