Category Archives: philosophy

People of Tomorrow and the Day After Tomorrow

Genuine philosophers, being of necessity people of tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, have always found themselves, and had to find themselves, in contradiction to their today: their enemy was ever the ideal of today.

—Nietzsche

Could You Go to a Flick?

“Wittgenstein was always disgusted with what he had said and with himself. Often he would rush off to a cinema immediately after the class ended. As the members of the class began to move their chairs out of the room he might look imploringly at a friend and say in a low tone, “Could you go to a flick?” On the way to the cinema Wittgenstein would buy a bun or a cold pork pie and munch it while he watched the film. He insisted on sitting in the very first row of seats, so that the screen would occupy his entire field of vision, and his mind would be turned away from the thoughts of the lecture and his feelings of revulsion. Once he whispered to me, “This is like a shower bath.” His observation of the film was not relaxed or detached. He leaned tensely forward in his seat and rarely took his eyes off the screen. He hardly ever uttered comments on the episodes of the film and did not like his companion to do so. He wished to become totally absorbed into the film no matter how trivial or artificial it was, in order to free his mind temporarily from the philosophical thoughts that tortured and exhausted him. He liked American films and detested English ones. He was inclined to think that there could not be a decent English film. This was connected with a great distaste he had with English culture and mental habits in general. He was fond of the film stars Carmen Miranda and Betty Hutton. Before he came to visit me in America he demanded in jest that I should introduce him to Miss Hutton.”

—Norman Malcolm, Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir

Not Letting Things Come Close

Not to see many things, not to hear many things, not to permit many things to come close – first imperative of prudence, first proof that one is no mere accident but a necessity. The usual word for this instinct of self-defense is taste. It commands us not only to say No when Yes would be ‘selfless’ but also to say No as rarely as possible. To detach oneself, to separate oneself from anything that would make it necessary to keep saying No. The reason in this is that when defensive expenditures, be they ever so small, become the rule and a habit, they entail an extraordinary and entirely superfluous impoverishment. Our great expenses are composed of the most frequent small ones. Warding off, not letting things come close, involves an expenditure – let nobody deceive himself about this – energy wasted on negative ends. Merely through the constant need to ward off, one can become weak enough to be unable to defend oneself any longer.

—Friedrich Nietzsche