May 22, 2006

A Scene from the Café Central

Or rather, from Ernest Gellner's Language and Solitude: Wittgenstein, Malinowski and the Habsburg Dilemma (pp. 108--109):

Imagine the conversation of a few Viennese characters, in the Cafe Central, on the assumption that the Tractactus is a correct account of the human condition.

CHARACTER A: High up on the left hand of my visual field, I note a fact in which a 9-value predicate links the appropriate number of things... I don't think I have had this one before, I'd like a snapshot for my collection.
B: I have a much more interesting one right in the middle of my field, a variable with 127 things attached — it has a lot of tentacles, holding those things. I've counted them.
C (to A): Don't you believe him. I have known him for years, he is invariably given to exaggerating the complexity of his facts, just to make himself interesting.
D (to C): I don't think he is deliberately lying, he just drinks too much and then imagines things.
B (furiously, to both C and D): What you have both said is extremely offensive and I have no option but to call you out! My seconds will call on you. That is, assuming you have honour: my fraternity has decreed that Jews have none and we may not duel with them. Is either of you at least half Aryan? That is all one can hope for in Vienna these days.
A: Gentlemen, gentlemen, please calm down. May I remind you first of all that dueling is forbidden by law and, secondly, death not being an event in life, is totally pointless anyway.

The above conversation is not copied out of Die letzten Tage der Menscheit or Der Weg ins Freie or Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften or even Radetzky Marsch. It is all my own work and it is copyright.

[Thanks to Wolfgang for checking my transcription of German titles!]

Philosophy; The Commonwealth of Letters

Posted at May 22, 2006 03:45 | permanent link

Three-Toed Sloth