Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Wittgenstein and Dublin.

...What a pleasant surprise! Ludwig Wittgenstein, the philosopher, the genius, the Zeitgeisttravelled tons of times to, and...LIVED in Dublin! I'm so happy with my discovery! On the one hand because when I was a girl I studied his writings - but clearly not enough his life! -, and loved kind of everything he said (I won't discuss that, I promise); on the other, because I really needed to think Dublin was well worth a mass. And fortunately Dublin always surprises me. Its hidden plenitude reveals itself discretely, and in the most curious ways. Especially when you're reaching the dangerous edge of a meaningless boredom.

As usual, it happened by chance. A friend of mine came here on holiday. On September 6, we went for a visit to the Botanic Garden, where there are many victorian glass houses she was interested in. The garden is marvelous, by the way.

When I saw the plaque, I imagined Wittgenstein sitting down on that step taking notes in a brown suit. I stared at it for a few seconds. Then I realized it could have actually happened, and I smiled, because suddenly there was nothing more obvious than Wittgenstein sitting down on those steps.

Back home, I googled "wittgenstein+dublin" and found out all the story. In the autumn of 1947 Wittgenstein resigned his Professorship in Cambridge: he needed to retire to prepare the Philosophical Investigations for publication. So he came to Ireland and, after some days spent in former Ross Hotel, Dublin, he lodged at Kilpatrick House (Redcross, county Wicklow) for the entire winter.

He almost went mad there (well, it wouldn't be news) and possibly drove insane those poor hosts of his too. He told his friend Drury "that he could not work; 'the continual murmur of the people in the room underneath his', talking late at night, was driving him 'crazy'." The plaque above was erected at Kilpatrick House, which Wittgenstein left after Easter 1948. Drury was in fact worried for his health, and offered him to stay at his cottage in Connemara, where "his needs were tended to by a family retainer, Tommy Mulkerrins. Each day, Wittgenstein had him remove and burn large piles of manuscript material." Of course, he was also successful in being hated by the locals.

That autumn, after some brief journeys, Wittgenstein came back to Ireland. This time he booked into Ross's Hotel, now the Aisling Hotel, where another plaque (above) was erected to testify his (probably nasty) passage. He was now very close to St. Patrick's Hospital, where Drury was working as psychiatrist, so they met almost daily. During their walks in Phenix Park, they used to discuss philosophy, but obviously "this was not sufficient for Wittgenstein [...] His time in Ireland was drawing to a close. Lured by the promise of intellectual stimulation, he decided to visit Norman Malcolm in America." So Wittgenstein eventually left Ireland on June 1949.

The rest is history...


  1. Oh, I'm going to google him ... sounds so interesting. Love this post.

    Happiness Always,

  2. ...yes! I think you'll love him, especially Tractatus!

  3. Interesting Elettrarossa, when I get a minute, I'll google him too - lovely to make a discovery that really means something like this :)

  4. Thank you for introducing him!!! I am going to buy his books!!! xxx

  5. What an interesting post! It's so fun to research something and find out all kinds of cool stuff!

  6. Beautifully written piece, I shall have to look him up. That reminds me of when I was in Paris and visited the grave of Oscar Wilde, hubby thought I was mad for being so excited!

    1. well, probably also my friend doubted me, but preferred to ignore me :D Thank you so much for your appreciation!

  7. Me piace molto tuo blog se ti va passa dal mio :)


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