4.0382 Wittgenstein ... and Early Welsh Poetry (1/50)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Fri, 10 Aug 90 15:30:46 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0382. Friday, 10 Aug 1990.

Date: Thu, 9 Aug 90 17:49:49 EDT
From: Sarah L. Higley <slhi@uhura.cc.rochester.edu>
Subject: WITTGENSTEIN, with thanks to Profs Rooks, Mulligan, Kessler & McKinnon

Thanks go to Mark Rooks and Kevin Mulligan for helping me find an
attribution. Kevin Mulligan wanted me to let him know where the
quotation I cited a week ago comes from, and I'm happy to say that
Professor Alistair McKinnon was able to supply it for me (with his
voluminous, computerized concordance to the Wittgenstein corpus):

Das Sprechen der Musik. Vergiss nicht, dass ein Gedicht,
wenn auch in der Sprache der Mitteilung abgefasst, nicht im
Sprachspiel der Mitteilung verwendet wird.

"The way music speaks. Do not forget that a poem, even though
it is composed in the language of information, is not used in the
language-game of giving information."

_Zettel_, I-160, Anscombe and G. H. von Wright, eds., and G.E.M.
Anscombe, trans. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1967), p. 28.

Whether this statement about poetry is true or not, I'm happy to know
where it comes from. Many thanks to my Humanist colleagues.

In the midst of preparing this posting I received new mail from Humanist
and the lively letter from Professor Jascha Kessler. Thank you, Mr.
Kessler, for your thoughtful comments on poetry, and you're going to
send me (aacck!) on another round of looking through Wittgenstein, but
surely he is not alone in his conception of poetry as a private
language. Poetic "difficulty" is a subject in which I'm keenly
interested, and I've been making it one of the focuses of my book on
ninth and tenth century Welsh poems. I'm entitling it _The
Uncooperative Text in Early Welsh and Old English Nature Poetry_ because
the verses have a way of eluding analysis, evading category and
thwarting comparisons; the more we try to translate them the more they
change under our ministrations; the more we try to pigeonhole them the
more uncategorizable they seem. Of course we are working against a
thousand year gap and a host of lost contexts, but the really
interesting material in the Welsh (in my opinion) lies in the
intentionally obscure texts, the "rhapsodes" from _The Book of Taliesin_
which are clearly vatic in nature and almost completely unintelligible
in their fascinating catalogues of "irrelevancies." In your years at
UCLA, perhaps you are acquainted with Professor Patrick Ford, Celtic
scholar and Taliesin expert. If so, give him my regards. Sorry to
make public this salutation but I'm unsure of how to piece together a
proper e-mail to you from the riot of data that heads every single
posting. Where's that Humanist Biography Listing we were promised?? :)

Properly uncertain again,

Sarah Higley
The University of Rochester
Department of English
Rochester NY 14627 slhi@uhura.cc.rochester.edu