20 October 2017

Ludwig

Memoir - Part 2
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)
Trudging along the lane, I must have looked like a tortoise or perhaps a giant hermit crab - with my home upon my back. There was everything I needed in that rucksack - sleeping bag, tent, gas burner, kettle, clothes, toiletries, books - everything. But back in those days there was no camera. I espoused a half-baked philosophy about living in the moment, not photographing it.

A thin drizzle drifted about me from the nearby Atlantic - or was it a sea mist? I marched onward, enjoying the weight upon my shoulders. I passed the tumbledown ruin of a squat stone cottage - perhaps a monument to the Irish potato famine.

No vehicles passed by. There was just the sound of my footsteps on the tarmac in the dank afternoon stillness.

As the drizzly mist slightly lifted I reached the brow of a hill and looked down upon Ireland's only fjord - Killary Harbour. It reaches inland like a grey Norwegian serpent. To my left, a hundred yards along  and nestled by the shoreline, there was a little wharf and a small cluster of buildings. I knew that one of them was the youth hostel though once it had simply been called Rosroe Cottage.

It was here that the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein worked on his treatise "On Certainty" in the summer of 1948. It seemed a strange choice  Crafting complex sentences, shaping intricate academic theories at a place where men gathered lobster pots and occasional dolphin pods sheltered from Atlantic storms. It was far away - on the very edge of Europe.

The bearded warden led me to the men's dormitory. It was spartan with bare floorboards and limewash walls. There were just four wooden bunks. It was mid-week and though it was the beginning of summer,the warden informed me that nobody else had reserved a bed for the night apart from two German females who were of course in the women's dormitory on the opposite side of the kitchen/communal area.

With rucksack propped against my bunk, I went for a stroll along the lapping shore. Returning to the little grey harbour I met the German girls sitting silently amidst jumbled lobster pots looking out to sea. They were sisters and one of them - the taller one - was a Philosophy student in Heidelberg. She spoke English with amazing fluency and it was she who first told me about the Wittgenstein connection. I can't remember her name any more but I can still picture her animated blue eyes.

She seemed almost obsessed by Wittgenstein and claimed to have read just about everything he had published. She was starry-eyed and could recite entire quotations but to tell you the truth I kept switching off. Clever linguistic gymnastics were never my cup of tea. The other, prettier sister remained quiet, in the shadows of her sibling's brilliance, occasionally fingering the ends of her blonde pigtails.

That evening as the wind picked up and rain began to lash the youth hostel's windows, we shared a simple meal together. I had bacon and soda bread. They had cabbage and a small bag of potatoes. After ten nights of camping, I felt I was sitting in the very lap of luxury and that simple meal was like a feast. We washed it down with enamel mugs of sweet tea as the kitchen's striplights flickered ominously.

"It must be the storm," I surmised.

Later, lying on my bunk in the men's dormitory, I read another chapter of "The Magus" by John Fowles while fantasising that one of the German sisters, preferably the quiet one, would come to join me but of course the door never opened and before too long I drifted off to sleep, listening to rain, happy that I wasn't again ensconced in my little orange tent on the edge of some lonely thicket.

TO BE CONTINUED

16 comments:

  1. Oh, how I loved "The Magus", both the book and the movie. I read the book a couple of times and watched the movie two or three times, too. I still have the book...I must read it again.

    You have to be wary of those linguistic types...they can be cunning.

    And, once more, I await eagerly for the next chapter...and for things that go thump in the night!!! :)

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    1. Thank you Lee. This time you are not poking fun at my account so I am not sobbing into my cornflakes. By the way, are you a linguistic type? Perhaps Times New Roman?

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    2. At least I saved you some money...your tears substituted for milk on your cornflakes!

      So much for gratitude!!!!!!

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  2. Oh, The Magus must be a clue.

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    1. It just happened to be the book I was reading at the time of these events Vivian. Remember - this is a true story not some artifice.

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  3. Well, I must admit this is working out much better than I thought it might, given the priest's reaction. Of course, we're not at the end of the tale yet, are we?

    I'm impressed that you can write anything biographical and illustrate it with a photo of Ludwig Wittgenstein. I cannot conceive of any reason why that might be true of my own life!

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    1. But having spent much of your life in Florida, I am sure you could illustrate a section of your autobiography with a picture of Mickey Mouse! Much more famous than Wittgenstein.

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  4. Waiting, waiting . . .

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    1. Hey calm down lady! We got other customers to serve in this restaurant.

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  5. Can't wait for the next episode, YP!

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    Replies
    1. Sweet dreams Jenny... Sweet dreams!

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  6. Replies
    1. "Okay Oliver! Tomorrow!" said Mr Bumble.

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  7. Events happening lonely times can be most memorable.

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    Replies
    1. I couldn't have put it better myself!

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    ReplyDelete

Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.