We enjoyed and recommend Christopher Benfey's recent Wittgenstein’s Handles in the New York Review of Books. May 24, 2016 click here
Door handles and lock by Ludwig Wittgenstein in the Vienna house he
designed (1926-1929) with architect Paul Engelmann - photo Studio
Hubert Urban, 1972
FIAPCE, ideograms of dependent-arising (above) and The Two Truths
(see: Wittgenstein's Handles)
He begins with a question, to which he responds :
What was it about handles—door-handles, axe-handles, the handles of pitchers and vases—that transfixed thinkers in Vienna and Berlin during the early decades of the twentieth century, echoing earlier considerations of handles in America and ancient Greece?
To details like the door-handles, in particular, Wittgenstein accorded what Monk calls “an almost fanatical exactitude,” driving locksmiths and engineers to tears as they sought to meet his seemingly impossible standards. The unpainted tubular door-handle that Wittgenstein designed for Gretl’s house remains the prototype for all such door-handles, still popular in the twenty-first century.
Theatre of the Actors of Regard, Seating Viewed in Upright Position
(The Admissions of Wittgenstein), 1951 - note door handle
(Thomas Bernhard was surely evoking his idol, Wittgenstein, when he told a friend that the only way to find an exact replacement for a broken window-handle would be to find another, identical broken window-handle.)
Monk argues, more than once, that this design project brought Wittgenstein “back” to philosophy.
to the German sociologist Georg Simmel...
In his brilliant 1911 essay “The Handle,” Simmel argued that the handle of a vase bridges two worlds,the utilitarian and the non-utilitarian.
Pablo Picasso, Personnage avec mains sur les hanches (Vase with
two high handles), 1953 - note disparate translation handles
A vessel, according to Simmel, “unlike a painting or statue, is not intended to be insulated and untouchable but is meant to fulfill a purpose—if only symbolically. For it is held in the hand and drawn into the movement of practical life.”
Thus the vessel stands in two worlds at one and the same time: whereas reality is completely irrelevant to the “pure” work of art and, as it were, is consumed in it, reality does make claims upon the vase as an object that is handled, filled and emptied, proffered, and set down here and there. This dual nature of the vase is most decisively expressed in its handle.
Snyder invokes the idea of literary tradition as a “handing down,” from father to son and from teacher to student, “how we go on.” In such a transfer, the ax stands in for the pen (in a different context, Snyder compared a laptop to a nice little chainsaw). In his seductive praise of the “craft of culture,” Snyder recalls Elias Canetti’s moving assertion: “It is the quiet, prolonged activities of the hand which have created the only world in which we care to live.”
Was there, for example, any significance to Wittgenstein’s parenthetical joke about handles resembling one another, like brothers and sisters? “We see handles all looking more or less alike. (Naturally, since they are all supposed to be handled.)” For Wittgenstein, those handles seem to come momentarily alive; they’re animated...
awaits every Theseus...
in the labyrinth of TAR !