Monday, June 11, 2012

Wittgenstein's Mistress

    Rene Descartes famously wrote cogito ergo sum; translated "I think, therefore I am."
    I often don't know what I think until I've written it down or said it aloud.
    A wise old professor of mine once told us young bucks that "you don't have to say everything you think."
    I'm often driven half crazy by the fact that it seems like everyone feels the need to write down every thought they have and post it online. Because you don't have to (and often shouldn't) say everything you think.
    But we often don't know what we think until we've written it down or said it aloud.
    Which means we don't know who we are.

    Kate isn't sure who she is and we aren't so sure either. She may be the last person left on earth. She may be crazy. She may be both. So she's writing notes and leaving them around. "In the beginning, sometimes I left messages in the street." So begins David Markson's Wittgenstein's Mistress, Kate's message to us/herself/nobody; her working out of what she's thinking and who she is. Wary as I normally am of experimental fiction, it would quickly become my favorite genre if it were always this good. In the hands of a Jonathan Safran Foer, this would have been nothing more than adorable ramblings packaged as deep. In the hands of a master craftsman like Markson, it is philosophy of mathematics/the mind/language wrapped up deceptively as adorable ramblings.

    Part of me wishes I had read this entire book is one sitting. Part of me is glad that I only took it 2 and 3 pages at a time. All of me knows that this won't be my last interaction with Markson's book. It helps me understand what I'm thinking. It helps me understand who I am.

No comments:

Post a Comment