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77. The person who asks me whether I recognize my wife’s familiar smile in her photo would receive a positive reply. Now, I might add to this some description or other, such as: ‘Her face radiates joy’, ‘What a face – it says something!’, ‘That face has a friendly meaning’, ‘Now that is sadness’, and so on. One may naturally say such things in light of a face that strikes us as impressive. But, is the impression a matter of a comparison made with a mental-image? Is the image of a face more impressive than a face itself?

Is the image of God more impressive than God?


David Michalczyk 

76. Dreams have an inherent first-person, present tense orientation. Even if I incarnate another person in a dream, it is always I who peers out from the face of the other.

Dream-reports are also intransitive. The words in a dream-report we use to communicate the dream (e.g., the images, impressions, or sensations) are not meant as a preliminary to specifying what meaning they have. What is at issue is that the dream really did impress me. Dream-reports therefore function like exclamations or interjections. They are spontaneous reactions to what we see. Dream-reports are not descriptions, but avowals.

That I dreamt such-and-such is noteworthy and of interest; not what the dream describes. For then it looks as if our interest and fascination with dreams concerns some extra-dream reality we inhabit when we dream. We try to capture it in the dream-report, but we cannot; we become frustrated with language and are inclined to think that since the dream cannot be described, it points to something beyond itself (like music). We take our dreams as descriptive; so, we interpret them as fragments of a story which we suppose is capable of being fully disclosed. Not surprisngly, most of the time we are puzzled by dreams (our own, and those of other people).

In dreams, the dreamer is always the consumate artist. No wonder they hold such great appeal.

75. We are sad when we listen to sad music. We grimace when we see someone in physical pain. You smile, I smile, and so on. To share in this way is to be drawn into a quality of relatedness to the sad music, person in pain, etc, such that we are inclined to return what is observed in kind. The perception is of the meaning itself.

Piero Sraffa, 1929 

Robert Vienneau at Thoughts on Economics mentions the publication of a new edition of Wittgenstein’s letters by Blackwell. Here is an excerpt from one written by Wittgenstein to Sraffa in 1934:

Dear Sraffa,

The following are some remarks I’ve put down on the topic of our last conversation. I hope they won’t be too disconnected and that you’ll read them to the end.

You said, “The Austrians can do most of things the Germans did.” I say, How do you know? What circumstances are you taking into account if you say they can? “This man, Austria, can remove the wedding ring from his finger.” True, it’s not too heavy and doesn’t stick to his finger. But he may be ashamed of doing it, hiw wife may not allow it, etc.

You say, “Learn from what happened in Italy.” But what should I learn? I don’t know exactly how things happened in Italy. So the only lesson I can draw is that things one doesn’t expect sometimes happen.

I ask, How will this whose face I can’t imagine in a rage looks when he gets into a rage? And can he get into a rage? What shall I say when I see him in a rage? Not only, “Ah, so he can get into a rage after all,” but also, “So this is the way he can be in a rage; so this is how it connects up with his former appearance.”

You say to me, “If a man is in a rage, the muscles a, b, c of his face contract. This man has the muscles a, b, c, so why shouldn’t they contract? If you, Wittgenstein, wish to know what he will look like in a rage, just imagine him with those muscles contracted. What will Austria look like when it turns Nazi? There will be no Socialist Part, there won’t be Jewish judges, etc., etc., etc. That’s what it’ll look like.”

I reply, This gives me no picture of a face; apart from the fact that I don’t know enough about the workings of things to know whether all these changes that you point out will happen together. For I understand what it means to say that the muscles a, b, c will contract, but what will become of the many muscles, etc., between them? Can’t the contraction of the one in this particular face prevent the contraction of the others? Do you know how in this particular case things interact?

Entire letter here.

74. The caress of desire is filled with the consciousness of my interest in you as an embodied being, in your body as an essential aspect of your identity. In this regard, the hand which outlines the body in the caress of desire functions like the human face in the glance of desire: it concentrates and reveals my interest in you.

72. Pornographic representations are obscene for this reason: you may recognize someone by his or her sexual organ, but not in his or her sexual organ.

All erotic art addresses itself to the depiction of the human face. Since the face is the primary expression of consciousness, it is the natural focus of all individualising attention (e.g., the glance of sexual desire). Representations that focus upon the sexual organs are, therefore, not erotic, but obscene, since they negate the interpersonal quality of (sexual) desire.

73. The caress of sexual desire calls forth the soul from its depths, and makes it palpable in the flesh. The body quivers with soulful reverberations. Arousal in the recipient is a form of permission to the one who caresses.


From wykc news, February 18, 2008

Some people never forget a face. But others can never remember one. Even faces they’ve known since birth. The condition is called prosopagnosia, or face blindness. For Chaz Klawuhn every face he sees is the face of a stranger, including his friends, neighbors, even his wife, Nancy. Klawuhn always knew something was wrong, but didn’t know why he didn’t immediately recognize friends when they greeted him. But it wasn’t until his 30’s, that his stepmother came across a website dedicated to prosopagnosia. “I went to it, and it was me, all over”, Chaz explains.”Most people with prosopagnosia can’t recognize their spouse or children. Sometimes they can’t recognize themselves”, explains Dr. Richard Naugle, a neuropsychologist with the Cleveland Clinic.

The condition occurs one of two ways: as a result of a brain injury, or in Chaz’s case, it’s inherited.

“Just put a blank spot over someone’s face and that’s what I remember. I remember your hair type, your body type, your height, your color of your hair. Things like that, but I cannot remember your face,” Chaz says.

Like many people with face blindness, Chaz has tried to compensate for his condition, choosing a profession that had him on the road and not in an office. And he relies on his wife Nancy to help at larger gatherings, or church. “I’ll tell him, ‘there is so and so’ or ‘here comes so and so,'” Nancy Klawuhn explains.

Chaz decided to speak out about his face blindness, because of the misconceptions he lived with during his younger years. “I was told when I was young that I was kind of standoffish. Because I didn’t say hi to people when I walked past them. And it’s not because I didn’t want to say hi. I didn’t know who they were,” Chaz says.

Today friends and neighbors know the routine. They offer up their names when greeting Chaz, in the store or on the street. And when it comes to greeting his own wife there’s never been a problem. “I told her when I married her 11 years ago, up front and simple. ‘When I come home from work at the end of the day, if there is a redhead in my home, I’m going to kiss her. Because that’s my wife.’ And to this day, she doesn’t have any red-headed friends,” Chaz says.

There is no cure, or treatment for face blindness. Chaz and others have developed coping mechanisms that help them. Some learn to identify people based on hairstyle, voice, the way they walk, or body shape. They may avoid parties or large gatherings. Or some prosopagnosics may hide their disorder by greeting everyone effusively. Either way, they become experts at hiding their condition.

Wittgenstein’s cottage, Wicklow, Ireland, 1948  

From the Independent, February 17, 2008

Sometimes I remember, and not without affection, the two men in a play by Moliere who were delighted to discover that they had been speaking prose all their lives.

I suspect that many people would be surprised to discover that they had been philosophers all their lives. The very word ‘philosophy’ disturbs some minds. They see it as confined to great thoughts.

And they associate it with men with lofty brows, and living far above what Scott Fitzgerald called “the hot struggles of the poor”.

All children are philosophers: they need to be. They are following their instinct for self-preservation. Later, when they need to be less acutely aware, they tend to speculate: philosophy is essentially a questioning, a quest for truth.

I have felt philosophy in all kinds of situations, in the bog and in the meadow and in the pub, before and after hours. Much pub talk is about sport but often it deviates into philosophy. You begin wondering about the value of sport, especially after your team have lost.

When I went to University College Cork, I intended taking up philosophy — but when I read the curriculum I discovered that all the philosophers were Catholic. To me, the idea of Catholic Philosophy was about as sensible as Catholic Mathematics.

And so I studied philosophy in my own amateur way, by reading the great philosophers of the day who were totally ignored in the course in Cork University.

They included Albert Camus and A J Ayre and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein was the most influential of the three, or perhaps only the most popular. He was born in Austria in 1889 of a Jewish father and a Catholic mother. He came to Manchester University to study aeronautics, but after a few years there he discovered a book that changed his whole life. It was a book that contained essays by different philosophers: one of them, Bertrand Russell, had a profound influence on Wittgenstein and for the rest of his life he was devoted passionately to philosophy.

He had one great ambition: he hoped to find a place where he would be utterly free from distraction and give his whole time to study. He was told by a friend that in Connemara he would find peace of mind and freedom from care.

He rented a house in Connemara and settled down there looking forward to producing as pure a work as thought and study could. He looked forward to his solitude. He found a simple life, apart from having to go to the well three miles away and for groceries about five miles away and to get milk and turf from his next-door neighbours. That was the easy part.

The word had got around that he was a very important man and had great influence with the government in Dublin. Almost every day, he had people coming to him about getting money for disability and for various disorders. It dawned on him that he had come to live in a place where most of the people were in very poor health, even though most of them looked extremely healthy. He did what he could. He wrote to various departments, sometimes with success. The people liked him and he liked them, but he wondered why such fine-looking men and women always seemed to be sick.

Then one day a truth dawned on him. Often as he walked by the local lake he used to stop and watch a middle-aged man, and admire his skill in casting flies. That was all right until one day that same man came to him and asked him could he get him the blind pension.

And so next day Wittgenstein settled his affairs and took the bus to Galway and the train to Dublin. It was night when he arrived at Kingsbridge Station; across the river he saw a bright sign that said Aisling. He decided it was a hotel and he crossed the bridge and took up residence there. And in that hotel and in the greenhouse in the Botanic Gardens he did some of his greatest work.

Entire article here.

The pediatric neurologist comes to see you in your hospital room after the birth of your baby . You know something is wrong — your baby doesn’t suck — he’s losing weight — he can’t breast feed — he takes two hours to get two ounces of milk from a bottle. But you’re not prepared for this. The neurologist says it is Moebius Syndrome. Your baby will never smile, never have facial expression, never blink his eyes, never move his eyes laterally. Your baby is sentenced to a life with no SMILE. Imagine the shock. You’ve heard of lots of birth defects, you pray during your pregnancy your baby won’t be one of the statistics, but here he is — with a syndrome so rare no one you talk to ever heard of it — or ever met anyone else with it.You spend the first few months of the baby’s life trying to keep him alive. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you can make the bottle hole big and hold his lips together with your hands to force milk down him, hoping he doesn’t choke. If you’re not one of the lucky ones, you feed your baby via a gastric tube through the nose, or worse yet a G tube. It takes months for him to get enough muscle strength to hold his head up alone. Even more months for him to turn over and eventually begin to go the “army crawl.” More months or years, for him to walk.

Through all you wonder how many other parents and children are going through this. You sneek peaks at your baby all day long, hoping to catch his first smile. It never comes. Slowly, you realize it never will. You wonder how other children, other adults, will treat him. You begin a search for other families affected by this rare occurrence. When you finally find the wonderful organizations like About Face, Faces, Forward Face, Let’s Face It, NORD, and publications like the Forward Face Newsletter, you realize you’re not alone . . . your baby is not alone. You revel in the ability to communicate with other parents whose children cannot stand the sun because they can not blink, nor squint to keep the light out of their eyes. You discover that most Moebius children have swallowing problems, malformed tongues and weak muscle tone. You also realize that some Moebius children have it much worse.

Some Moebius children have missing limbs, fingers, toes, or webbed fingers and/or toes. Some Moebius children have club feed, or small limbs. Some Moebius children don’t walk until they are 4-5 years old, if at all. Some Moebius children have respiratory problems or hearing problems.

All Moebius children have one thing in common, they do not have the 6th and 7th cranial nerves. The nerves to the face which control facial expression and allow one to blink and move the eyes laterally.

Entire article here.

February 2008
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