Monday, July 6, 2015

Otis and Ludwig

PodcastThis morning's allusion to Otis Campbell letting himself in and out of Mayberry's jail cell

reminds me of Wittgenstein's fly bottle. (It's no less esoteric, I'm sure, for the uninitiated.)

Showing philosophers how to drop a line of inquiry, he said in his Philosophical Investigations, is like showing flies the way out of their less cerebral captivity. A question that holds us captive is a question we can dismiss. [Of Flies and Philosophers]

But is it that easy? Wasn't Wittgenstein an exception, as a philosopher who felt tormented and restricted by his questions? This doesn't mean he was wrong, or that Otis, surely also an exception, doesn't also illustrate a kind of charmed captivity that is no less dysfunctional for its charm. But at least Otis knew that to get out of jail you've got to walk.

Not sure if this line of thought will repay itself, but I do love the idea of Otis and Wittgenstein in Mayberry. Sometimes you just have to buzz around the bottle and knock into it a few times, before finding your way back out into the open.

Of course, Otis wasn't Mayberry's only philosopher. There was Goober... And Barney must have thought deeply about his surprising judgment that "Freud (rhymes with food) had it all figured out."
Just found a walking quote I wasn't previously familiar with, by pop composer George M. ("Yankee Doodle") Cohan. It speaks to the tragic suicidal strain in the Wittgenstein clan, which the fly bottle metaphor might ultimately be about. "You never heard of anyone doing away with himself after a long walk." America on Foot: Walking and Pedestrianism in the Twentieth Century

But maybe Ludwig already knew this. Did he walk, S?

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