Chump Change: a Thought on TLP 1


What should we say of TLP 1, what should we do with it?  We could note, I guess, that it plays an interesting role in a song by New Pornographers, Chump Change.  But that’s scarce help.

One odd feature of 1 is its Eliotic dual-aspect as Bang-Whimper (of course this at the beginning, not, as Eliot’s was, at the end).

Bang:  The world is everything that is the case!  Whoa!  Who woulda thunk it?  Everything, everydamnthing!  The world, man, the whole frickin’ world!  This must be the near end of a gargantuan Metaphysical Buffet!  Upcoming dishes:  God, The Soul, …Who Knows?  I can’t stand the suspense.  What next?

Whimper:  The world is everything that is the case…  Well, yeah.  What else would it be?  “Everything that is the case.”  Less exciting even than the Times’ “All the news that is fit to print”.  The world is–the world.  Whoopee…  Wake me at 1.1.

Why begin with a proposition that is somehow both thunderclap and cricket’s chirp, new news and old hat?

It is incredibly tempting to read TLP as follows:  The 1’s tell us What There Is.  The 2’s and 3’s tell us How Language Hooks onto What There Is.  The Bang aspect rules on this reading.  But is there another reading, one that perhaps allows the Whimper aspect to rule?  And if there is, what would we make of it, and of the 1’s, 2’s and 3’s?

3 responses

  1. You could put it like this: TLP starts and ends with a whimper (7 can also be seen as a “well duh!” moment I think). But they’re oddly impressive whimpers. They are logical propositions and therefore tautologies. They share both the impressiveness and the emptiness of our logic. 1 gives you the world in all its empty glory, 7 says all there is to say about what’s beyond the world.

    • Good! I have another handout somewhere that talks about the final lines in relation to 1, in a way that is close to, but not identical, what you’ve said. I will dig it up if I can.

  2. Pingback: What does it take? | "Problems of the Spirit"

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