Letters and the Telephone
So I finally got around to reading Ray Monk’s biography of Wittgenstein and the fist shock came from an unsuspected angle: Monk could amply make use of letters Betrand Russell wrote to his then love. Why did this shock me?
The shock was due to the realisation that a biographer writing about a contemporary person could not possibly take refuge in such writings at present. People don’t write letters. Of course, they still could, but they wouldn’t, because they’d rather telephone the other.
Thus, though these new technologies have brought the absent more near to one, they have removed the power of a culture to understand its ever predicament. Humanity shall return more and more to its animal nature.
Monk, Ray. 1991. Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius. London, UK: Penguin.
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