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Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Now in Opera Form

By Harriet Staff

Poets! Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus has been adapted into an avant-garde opera by Finnish composer and musician M.A. Numminen!

This odd character, who caused a stir in the 60s by setting sex guides to music, took it upon himself to do the same for many of the Tractatus’s propositions, and the results are, well…. Listen for yourself. At the top of the post, we have video of Numminen performing the fifth and final movement of his Tractatus suite—the famous final proposition of that strange little book: “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent” (“Woven man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen”). Numminen sings this in German, in his high-pitched, creaking voice. The rest of the suite he sings in English. [You can] hear the first movement, “The World Is…,” and below, hear movements 2-4, “In Order To Tell…,” “A Thought Is…,” and “The General Form Of A Truth Function.” He even sings the symbols, in breathless transcription. You can stream and download the full suite at Ubuweb and follow along at the Tractatus hypertext here.

Read all about it at Open Culture.

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Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014 by Harriet Staff.