Philosophy 1 Queer Wittgenstein
Even now that Wittgenstein’s homosexuality has been largely acknowledged, most scholars are hesitant to imply a connection between his philosophy and his sexuality – that is, between his work and his inner state, emotions, or personality. If, however, in a contemporary light we understand queerness as a structuring mode of desiring, we might view Wittgenstein’s thought not as emerging from his sexuality, but as structured by the way in which it shaped his mode of being in the world.
In other words, his thought may be said to have exuberant, joyous, and full breasts, but beneath all that is there a secretly dangerous, pessimistic, and spiteful inner world, one that struggles to get out and find a home in the masculine sphere. It is this inner world that lies at the core of all the resentful, spiteful, and gay tendencies in the world today. It is this inner world that has imprisoned so many men of the masculine ideal, has made them into hateful, spiteful, and evil-tempered cretins. It is this inner world that has imprisoned so many women of the feminine ideal, has made them into angelic, joyful, and loving. And it is this inner world, in fact, which in spite of all its malignity and wickedness is the only thing keeping many men in the pale, keeps them from being what they ought to be, what they can be: true, moral, and decent men and women who are fit and worthy to be the leaders of the world, the fathers of the future.
What does it mean to know that one likes another? How might one become so thoroughly acquainted with another that one’s self, one’s self as a whole, were thereby altered in respect of substance?
Practically, it would mean that we should learn to rate our love more highly on its affective than on its intellectual side. ‘Intellectually’ here is a broad category to cover both intellectual and moral qualities. Desire is ‘attention turned to’ a thing in proportion as its utility increases; so that pleasure is the result of a greater tendency to look at a thing than to look away. Attention turns to a thing because our attention is focussed thereon; and focussedness, similarly, is increased in proportion as a greater number of our ideas about a thing are fulfilled. Desire is also increased when the attention is directed to a thing connoting more of its own nature than of the nature of anything else. Attention turns connotingly when the subject of it is connoted as a whole, and we can, therefore, take it for granted.
‘Woman,’ he might say, ‘is but a readymade gender transposed.’ His thought, straight out of the gate, is one of genital transposition with a social goal in mind. This goal is conceptual; the transposition itself is only a peculiar form of desiring and acting. The desire which springs from the need to be, to be experienced, to be felt, to bet felt and ‘ated,’ these are the desires here opposed to those of, as we say, the woman who needs but one thing; they are relational desires, as individualist as opposed to collectivistic as they are relational. The prehistoric herd, which needed hands as well as teeth to hunt for sustenance and safety, is defunct, while Cupid, the younger Thanatos, Priapus, and the Olympian mothers look on in rapture. Each of the desires of today, then, is part of a larger ‘will’ that connotes a constitution and a function, the whole of which is fluid and ever shifting.
If, then, the learned man be capable of relating contemporary phenomena to earlier ones, he should at all events attempt the corrective of a lifetime’s experience. It was, and remains, a desire unknown to him, even by his most advanced Hegelians and his English idealists; to his straight-A students, however, such conjunctive transitions conjure up, almost as if glowing with magnetic flux, a gender neutral Wagnerian Wohlfahrtsgefühle. In other words, they must be experienced first as they are experienced inside one’s self.
To act against that instinct is to pet the beast; and like Faust and the other psychics, he became one of those who fight the impulse. He repudiates, denies, defends and eventually reverses everything which transmits the impulse. His transposing of the feminine into the masculine not only frees him from himself, but from woman in general. ‘I myself am simply my own man,’ he might have said, but ‘for the love of God be my being pure and unmixed: nay, more than purity and unmixed, make it to be one, one only, one undivided being; one supreme, one supreme, all-in-one Being, which I may call God, who is God in m
Prompt sourced from A Queer History of Computing