Friday, July 29, 2011

Trip to Wittgenstein

When my wife and I arrived in Skjolden, I did not recognize the little town. Many years ago I had been there with friends, on a tour through Norway. Then I knew about Wittgenstein, of course, although I was not yet very interested in philosophy in those days. However, I did not know that he had built a log cabin there, on the other side of the lake and that he had lived and worked there now and then between 1913 and 1951.
We put up our tent on a camping site a few kilometres from Skjolden, almost under a waterfall. An information board described a path to the place where Wittgenstein’s cabin had been. It was a walk of about 45 minutes, but the last part was steep and dangerous over the rocks.
The next day I felt a bit sick. But okay, I was there for “visiting” Wittgenstein. I took the bag with my cameras, a bit to drink, too, and there we went, my wife and I. First along a tractor path, then through a meadow. We entered a little wood and the path became rocky. It became steeper and steeper, too, and heavy going. I stopped for a moment. My wife, who was some 20 metres ahead of me, said: “I’ll take a look whether it is still far to go”, and gone was she.
When she came back ten minutes later, she had already been “there”. The path had become even steeper, and also a bit slippery. “Not much to see”, my wife said. “Some stone foundations of the log cabin and an Austrian flag”. I am a bad climber and did not feel well, so I decided not to go on.
Back in our tent, my wife showed me the photos she had taken. Next we drove again to Skjolden. Now we knew exactly the place where the log cabin had been. It was on a slope some 30 metres above the surface of the lake. Through my binoculars the foundation and the flag were clearly visible. I wondered how Wittgenstein did the dangerous climb a few times a week for collecting his mail, in summer and in winter. And how he had got the building material there. Elsewhere in Skjolden we saw the house where Wittgenstein had lived during his first stay.

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