The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

November 29, 2008

The double thought experiment of Wittgenstein (also known as the double
earth experiment)

Imagine, says Wittgenstein, there is another earth, another thought. That
this is correlative with what you conceive of as your earth, your thought.
But there is a modicum of control from the other earth, other thought. It
may be of the order of full control, or nothing more than the slightest
influence. It is as if a door has opened between the other earth, other
thought, into what you think of as your earth, your thought. As if it were
a matter of scale. But that something you think, you might think as a
result of the other earth, other thought, has been taken from you. That it
is not as it was or might have been. There is the matter of free will, you
think, if there is such an other earth, other thought. But the correlative
or influence may well depend on free will, may be integrative with free
will, that perhaps free will has shifted to the other earth, other
thought. Or the other earth, other thought has shifted free will upon
yourself, not only for all intents and purposes, but also for all physical
experiments and measurements, as if such a thing were possible. That is,
everything you might think or do would appear to one which is to say, to
you, as if there were free will, which would be no contradiction, i.e. it
would be the same or identical with free will. You may in fact have this
thought on this earth, that there is an other earth, other thought, as if
the other earth, other thought permitted you this earth and this thought.
And so you remain at an impasse and Wittgenstein says, this impasse is all
the same, it is all there is, as he has said elsewhere, it is all that is
the case.

(When he says this, it is as if a door opens, into space, a very ordinary
door in fact.

My greatest fears

That I will die.
That I will die and not be able to help Azure or others I love, that doom
hangs over everything.
That I will slowly lose the use of my limbs.
That I will be unable to walk and will witness my body splitting off from
me, signaling back, permanently and to no avail.
That there will be nothing to do about this, that it will be both
intolerable and inexorable.
That one day I will notice my piss turning red and that will be the start
of a spiral downward, one that I will see clearly.
That my mind will give out and I won't be able to work with originality.
That I will harbor a tumor which will be other and it will attempt to
welcome me as a friend, through masquerade, fraud, and duplicity.
That I will never see how anything turns out.
That my work will disappear unknown and unappreciated.
That the unity and philosophical force behind my work will not be evident,
that it will appear as if all I did was write scattered thoughts and bad
That the brilliant excitement of working virtually within the real and
really within the virtual will never be evident as well.
That I will be treated as old and out of date, that my work will always
already have been seen as such.
That my fears will overtake me, and I will never have a pleasant or
peaceful day again.
That my sight will continue to grow worse until I am blind and feeble, and
cannot read or think clearly.
That my tinnitus will increase until I am deaf and no longer can make my
thoughts and feelings, wants and desires, empathies and givings, known to
That I will know I am dying and watch the darkness seep down and drown me.
That my mind and body will become a shell of the fear of dying.
That I will not have the time to take pleasure in the small amount of
success I am now having.
That I will notice a sore that will not heal.
That I will find things permanently slipping away.
That forgetfulness and absent mindedness will turn into wooly and
suffocating thought.
That I will be seen as an object of pity or one whose talent remains
That I never will be able to stop crying or falling into the cavern or
cauldron of death, even before or beyond the cavern or cauldron of death.
That I will no longer be able to breathe.
That I will no longer be able to play music or sound with the skill I now
That I will no longer recognize musical instruments as a source of
pleasure or a source of music or sound.
That I will repeat myself without knowing I am repeating myself.
That I will repeat myself as if I were in prison without recompense,
creativity, or originality.
That I will die slowly of cancer, unable to eat, starving myself, slowly
withdrawing from the gaze and concern of others.
That I will not be able to stop this withdrawing.
That I will die in such pain that thought itself will be cauterized.
That I will go insane wondering what Azure sees, even just moments or
seconds, after I am dead.
That I will be forced to continually recognize the absence of spirit and
the absence of care I can no longer give, well before, and up to, the
moment of my death.
That I cannot give my death as a gift to others.
That I will go insane in any case as time approaches a limit veering ever
closer no matter what I do and how I live and think.
That I will be lost in remedies that never work and never will work.
That my death will foretell at the last moment of consciousness the
meaninglessness of my life and the life of others, no matter how much
meaning appears to be shored up elsewhere, elsewise.
That my thinking and my work will be treated as without worthy of
That my thinking and my work will be treated as of another and older
generation already receding into the past.
That my thinking and work will not be thought of as current or relevant to
the work and thinking of others.
That I will observe myself transformed into substance, losing sentience,
mumbling without response.
That my limbs and thoughts will become, without my knowledge, phantom
limbs and thoughts.
That I will be too old to learn anything new.
That my learning will be repetitive, as if it were learning something new
every time, but in reality only endlessly, uselessly, repeating.
That my deepest fears are always already in a state of hopeless realiza-
That I will die already having the fullest knowledge, not of death, but of
dying, and that this knowledge is contributory towards my death through
unfathomable darkness and depression.
That I will be destroyed.
That I will die a violent and painful death.
That pain will invade my consciousness and I will beg for death.
That I will never go beyond the suffering of the world.
That every little thing will continue to reveal its suffering to me.
That I will never see how things come out.
That I will die.

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