Wittgenstein – The Movie

(after reading his biography)

To: Steven Spielberg;

Date: September 30, 2012. . . . . .

 Steve, sweetheart! Just a rough draft of some ideas, but everyone here is very excited!  This Wittgenstein!  Just read his biography!  An intellectual touchstone for the new century: deep, intuitive — and still a funny guy!  And there’s the gay angle!  What’s your take?  I’m thinking Scorcese directing, Cruise as Wittgenstein… … Capo!  Let’s do cappuccinos!

SCENE ONE:  (1916 – World War One: a nighttime observation post of the German Army. Sounds of cannon and gunfire. The gray face of an artillery spotter, lit by flashes, materializes out of the fog.)

Wittgenstein:  Ach, all zis noise! I cannot think!  Und I am so scared!  Yet I must be strong because I know zat “my conscience is the Voice of Gott!”

Oh look! Behind zat big rock!  Zere are a bunch of der lustful, carefree, Italianische boys!  Ya, Central Kommand?!  I have observed ze irrational Italian enemy!  You vill shoot zem!

Zere!  Ve haff blown off zere arms.  Zis iss goot!  Now vere vass I?  Oh yes.  One must not speak zat vich is inherently unzpeakable, und never assume zat vich cannot be confirmed empirically – but vy can’t anyvone understand my ideas?!!

(Disappears into the fog.  Fade to black)

SCENE TWO:  (1935 – Ludwig’s rooms at Cambridge.  Francis, Ludwig’s lover, kneels before him as Ludwig sits morosely on the bed.)

Francis: Ach, Ludwig, I must haff you now, tomorrow, all ze time!

Wittgenstein:  Silence!  Ve are both sinful, dirty brutes, my darling Frankie boy.  Listen carefully!  I’m getting tired uff you.  You vill go to ze German factories und get to know ze real vorking men!  You vill work on ze ship mainscrews.  Zey must be perfect!  You vill polish ze mainscrews over und over —  up und down.  Up und down!

Francis:  Stop, Luddy!  I’m getting excited!  Ach, I cannot bear for us to be apart, but I vill do it, Luddypug!  But please!  Let’s clean your room together vunce more!  I’ll get ze wet tea leaves to put on ze floor….

Wittgenstein: Silence!  You vill now beat me mit zis vhip!  Don’t you know?   I am 3/4 Jewish!  I can’t run from it any more — I must be honest!  But verdammit, as a Jew, it is logically impossible for me to be honest — or even haff original thoughts!  Look at zat Jewish plagiarizer Freud!  (ach! ouch! — harder, Frankie, harder!)  Vat about Einstein?  (ouch! good! — harder!) Einstein has no originality at all!  Oh Gott, vy must I be ze philosopher?!!  I vill go to Russia und work in ze fields!   Zee you later Frankie-pankie!

Francis: Auf wiederzein, Ludwig-pudwig!

SCENE THREE:   (1939 – Berlin: The Office of Racial Integrity Verification.  A Nazi official reclines arrogantly in his chair behind a huge desk, a thin cigarette poised in his left hand.  Ludwig, now a middle-aged  philosopher, paces nervously back and forth in front of the desk.

Wittgenstein:  Now look here, mine herr! — mine zisters und I aren’t really Jews, I tell you!  Ve don’t look Jewish, do ve? Look at zis cute little nose, zis cruel German zmile! You must recognize our Deutchblutig!   By the way, you know Reichskanzler Hitler and I were schoolmates when we were fourteen.  Vat a joker he was!  That was before the mustache, of course….

Nazi Official:  Stop rambling!  What are you trying to say?

Wittgenstein:  I have done ze research und it turns out my grandfather Hermann was ze illegitimate son of an Aryan!

Nazi Official:  Vell, Luddy, it’s true, you don’t qvite look Jewish to me.

Wittgenstein: Of course not.  My lineage therefore allows me and my sisters to be classified as “Befreiung.”  

Nazi Official:  Ah!  Befreiung!  You mean German/Jewish mongrels!  Zat sounds pretty good!  But your family is zo rich.  Ze true Befreiung vill gif everything to der Fuherer.  Jews vill hold on to zer money to ze death.  You know vat ze American Jew, Jack Benny said when der thief says, “Your money or your life?”

Wittgenstein: Ya, ya, he say, “Vait a minute! I’m thinking!”   Okay, Mr. Nazi Official, how about I kick in one metric ton of gold for Der Fuehrer?  Zat’s nearly two per cent of Austria’s gold reserves.

Nazi Official:  Don’t hurt your toe vith your kicking, Luddy.  Make zat 1.7 metric tons, I’ll see vat I can do.  By der vay, I vas vondering, do you know vere I can get zome good onion und garlic bagels?

Wittgenstein:  Zis is no problem, Commandant.  However, it is logically impossible to discuss ze hole in ze bagel, as ve haff no empirical…

Nazi Official:  It’s okay, Luddy-puddy.   I vant 12 onion, 12 garlic und 12 of ze “everyzing” bagels.  Now  GET OUT!


SCENE FOUR:  (1951 – Wittgenstein’s deathbed at Storey’s End, in England)

Wittgenstein: Ach, I am dying!  Zis is goot.  All my life I zuffered und I vas miserable every day.  However, I have made zeveral major contributions to modern mathematics und philosophy.  I am certain of zis, because ze opposite of zis statement, namely, “I have not made several major contributions to modern mathematics und philosophy,” is incomprehensible.  Zo, goodbye cruel vorld.   Ach, I really don’t feel so hot today.  (He dies)   Music up.

Steve!  I’m getting chills!  It’s Jim Carrey!  The perfect Wittgenstein for the 21st Century.  Lots of physical comedy and rolling of the eyes.  And plenty of special effects to illustrate the more difficult metaphysical points.  Wait!  “Wittgenstein II!!!”  It’s a musical!  The ageing David Bowie in a funky, fin-du-siecle tribute to logical positivism. Jimmy Carter as a lustful, Faulknerian Bertrand Russell.  Demi Moore as the Ghost of Princess Diana!   I’m on a roll!  No, wait!  Cream cheese on a roll!  I need a massage RIGHT NOW!  Have your therapist call my Rolfer!

NOTE:  No answer from Steven Spielberg at this writing.

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