Could this shed, with its satin-red siding and ermine-white roof, be one of Santa’s workshops? Could it be a place magically-immense inside where precocious elves hammer out toys?
Ludwig Wittgenstein would say this is nonsense, that what’s inside this shed could be anything at all. It could be a time-dimension portal or a boarding house for leprechauns. It could filled with rutabagas or gold doubloons. We can imagine anything. To say it is one thing is nonsense. That, I think, is what L.W. would say.
Yet, trained as I am in the subtleties of philosophy, when I found this photo from 2010, I imagined it was one of Santa’s workshops. I wrote:
Near the sea I see a tiny red shed.
It contains, or so I imagine,
a magically-immense workshop
where precocious elves hammer out
toys for all the girls and boys.
And I will get a construction set
with thousands of interlocking pieces.
And I will build marvelous cities,
places of plenty and peace,
merry metropoles where avenues echo
with joy and laughter,
and even the sky is pleased.
Won’t you join me?
It was only after I wrote these words that I remembered better words written by the poet E.E. Cummings
who knows if the moon’s
a balloon,coming out of a keen city
in the sky—filled with pretty people?
(and if you and i should
get into it,if they
should take me and take you into their balloon,
we’d go up higher with all the pretty people
than houses and steeples and clouds:
away and away sailing into a keen
city which nobody’s ever visited,where
Spring) and everyone’s
in love and flowers pick themselves
Much as I loved my Wittgenstein philosophy seminar with O.K. Bowsma, my loyalties are more strongly tied to the poetry of E.E. Cummings, who wondered if the moon was a balloon.