Philosophical Films

"Duck Soup"

The Limits of Logical Space

In section 1. 13 of the Tractatus Wittgenstein says: "The facts in logical space are the world."' And in section 2.11 he says: "A picture presents a situation in logical space...... Thus, facts as well as their pictures are said to exist in "logical space." What does that mean?

Obviously, there is an analogy between "logical space" and ordinary, three-dimensional space: Facts and pictures are in "logical space" in a similar way as spatial objects are in three-dimensional space. But to exist in three-dimensional space does not simply mean to be surrounded by space, but also to exist as a spatial object. And to exist as a spatial object means such things as having a certain extension, having a certain location in space, etc. (An object without extension or location, by definition, cannot be a spatial object.) Space, in other words, is part of the nature of spatial objects, it defines the kind of thing spatial objects are.

That something has a certain height, such and such a volume, and is situated to the left or above certain other things can only be said about spatial objects, and not, for example, about feelings or prime numbers. By the same token, if something is just an inanimate spatial object, then one cannot ascribe to it such things as intentions, religious preferences, or gender. As spatial objects things can be characterized only by space-related features, and space-related features can be applied only to spatial objects. If spatial objects are combined with non-spatial features, one gets nonsense like "this piece of wood is irresponsible," and if spatial features are attributed to non-spatial objects, the results are pseudo-sentences like "My thoughts are seven feet tall." To be a spatial object means to be describable in certain ways, and not to be describable in certain other ways. It means to be limited in this way.

A special case of the limitations to which spatial objects are subject are the so-called laws of space (the laws of geometry). A spatial object cannot possibly violate the laws of space. A plane triangle, e.g., can have many shapes, and the width of its angles can vary a great deal, but it is impossible for the sum of its angles not to add up to 180 degrees. And a straight pillar in a three-dimensional space can stand in front or in back of a certain area, but not in front and in back, as M.C. Escher's lithograph "Belvedere" suggests. Escher's construction represents an absolute impossibility, an object which is literally unthinkable. The architectural design suggested by his lithograph is not the picture of a spatial object, but of something which only looks like one at first sight. It is something which goes beyond the limits of space.

Something analogous to what has been said about spatial objects can also be said about temporal ones. As spatial objects exist in space and are subject to the absolute limits of space, so temporal objects exist in time and are subject to the necessary restrictions of time. Musical compositions, e.g., must have a certain duration, and the basic terms in Which they are described are such time-related categories as slow/fast, long/short, early/late, etc. For temporal objects like pieces of music it is essential that their various elements appear before or after one another, and it is as impossible for a composer to put Recapitulation or Coda before the Development as it is for a mathematician to count 1,2,3,4,7,5,6, etc. The limitations of time are as inexorable as those of space.

A further analogy to space can be constructed in the area of colors: Visible objects are in "color-space" as spatial objects are in three-dimensional space or temporal objects in time. As Wittgenstein put it: "A speck in the visual field, though it need not be red, must have some color: it is, so to speak, surrounded by color-space."' To imagine a colorless visible spot is impossible. If a spot is visible, it necessarily has some coloration, and is thereby subject to the laws and restrictions which govern color phenomena.

It is clear, then, that different kinds of objects are surrounded by different kinds of "space." In Wittgenstein's words: "Everything is, as it were, in a space of possible states of affairs. This space I can imagine empty, but I cannot imagine the thing without the space. It is also clear that these "spaces" constitute the limits of what objects can be. A spatial object like a magnetic field can be large, for example, but it cannot be green, fast, or faithful. A temporal object like an acoustic signal can be long, but not black or tall. And a visible object like hair can be dark, but not slow or infinite. (It is, of course, possible, that an object is both spatial and visible, etc. In such cases the object's "space" increases in proportion to the added dimensions.)

Its "space," then, is an important part of an object's identity. To know an object implies that one knows its "space." This. knowledge is a priori, that is, one does not have to find out by empirical observation that a sound is not black, an inflation rate not green, or a piece of wood not irresponsible--as little as one needs observation to know that a bachelor is not married. Thus its "space" is part of the "logic" of an object, or the "space" in question is "logical space." Its "logic" is an integral part of what an object is--that is the the meaning of Wittgenstein's insistence that the world is not just the totality of facts, but the totality of "facts in logical space."

It goes without saying that there are other "spaces" besides the three mentioned above. In the analysis of philosophical problems, such "spaces" as the following often become relevant: Emotions (which can be meaningfully ascribed only to sentient beings, but not to such objects as pencils, stones, or prime numbers), moral characteristics (which are applicable to human beings, but hardly to cats, and certainly not to trees or machines), gender (which applies to certain organic creatures, but not to sidereal bodies or cars), legality (which applies in a social or cultural context, but not in the state of nature), and many others. While certain ascriptions are patently absurd, there are many cases where the misapplication of certain categories is subtle enough to befuddle serious thinkers, and where a great deal of conceptual analysis is required to make the violation of "logical space" apparent. Psychologists sometimes describe operations of the mind in terms which apply only to the brain, and sociologists try to analyze social actions in language which belongs properly to zoology or classical mechanics, thereby creating hosts of unnecessary problems.

What holds on the level of objects and facts also holds on the level of language and other media of depiction, for facts and their pictures exist in the same "logical space." Facts are configurations of objects, and pictures are corresponding configurations of pictorial elements. As the configurations of objects are determined by the appropriate "spaces," ultimately the configurations of pictorial elements are determined by the same "spaces." This basically isomorphic relationship is made complicated, however, by the fact that pictures can take a number of forms. That is, one and the same fact can be depicted by a variety of pictures without there being a significant loss. A simple case is given if the form of the picture is essentially identical with the form of the depicted fact: "A picture can depict any reality whose form it has. A spatial picture can depict anything spatial, a colored one anything colored, etc." A map, e.g., can straight-forwardly depict the spatial relationships of a geographical area, a color photograph in a mycology book the visible characteristics of a mushroom, a drum beat (a temporal picture) the pace of a walking person, and so forth. A more complicated case exists when a spatial picture depicts a temporal fact (as in historical charts), or a temporal picture a spatial one (when the position of an enemy is conveyed by drum beats or via Morse code), etc. In this case the form of the picture is not identical with the form of the fact, and yet, the fact is completely depicted. This means that the form of the picture is not limited to the form (the "space") of the fact, but it does not mean that it is not determined by it at all. Not any configuration of pictorial elements is a genuine picture. While a spatial fact need not necessarily be depicted by a spatial picture, the laws of space which govern a spatial fact do place certain limitations on the way in which pictorial elements can be put together, if depiction is the goal.

The way in which the picture of a fact is limited by the "space" of a fact can be illustrated by the drawing below, often called "tuning fork." If the picture were that of a regular tuning fork, it would be a picture of something that could exist; it would represent a possible state of affairs. A smith, for example, could make such an object. If the object were made, one could say that the elements of the picture are analogous to the corresponding elements of the object, and that the way in which the pieces are conjoined in the picture is the same as the way in which they are put together in reality. Both picture and real object would be within the same "logical space."

The above drawing has no possible counterpart in reality. No craftsman or manufacturer, no matter from however fantastic a science fiction planet, could produce the object suggested by the drawing. The picture represents a logical impossibility. The discrepancy can be pinpointed by marking a spot on the middle "pipe." According to the drawing, this spot seems to be part of the physical object, and at the same time part of the empty space surrounding the object; it would be both empty and not-empty. The picture, in other words, is self-contradictory; it is of the same class of contradictions as the sentence "Smith is a married bachelor."

Since the above drawing presents a configuration of pictorial elements which could not possibly be physically realized, it is strictly speaking not a picture. A genuine picture is, to be sure, not restricted to depicting what actually is the case, but it is restricted to depicting what at least theoretically could be the case. A genuine picture, in other words, is limited by the "space" of what it depicts--by the logical limits of what can be the case. It must, as Wittgenstein puts it, be of the same "logical form" as the possible state of affairs which it depicts:

What any picture, of whatever form, must have in common with reality, in order to be able to depict it--correctly or incorrectly--in any way at all, is logical form, i.e., the form of reality.

A picture whose pictorial form is a logical form is called a logical picture.

Every picture is also a logical one. (On the other hand, not every picture is, for example, a spatial one.)

A picture which is not a logical one, i.e., a picture which contradicts logic in a way in which facts cannot, is a pseudo-picture. And a proposition which in this sense fails to be a logical representation of facts is a pseudo-proposition. This is the sense of Wittgenstein's contention that both facts and pictures exist in "logical space," that they are governed by the same laws. By conceiving of "logical space" as the ultimate limit beyond which nothing can go, Wittgenstein found a way in which he could distinguish propositions with sense from propositions which seem to have sense, but which in the end are not true propositions. He could do what he stated as the major task of the Tractatus, namely "to draw a limit to thought, or rather- not to thought, but to the expression of thoughts."8

Philosophy is, of course, not the only field in which pseudopropositions occur, but the Tratatus mentions philosophy as a particularly fertile field in which sentences without sense are produced in abundance. In section 4.003 Wittgenstein says:

Most of the propositions and questions to be found in philosophical works are not false but nonsensical. Consequently we cannot give any answer to questions of this kind, but can only point out that they are nonsensical. Most of the propositions and questions of philosophers arise from our failure to understand the logic of our language.9

Wittgenstein does not work out any examples in the Tractatus, but the following case will illustrate what he means (while at the same time providing a parallel in philosophy to the nonsense of the second drawling).

The philosophical idea of "Natural Law' and "Natural Rights" has played an important role not only in philosophy, but also in politics and law. The idea was particularly prominent in seventeenth and eighteenth century thinking, but it has survived in certain forms to this day. Its importance can be indicated by the following consideration. It is a fact of organized societies that certain acts are forbidden by law or custom, and that transgressions will be punished in one way or another. On certain occasions the validity of the law will be challenged, either by challenging individual laws, or by challenging an entire legal system. (The latter will be the case in potentially revolutionary situations, where a whole social order is questioned and threatened.)

If a law, which serves as a standard for judging acts, is challenged, then obviously a further standard is needed with the help of which the former standard of actions is evaluated. A law can be judged only by a law of a higher order, and that law, in turn, has to be judged by a law of a still higher order. It is evident that at one point one has to ask what the ultimate standard could be, i.e., what the law of the highest order could be in the light of which all other laws can be evaluated. It is at this point where the notion of a "Natural Law" is introduced. The "Natural Law," since it has to serve as a measure for all other laws, must be beyond the sphere of any actually existing legal system; it must have existed prior to any organized society. It is for this reason that it is called "Natural Law," and philosophers such as John Locke have represented it as a law that governs the "State of Nature," i.e., a situation where people have not yet banded together in an o rganized society with a communal way of life, written laws, police, or government.

The crucial question is whether the idea of a "Natural Law," and "Natural Rights" which are guaranteed by the "Natural Law," is an intelligible idea. How much sense does it make to talk about a "Law" that is nowhere written down, which nobody has decreed, about which no consensus has been reached by people, and which finds no expression in any way of life of a specific community? Is "Natural Law" not a fiction not only in the sense that something is assumed to have existed in the past which has actually never existed, but further, in the sense that one could not even imagine such a thing to have existed? It would obviously be nonsensical to imagine a world where only one person existed, and where this person was a strong competitor. Competition takes at least two. It seems similarly nonsensical to talk about such a solitary individual as having a law and certain rights. Law is something that comes with people interacting with each other, by decree from some authority, or through other measures that involve other persons. And rights, similarly, have to be granted by somebody. The idea of a "Natural Law," i.e., a law that could be in the mind of an individual that lives outside of any social organization or tradition, is as unthinkable as a grin without a face. As a grin logically requires a face, so a law logically requires a social context, a context of the kind the "State of Nature" does not provide.

Locke says in his Second Treatise on Civil Government that "... the law of nature stands as an eternal rule to all men, legislators as well as others." And he describes as the purpose of government the enforcement of this "Natural Law." If a government should fail to do so, or if the government itself violates this "law," then the people have the right and the duty to overthrow this government. (This position has been taken not only by Locke, who was involved in the Glorious Revolution of 1688, but also by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.) But if the "Natural Law' is a philosophical fiction, something like the grin of the Cheshire cat, then the whole philosophical justification of certain political actions collapses, leaving revolutionaries or defenders of certain legal systems with the brute facts of unsupported insurrection or maintenance of the status quo. The decorative cloak of seemingly rational justifications will have vanished, and people will be left with nothing but their passions and their deeds.

The pseudo-concept of "Natural Law" (or "Natural Rights") is one of the philosophical ideas which ventures beyond the limits of "logical space" in the way the architecture of Escher's "Belvedere" or the "tuning fork" does. It is one of the constructions which seems to represent a possible state of affairs, but which actually represents nothing. It illustrates the kind of muddled thinking which, according to Wittgenstein, fills the works of philosophers, and which ought to be cleared out as useless nonsense. And it is the major task of Analytic Philosophy to expose such nonsense for what it is, and to effect this liberating clearing. In doing so, Analytic Philosophy is one of the major means by which the life of the mind becomes uncluttered (in a similar way in which the designs of modem architecture are a means to relieve life of the stuffed interiors and overloaded facades of Victorian buildings). By reducing what is uttered to what can really be said, modern philosophy helps to jettison the ballast which weighs down not only thinking, but all activities of life.

Considering this attitude toward philosophy, the question arises as to what the Tractatus's implications for literature and the other arts may be. In his book, Wittgenstein develops a theory of language in which the proposition as a picture of a fact is the model of a communicative expression, and in which logical clarity and soundness is of the highest importance. Since much of traditional philosophy or everyday communication does not come close to meeting the standards established in the Tractatus, it may be expected that much of literature or art may have to be discarded as well as unintelligible humbug. That, however, is not the case. Wittgenstein was deeply attached to literature, and he read classical authors more often and more passionately than his Positivistic admirers, or readers in general. In fact, the very theory of language developed in the Tractatus which seems so hostile toward everything which is not clear and logically impeccable provides room for the peculiar mode of expression cultivated in artistic works. In section 6.522 Wittgenstein 6 remarks: "There is indeed the unsayable. This shows itself; it is the mystical." There are a number of things which are alluded to by the term "the mystical" or "the unsayable," but one of them is what appears in works of art. In a letter of April 9, 1917 to Paul Engelmann, Wittgenstein writes:

The poem ["Graf Eberhards Weissdorn"] by Uhland is really magnificent. This is how it is: If one does not attempt to say the unsayable, nothing is lost. Rather, the unsayable is--unsayably-- contained in that which is said. 13

It is not the factual content of the sentences which make up the poem which is essential, but that which appears by virtue of their order, their combination with each other, their sound, their rhythm, etc. The effect of the poem does not come about by a detached transfer of information, but by evoking an emotional response.

What is decisive for the adequate understanding of the nature of poetry and other art forms is the realization that it is less important whether literary sentences are true or false, logical or illogical, clear or unclear, etc. A logically mangled statement can, under the right circumstances, accomplish perfectly what is to be accomplished by a poem. A poem usually does not attempt to depict a possible state of affairs (although reporting facts may be part of the means which a poet employs), and thus should not be judged for doing so either successfully or unsuccessfully. To judge a poem in the way one judges a factual proposition is as inappropriate as judging a screwdriver for being a good or bad chisel, or a bus for being a good or bad boat. A man singing "lalalalala" cannot be reproached for stating things unclearly (because he is not stating anything at all), nor can Gertrude Stein, who, in her 1922 poem "Susie Asado," wrote the following lines:

Sweet sweet sweet sweet sweet tea.
Susie Asado.
Susie Asado which is a told tray sure.
A lean on a shoe this means slips slips hers.
When the animist light grey is clean it is yellow, it is a silver seller.
This is a please this is a please there are the saids to jelly. 14

In his Illusion and Reality, Christopher Caudwell juxtaposes the "rhythmic language" of poetry, and the language of "pure statement of collections of facts uncolored by emotions." He points out that even where statements of fact are involved in poetry, it is not the propositional content which is important, but the emotional powers which come with the more sensual elements of the text:

We call the primitive's heightened language, which is as if it were speech in ceremonial dress, poetry, and we saw how in the course of evolution it became prosaic and branched into history, philosophy, theology, the story and drama.16

The idea of a statement devoid of prejudice and intended only to be the cold vehicle of sheer reality is quite alien to that [primitive] mind. Words represent power, almost magical power, and the cold statement seems to divest them of this power and substitute a mirror-image of external reality.17

Not poetry's abstract statement--its content of facts--but its dynamic role in society--its content of collective emotion--is therefore poetry's truth.18

Philosophers try to write propositions, although on a very high level of abstraction, and their ideas purport to represent possible states of affairs. That is why they are a legitimate target for the kind of criticism advocated by the Tractatus. Poetry and the other arts, by contrast, may employ propositions and pictures, but their over-all purpose is rarely the mere depiction of possible or actual facts. Inasmuch as the arts do not attempt to depict facts, the Tractatus's remarks about logic and language are irrelevant. And this is the major reason why Wittgenstein could be ruthless with respect to the work of his philosophical colleagues and predecessors, while at the same time a connoisseur and supporter of the arts.

There are, however, works of art which fall into the category of propositions, and to which Wittgenstein's remarks concerning "logical space" directly apply. There are, in other words, works which are deliberately and significantly illogical. Examples of these will be discussed in the following sections.

One way of characterizing the specific difference between twentieth century philosophy and earlier schools of thought is by saying that modem Analytic Philosophy insists that propositions can be not only true or false, but also nonsensical. While false propositions can still be credited with having sense, many statements produced by traditional philosophers and other metaphysicians are strictly speaking not even propositions, but nonsense. What Analytic philosophers have discovered, in other words, is the fact that not everything which appears to be communication is indeed that. Consequently, a good deal of what Analytic Philosophy is concerned with is the investigation of the conditions and limits of communication.

Not surprisingly, this is also one of the major themes in the modern arts. In virtually all areas of aesthetic production, "avant-garde" artists have found themselves compelled to speculate about what can be said at all, and to create works which revolve around the idea of an inescapable silence. Wittgenstein's "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent" has many parallels in the modem arts. It is in this connection that the frequent and deliberate production of logical incongruities in modern works has to be considered. For illogical constructions are an effective reminder that there are barriers beyond which there is not a new frontier, but nothing. They force on the reader or viewer a kind of self-recognition which will not result in the old pursuit of the new, but in a radical re-orientation which brings into clear view the absolute limits of the human condition. This re-orientation may be effected in serious or humorous ways, and it may result in different practical conclusions for different artists. But in all cases, the encounter with the limits of "logical space" constitute an experience which is peculiar to Modern Art.

Marx Brothers: Duck Soup

The Marx Brothers were a comedy team that performed with great success on stage, radio, and film during the first half of the twentieth century. There were originally five brothers, all born during the last two decades of the nineteenth century: Chico, Groucho, Gummo, Harpo, and Zeppo. In 1904 they put together a Vaudeville act which by 1917 received top billing. With Gummo dropping out, the rest of the team had its first Broadway show in 1924. During the late twenties they began to produce their first film comedies, usually screen versions of their Broadway plays. Their best known films are: The Cocoanuts (1929), Animal Crackers (1930), Monkey Business (1931), Dyck Soup (1933), A Night at the Opera (1935), A Day at the Races (1937), and Room Service (1938). Their films contain many features in a popular form which later became fashionable among intellectuals in connection with the Theatre of the Absurd.

Duck Soup (Screenplay by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby), is a subversive movie in more ways than one. Its plot revolves around the cold and hot war between two fictitious countries, and this situation is used to debunk the pompousness and fanatic seriousness of official politics, diplomacy, nationalism, militarism, secret services, and the kind of posturing which became very acute during the thirties when Fascism was rising in Europe, and when several countries were preparing for wars of aggression. Trentino, the ambassador of the fictitious enemy country, tells Firefly, the leader of Freedonia: "I am willing to do anything to prevent this war." Firefly answers: "It's too late. I've already paid a month's rent on the battlefield." And during the war Firefly tells his compatriot Chicolini: "You're a brave man. Go and break through the lines, and remember, while you are out there risking life and limb, through shot and shell, we'll be in here thinking what a sucker you are!" Political speeches and ceremonies are invariably portrayed as pretentious and hollow, patriotic war declarations are caricatured as a mixture of cheap operetta and religious service, and the usual identification with the " good side" is subverted by the fact that the combatants keep changing their uniforms. Having the same maniacal characters appear as the defenders of the Alamo, as Confederate soldiers, or as French conscripts of World War I makes hash of the loyalties and orientations which dominated the military establishments and war propaganda of the time.

But Duck Soup is subversive not only with respect to particular attitudes and values, but ultimately with respect to everything. The pompousness of official politics and military establishments are not criticized in the name of ideals that are respected or implicitly advocated, but they are subverted in an orgy of total debunking which leaves nothing intact. The film, on one level a farce whose purpose was to provide comic relief during a period of high anxiety, is, on another level, implicitly nihilistic, and the worldview which emerges through the shenanigans of the Marx Brothers is essentially no different from that of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land. The reality of Duck Soup is a systematically produced chaos in which the disconnected fragments of speech and purposeful action are kicked around as mere playthings in a game of joyful destruction. The dialogue and acting of the protagonists in Duck Soup are methods of making all of reality come apart.

The major means of disassembling the world is the destruction of logic, i.e., of the structure which underlies both facts and language. By systematically disregarding the laws of "logical space," actions and communication lose their inner coherence, and are thus reduced to nonsense in the strictest sense of the word. This is why punning plays such a dominant role in Duck Soup (as well as in other Marx Brothers films). Punning here is not just a means of occasional amusement (as, e.g., in Shakespeare's plays), but the paradigm of Duck Soup communication --or rather non-communication. Its ceaseless occurrence is an indication of what has happened to the coherence of speech in the world portrayed in this film.

Firefly: "I danced before Napoleon. No, Napoleon danced before me. In fact, he danced two hundred years before me." In the middle of his speech Firefly changes the meaning of the word "before," substituting the temporal meaning for the spatial one, and thus changing the subject matter of his speech completely. The effect is a comic sort of Cubism, the verbal equivalent of the change of a tablecloth into wallpaper or an abstract form in a painting by Braque. Like Cubism, Marx Brothers puns create a world in which various aspects of reality are forcefully broken up and recombined in ways which destroy any sense of order or orientation: "If you run out of gas, get ethyl. If Ethyl runs out, get Mabel." "This is a gala day for you." "Well, a gal a day is enough for me." Etc. Most of the film's puns are deliberately far-fetched so as to underline the disunity of the fragments of reality which are fused together in them. Ultimately the centrifugal tendencies of the various elements are so strong that the speeches fall literally apart, leaving nothing but disjointed parts without meaning: "I suggest that you give him ten years in Leavenworth, or eleven years in Twelveworth." "I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll take five and ten in Woolworth." In such cases language has obviously ceased to function as a means of communication, its parts do not do what ordinarily they are expected to do. The above utterances are (to use Wittgenstein's expression) "language on a holiday."

The transfer of conceptual confusion from mere speech to action can be seen in encounters like this:

Chicolini: I wouldn't go out there unless I was in one of those big iron things that go up and down like this. What do you call those things?
Firefly: Tanks.
Chicolini: You're welcome!

In this dialogue the external similarity of the expressions "Tanks" and "Thanks" serves to eliminate one line of the interchange, thereby exchanging the position of the person who is asking with the one who provides the information: Chicolini and Firefly change their roles. The two speakers, in other words, are doing something else at the end of the interchange than what they were doing at its beginning, thereby disrupting the logical flow of the action. And in the following report of a spy mission the logical premises of this action are so badly scrambled that the whole mission becomes unidentifiable:

All right, I tell you. Monday we watch Firefly's house, but he no come out. He wasn't home. Tuesday we go to the ball game, but he fool us. He no show up. Wednesday he go to the ball game, and we fool him. We no show up. Thursday was a double header. Nobody show up. Friday it rained all day. There was no ball game so we stayed home and we listened to it over the radio.

Finally there are what may be described as visual puns. At the end of the war, for example, when Firefly's party is close to being wiped out, the commander-in-chief suddenly shouts: "Help is on the way!" What follows is a parody of the last-minute cavalry rescue known from innumerable Western movies: Two fire engines come racing along, a motorcade of police follows, then a group of marathon runners, sport swimmers, monkeys jumping through trees, leaping porpoises, and a herd of trumpeting elephants. These film clips have no connection with the plot of the film whatsoever, except for the fact that they show objects and creatures in motion. As in the case of the verbal puns, the film fastens on an external similarity to fuse together details of reality which otherwise have absolutely nothing in common, thus creating the chaotic conglomerate of which all of Duck Soup is composed.

Duck Soup is a modern comedy in several ways: It creates an utterly fragmented and chaotic world, it thoroughly undermines any kind of traditionalism, it makes such a thing as personal identity (except in a most external sense) impossible, and it celebrates an anarchic irrationalism in the antics of the protagonists. It is most explicitly modern, however, in its systematic disregard for the logic of speech and action, a disregard which renders the whole film a kind of entertainment in which laughter results from the proximity of total senselessness and non-communication, i.e., from the proximity of total silence.

From Jorn K. Bramann: Wittgenstein's Tractatus and the Modern Arts (1985)

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