It is a fine gift of age — of decades beyond four or five — that one can take a serene look at the past one has tread and feel the intimacy of surprise. John Wisdom was a writer from my 1960’s who was so very human in his writing, even when I barely knew what to do with his prose and his insights. I fear he is largely forgotten today, but just now I’ve been thrown into an intimacy of surprise encounter, meeting an old friend, and wondering how it’s been.
I wonder what I’ll hear from those nearly ancient times — carrying through from the all the years he’s been absent. Yet here he is, on the pages of Kelly Jolley’s fine blog. He’s singing in his philosophically tuned, culturally attuned, inimitable style and depth. A unique, unmistakable, and lyrical voice.
I wouldn’t presume to say he should be read more, or presume to say what his relevance is. But I know a kind and wise voice when I hear one. It’s been a pleasure to hear him again today after so many decades.
On the road to Solipsism–which is the doctrine not that I matter to nobody but that nobody exists but me–on the road to Solipsism there blows the same wind of loneliness which blows on the road to the house with walls of glass which none can break. In the labyrinth of metaphysics are the same whispers as one hears when climbing Kafka’s staircases to the tribunal which is always one floor further up. Is it perhaps because of this that when in metaphysics we seem to have arranged by a new technique a new dawn we find ourselves again on Chirico’s sad terraces, where those whom we can never know still sit and it is neither night nor day?
We may hurry away and drown the cries that follow us from those silent places–drown them in endless talk, drown them in the whine of the saxophone or the roar from the stands. Or, more effective, we may quiet those phantasmal voices by doing something for people real and alive. But if we can’t we must return, force the accusers to speak up, and insist on recognizing the featureless faces. We can hardly do this by ourselves. But there are those who will go with us, and however terrifying the way, not desert us.
— John Wisdom