"Don't think, but look!": W. G. Sebald, Wittgenstein, and Cosmopolitan Poverty

Posnock, Ross

This essay has two aims: to bring together the antinovelist Sebald with a figure he revered, the antiphilosopher Wittgenstein, via the theme and form of "desublimed" looking--vision that respects surface and avoids "Cartesian rigidity" (Sebald). The essay weaves these two writers into a larger constellation, inaugurated by the first cosmopolitan Diogenes the Cynic, and which includes his admirer William James, a grouping marked by an esteem of poverty and the desire to find an exit from the refinement of philosophy as metaphysics.


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English and Comparative Literature
University of California Press
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June 23, 2015