Personal Language Is Never a Language

In a certain sense we may perceive in Řehoř a monk who copies manuscripts that include a few major works. The Czech philosopher Jan Amos Komenský (1592‑1670) and his massive neo‑Platonic pansophy, the ideas of the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889‑1951) about the relationships of between language, thought and reality, as well as the work of the Eng­lish art group Art & Language between 1960 and 1970 on a critical view of Modernism and the institutionalism of art.

As a copying monk, Řehoř is guided by Komenskg’s decree on universal compulsory schooling. It is Komenskg’s thinking that Wolfgang Ratke adapted in his imitative method. Řehoř also copies phases such as Wittgenstein’s instruction from his early period (The sentence is the image of the world. Tractatus 4.01) in order convince himself simply of the fact that in later Wittgenstein it is already possible to find the seeds of language play of his Tractatus logicus‑philosophicus (Unpronounceable agreements on the understanding of the spoken word are incredibly complex. Tractatus 4.02). It is precisely the complexity of the problem that can be the explanation for continuing ones work.

The boundaries of language are not the same as the boundaries of the world. The universal and the private are in continual confrontation with each other. It is not always possible to express everything and the idea of a system’s self‑enclosedness seems impossible.

The large dictionary of the Czech language that Komensky was working on was burnt in the fire of Leszno in 1656. Art & Language suffocated on its neo‑formalism at the Kassel Documenta exhibition in 1972 when they filled large crates with their texts arranged in alphabetical order and with references to previous texts. Wittgenstein had to combine language with other human activity (Language is an integral part of our nature just like walking, the con­sumption of food, drinking and playfulness. Philosophical Investigations 125).

In the same way, Řehoř arrives at a situation in which he must reveal himself. Despite this, art is a means of com­munication, a talk with other people. A common language is needed for this, however, which is why personal language is never a language.

Otso Kantokorpi, 2001