A writer must have a wastepaper basket

In the midst of distressing decrees from the Supreme Court and larger concerns about the health of the US body politic, I seem drawn to words, even those that have little obvious relevance to the daily news.

Today I came across a great sentence by Laura Miller, in her review of How Four Women Brought Philosophy Back to Life, by Clare Mac Cumhaill and Rachael Wiseman. Speaking about long-time collaborators Elizabeth Anscombe and Ludwig Wittgenstein, Miller writes:

Married to a conscientious objector who had difficulty finding remunerative work after the war, Anscombe was so poor that Wittgenstein paid for her stay in a maternity hospital after the birth of her second child and insisted on furnishing her spartan lodgings, announcing, “You are a writer, you have to have a wastepaper basket.”

I manage to fill both Wittgenstein’s paper basket and the one on my computer quite easily.

Speaking of revision: The online version of the review, from June 5, has the title: “Oxford quartet: The women who took on the philosophical establishment.” Today’s print version is entitled: “First, let’s kill all the logical positivists: Did four young women change the course of Western philosophy?” This makes me wonder: In the shift from “took on” to “kill all” is the New York TImes calling for a more violent response to entrenched interests?

Let’s not endorse the “kill all” approach, even for logical positivists or Supreme Courts, but the wastebasket would be an appropriate location for at least three Court decrees this week.

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