In March 2000, I was invited to read from Killoyle at a literary and cultural conference in Vienna. I accepted with pleasure; Vienna comes right after Paris, Geneva, and Rome in my hit parade of favorite cities. It was a busy few days. Austrian Radio's English-language service scheduled a brief interview with me on the morning after I arrived, a little light-headed from jet lag. I never got to hear the interview, which is probably just as well, because what little I can remember of it revolved for some reason around a discussion of cows, on which subject I am an ignoramus. Afterward, braced by some strong Viennse coffee, I headed back to my hotel along the Landstrasse (where, according to Metternich, Asia begins), and turned off onto a quiet sidestreet, where I came upon a white box of a house that appealed to me because of its dynamic simplicity, precisely the effect Mies and the Bauhaus boys had striven so mightily for, form zealously following function, less being more, etc. But this house boasted a plaque informing the passerby that it had been designed and built by Ludwig Wittgenstein, the brilliant, half-mad philosopher and semanticist (see yesterday's post). Wittgenstein's sister Gretl (whose portrait Gustav Klimt had painted in 1905), knowing her brother's wide-ranging talents, commissioned him to build her and her husband a posh but practical residence, and this is what she got. "The house that Ludwig built was not cozy," as Stuart Jeffries noted in an article on the house in The Guardian. "Wittgenstein forbade carpets and curtains. Rooms were to be lit by naked bulbs, and door handles and radiators were left unpainted. The floors were of gray-black polished stone, the walls of light ochre." Gretl and her husband lived there until the Nazi Anschluss. It now houses the Bulgarian Cultural Institute, and indeed it struck me as a place more hospitable to office life than to domesticity. Of course, Wittgenstein, who never married, and who spent much of his life dramatically alone in such places as atop a Norwegian mountain and in a monastery garden, knew nothing of domestic life; as he says in his great work, the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent." Which doesn't leave much. Into great silence, then.