|Poker Poems (in 3/4 time)|
The Poker Poems are by and large about an imagined interaction between the dictator Adolf Hitler and the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. It is possible that they knew each other in formative years. Hitler and Wittgenstein were born within 5 days of each other, the former 20.4.1889 the latter 26.4.1889; they also both attended the same school as 14 year-olds in Austrian Linz and were literary contemporaries: Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus” published in 1921, was written in the German trenches of World War I, Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” in 1924. Kimberley Cornish bases his book “The Jew from Linz” 1998, on the premise that the anonymous Jew of “Mein Kampf” may have been Wittgenstein.
Tanya Ury has adopted the name Hermè in many of her texts. In the Poker Poems, Hermes refers to her and me, two opposing poles. Alternative references to other unholy twins are: Ludwig Wittgenstein and the philosopher Karl Popper, Alice (of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 1832-98) and Paulinchen (of Struwelpeter, the German cautionary tales, by Heinrich Hoffmann 1809-94); parallels are also drawn between the biblical twins Jacob and Esau, Jacob and the angel, Jeckyll and Hyde, etc.
In Ury’s Poker Poems Wittgenstein is referred to as a she. The form of the work is also inverted - these are through the looking glass poems, written in mirror form, like Jabberwocky of “Alice Through the Looking Glass”. The calligraphy of the Poker Poems when seen in a mirror appears clumsy and child-like. Often the sense of Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus” is analogous with the nonsensical nature of Alice’s universe; Lewis Carroll published several logical puzzles for children that were considered significant by logicians.
Ury has also created other artworks that might be considered visual poetry. Moving Message 1992, incorporates an LED sign displaying the words: you are why; wrestlewithyourangel 2001, is a neon sign produced together with the neon sign neonazi 2001; the title of a double photo portrait lesser is me more or less 2003 plays on the name of the German Post-Impressionist Lesser Ury, as does the title of a further double portrait or else 2007, which refers to the German writer Else Ury. The title of a third photo-portrait Beelzebularin 2005 reveals itself to be an anagram of the biblical Bezalel Ben Uri. half dimensional - semi detached 2010 combines the first of the half dimensional poems with the photograph semi detached.
Concrete poetry in the series:
femiNINIty – femininiation 1984 & 2011
The ladder referred to in the final lines of Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus” is in the Poker Poems, a Jacob’s ladder, or a quicksilver thermometer:
“6.54 My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used them – as steps – to climb up beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.)
He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world aright.”
Extract from Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus”