His teaching. He sits on his plain wooden chair, and we sit in our deckchairs. He sits upright, and we are almost lying down.
He thinks with a clear head, speaking in clear English with a hint of a German accent, and we listen with our cloth ears, understanding nothing.
Does he think we understand? Does he believe that we're following him? Does he really Guthrie is avidly taking notes, and not drawing cocks? Does he really believe Benwell is concentrating, his eyes closed behind his sunglasses? Can he see Doyle playing Tetris on his mobile phone?
None of us is late any more. We know not to be late: we've learnt that. We know to take our deckchairs from where they are neatly stacked against the wall. We know to unfold them and climb into them, to take out our notebooks and our pens.
We know that there will be two hours of lecturing, with no toilet breaks. We know that he will speak of things we cannot possibly understand. We know that he will even ask questions of us, addressing us as a group and, when that fails, addressing us by name. He knows all our names! He's had us all to tea! He knows us! There's nowhere to hide!
We know we'll grasp nothing, take nothing away. We know we'll learn nothing, and that we are unteachable. We know we cannot approach his thought, nor his way of thinking. We know that, amidst us, he is also far from us. We know his distance from us; we feel it; it is what repels us, but also what draws us to him.
We know something important might be happening in these lectures. We know posterity demands something of us. We know we should keep notes, remember. We know that posterity is relying on us to take notes and remember. We know that someday we will write memoirs of this time. We know that we will be asked about our memories, and that we will dine out on our memories. We know that wide-eyed youths, youths like us, in twenty years time, will ask: Were you really taught by Wittgenstein Jr?
We know these things, but we know something else, too. That there will come a time when youths like us will not ask these questions. That a time will come when no one will ask what we remember, and the name, Wittgenstein Jr, will fall into obscurity. No one will publish our notes. We won't even keep notes; we're incapable of that. We don't understand; we can't concentrate. We can't follow his train of thought. That much is clear. But who among us will write what he says down? Who, when we know posterity will barely care for Wittgenstein Jr?