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A very pleasant pineapple’ is a phrase that Ludwig Wittgenstein used in his teachings in order to express the functions and illusions of language. It is also the name of the performance. A contemporary opera, consisting of ten seven minute sections, this highly structured opera is based on the life and work of the philosopher Wittgenstein.

Wittgenstein was a follower of logic, a man of few words and a troubled soul. He strongly believed in the importance of expressing what can be said as clearly as possible, famously saying:      


‘The more the Nail has been hit on the head the greater will be its value’

However Wittgenstein life wasn’t always black-and-white, he experienced as he put it ‘the rough and the smooth’ with moments of his life where logic seemed to escape him forcing him into psychological despair. The opera A very pleasant pineapple does not retell the story of Wittgenstein life, it does not follow a linear chronological order. The performance allows its audience to be immersed in images, sounds, text, and movements that have been created in response to actual material taken from Wittgenstein’s life. The performance does not intend to teach you about the work of this philosopher but rather allow you to step inside the world of this man, a world of his language, his images and thoughts, a world that doesn’t always makes sense.

 “Mine is the first and only world I want to report the world as I found it”

Wittgenstein struggled for all of his life to make logical sense of the world around him, for parts of his life he was content that he had found the answer, but then realised his inaccuracies.  For a man whose only purpose in life was to understand life, this became his constant battle and torment. 

There was once a young man that dreams of reducing the world to pure logic, because he was a very clever man he actually managed to do it, and when he finished his work he stood back and admired it. It was beautiful a world purged of imperfection and indeterminacy, countless acres of gleaming ice stretching to the horizon. So the clever young man decided to explore the land that he had created, he took one step forward and fell flat on his back, you see he had forgotten about friction. The ice was smooth and level and stainless but you couldn’t walk there, so the clever young man sat down and wept bitter tears, but as he grew into a wise old man, he came to understand that roughness and ambiguity aren’t imperfections they’re what make the world turn. He wanted to run and dance, and the words and things scattered among the ground were all battered, tarnished and ambiguous, and the wise old man saw that was the way things were, but something in him was still homesick for the ice, where everything was radiant and absolute, though he had begun to like the idea of the rough ground he couldn’t bring himself to live there. So now he was marooned between earth and ice, at home in neither and this was the cause of all his grief. (Jarman 1993)

A very pleasant pineapple is a response to Wittgenstein’s search for logic in a world of confusion.  The opera is disjointed and fragmented. Apparently unrelated images appear and disappear alongside each other over long periods of time, set to a composed score of repetitive music by lauren leigh written for the performance and performed live. The Music is inspired by Wittgenstein’s strands of mathematical logic and his index system centred around the number seven. Wittgenstein never believed that everyone would truly understand all of his philosophical thoughts, rather he hoped that on a more individual basis people would relate to parts or sections of his thoughts, as he writes about his first book The Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. ‘Its purpose would be achieved if it gave pleasure to one person who read and understood it’

This opera is designed in the same way, the audience do not have to understand Wittgenstein or learn anything about him in order to appreciate the work, there is no right or wrong way of interpreting. The piece is more concerned with the pleasure and personal associations it may provide for its audience. If the opera is enjoyed its purpose would be achieved.

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