Wittgenstein’s Poker Emporium By: Patricia Grant

On a fall evening in 1946, a club for serious philosophical discussion and debate known as the Cambridge Moral Science Club assembled for their weekly meeting at King’s College in Cambridge, England. The esteemed philosopher of science, Dr. Karl Popper was the visiting lecturer that night. The philosopher of logic and language, and the club’s enigmatic chairman, Ludwig Wittgenstein was among the professors and students in attendance, as well as the renowned political activist and philosopher, Bertrand Russell. Also present was a seemingly innocuous tool on the hearthstone — an iron fire poker.

It was the fire poker that took center stage in the debate that night when the topic for discussion, “Are there philosophical problems?” sparked a heated exchange between Popper and Wittgenstein. It was an exchange so heated that Wittgenstein, in his fury to make himself understood, resorted to waving the poker menacingly — and now famously — at Popper in defense of his position that there were, in fact, no real philosophical problems, but merely linguistic puzzles.

Can you relate to this?

Do you, like Professor Wittgenstein, often feel frustrated by the limits of language? Do you find that words alone draw insufficient or inaccurate images in the minds of your peers, leading to confusion instead of clarity? Are you acutely aware that words are untrustworthy tools of communication without sure knowledge of the language game in which they are applied? Do you sometimes feel the need to abandon words altogether and brandish another kind of tool of communication, such as a heavy stick-like object?

Hi, I’m Craig Wittgenstein of Wittgenstein’s Poker Emporium. If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then you need a poker from Wittgenstein’s Poker Emporium.

Visit our new showroom at the corner of Highway 49 and Airport Road. Browse our over 12,000 square feet of pokers at your leisure. We have brass pokers, bronze pokers, iron pokers, steel pokers! We have chrome and pewter! We have extra-longs and minis! We have antique pokers, modern pokers, gag pokers and even, for the 21 and older customer, erotic pokers!

We have more pokers than you can shake a — well, poker at!

All our pokers are sure to make your philosophical adversary see things your way or your money back. Trust me, Craig Wittgenstein, once you’ve poked at your philosophical adversary with a poker from Wittgenstein’s Poker Emporium you will never poke at your philosophical adversary with another poker again. I GUARANTEE IT.

Our pokers are also great for tending fires, e.g., yule logs, fire-pits, campfires, bonfires, carburetor fires, kitchen fires — any fire that needs tending can be tended with a poker from Wittgenstein’s Poker Emporium. That’s what I call value!

Now, a personal note: it was five years ago this month that a devastating fire (started by an untended fireplace) claimed the Poker Emporium’s original location at 15th and Main. In agony over the uncertain future of the Poker Emporium, I, Craig Wittgenstein, retreated to the fjords of Norway to contemplate the nature of the poker market and my place within it.

I built a hut high on the bank of a lake, and there I lived in isolation. I encountered others only when I traveled on foot to the nearest town of Skjolden for supplies. I filled my days with long, contemplative walks in the wild Norwegian hinterland. I fished and bathed in the purifying waters of the lake. One morning, as dawn broke over the fjord’s towering cliffs, a lucid realization came to me: I must return to Fresno and re-open the Poker Emporium. The future of the poker in modern philosophical discourse depended on it. So I did, and now the Poker Emporium is bigger and better than ever.

To celebrate our grand re-opening, we are having a RED HOT POKER sale. This weekend only, our entire inventory is on sale! There has NEVER been a better time to be in the market for a poker, so strike while the iron (poker) is hot! Visit Wittgenstein’s Poker Emporium this weekend at the corner of Highway 49 and Airport Road.

Take a page out of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus! Poke at life’s linguistic puzzles with a poker from Wittgenstein’s Poker Emporium. You’ll be glad you did. I GUARANTEE IT.