A team of geneticists from Berlin have shown that Wittgensteinianism - a common academic addiction to the writings of the philosopher Wittgenstein, which in its late stages becomes a life-consuming obsession – is actually associated with a certain gene. Even though this does not mean that all people carrying this genetic disorder will inevitably develop the ailment, they need much less exposure to the work of Wittgenstein than normal people to become fascinated by it and, from that point on, hopelessly addicted.
Clinical trials performed with genetically mutated mice demonstrated beyond a doubt that this is so. Whereas mice from the control group, when exposed to a paperback print of The Philosophical Investigations, behaved in the same manner as would be considered completely normal in humans (simply ignoring the book or, at times, releasing a few droppings on top of it), the mutated mice would quickly become obsessed with it, leafing through its pages with their little noses, going back and forth over and over again, and staring at individual words sometimes for minutes, displaying the unhealthy attention to detail well known to occur in humans suffering from this affliction. Additionally, all of the mutated mice became extremely gay.
Although this dependence remains unknown to the general public, it afflicts a great number of families around the world. Todd Marshal, a grocery store manager from Indiana, told us about his experience as a parent: “One day my son got home after school and told me that a friend of his had let him browse through a copy of the Blue and Brown Books. I became nervous of course, as any father would, and even more so when he told me he had enjoyed the experience and that he thought that Wittgenstein had a point. I never wanted to be one of those parents who overprotects their children so I let him experiment. What was the big deal, right? I tried a little Nietzsche myself when I was about his age so I thought the same thing that had happened to me would happen to him: he would simply grow out of all that nonsense. But it wasn’t long before I started seeing changes in his behavior. He would stay locked in his room for hours on end and was constantly asking me for money ‘to buy porn’, as he would say. But one day, while he was away, I entered his room, opened up his nightstand drawer and underneath a few empty vials of Vaseline I saw a worn-out copy of the Tractactus, filled with little notes and highlighted passages. And I knew then that my son was an addict. I tried everything to get him to quit and I kept asking myself what I had done wrong. For a while I truly believed I could change him but one day he arrived home saying he had finished his PhD and that he had been offered a position at a faculty teaching Wittgenstein and working with a Wittgenstein research group. A bright academic career was now ahead of him, and I knew I had lost my son.”
Dramatic as it is, the discovery of the Wittgenstein gene brings parents like these a small measure of solace. Now they know that regardless of their best efforts, in the end there was really nothing they could do after the exposure had happened. All they can do is try to get their children to admit they have a disease and convince them to seek professional help because although a cure really doesn’t exist, treatment is possible. Addicts can slowly be weaned off Wittgenstein by means of a lighter Logical Positivist succedaneum, which produces similar intellectual effects but isn’t as dangerous. The idea is to completely rid the patient of the addiction by administering high doses of Quine at a later stage, but most relapse into Wittgenstein within 3 months of treatment.
Not all is bad news, though. As it turns out, genetically afflicted Wittgenstein scholars aren’t similar to cockroaches simply in the sense that both are parasitical biological automatons that excel at surviving in extremely competitive environments despite the fact that they lack the intelligence and creativity of higher organisms. They are also both incredibly resilient to radiation. In fact, scientists believe that in case a nuclear holocaust happens, cockroaches and Wittgensteinians will be the only living things left o Earth. Governmental authorities in UN countries have been trying to put this genetic advantage to use by sending Wittgensteinians to Fukushima to help solve the radiation leakage problem. However, all Wittgensteinians so far have refused to go there, claiming that the word “radiation” makes no sense outside its ordinary use within the context of the nuclear power plant, and that they are therefore certain that the radiation problem will eventually dissolve itself rather than be solved.