An egg is a proposition with a yolk

PIERO DI COSIMO. Perseus Frees Andromeda. 1515.

The Florentine painter Piero di Cosimo (1462 – 1522) hardly ate anything other than eggs. He would boil 50 at a time (who counted?) and nibble on an egg held in one hand while painting with the other. The time saved allowed him to get a lot of work done, though some claim he wouldn’t cook other foods because he suffered from pyrophobia, or fear of fire (how did he heat the boiling water?), but I think he just loved eggs.


First published in 1886, Phantasms of the Living is a two volume, 2,000 page compendium of the research of the Cambridge educated psychologist Edmund Gurney, the poet Frederic William Henry Myers (he coined the term ‘methetherial’), and the postal worker Frank Podmore (who, when not delivering letters, did things like suggesting the name for the Fabian society) of ghosts, precognitive dreams, precognitive visions, and telepathical hallucinations.

In the pages of this pioneering work of parapsychology we encounter the eerie case of an educated, rational man who – well, I’ll let Gurney, Podmore, and Myers tell it:

At mid-morning the percipient had a mind's eye image of an egg basket containing five eggs--four elongated and yellowish, one more round and white but soiled. At noon he discovered that these eggs had been sent over for lunch by his mother-in-law about a half-hour earlier; in pursuing the matter, he learned that his mother-in-law had thought of sending the basket of eggs at 10 o'clock, the time of the mental image. Gurney notes that, as a scientific draftsman, the percipient was a trained observer by habit; but he also notes that the percipient's wife had "almost forgotten" the incident; in her words, "All I can say is that my husband looked at some eggs and made the remark that he had seen them before. I know he told me my mother had sent them."
I'm not a psychic, but I predict many of you will recall this unsettling account the next time you bite into an omelet.

In the evening of December of 1973, a proprietor of an Alpine lodge (let us call him Mr. L.) was gazing out the window at the snowy peak of the Weitlahnerkopf.

Like most endeavors, being the proprietor of an Alpine lodge has its ups and downs, but on bad days Mr. L would gaze at the Weitlahnerkopf and by experiencing the tranquility and natural beauty would reestablish his emotional equilibrium. On good days he would also gaze upon the Weitlahnerkopf, to remind himself to be humble. For unlike the solid and immense Weitlahnerkopf, a man’s victories in this life are small and transient.

On this particular evening while gazing at the Weitlahnerkopf Mr. L saw something he had never seen before in all the times he had gazed at the Weitlahnerkopf:
...the object started to shine in a much brighter red color and rose-up slowly in the air. After 4-5 minutes it hovered about 200 meters over the top of the mountain. Suddenly it moved in the direction of the Hochries-lodge. When it was only 2 km away it stopped in mid-air. The witnesses now recognized that the object was egg-shaped and not a helicopter as they had expected. Its upper part resembled a transparent cockpit. Colored lights rotated around the external rim and around the lower part of the object. The "egg" had a height of about 10 meters and flew absolutely soundless. The rotating lights were comparable with a light show in a discotheque, randomly flashing on and off without a pattern. From top to bottom the colors of the lights were red, green, blue and white.

"The lights ran counter-clockwise, from left to right, without any apparent system and not simultaneously,” said Mr. L. "At first one light appeared, then came the next one and so on. It looked as if fluorescent tubes were running around and flashing in several different positions.”
The flying egg was last seen headed toward Klausenburg, and who can blame it? Klausenburg is a delightful place to visit in December.

If you had invited Ludwig Wittgenstein to spend the weekend at your country house, as a certain class of English persons sometimes did, believing, correctly, that philosophers, the more incomprehensible the better, provide amusing conversation for party guests of a certain type, you would quickly have learned Ludwig Wittgenstein did not care what he ate, but after being served one sort of dish would demand he be served the same dish every meal thereafter. You can easily imagine how difficult breakfast on Saturday was on visits when Wittgenstein had arrived the night before for dinner.

Eventually one of his hosts wised up, and when Ludwig arrived on Friday night, instead of a seven course meal served him a poached egg. True to form, Ludwig ate the egg without complaining, and the rest of the weekend went smoothly for all involved, especially the kitchen staff.


  1. When I was a young whelp I had a book on UFO's which delineated the commonly-seen types. One section was called "Ovoid / egg-shaped objects". I found this kind of UFO particularly unsettling (still do) and developed the urge to "avoid egg-shaped objects" (other than actual eggs, of course, which I have always very much enjoyed).

  2. Strangely enough I don't enjoy eating eggs, but I do enjoy egg-shaped UFOs, though my favorite shape of UFO is haystack.

    Have you ever written a clerihew about Wittgenstein?

  3. I went through a phase of writing clerihews about Wittgenstein some time ago. In the end I lost interest; I suppose I found the lack of artistic restriction unsatisfying.

  4. In my youth, I believed that "counterclockwise" meant that the motion would occur from right to left, rather than from left to right. I suppose it depends on one's point of view and positioning: at the bottom of the dial, or at the top. As a result of bitter experience, I now hold the former view.

  5. Ludwig's brother Paul was a famous one-armed pianist. Tell me that doesn't relate. (And I'll tell you another one.)

  6. Edward: Did Paul not care what song you asked him to play, but once you did, would play it over and over?

  7. Carter, I think all these Wittgensteins were johnny one notes. I only heard of Paul after reading Thomas Bernhard's fabulous obscure novel called "Wittgenstein's Nephew", who was, if you can believe Bernhard (which you can't), maybe Paul's son. It's Difficult Country out here, in the literary landscape, While I am at it, I mean from where I sit today, I recommend: Montano's Malady, by Enrique Vila-Matas. Absolutely clear, into the horizon of literature-sickness, and beyond!

  8. pI've been meaning to read Wittgenstein's Nephew for some time. I actually think there is a Bernhard groundswell going on these days, but maybe it's just me. I do know if were to list 20th century writers I esteem Bernhard and Muriel Spark would be on the list, and a whole lot of supposedly "major" names wouldn't.


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