Abstraction Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 391 quotes )
[I]f creative fiction writing is a process of translating an abstraction into the concrete, there are three possible grades of such writing: translating an old (known) abstraction (theme or thesis) through the medium of old fiction means (that is, characters, events or situations used before for that same purpose, that same translation) -- this is most of the popular trash; translating an old abstraction through new, original fiction means -- this is most of the good literature; creating a new, original abstraction and translating it through new, original means. This, as far as I know, is only me -- my kind of fiction writing.
Whenever a state or an individual cited 'insufficient funds' as an excuse for neglecting this important thing or that, it was indicative of the extent to which reality had been distorted by the abstract lens of wealth. During periods of so-called economic depression, for example, societies suffered for want of all manner of essential goods, yet investigation almost invariably disclosed that there were plenty of goods available. Plenty of coal in the ground, corn in the fields, wool on the sheep. What was missing was not materials but an abstract unit of measurement called 'money.' It was akin to a starving woman with a sweet tooth lamenting that she couldn't bake a cake because she didn't have any ounces. She had butter, flour, eggs, milk, and sugar, she just didn't have any ounces, any pinches, any pints. The loony legacy of money was that the arithmetic by which things were measured had become more valuable than the things themselves.
To make someone an icon is to make him an abstraction, and abstractions are incapable of vital communication with living people.1010 One has only to spend a term trying to teach college literature to realize that the quickest way to kill an author's vitality for potential readers is to present that author ahead of his time as "great" or "classic." Because then the author becomes for the students like medicine or vegetables, something the authorities have declared "good for them" that they "ought to like," at which point the students' nictitating membranes come down, and everyone just goes through the requisite motions of criticism and paper-writing without feeling one real or relevant thing. It's like removing all oxygen from the room before trying to start a fire.
In fact, the sickness I was suffering from was that I had been driven out of the paradise of childhood and had not found my place in the world of adults. I had set myself up in the absolute in order to gaze down upon this world which was rejecting me; now, if I wanted to act, to write a book, to express myself, I would have to go back down there: but my contempt had annihilated it, and I could see nothing but emptiness. The fact is that I had not yet put my hand to the plow. Love, action, literary work: all I did was to roll these ideas round in my head; I was fighting in an abstract fashion against abstract possibilities, and I had come to the conclusion that reality was of the most pitiful insignificance. I was hoping to hold fast to something, and misled by the violence of this indefinite desire, I was confusing it with the desire for the infinite.
God does not demand that every man attain to what is theoretically highest and best. It is better to be a good street sweeper than a bad writer, better to be a good bartender than a bad doctor, and the repentant thief who died with Jesus on Calvary was far more perfect than the holy ones who had Him nailed to the cross. And yet, abstractly speaking, what is more holy than the priesthood and less holy than the state of a criminal? The dying thief had, perhaps, disobeyed the will of God in many things: but in the most important event of his life He listened and obeyed. The Pharisees had kept the law to the letter and had spent their lives in the pursuit of a most scrupulous perfection. But they were so intent upon perfection as an abstraction that when God manifested His will and His perfection in a concrete and definite way they had no choice but to reject it.
The bourgeoisie, which far surpasses the proletariat in the completeness and irreconcilibility of its class consciousness, is vitally interested in imposing its moral philosophy upon the exploited masses. It is exactly for this purpose that the concrete norms of the bourgeois catechism are concealed under moral abstractions...The appeal to abstract norms is not a disinterested philosophic mistake but a necessary element in the mechanics of class deception.
The whole gestural system of work was also obscene, in sharp contrast to the miniaturized and abstract gestural system of control to which it has now been reduced. The world of the objects of old seems like a theatre of cruelty and instinctual drives in comparison with the formal neutrality and prophylactic 'whiteness' of our perfect functional objects. Thus the handle of the flatiron gradually diminishes as it undergoes 'contouring' - the term is typical in its superficiality and abstractness; increasingly it suggests the very absence of gesture, and carried to its logical extreme this handle will no longer be manual - merely manipulable. At that point, the perfecting of the form will have relegated man to a pure contemplation of his power.
In a life, or a portion of a life illuminated, there's a fullness and a balance that no theory or abstraction can match. Why do people waste so much time on abstraction? The life that is given to us, that we play out, is something that you cannot any more grasp with systems and ideas than you can tame an elephant with tweezers.
He said there were going to be literary parties. I tried to imagine a literary party and was unable to. It was a very abstract effort, like trying to imagine a triangle or a cube. Wearing a suit made me feel even more abstract. I had a mental picture of me inside my suit, inside a party, inside a building, inside San Francisco. I didn't know what I was doing, inside so many things that were unlike me.
He registered a dizzy 7.6 mmv over Brodmann 32, the area of abstractive activity. Since that time I have learned that a reading over 6 generally means that a person has so abstracted himself from himself and from the world around him, seeing things as theories and himself as a shadow, that he cannot, so to speak, reenter the lovely ordinary world. Such a person, and there are millions, is destined to haunt the human condition like the Flying Dutchman.
Between ourselves and our real natures we interpose that wax figure of idealizations and selections which we call our character. We extend this into all our thinking. Between us and the realities of social life we build up a mass of generalizations, abstract ideas, ancient glories, and personal wishes. They simplify and soften experience. It is so much easier to talk of poverty than to think of the poor, to argue the rights of capital than to see its results. Pretty soon we come to think of the theories and abstract ideas as things in themselves. We worry about their fate and forget their original content.
The body, the mind, and the spirit don't form a pyramid, they form a circle. Each of them runs into the other two. The body isn't below the mind and the spirit; from the point of view it's between them. if you reside too much in the mind, then you get too abstract and cut off from the world. You long for the spiritual life, but you can't get to it, and you fall into despair. The exercise of the senses frees you from abstraction and opens the way to transcendence.
I am glad that the country world…retains a power to use our English tongue. It is a part of its sense of reality, of its vocabulary of definite terms, and of its habit of earthly common sense. I find this country writing an excellent corrective of the urban vocabulary of abstractions and of the emotion disguised as thinking which abstractions and humbug have loosed upon the world. May there always be such things as a door, a milk pail, and a loaf of bread, and words to do them honor.
See the exquisite contrast of the types of mind! The pragmatist clings to facts and concreteness, observes truth at its work in particular cases, and generalises. Truth, for him, becomes a class-name for all sorts of definite working-values in experience. For the rationalist it remains a pure abstraction, to the bare name of which we must defer. When the pragmatist undertakes to show in detail just why we must defer, the rationalist is unable to recognise the concretes from which his own abstraction is taken. He accuses us of denying truth; whereas we have only sought to trace exactly why people follow it and always ought to follow it. Your typical ultra-abstractions fairly shudders at concreteness: other things equal, he positively prefers the pale and spectral. If the two universes were offered, he would always choose the skinny outline rather than the rich thicket of reality. It is so much purer, clearer, nobler.
One might suppose that reality must be held to at all costs. However, though that may be the moral thing to do, it is not necessarily the most useful thing to do. The Greeks themselves chose the ideal over the real in their geometry and demonstrated very well that far more could be achieved by consideration of abstract line and form than by a study of the real lines and forms of the world; the greater understanding achieved through abstraction could be applied most usefully to the very reality that was ignored in the process of gaining knowledge.