Abstracting Reality

Abstractions, to abstract something, to take it completely out of the physical, but not into the mystical, one takes it into a more scientific realm, of dissection, of constituent parts, a zoom in into one’s surroundings, ideas, visions. However, it can also be a zoom-out, the formation of patterns of a wider view from a myriad of seemingly disconnected components, Chaos has a pattern ultimately, even though the zoom-out is a harder feat to pull and less relatable as it depersonalizes and as humans, we are terrible at being able to look at things not through ourselves, worse than even looking at things through ourselves.

To abstract is thus an exercise, a powerful, important and ultimately beautiful one. Not that it is superior to non-abstraction, it is just another option, and with options one can then make, see, think, great things, it’s our option. Nonetheless, as with everything the exercise can be taken to the extreme, which again is in itself interesting and nourishing, but it needs to be said and advertised that it is so, an extreme case, unrelated to reality as we know it here in the middle of the focus lens. That’s when the abstraction of a concept or idea can cause extreme distress in our reality, the Nazis and their half-baked racial theories, and the communists and their new world are two glaring examples of abstractions and theoretical concepts being applied literally to reality with total disregard for real life. Religions are also full of these examples; the direct interpretation of sacred texts is probably one of the greatest killers which have ever existed. In art things are not so dramatic as usual, they are more contemplative, but nonetheless, problems arise as well, the recent overuse and miss interpretation of Heidegger, Deleuze or Derrida are clear examples. And here there is another step that takes place, which is the extreme abstraction, the exercise in abstraction becomes the focus, the link to reality is not important anymore and is lost with time and what is left and discussed is just the process, this finality, which since according to the exercise it is final it also gives the person interpreting it this way a sense of sureness. Things are easier to accept and to live with when they are black and white, it requires effort to be constantly thinking that it is all in flux, that much of it we do not know about, ultimately, we are here most probably without any purpose whatsoever if we decide to decay with Cioran. Or look at it in a positive way, there is no purpose so we are free to find one. One digresses.

This sense of sureness, gives the studying person and sense of confidence, a sense that knowledge is something correct, with logic, without gaps, immutable and constant, again the need for comfort and certainty. This is then propagated onwards down the next generation and so on. We have finally a cohort of studies that study nothing but the certainty of a thought which was in itself an exercise in abstraction, a decoupling from the philosophical reality into the ether, a zoom in or out of the plain in which the space not viewed through the lens is discarded. As an exercise it was important and interesting, fruitful even, as a truth it is utter garbage and not only garbage, but also dangerous, as it ossifies discourse and prevents alternative views to be heard, and gives a false sense of knowledge. Ultimately it is just due to ignorance.

Martim Brion