Abstraction Quotes

Quotes tagged as "abstraction" Showing 1-30 of 94
Gustave Flaubert
“Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.”
Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary

David Levithan
abstraction, n.

Love is one kind of abstraction. And then there are those nights when I sleep alone, when I curl into a pillow that isn't you, when I hear the tiptoe sounds that aren't yours. It's not as if I can conjure you up completely. I must embrace the idea of you instead.”
David Levithan, The Lover's Dictionary

Wassily Kandinsky
“Colour is a power which directly influences the soul.”
Wassily Kandinsky , Concerning the Spiritual in Art

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
“People who are too fastidious towards the finite never reach actuality, but linger in abstraction, and their light dies away.”
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

D.H. Lawrence
“And in this passion for understanding her soul lay close to his; she had him all to herself. But he must be made abstract first.”
D.H. Lawrence, Sons and Lovers

Friedrich Nietzsche
“What, then, is truth? A mobile army of metaphors, metonyms, and anthropomorphisms – in short, a sum of human relations, which have been enhanced, transposed, and embellished poetically and rhetorically, and which after long use seem firm, canonical, and obligatory to a people: truths are illusions about which one has forgotten that this is what they are; metaphors which are worn out and without sensuous power; coins which have lost their pictures and now matter only as metal, no longer as coins.”
Freidrich Neitzsche

James George Frazer
“The propensity to excessive simplification is indeed natural to the mind of man, since it is only by abstraction and generalisation, which necessarily imply the neglect of a multitude of particulars, that he can stretch his puny faculties so as to embrace a minute portion of the illimitable vastness of the universe. But if the propensity is natural and even inevitable, it is nevertheless fraught with peril, since it is apt to narrow and falsify our conception of any subject under investigation. To correct it partially - for to correct it wholly would require an infinite intelligence - we must endeavour to broaden our views by taking account of a wide range of facts and possibilities; and when we have done so to the utmost of our power, we must still remember that from the very nature of things our ideas fall immeasurably short of the reality.”
James George Frazer, The Magic Art and the Evolution of Kings, Part 1

Criss Jami
“It always seems as though the definition of love will remain debatable by an opinionated world.”
Criss Jami, Salomé: In Every Inch In Every Mile

Julian Barnes
“You can define a net two ways, depending on your point of view. Normally you would say it is a meshed instrument designed to catch fish. But you could, with no great injury to logic, reverse the image and define the net as a jocular lexicographer once did: he called it a collection of holes tied together with string.”
Julian Barnes, Flaubert's Parrot

Douglas R. Hofstadter
“This idea that there is generality in the specific is of far-reaching importance.”
Douglas R. Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

Ernest Hemingway
“Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the numbers of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates.”
Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

Paul Karl Feyerabend
“All religions are good 'in principle' - but unfortunately this abstract Good has only rarely prevented their practitioners from behaving like bastards.”
Paul Karl Feyerabend, Farewell to Reason

Gustave Flaubert
“Abstraction can provide stumbling blocks for people of strange intelligence.”
Gustave Flaubert, Bouvard and Pecuchet

Gustave Flaubert
“It is an excellent habit to look at things as so many symbols.”
Gustave Flaubert, Bouvard and Pecuchet

Lionel Shriver
“It must be this overarching commitment to what is really an abstraction, to one's children right or wrong, that can be even more fierce than the commitment to them as explicit, difficult people, and that can consequently keep you devoted to them when as individuals they disappoint. On my part it was this broad covenant with children-in-theory that I may have failed to make and to which I was unable to resort when Kevin finally tested my maternal ties to a perfect mathematical limit on Thursday. I didn't vote for parties, but for candidates. My opinions were as ecumenical as my larder, then still chock full of salsa verde from Mexico City, anchovies from Barcelona, lime leaves from Bangkok. I had no problem with abortion but abhorred capital punishment, which I suppose meant that I embraced the sanctity of life only in grown-ups. My environmental habits were capricious; I'd place a brick in our toilet tank, but after submitting to dozens of spit-in-the-air showers with derisory European water pressure, I would bask under a deluge of scalding water for half an hour. My closet wafter with Indian saris, Ghanaian wraparounds, and Vietnamese au dais. My vocabulary was peppered with imports -- gemutlich, scusa, hugge, mzungu. I so mixed and matched the planet that you sometimes worried I had no commitments to anything or anywhere, though you were wrong; my commitments were simply far-flung and obscenely specific.

By the same token, I could not love a child; I would have to love this one. I was connected to the world by a multitude of threads, you by a few sturdy guide ropes. It was the same with patriotism: You loved the idea of the United States so much more powerfully than the country itself, and it was thanks to your embrace of the American aspiration that you could overlook the fact that your fellow Yankee parents were lining up overnight outside FAO Schwartz with thermoses of chowder to buy a limited release of Nintendo. In the particular dwells the tawdry. In the conceptual dwells the grand, the transcendent, the everlasting. Earthly countries and single malignant little boys can go to hell; the idea of countries and the idea of sons triumph for eternity. Although neither of us ever went to church, I came to conclude that you were a naturally religious person.”
Lionel Shriver, We Need to Talk About Kevin

Alfred Korzybski
“A map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness.”
Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics

William  James
“Our intelligence cannot wall itself up alive, like a pupa in a chrysalis. It must at any cost keep on speaking terms with the universe that engendered it.”
William James, A Pluralistic Universe

Fulton J. Sheen
“Remember that every science is based upon an abstraction. An abstraction is taking a point of view or looking at things under a certain aspect or from a particular angle. All sciences are differentiated by their abstraction.”
Fulton J. Sheen, Life Is Worth Living

Azar Nafisi
“I was reminded of a painter friend who had started her career by depicting scenes from life, mainly deserted rooms, abandoned houses and discarded photographs of women. Gradually, her work became more abstract, and in her last exhibition, her paintings were splashes of rebellious color, like the two in my living room, dark patches with little droplets of blue. I asked about her progress from modern realism to abstraction. Reality has become so intolerable, she said, so bleak, that all I can paint now are the colors of my dreams.”
Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books

David Graeber
“Perhaps this is what a state actually is: a combination of exceptional violence and the creation of a complex social machine, all ostensibly devoted to acts of care and devotion.

There is obviously a paradox here. Caring labour is in a way the very opposite of mechanical labour: it is about recognizing and understanding the unique qualities, needs and peculiarities of the cared-for – whether child, adult, animal or plant – in order to provide what they require to flourish. Caring labour is distinguished by its particularity. If those institutions we today refer to as ‘states’ really do have any common features, one must certainly be a tendency to displace this caring impulse on to abstractions; today this is usually ‘the nation’, however broadly or narrowly defined. Perhaps this is why it’s so easy for us to see ancient Egypt as a prototype for the modern state: here too, popular devotion was diverted on to grand abstractions, in this case the ruler and the elite dead. This process is what made it possible for the whole arrangement to be imagined, simultaneously, as a family and as a machine, in which everyone (except of course the king) was ultimately interchangeable. From the seasonal work of tomb-building to the daily servicing of the ruler’s body (recall again how the first royal inscriptions are found on combs and make-up palettes), most of human activity was directed upwards, either towards tending rulers (living and dead) or assisting them with their own task of feeding and caring for the gods.”
David Graeber, The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity

Henry Virgin
“I’ve always been enchanted by the show of electrical abstractions, within one’s mind; so colourful, myriad and seemingly contingent, which appear, sparkle, glimmer and dissolve into that infinite gloom which one is trying to vanquish with sleep.”
Henry Virgin, Hot Pink Peach

Jean Baudrillard
“The revolutionary idea of contemporary art was that any object, any detail or fragment of the material world, could exert the same strange attraction and pose the same insoluble questions as were reserved in the past for a few rare aristocratic forms known as works of art.
That is where true democracy lay: not in the accession of everyone to aesthetic enjoyment, but in the transaesthetic advent of a world in which every object would, without distinction, have its fifteen minutes of fame (particularly objects without distinction). All objects are equivalent, everything is a work of genius. With, as a corollary, the transformation of art and of the work itself into an object, without illusion or transcendence, a purely conceptual acting-out, generative of deconstructed objects which deconstruct us in their turn.
No longer any face, any gaze, any human countenance or body in all this - organs without bodies, flows, molecules, the fractal. The relation to the 'artwork' is of the order of contamination, of contagion: you hook up to it, absorb or immerse yourself in it, exactly as in flows and networks. Metonymic sequence, chain reaction.
No longer any real object in all this: in the ready-made it is no longer the object that's there, but the idea of the object, and we no longer find pleasure here in art, but in the idea of art. We are wholly in ideology.
And, ultimately, the twofold curse of modem and contemporary art is summed up in the 'ready-made': the curse of an immersion in the real and banality, and that of a conceptual absorption in the idea of art.”
Jean Baudrillard, The Intelligence of Evil or the Lucidity Pact

“Regular expressions are widely used for string matching. Although regular-expression systems are derived from a perfectly good mathematical formalism, the particular choices made by implementers to expand the formalism into useful software systems are often disastrous: the quotation conventions adopted are highly irregular; the egregious misuse of parentheses, both for grouping and for backward reference, is a miracle to behold. In addition, attempts to increase the expressive power and address shortcomings of earlier designs have led to a proliferation of incompatible derivative languages.”
Chris Hanson, Software Design for Flexibility: How to Avoid Programming Yourself Into a Corner

Ralph Waldo Emerson
“I would put myself in the attitude to look in the eye an abstract truth, and I cannot. I blench and withdraw on this side and on that. I seem to know what he meant who said, No man can see God face to face and live.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Steven Pinker
“…people could not analyse their metaphors if they didn’t command an underlying medium of thought that is more abstract than the metaphors themselves.”
Steven Pinker, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature

Jean Baudrillard
“Here lies the total abstraction and the source of all domination: in the breakdown of the dual relation.
The strategy of domination is, indeed, to ensure that, through all the techniques of communication, through inescapable, streaming information, there can no longer be any response. It is a domination by signs empty of meaning. But, on the other side, there is an equal indifference and blank resistance.”
Jean Baudrillard, The Intelligence of Evil or the Lucidity Pact

“So the syntax of the regular-expression language is awful; there are various incompatible forms of the language; and the quotation conventions are baroquen [sic]. While regular expression languages are domain-specific languages, they are bad ones. Part of the value of examining regular expressions is to experience how bad things can be.”
Chris Hanson, Software Design for Flexibility: How to Avoid Programming Yourself Into a Corner

“It is interesting we teach our children to abstract, to divide and to separate without telling them that there is no division in reality and that the purpose of otherness is simply togetherness.”
Wald Wassermann

László Krasznahorkai
“it’s precisely the infinite that casts light upon how the brain thinks, and how clever it is in showing us something that seems real when it’s merely an abstraction, namely that brain introduced or employed to great effect those methods of distortion, that dislocation”
László Krasznahorkai, Baron Wenckheim's Homecoming

Syed Buali Gillani
“I recognise myself less and less in the mirror.”
Syed Buali Gillani

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