This is hard to refute: Nothing is important and true if it is merely important and true to you.
At the college where I work, I heard a humanities professor remark recently: the abstract is the basis of education.
By abstract, the professor means: All that is wise, good, and important is true for everyone, not just you.
The children who “get this,” grow up to be productive members of society; those who don’t, become those half-formed dreamers who merely survive, or worse, criminals.
Most of us are comfortable thinking that there is a ‘selfish curve;’ the more selfish you are, the more you ultimately suffer; the religious find contentment knowing God’s justice ultimately takes care of everything, but that doesn’t mean everyone isn’t irked when they witness selfishness in others; the religious are still motivated to “spread the word of God,” even though their all-powerful God will “take care of everything at last, anyway.”
This contradiction is not a minor thing. If God is all-powerful, why do you behave as if He were not?
You (the religious) are busy “spreading God’s word,” even as God, beyond all words and beyond all understanding, inhabits, in a vast, just, material, eternal manner, everything. Why so busy, then?
I could believe every single thing you (the religious) say as you “spread God’s word” and still find you excessively ignorant and redundant and tiresome—and tell you in all sincerity to please go away and never show your face around here again.
There. As you may have guessed, Scarriet is not a religious place.
And this sentiment is precisely where we are in the world today, with the secular world becoming increasingly exasperated and emboldened in their objection to religion, especially as it manifests itself around social media-driven flashpoint issues and events.
Anti-religious extremism threatens more and more each day to become mainstream, at least in the West, thanks to academia and social media, where the religious find their antiquated mists lifting before the winds of progressive and intellectual arguments; secular common sense is nearly impossible to resist as the “love of Jesus” is turned against every religious prohibition under the sun.
The immutable Abstract God needs human representatives—with human stories and human logic. When servants of the Abstract God debate with the professor/artist/social worker class, who represent The Abstract Benefits of All People, the servants of The Lord lose, and they lose because they are humorless and antiquated, and because Equality is the abstraction which trumps everything.
This does not mean the religious ultimately lose—they will surely never go away—and they do not ultimately lose for the following reason: Equality, or even the need for it, is, alas, an abstract theory, not an abstract reality.
Abstraction, itself, at its most powerful, exists as a reality, not a theory.
Those quiet ones, who skip the debate, knowing the One True Real Abstraction, God’s Justice, takes care of everything, and not in some theoretical equality-type manner, but with every unequal thing and person fitting into the great scheme at last, miraculously and imaginatively, the quiet ones who skip the debates, are the ones you should listen to, when you have a moment—not the self-assured ones on the left or the right.
To return to “you” and how your feelings are never the most important thing:
According to our wise secular professor, what you happen to feel is never as important as the abstracted feelings of the many.
But not only is Religion on the run in the West, but a counter-force, Romanticism seems to be making a quiet comeback.
The Romantic does value “your” singular feelings.
This is because “the you” is finally an abstract idea, as well, and those who defend “the abstract” find themselves trapped by the whole theoretical notion of “the abstract”: once we begin to sociologically impose abstract models onto everything, in the name of a benevolent but coarse system of benefits for all, the theoretical destroys everything in its path. Theoretically, the “you” joins the “many,” and science becomes farcically anecdotal, all in the name of abstraction, and of words abstractly used, with “them” and “you” swapped and traded in the blink of an eye.
The Romantic persists in being “wrong” in the face of all the wise theorists; the Romantic denies the abstract with passionate feeling: Ovid’s “I hate and love.”
The Romantic is worth listening to, because there are two kinds of Abstraction.
Our professor friend, who we quoted in the beginning of the essay, refers to the Abstract Abstract.
The Abstract Abstract is the abstraction we find in psychology, sociology and literature textbooks, the essential content of the non-religious liberal arts education: generalized information applied anecdotally and then traced back to the generalized information in a rough ‘what’s best for all’ sort of way.
In these liberal arts scenarios, passion is always reserved for “blind evil,” which does the things we professionals are appalled by, and cannot understand, as we, rationally, in the course of our liberal arts education, pursue our sane pedagogical goals: marriage for everybody, love for everybody, riches for everybody, etc etc.
But the Romantic and the religious refer to something else: the Real Abstract.
The Real Abstract is The Whole Universe, literally, that dynamic, grand design of the whole which God (whether or not He really exists) is short-hand for.
It is why Edgar Poe ventured to call his essay on the Universe a poem—the unity of the subject called for it.
The abstract is truly one thing and one thing only: the material, finite universe as it really in fact exists.
The rigor of this abstraction puts to shame the mere ‘good for all’ theory practiced by the liberal arts colleges.
Example: there is no such thing as a kind review. We never argue for something in a generalized manner: the one (poem, book, world, etc) contains many things, which, by necessity, if the whole of which the parts are a part is worth anything at all, succeed and fail as things to varying degrees. So instead of saying, ‘this is a great ___,’ we instead say which parts of ____ in any given ____ are good and which are bad.
How many reviews of friends’ poetry books and chapbooks are thorough, and truly objective? They are almost never objective. They always feel, due to friendship and kindness, like advertisements: you must read this great book!
Passion is required for truth, and passion, by definition, is Ovidian, containing love and hate. The truly unique whole of the universe is both loving and hateful. The Real Abstract contains both beauty and necessity.
The merely Abstract Abstract, however, the one we get from the liberal arts professor, is necessary, but not beautiful: proper goodness must prevail, so that the poet, who is both student and customer in the new professional university environment, receives the proper flattery and is pleased—each part in the Abstract Abstract must exist abstractly, pleased to be an unreal part of what is essentially a pleasing, artificial (abstract) agenda.
The uneasy way the universe actually fits together produces the passion that is at once the cause and the effect of its meaning—for those who attempt to comprehend it. (Poe perhaps having come the closest?)
Abstractly speaking, the universe, today, in our progressive age, is a “rainbow” of benevolent mixing.
What does this “rainbow” symbol mean, anyway? What does it actually mean?
Be nice to everyone. Accept differences. But isn’t this too general to mean anything?
A friend once asked us if Joan Rivers was mean or funny. The answer, of course, is both. The funny and the mean are inextricably mixed.
“Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?” will always sound in fair Verona’s streets.
Let us look at an actual example.
A black conservative judge, who opposes gay marriage, and his white wife comprise two races and two genders. The vast majority of gay couplings comprise one race and one gender.
Which couple most resembles a “rainbow?”
If there is no rational reason to oppose gay marriage—we cannot think of one; Scarriet certainly does not oppose gay marriage—perhaps it is only a “rainbow” impulse that does oppose it: is that an irony, or what?
Our benevolent “rainbow” idea belongs to the Abstract Abstract, one of those ideals, which, upon inspection, is found to be one of those liberal arts ideals whose “truth” is a highly convincing symbolism for the sake of an abstract good: robbing from the rich is “good” in similar abstract ways.
The Real Abstract consists of social minutia, flawed expression, breeding, borders, hierarchy and competing interests over time—messy and vastly complex mixtures, not given to easy Abstract Abstract ideals.
Hate and love, as a mixture, is never easily understood; love by itself and hate by itself, are far more easily understood, and they are understood more easily—because they belong to the Abstract Abstract, not the Real Abstract; the Abstract Abstract is what tends to be taught—in the schools.
We can gently refute our wise professor after all: very often what is true and important is true and important—to you.