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The word “abstract” has many meanings. In my “day” job, it’s usually the last page of a patent application.  In a written research paper, it’s usually put at the beginning.  It means “a brief summary of a research article, thesis, review, conference proceeding or any in-depth analysis of a particular subject or discipline, and is often used to help the reader quickly ascertain the paper’s purpose” (en.wikipedia. org).

It can mean “not concrete”, “not practical”, “difficult to understand”.  It can refer to (among other things) Art, Music, ideas, poetry or writing. Its word origin is from the 1550s and its meaning is “withdrawn or separated from material objects or practical matters” (dictionary.reference.com).

My hubby astutely pointed out to me today, “YOU don’t like abstract”.  He’s right.  I have a hard time understanding things that are illogical or unexplainable.

jazzmusicHubby is a big fan of Jazz music, and he likes nothing better than to listen to a Jazz artist “take a song for a ride.”  I hate that!  To me, it just becomes a cacophony.  There’s another good word for you – it means “”harsh discordance of sound” or an “unpleasant noise”.  I love music.  When they veer off the main tune and just bang away on the instruments to make as much noise as possible, I don’t get it.  It gets on my nerves.

jarreauScat Singers imitate the cacophony with their voices.  “In vocal jazz, scat singing is vocal improvisation with wordless vocables, nonsense syllables or without words at all. Scat singing gives singers the ability to sing improvised melodies and rhythms, to create the equivalent of an instrumental solo using their voice” (en.wikipedia.org).  I never liked Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme or Al Jarreau. I can listen to Al Jarreau until he goes off on a tangent.  Then I’d like to punch him.



In Art, famous paintings in particular, I would rather look at a Monet or a Degas.  I can understand a painting that resembles something I can identify.  In abstract art, I can appreciate colors, but I’m always looking for identifiable shapes. Some art just confuses me. There’s an abstract sculpture outside the Federal building here in Rochester that always looked like a bent-up snow plow blade to me.  It’s called “Equilateral Six”.  I don’t get it.

equilateral six

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.


 I have trouble with Poetry sometimes.  I keep trying to make it rhyme in my head when I read it.  I’m also a fast reader.  If I read poetry too quickly, I lose the meaning.  If I go back and re-read and take my time, I can usually figure it out.

Things that are abstract are left to the viewer’s interpretation or imagination.  There is no right or wrong answer.  It is whatever you want to make it.  Maybe that’s why I never liked essay questions on tests.  The answer is left up to me. My first response to essay questions usually is “I don’t know, and I don’t care.” The only problem with that response (were I to write it down) is that the teacher’s answer to that would be a zero.

Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun.

~George Scialabba





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