Does Abstract Thought Really Work?
Steve Martin, the all-time "master" of abstract thought
A Few Typical Responses By People When YOU Use Abstract Thought
IN RESPONSE TO THE HEADLINE
Yes. And no. For those who can master the art of abstract thought, yes, it works. And works well. But for those who struggle with their lack of allowing their minds to be free, no. Abstract thought for these sad souls doesn't work at all.
JUST "WHAT IS ABSTRACT THOUGHT?"
Okay. I will try to answer to the best of my ability, that question. Better yet, allow me to use Steve Martin, a fantastic stand-up comedian who emerged from the pack of comedian wanna-be's in the mid 80's with a brash, fresh and revolutionary style to his concerts. Martin was the first to use "abstract thought" in his humorous routines.
Abstract thought simply means that you take an original thought, a truth and embellish an atmosphere around it, maybe a "teasing" introduction, and when the set-up has been established, you let the audience have it with an obvious end-result. EXAMPLE: One of Martin's best bits was the "Men's Underwear" routine. He would say, "since today's audiences are more sophisticated and understanding, "I" can confess something that I do and not be afraid of being judged or labelled a pervert. Then slowly he "admits," "I like to get into town early, get a nice motel room, then hit the K-Mart's and buy, well, okay. I confess, I--like--to--wear--men's--underwear." "There, I've said it. I feel as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders." The audiences ate this one up. This would be my prime-example of abstract thought.
ALAN ALDA, WHO PLAYED "HAWKEYE" PIERCE
on CBS' hit, M*A*S*H, was also a disciple of abstract thought, but in his character as chief surgeon, "Hawkeye" Pierce, he would use spontaneity, and complex abstract thought responses, although most of the time, humorous, to confuse the "stuffy" disciplined-characters who surrounded him. Larry "Frank Burns" Linville was his main target as well as McLean "Col. Henry Blake" Stevenson, who didn't need "Hawkeye's" abstract thought to be confused as he, "Blake," lived in a near-catatonic state of confusion as the head of the M*A*S*H unit.
All in all, these two artists, Martin and Alda, pulled it off. The usage of abstract thought in their careers as entertainers.
THEN THERE WAS ROBIN WILLIAMS
who literally "blew the doors off" of the entertainment world when he debuted on-stage as the comedian who's machine-gun yakking and random impressions of famous people that happened to fast that his audiences were begging for him to allow them to catch their breath. Williams said in years after he had reached fame-status that Jonathan Winters had been his main influence on being a comedian. In fact, Williams did a bit with Winters on a off-beat variety show and the audience went wild.
Williams, like Martin and Alda, also built his amazing performances on stage, in film and television, "Mork and Mindy," on the foundation of abstract thought. Except in William's case, he added speed and impromptu segments to his scripted stand-up routines which can be said was the "icing on cake" in helping to make Williams a household word in our society.
BUT WHAT ABOUT "US" AVERAGE FOLKS? CAN ABSTRACT THOUGHT WORK FOR US?
We shall see. I don't want to come-off sounding like a know-it-all since I only graduated from high school with a "C" average, but maybe with this story and your intelligence and reasoning, "we" can look at some test examples of abstract thought and find out in a short time "Does Abstract Thought Really Work?"
Robin Williams used Spontaneous Abstract Thought in his stand-up routines
Examples of Abstract Thought Being Used in . . .
You are running a bit late for work. You hurry and park your car in the parking garage across from your office building. Then you charge into your building, fight for a space on the elevator, and arrive at your floor where you work as a C.P.A. for a notable accounting firm with clients ranging from Alec Baldwin to Cher.
Before you can settle-in at your cubicle, your overbearing boss says, "Johnson, do you know how late you are?" Your abstract response is, "no, boss, but if you hold up some pictures, I'm sure that I can identify it." RESULT: Boss gets confused as to what he should do, yell at you or find some photos you asked for.
You sit quietly as the ushers pass around the offering plate and you are next to lay your monetary-offering into the young man's plate. "Mr. Johnson," the usher says. "you gave a hundred-dollar bill. Are you sure you want to do that?" Your abstract reponse is, "not really, but scram before I "am" sure." RESULT: young usher beams with happiness and chuckles.
ON A ROAD-TRIP WITH BUSINESS COLLEAGUES
"Larry Stumpp," an assistant office manager in your business is driving you, "Bob Henson," and "Thom Barger," to a business seminar in Denver, Colorado and you are a couple of hours ahead of schedule. "Stump" suggests, "hey, guys, let's hit the strip-joints! We have two hours to kill, and maybe we can all "get lucky" with one of those hot, Colorado girls who take their men to lavish hotel rooms with mirrors on the ceiling. Your abstract response is, "gonna pass, Larry. I've seen my naked butt enough in my life." RESULT: "Stumpp," gets hacked at you while "Bob," and "Thom" roll in the floor board in the back of the car heaving with laughter at your response.
ON A FIRST DATE
"Sally Loosely," who loves guys with an addiction, is sitting in a moderately-priced restaurant that you have chosen. You and her are not talking at the present time. Suddenly "Sally" feels remorse at being so aggressive when you picked her up and she almost ripped your shirt off to see your hairy chest. "Bill," she softly says. "yes, Sally," you politely-reply. "I am sorry," she says while looking down. Your abstract reponse is, "no, Sally. I think you are a terrific girl!" RESULT: a great time had by you in her apartment later that night.
BEING PULLED-OVER BY A TRAFFIC COP
Officer: "son, you were going 67 in a 45 zone! Are you going to a fire? Your abstract response is, "yes, officer. I am. I have this "burning" in my intestines to 'answer nature's call' is why I was driving so fast."RESULT: a warning, not a real ticket due to the officer "thinking" you realy have a "burning condition" in your bowels.
GETTING IN-LINE AT ANY GIVEN BUFFET
Uppity customer, "why did you get behind me?" Your abstract response is, "be quiet and move ahead. I am a trained professional." RESULT: line speeds up and no more stupid questions from the uppity person.
"BREAKING THE ICE" WITH A PRETTY GIRL
Pretty girl: "haven't I seen you in this mall before?" Your abstract response is, "not without a police escort,"RESULT: pretty girl laughs and loves your sense of abstract thought. You strike-up a conversation and have a long, rich relationship.
One more "working example," then a "Bonus Feature."
BEING INTERVIEWED FOR A GREAT JOB
Personnel director: "son, are you accustomed to working lots of overtime and weekends?" Your abstract response is, "not if the president doesn't order me to."RESULT: instant-respect. And you get this great job that pays you twice what you made at the DVD rental store.
Words and Phrases NOT Associated with Intelligent Abstract Thought
- "Shoot, yeah!"
- "I didn't untie your shoes, ma'am."
- "please give me this promotion."
- "forgive me, honey. I was in a hurry."
- "but coach, I am new."
- "Shoot, I reckon."
- "Beats me."
- "You bet."
- "Shoot, I forgot."
- "What was that?"
- "Her what was hung where?"
- "Cheerleader? I thought you were a girl!"
- "Mannequins? I love 'em."
THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN USING ABSTRACT THOUGHT
- Serious look on your face - no one will believe a stupid, grinning face.
- Perfect diction. If you stutter once, you are busted.
- Eye contact. Make sure "you" are in charge.
- Fast delivery of your words or phrases - success waits on no one.
- Be prepared to have a secondary come-back.
- Make your first phrase count. No time for you to hum, haw around.
I think that the subject of "Can Abstract Thought Really Work," has been thoroughly-inspected and reviewed well by yours truly.
Now if you will excuse me, I have to go and tame a water buffalo.
Alan Alda, (foreground), as "Hawkeye Pierce," made M*A*S*H audiences gush with laughter with his random, complex, abstract thought. In background, Loretta "Hot
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