The abstract and the concrete

Ruins of an abandoned cement plant north of Gas City evoke comparisons to ancient temples. Was there something about concrete and Concreto that was intensely philosophical?

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October 19, 2020 - 9:44 AM

The setting sun illuminates a pyramid-like structure at the Concreto cement plant. Photo by Trevor Hoag / Iola Register

The German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel once quipped that, contrary to popular opinion, the most concrete things in the world are heady, complex thoughts, whereas it’s everyday modes of thinking and speaking that are abstract, detached from reality for their lack of specificity and rigor.

Put another way, what seems like “common sense” is actually quite abstract given its vagueness, whereas artistic or philosophical speculation is concrete.

As I stood in the ruins of the abandoned cement plant at Concreto, an important early 20th-century labor center north of Gas City, I couldn’t get Hegel out of my head, wondering if the operation worked both ways.

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