The Substance of Style



On Style

“To speak of style is one way of speaking about the totality of a work of art. Like all discourse about totalities, talk of style must rely on metaphors. And metaphors mislead…Inevitably, critics who regard works of art as statements will be wary of ‘style,’ even as they pay lip service to ‘imagination.’ All that imagination really means for them, anyway, is the supersensitive rendering of ‘reality.’ It is this “reality’ snared by the work of art that they continue to focus on, rather than on the extent to which a work of art engages the mind in certain transformations… An artist’s style is, from a technical point of view, nothing other than the particular idiom in which he deploys the forms of his art. It is for this reason that the problems raised by the concept of ‘style’ overlap with those raised by the concept of “form,” and their solutions will have much in common…For instance, every style embodies an epistemological decision, an interpretation of how and what we perceive.”

Susan Sontag

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