27/12/2022 0 Comments
I remember when a friend confessed to being ashamed of how much she thought about clothes and I was surprised at her feeling ashamed of something I thought of as an accomplishment, the way she always looks so beautifully stylish in an original way that has a kind of consistent signature to it, and an accomplishment especially because she makes a lot of her clothes herself, or finds vintage clothes she often tailors to fit. She felt it was frivolous, which is something she doesn’t feel about her art or her writing, but I saw the way she dressed as an equally inspiring aesthetic achievement, reaching probably as great an audience, and a more diverse audience, an audience, too, of players, all of whom are getting dressed, too, every day, with more or less aesthetic purpose. So I was interested to see a paper on style by philosopoher Nick Riggle that starts by questioning the distinction between style and method he finds a number of artists making, and questioning, in particular, the idea that style is the expression of personality. I think his idea of personality is rather too limited - an artist might be timid, he argues, yet his art might be bold - as if personality were a series of introversion/extroversion, conscientious/unreliable, timid/bold sets of oppositions. I’d still like to think more about the idea of art (and especially poetry) as the expression of personality. But the argument he is heading towards, that style is an accomplishment, not just an expression of self anyone can’t help but have (like the textual habits - to elide or not to elide a vowel - that can determine contested authorship) but the expression of values, realised in a particular art form - and including dress, the furnishing of a house, the selection of music - is also an idea I like and would like to think more about. And I am interested how the word “style” rather than the word “voice” to talk about the way in which a poet writes immediately makes it easier to think of style as an accomplishment, rather than something anyone would have (or has to “find”). Still, there is such a gap between the idea of style and the idea of value - ideals that might be ethical as well as aesthetic (and what is an aesthetic ideal? apart from beauty? and what does it mean if we have to achieve an original idea of beauty? although in fact perhaps that is exactly the project). How might a moral or ethical ideal be realised as a way, a style, of writing? What can this mean?
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These are paragraphs without essays or books to go in.