On style

‘...practically all metaphors for style amount to placing matter on the inside, style on the outside. It would be more to the point to reverse the metaphor. The matter, the subject, is on the outside; the style is on the inside’
Susan Sontag, 1987, 17

It is tempting to think of style as something akin to putting on a coat. But Susan Sontag's words help us look deeper into the nature of style.

Perhaps it is helpful to consider this image of the nave of Lincoln Cathedral constructed in the 13th century in the Gothic style. One can see decoration, to be sure (and the surfaces would have been painted originally). But, it is difficult to see style in this context as in any way superficial. It seems to reside in the very bones of the building.

Sontag, Susan. (1987) On style In: Sontag S. Against interpretation. London: Andre Deutsch. Pp25-36

Image sourced here.

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