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Revisiting Style in Literary and Cultural Studies

Interdisciplinary Articulations

Edited By Jasmin Herrmann, Moritz Ingwersen, Björn Sonnenberg-Schrank and Olga Ludmila Tarapata

The collected volume brings together leading scholars from a broad range of disciplines in the humanities to interrogate the productivity of style as an element of cultural expression and a parameter of cultural analysis. Despite its ubiquity in examinations of artistic singularity or postulations of epochal patterns, style remains a notoriously elusive concept. Suspicious of monolithic definitions, the contributions assembled in this volume address style from a multiplicity of methodological and conceptual angles, drawing from fields that include literary studies, film and media studies, post-structuralist philosophy, philosophy of science, and American cultural studies.

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5 Style, Eternal Objects, and the Melancholy of Beauty


Abstract: Style is not understood as form, but as always unique idea (Gilles Deleuze), or as unique eternal object (Alfred North Whitehead) that realizes a fold and makes possible the emergence of the new as complex assemblage of single events. Style is in time, possibility of change, way of emergence. Rhythm is the temporal ground of style; the way the world communicates with itself (Henri Maldiney). In his early writings Whitehead called style the “ultimate morality of the mind.” This anticipates Whitehead’s later idea of beauty as something that holds a high intensity of contrasts in one and the same expression or event. Style is always unique and collective at the same time, unique in its way to assemble other events and collective in this assemblage; but also unique as it is always a singular event and collective as it is received by other events. Roberts Motherwell’s abstract expressionism is influenced by Whitehead. Focusing on his series “Elegy for the Spanish Republic,” the essay follows style as a multiple event of perceptions and ideas. While the elegy “transforms the pain of grief into sorrow”, as Arthur C. Danto says with Whitehead, in beauty there has to be present what is excluded. This is why there is always a dimension of melancholy in beauty.

Keywords: Gilles Deleuze, Alfred North Whitehead, Roberts Motherwell, Henri Maldiney, rhythm, time, painting, Henri Bergson, abstract expressionism, eternal object, founders of discursivity, Federico García Lorca, beauty, melancholy

The idea of...

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