the problem of style

georg simmel

Theory, Culture & Society, vol. 8, 1991, p.63-71

it has long been said that the practical existence of humanity is absorbed in the struggle between individuality and generality

this is the base statement

the deeper and more unique the impression of a work of art is on us, the less the question of style tends to play a role in this impression

style is actually what brings the individual into the many

example of goethe: from an individual genius to a general trait of his works, then adopted by others

the limits of the originality of the individual

the essence of the work of applied art is that it exists many times; its diffusion is the quantitative expression of its usefulness, for it always serves a need shared by many people. […] we also observe […] how the objects of applied art are individually designed

but this separation (between some things unique and some things not) is also a symbolic separation

“the most repulsive conflict arises” from the chair doesn’t want to be just a chair

where only one style is conceivable, every individual expression grows organically from it; it has no need to search first for its roots; the general and the personal go together without conflict in a work

if you cannot become a unity yourself, then join a unity as a serving partner […] which grants even the most modest achievement