Formality as Metaphor

If formality in serious art is a metaphor, then what it does it represent; what is it a metaphor for? There are no easy answers to this question; aesthetes may say that Beauty should signify only Beauty, and end in itself; but there is a deeper truth and mystery hidden in serious artistic formality. What the most rigorous forms in serious art represent, or are a metaphor for, is a sense of reciprocity between the highest and lowest levels of our mind; in Kantian terms, Sensibility and Reason (skipping, in this context, Understanding). For Sensibility and Reason to achieve some semblance of harmonious integration, what is tactile must be expressive of empirically provable principles. Thus, the John Keats Ricochet Effect we have discussed demonstrates that when language is carried through to its ultimate sense of musicality, a sense of shuddering resonance inheres for some readers which produces not only visceral pleasure but extreme intellectual engagement; again, the harmonious integration of Sensibility and Reason. Understanding or logic, which mediates the middle turf, helps us categorize the serious formality of Keats’ language from effect to effect, passage to passage, line to line. The effect of sublimity, created by Keats’ Ricochet Effect, situates consciousness as part of a larger whole, harmoniously integrated into other universes, including language universes. We see, also, in a chiasmus, how Reason can be situated within Sensibility and Sensibility within Reason; that integration and interpenetration of separate cognitive spheres can be activated by serious formality in art. These resonances, when created the right way, are the loudest noise that human artistic productions are capable of, and why the overall effect of twentieth century art, which was comparatively formless, is a School of Quietude.