Almost Island
AI Logo

Rights Reserved

AI Small Logo

The Geology and Physics of Style

Volcanic rocks are aphanitic, which is to say that they are composed of such fine grains of minerals — feldspar, quartz, biotite — that they are invisible to the naked eye yet texturally different than obsidian or other forms of volcanic glass that are non-crystalline. Similarly, the raw, mineral forms at the base of consciousness expend their agglutination in music, shapes that shift perception the way a paradigm shatters when a new theory changes prevailing notions. Our idea of what an atom is made from shifts over time just as how words — a phrase, a proof, a stanza — show the trace of a mind at work and in the process contribute a new way of looking or form of reasoning, a metaphor that uncoils in invention or connects two parallel lines of thought. If there’s chaos underlying shimmering pattern, there are flying buttresses holding up the void, which spurts in plume and ash from volcanoes that are active on 17 places in the world as I write this, smelting and turning the sky incandescent with the earth’s innards.

Say style is ontological. It’s a mode of being in the world so intractable from the mind’s syntactical manifestations that it possesses clear inevitability and shares in the sheer delight of mathematical proof. Literature while grounded in the sensory still verges to the purest form of abstraction, expressed more fully perhaps only by music and math. Walter Pater would have poetry be language that aspires to the condition of music and the poem arrives distilled, impacted with meanings that collide, othering itself just as it asks us to enter the speaker’s voice to share the pulse of internal rhythm, narrative drive, a lyric suggesting, a certain mode of perceiving that’s inseparable from the perception or from the use of repetition that accumulates