Form, Content, Expression

Form constitutes the shape of any given entity, along with the various elements or properties by which the shape is composed. It can be analysed in terms of part-to-whole relations, where the form can be divisible into a multitude of parts as well as being apprehended as a whole. It is what gives something its unique character, distinguishing it from others things.

Content is the basis underlying form, as the source from which the value and meaning of form is derived—it is the generative base for the production of form. Content is always beyond form, for one can readily observe that the same thing can appear to take on many forms, and so the content is independent of the form by which is appears. Content always exceeds its form; content is beyond what is merely given. It is what is more than what appears to be the case.

Expression is the way in which existence is constituted through forms of appearance—the “is” of “it is,” of existence as such. Without form, the content gains no expression. Without content, form has no way of being. Neither can be wholly understood independently of each other, for they are mutually implicated in one another: content is nothing other than the essence of form, and form is nothing other than the expression of this essence as its content.

That form would present itself as being over and above the content is illusory or delusionary, for that would be to take what is merely given in appearance to stand in for what is truly real. In this illusory mode of presentation, form functions in such a way as to obscure its essential content, attributing basis for existence on itself alone without dependence on an underlying content.

If the nature of the content of form is to exceed that very form, then form which fully expresses the essential nature of this content through the mode of its presentation is the best or highest expression of reality in its ultimate truth.

Evaluation of form on these terms of judgement is based on multiple factors: its relevance to social practice, the relations by which it is designed/designated and composed/constituted, and the function it fulfills in the relational context. For forms to succeed in the adequate expression of the essential nature of content, which is the exceedance of form, it must be both receptive to transformation of nature by others and responsible for transference of nature to others—a sharing of powers or abilities to form and to be formed.

Form should not, and ultimately cannot, function primarily in terms of its self-reproduction, by which what is antecedent (what has gone) is given precedence over what is in excess (what is beyond). Instead it should be the reverse: functioning primarily as a support for forms outside itself, to support other forms in their role in the realization of the ultimate expression of the essential nature of content. In this way, forms which adequately express their content by way of the mutual conditioning of each other’s natures assist each other in an exponentially ascending manner: support by one for the other enhances the other’s ability to support the one, which reciprocally determines one’s ability to enhance the other, in a cyclical-spiral interplay of mutual transcendence. In this process, forms become a part of one another through their role in the pursuit of establishing the highest expression of reality, as their separate and enclosed private existences gradually recede in order to open up space for truly interdependent existence.

One can anticipate, ideally, the trans-formation of form through its ultimate transcendence, which is not an absolute negation of form as such—but an expression of it that transcends reflection, positioning it beyond anything hitherto given. Form would be perfected to such a manner that it could only be apprehended through the complete harmony between the mode of presentation or relations of production (Being) and the basis of establishment or forces of production (Becoming). The perfection of this transcendent form would be an attribute of its functioning as that which exceeds what is merely given, fulfilling the ultimate expression of the essential nature of the underlying content, which is the nature of transcendence, liberation, freedom.

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