Horse[Man you will find herea new representation of the universeat its most poetic and most modernMan man man man man manGive yourself up to this art where the sublimedoes not exclude charmand brilliancy does not blur the nuanceit is now or never the momentto be sensitive to poetry for it dominatesall dreadfullyGuillaume Apollinaire]
Oh, you knew that your deed would be preserved in books, would reach tghe depths of the ages and the utmost limits of the earth, and you hoped that, following you, man, too, would remain with God, having no need of miracles. But you did not know that as soon as man rejects miracles, he will at once reject God as well, for man seeks not so much God as miracles. And since man cannot bear to be left without miracles, he will go and create new miracles for himself.. Oh, there will be centuries of free reason, of their science and anthropophagy.. Freedom, free reason, and science willl lead them into such a maze, and confront them with such miracles and insoluble mysteries, that some of them, unruly and ferocious, will exterminate themselves.
Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain, and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling.. When danger or pain press too nearly, they are incapable of giving any delight, and [yet] with certain modifications, they may be, and they are delightful, as we every day experience.
Physical vision - one might say scientific vision - brings about a metaphysical shift in the observer's view of reality as a whole. The geography of the earth, or the structure of the solar system, are in an instant utterly changed, and forever. The explorer, the scientific observer, the literary reader, experience the Sublime: a moment of revelation into the idea of the unbounded, the infinite.
.. Imagine that you yourself are building the edifice of human destiny with the object of making people happy in the finale, of giving them peace and rest at last, but for that you must inevitably and unavoidably torture just one tiny creature, that same child who was beating her chest with her little fist, and raise your edifice on the foundation of her unrequited tears--would you agree to be the architect on such conditions?
For thousands of years, it had been nature--and its supposed creator--that had had a monopoly on awe. It had been the icecaps, the deserts, the volcanoes and the glaciers that had given us a sense of finitude and limitation and had elicited a feeling in which fear and respect coagulated into a strangely pleasing feeling of humility, a feeling which the philosophers of the eighteenth century had famously termed the sublime. But then had come a transformation to which we were still the heirs.. Over the course of the nineteenth century, the dominant catalyst for that feeling of the sublime had ceased to be nature. We were now deep in the era of the technological sublime, when awe could most powerfully be invoked not by forests or icebergs but by supercomputers, rockets and particle accelerators. We were now almost exclusively amazed by ourselves.
Think of my Pleasure in Solitude, in comparison of my commerce with the world - there I am a child - there they do not know me not even my most intimate acquaintance - I give into their feelings as though I were refraining from irritating a little child - Some think me middling, others silly, other foolish - every one thinks he sees my weak side against my will; when in thruth it is with my will - I am content to be thought all this because I have in my own breast so graet a resource. This is one great reason why they like me so; because they can all show to advantage in a room, and eclipese from a certain tact one who is reckoned to be a good Poet - I hope I am not here playing tricks 'to make the angels weep': I think not: for I have not the least contempt for my species; and though it may sound paradoxical: my greatest elevations of Soul leave me every time more humbled - Enough of this - though in your Love for me you will not think it enough.