>an agreable kind of horror: the sublime

>A couple year’s ago I wrote a post looking at contemplative cinema’s relationship to the infinite. That post has received over 700 visits since published. The idea of the sublime in film has always intrigued me, and many of my favorite films and film moments include the sublime. In particular I love the German concept of sublime as expressed in the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich.

Here is a wonderful little discussion of one of Friedrich’s paintings by the crew at smarthistory:

There is probably no characteristic of art that draws me in more than the sublime. It has the key elements of both Modernity and Romanticism. I wrote specifically about that here, and in that post you will find one of my most favorite poems – a selection from Wordsworth’s The Prelude – to me a great example of confronting and expressing the sublime.

The sublime is also one of the characteristics that draw me to the mountains. I am convinced that people who cannot fathom why someone would want to risk their life (even a little so) in pursuit of climbing a mountain are also those who have little time for the sublime in art. According to Wikipedia: ‘Joseph Addison embarked on the Grand Tour [of Europe] in 1699 and commented in Remarks on Several Parts of Italy etc. that “The Alps fill the mind with an agreeable kind of horror”.’ And that about sums it up in a nutshell.

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