Sublime upon sublime scarcely presents a contrast, and we need a little rest from everything, even the beautiful.
Since I am attempting to form a (somewhat) cohesive work I feel obliged to begin to encapsulate it and summarize it on one page or post as much as possible. Though I first want to mention that attempting to categorize the sublime, both within my posts and within this central organizational structure may be considered counter-sublime. As I am now introducing you to my main subject, we should probably move on to that.
The Definition of the Sublime
The sublime. If you are reasonably well read, or have another reason to have a large vocabulary, you probably already know its standard definition, which is where we will start. It is (from the Oxford Dictionary):
• adjective (sublimer, sublimest)
1 of such excellence, grandeur, or beauty as to inspire great admiration or awe.
2 extreme or unparalleled: sublime confidence.
There is also a definition from chemistry:
• verb Chemistry (with reference to a solid substance) change directly into vapour when heated, typically forming a solid deposit again on cooling.
— ORIGIN Latin sublimis, from sub- ‘up to’ + a second element perhaps related to limen ‘threshold’ or limus ‘oblique’.
The sublime is usually considered to evoke positive emotions and connotations in these definitions (except in chemistry, then it's just a process). That is something that you lose when you go into the literary definition. The sublime certainly can be positive, but it can also be negative. For the sake of literature, the sublime can be considered any experience that transcends any attempt to describe it.
How the Sublime Pertains to Our Discussion
My project involves using examples of the poetry of Emily Dickinson and comparing it to media (in particular video). In each example I am highlighting a particular element of the sublime. My true main argument is perhaps a little more general. The fact that we can find the sublime both in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and in movies, which are often public venues of entertainment, suggests that they are an essential part of the human experience. That is why this project matters. Even if you don't care for Emily Dickinson, or popular media, you still know what it is to be human, and the sublime is part of your existence.
Where our discussion has lead us so far:
So far I have discussed a number of topics, they are in order of discussion:
First I have had some posts that were purely formative, in which I was discussing the process of research (though research never really stops), they are:
Literally a Literature Blog, Figuratively Speaking
Emily Dickinson Research Trends
Getting better all the ti-i-ime...
The Form of our Blog Projects
Then I begin to dig a little more deeply into my subject matter:
Emily Dickinson as the Precursor to the Dark Sublime
-In this post I discuss the Dark Sublime as it relates to another piece of literature, Heart of Darkness By Conrad, and a poem of Emily Dickinson's. I also examining the fact that Emily Dickinson is ariving at the Dark Sublime years before anyone else.
The Circular Sublime-This post discusses the opening scene of the movie Contact in context of an Emily Dickinson poem. This particular example of the sublime focuses on cyclical nature, space, and humanities place in the universe.
Avatar Party - Avatar as a Sublime Experience?
-I don't have a specific Emily Dickinson poem that this post refers to, but I examine a few of the themes that you can find in the movie Avatar.
Sickness, Zombies, and the Sublime
-Sickness as a sublime experience, and also zombies as a manifestation on the modern fear of zombies. I also bring this into an example of poetry from Emily Dickinson.
Religion and the Sublime
-A return to the movie Contact, this time exploring the issue of religion, faith, and sublime. Then I examine Emily Dickinson's perspective on structured religion.
Emily Dickinson Conference-Not actually about a specific subject and the sublime. There is an upcoming conference at Oxford University hosted by EDIS (Emily Dickinson International Society). I just give a brief look at the subjects that they will be exploring.
Terror and Awe - A Return to the Early Sublime - A return to some of the early historical aspects of the sublime as described by Edmund Burke. Nature, disaster movies, and awe and terror.
Cohesion in Purpose - An attempt to make my blog a little more cohesive by pointing out what the value of the blogs that I have written is.
Reaching Out - Brief discussion of the sublimity of language. Also my attempts to contact other people to comment and or discuss the ideas of this blog.
Here are a few elements that could be discussed in the future:
-More specific Avatar examples in the context of Emily Dickinson.
-Movie Criticism and the Sublime (I am currently reading through some books on Movie/Cinema Criticism so I am not sure if this will yet apply.)
-Themes I find Emily Dickinson poems that are especially obvious to me, like the solitary/internal self, self vs society, nature, gardening and flowers (I am sure I can make a sublime out of this somehow), Death, love, etc... as long as I can find proper media examples.
-The movie What Dreams May Come as an example of sublime imagery. It is also about love, heaven (particularly the psychology), internal landscapes, hell, madness, and grief and loss. It is also a fantastic example of a movie that begins In medias res, or in the middle of things, as we skip back across his life to see his interactions with his children and wife, as we experience his story.
-Anything that people tell me I should discuss in more detail or cite as an example. (So post comments people)
I have been told a number of times that my definition of the sublime is still not clear enough. While I am now tempted to steer them towards my blog on the sublimity of language, I feel I should attempt to do the subject greater justice.
I believe that my concept of the sublime is fairly simple. It is any experience, feeling, or object that a person undergoes that raises emotions beyond the complete comprehension of that person. A good definition comes from Edmund Burke, "In this case the mind is so entirely filled with its object, that it cannot entertain any other, nor by consequence reason on that object which employs it." I should make it clear, however, that I do not subscribe to Burke's idea of the sublime as only being from terror and pain, and I consider any emotion that is heightened sufficiently can become overwhelming and become sublime. I also do not limit it to emotional sublime. It is possible for us as human beings to encounter experiences and objects that we cannot comprehend. They may well have emotional overtones, but the stars in the sky and realization of that infinity, which I have had a few times is overpowering by itself.
I hope this makes things a little clearer, if not let me know and I will try again.