Monday, 21 March 2011

Kant's sublime

Kant defines his sublime by its boundlessness: the infinity of space in his mathematical sublime, the unlimited power and motion in the dynamical sublime. Astonishment, awe, reverence, terror and horror. Immortality is more sublime than mortality; freedom than slavery. I wonder if this isn't one-eighty-degrees about. Endlessness is extension, and therefore repetition, without end: it is familiarity not astonishment, boredom not terror. It is the abruptness, the ontological arbitrariness of borderlines that is properly sublime: the always-inevitably unxpected, terrifying astonishment of one's own death.

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