Of the Sublime: Presence in Question (Suny Series, Intersections)
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Today, the sublime has again become the focus of sustained reconsideration, but now for its epistemological and ontological or presentational aspects. As an unmasterable excess of beauty, the sublime marks the limits of representational thinking. These essays will be indispensable reading for anyone whose work is concerned with the sublime or, more generally, with the limits of representation, including philosophers, literary scholars and art historians."
only hold by rising in a pile from the low, which renders itself forgotten in the ser vice that is "naturally" its own, specifically, to support like a slave that in which it consists and into which it disappears: the high. Figures comprise the ladder-or the flight machine, if one prefers-up which "we" (that is, tfroxfl) can climb to this natural site, this elevated site, from which one no longer sees them, because they permit the one who has flown or fled (wepl3oA.Tj, for example) to see
dialects of the Italians are measured, weighed, and compared. (I, XVI, 55-56) The language of the poem, its voice, is thus to be found on the limit, the bor der, that is, the sublime of a Babel which is at once pre- and post-Babelian, transcendent and immanent, belonging to all of us and to no one-a voice white like the white of the mulberry's fruits of old, before the lovers' death, an incommensurable unit of measurement, the white of the nonrepresentable outline of beautiful form, which
concern of the beautiful: the unlimited, to the contrary, is the concern of the sublime. The unlimited maintains doubtless the closest, the most intimate rela tions with the infinite. The concept of the infinite (or its different possible concepts) gives us in a sense the internal structure of the unlimited. But the infinite does not exhaust the being of the unlimited, it does not offer the true moment of the unlimited. If the analysis of the sublime ought to begin, as it does in Kant, with the
the beautiful. Moreover, he does so, even if indirectly, when, in the course on Nietzsche, he places into relation to Nietzsche's aesthetics-the aesthetics of the reversal of aesthetics, aesthetics as anti-aesthetics-the famous sentence from Rilke's first "Elegy": "For the beautiful is nothing I But the commencement of the terrible," wherein one can decipher without too much trouble the Rilkean definition of the sublime.17 One could not for mulate more aptly the dependence or subordination of
individuals according to the degree of"sacrifice" each offers. It is nearly zero in respect, obviously, where the humiliation of the ego is a mere shadow cast on a finite will by the light of the law. It would bring the mind to the limits of "mad ness" ( CJ, §29, I l l; 1 1 6), on the other hand, in radically negative affects such as "rebellious despair" or that nearly "misanthropic chagrin" inspired by the evils of life which humans impose upon each other through their "puerility" (§29, 1 12; I