This paper explores the uses of the sublime in recent art theory, philosophy, and literary criticism, focusing on Weiskel, Hertz, and Lyotard. I propose that the concept of the sublime, and the postmodern sublime in particular, are over-used tropes in critical writing. They sometimes serve a covert religious purpose, as a way of smuggling theological concepts into secular discourse; and they are stand-ins for notions of epistemological, linguistic, and psychological failures that do not require the specific discourse of the sublime.
Text and Images HERE
Not only are all history and power plays disrupted, but so are the conditions of analysis. One must take one’s time. For as long as events were at a standstill, one had to anticipate and overcome them. But when they speed up, one must slow down; without getting lost under a mass of discourses and the shadow of war (“nuage de la guerre”: literally clouds announcing war), and while keeping undiminished the unforgettable flash of images.
All the speeches and commentaries betray a gigantic abreaction to the event itself and to the fascination that it exerts. Moral condemnation and the sacred union against terrorism are equal to the prodigious jubilation engendered by witnessing this global superpower being destroyed; better, by seeing it more or less self-destroying, even suiciding spectacularly. Though it is (this superpower) that has, through its unbearable power, engendered all that violence brewing around the world, and therefore this terrorist imagination which — unknowingly — inhabits us all.
That we have dreamed of this event, that everybody without exception has dreamt of it, because everybody must dream of the destruction of any power hegemonic to that degree, – this is unacceptable for Western moral conscience, but it is still a fact, and one which is justly measured by the pathetic violence of all those discourses which attempt to erase it.
Excerpt from an essay by Jean Baudrillard. Read it HERE or HERE