Friday, March 4, 2011

Modernity's Beauty?

David Nye points to the fact that experiences of the sublime are not confined to the grand vistas of nature, but are also found in technological and urban civilization.

“A city sounds much different at the top of a skyscraper than on the streets below. The wind makes on feel more vulnerable out on the open span of a long bridge. The steam locomotive shook the ground and filled the air with an alien smell of steam, smoke, and sparks; the Saturn rocket did much the same thing on a larger scale. The strong contrast between the silence of a rocket’s liftoff and the sudden roar that follows a few seconds later is also a vital element in making that spectacle sublime. The sheer size of the crowd attracted to a technological display further arouses the emotions. In each event, the human subject feels that the familiar envelope of sensory experience has been rent asunder.”

Leithart - This quote reminds me of Junger's essay "On Pain" where much the same claim is made.

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