The view is beautiful, but the threat received beyond its aesthetic pleasure is sublime.

 

After various blog posts taking heed of experiences such as flying or surfing and relating them to the experience of the sublime, I was interested, and hopeful to conjure an experience of my own of which I too could relate.

 

In attempting to summon all experiences of extreme joyousness to mind, I stumbled upon a memory anomalous in the conventional associations with joy. The memory dates back to a younger and thus more “invincible” version of myself atop a mountain. In the memory, I am attempting to scale the side of a precipice (a shortcut after I lost the designated trail down). However, the consistency of loose gravel persisted on my reluctance, and I froze mid-way through, as my feet losing traction, began to skid down. I cannot recall another instance in my life where the paralyzed state of fear had consumed my whole body. I remember the heel of my foot vibrating, and the focus I took on my muscles to ensure that the pad of my foot would avoid participation with the involuntary jerks of the formerly mentioned tremors. I remember the panicked look on my sister’s face, the mockingly sunny sky, and the distance below…

I bring this up for the reason that this memory is not weighed down by any emotions of fear or sadness but instead, I frequent this memory often with an indescribable sense of delight. I found that in relating my emotions attached to this experience with Burke’s theory on the sublime, this experience is seemingly akin. The memory is attached to a sense of pain, and pain, to Burke is an element of the sublime that triggers feelings of self-preservation. In this trigger, we employ those nerves that become active in a life-threatening situation. In this reaction we are stimulated, the wild power of the natural world procured in the form of a threat. It is the limitation of this experience in my memory as merely a threat that produces the subliminal experience upon reminiscence.

Perhaps this is the emotion that compels the adrenaline junkie…

Maybe they are chasing the eternal sublime.