Alison's Writing Portfolio · On History · On Places & Travel

Some Thoughts on the Sublime – Perceptive Travel

Italian Alps

“Sublime” is a word that’s frequently used to describe the taste of a delicious confection, often chocolate, or to express the exquisiteness of a tropical island that looks like a screen saver. It is commonly used to describe a peak experience and in fact it is derived from words that mean “up to the lintel”, or up to the top.

In the 18th century, British writers and philosophers were known to describe their feelings as “sublime”, upon seeing the Alps for the first time during the travel ritual known as “The Grand Tour

But there is a very important element to the sublime that is very often missed today: a deep sense of danger, one that is either entirely obvious, or just chewing around the edges of your subconscious. Edmund Burke, one of the primary thinkers on the sublime, describes the feeling state as all encompassing, a state of astonishment – “the mind is entirely filled with its object” – which happens because “all emotions are suspended in some degree of horror.” [Read more]

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