The sublime is a feeling provoked by certain kinds of landscape that are very large, very impressive and dangerous. Places like the wide-open oceans, the high mountains, the polar caps… These places do all sorts of things to us. It’s interesting that around the end of the 18th century, people started to say that the feeling that these places provoke in us is a recognizable one and universal one — and a good one. This feeling was described as the feeling of the sublime. There are all sorts of theories about what exactly is needed to have the experience of the sublime. But gathering them all together, essentially what lies at the center of the experience is a feeling of smallness. You are very small and something else is very big and dangerous. You are very vulnerable in the face of something else. Of course, the other thing that tends to make you feel very small and vulnerable is God, traditionally, in our culture.
– Alain de Botton, On the Sublime (Art of Travel)
This quote struck me as I was reading the book a few weeks ago. For many of you who follow me on Tumblr, it won’t come as a surprise anymore because it’s already been posted and I do recall also posting other thoughtful excerpts of the reading life. What I haven’t told you is that I’ve been thinking a lot about this “sublime” that de Botton mentions.
This year is already close to it’s end and yet I feel as though I haven’t made the time to come to terms with it yet. So many experiences ought to be processed and another traveler once said that often, if one wants to write about the places he’s been or the experiences he’s had, there needs to be some time left to elapse before one can see a trip for what it is. I suppose it’s also timely that October will end tonight leaving only two more months left before this incredible year comes to a close.
Normally, it’s during the last two months of the year that I experience a yearning for or closeness to God. I’m guessing it has something to do with Christmas and that notion that it’s really a time for going back to Christ (at least in my experience since I’m Catholic).
I think I’m just a bit homesick for my home in the world…by which I mean, that I really really enjoyed seeing parts of it this year. It’s high time I posted pictures and told you stories about the best trips I’ve had so far.
So for the next couple of weeks, let me take you back to the places I’ve been. There’s a story here for everyone.