So today my Professor brought up the topic of sublimity.
We are currently studying Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and there is a part in the beginning-ish of the novel, where Edna Pontellier goes for a dip in the ocean despite her inability to swim. This thrilling feeling she experiences, the feeling of having gone some place no woman has gone before, starts to awaken in her a sense of morality and individuality. She now feels like the possibilities are endless and she is a person, just like everyone else. This part would make more sense if you were familiar with the novel and how it’s about the social constraints placed on women in the victorian era. It’s actually quite beautiful. There’s a connection between the ocean and Edna’s spiritual awakening. The ocean has been known to have particular effects on people. Such as the way a meadow or field of grass is, the ocean’s horizons extend beyond what the eye can see. This feeling of infinity stirs emotion inside of you. It makes you realize how enormous the universe is and how so minuscule you are compared to it. This is what we call the sublime. My professor then made mention of his own person experience with the sublime and the first moment he realized the enormity of his surroundings was when he looked up at the sky and saw the stars for the first time. It really stirred something inside me because I’m not sure if I’ve had that experience yet. When I take my dog on walks and look around, I start to feel so small compared to all that’s actually out there. But I really can’t recall an experience that has shaken me inside and made me gasp in utter astonishment of the vastness of the world. In a way, I’m excited for that to happen. I understand the concept, I just haven’t had the experience yet. So my question for those who are reading, if you would be so willing to share with me, is where and when did you realize how infinite the universe is? What did you experience that made you aware of your own morality? What made you stop, pause, and just think “Whoa. I’m alive. The world is huge and I am just one person in this entire universe. There are no limits to anything. Anything is possible?” I’m really curious because it’s such a beautiful thing to become aware of your own existence.