I'm going on a bit of a tangent ramble today, but I was looking back on my notes from English 292 when we were studying The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and the sublime and I noticed some interesting ideas I took from Professor Wickman. He'd said that the sublime in this poem represented a failure to achieve feelings of gentleness and happiness or a sense of order; instead, it's an overwhelming, overpowering, and terrifying feeling/force. He compared the sublime to the French Revolution: out of control and impossible to contain. The only way to find some kind of relief from the terror of the sublime, according to Coleridge (according to Wickman), was to put it into some literary form, which the Mariner in the poem did by telling his tale - an oral literature. This kind of overpowering, uncontainable sublime seems like something you really can't find in normal settings. I certainly haven't felt that way when looking at YouTube videos or Flickr photos. I think this would be more that weird feeling you get when you try to comprehend eternity, or maybe when you look at the stars when it's really dark and keep seeing smaller ones in all of the dark spaces until they all start to blur together (I guess that connects to the idea of infinity). Is there anything in that that applies to the digital age?
I was also reminded how the Romantic period, which the idea of the sublime was a result of, was largely a reaction against industrialization and the role of the machine in removing man from nature and 'self'. In a sense I think the sublime is a way to transcend the things of the world and find greater things - even if we can't necessarily comprehend them. If this is the case, is there a sublime that transcends even the power of the Internet? And if the Internet in itself is sublime, what dilemma does that present for the Romantic meaning and use of the sublime?