So how does this tie into the sublime? I actually found the connection while exploring The Englewood Review of Books, a book review blog run by the Englewood Christian Church in
"This is a frightful image in its murky greenness. And the scope of what this simple video loop suggests is nearly beyond the capacity to describe. It certainly follows several of Burke’s [Edmund Burke, On the Sublime and Beautiful] qualifications of the sublime – the terror of the scope, the obscurity and privation of the bottom of the ocean, the suggestion of infinity – but it also raises even more questions in regard to what a particularly contemporary sublime might encompass."
This contemporary sublime is essentially the purpose of my research and this blog, and the oil spill video is a prime example of it. This is not an image of nature, of something so outside ourselves that we can never fully comprehend it. This is a man-made video of a man-made disaster, and through it we see both the potential we have to cause destruction and horror and our inadequacy to end it. We are incredibly advanced technologically, and able to do some things which may have seemed impossible, such as building a well in the deep ocean. Just the possibility of what we can do is sublime - our potential truly is unbounded and incomprehensible. But as much as we accomplish, we still do not have complete control, and we can still make mistakes - and the greater our technology becomes, the more devastating and earth-altering these mistakes can be. This form of the sublime that we find so often in today's world is one found in reflection on ourselves and our creations, and arises both from our incredible power and our terrible inadequacy to control this power. It produces a terror perhaps even greater than that found in nature by the Romantics, because it is inseparable from ourselves, and yet beyond the scope of our understanding and control.