Thrilling! Transcendence in contemporary cultures of the extreme

Dear God …
Oh how can I survive?
Will I make this drop this dive?
When it all comes to this
I’m looking down at the abyss
Where you don’t exist
You don’t exist
(Lennox 2003)

Thrilling! Awesome! Amazing! Mind-blowing! However contemporary extreme experiences are described – that is, sport or leisure activities geared towards invoking extreme experiences or even death – such descriptions are offered in terms mostly befitting the category of the sublime. After all, was it not in almost those exact terms that Burke and Kant, amongst others, described the sublime? Perhaps more cautious in their approach, nevertheless, terms such as ‘uplifting’, ‘delightful horror’, ‘astonishment’ and ‘soul-stirring delight’ were generated to describe the elusive category of the sublime. The “almost obsessive interest in and proliferation of material about the sublime” (Klinger 2010: 94) that erupted in the eighteenth century typified an expressly modern mind-set. Whereas the contemporary fascination with the sublime may be likened more to the “widespread fascination bordering on obsession with all things extreme” (Boothroyd 2006: 277).

Kliek hier om die res van Amanda du Preez (Professor of Visual Culture Studies, University of Pretoria) te lees.

Lesing gelewer by Fakulteit Teologie, Stellenboscu Universiteit se Teologiese dag op 6 Februarie 2012. Lees ook prof Nico Koopman se bydrae.

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