Sublime vs. Pastoral

Humans seem to have a habit of labeling things. We just love to be able to make sweeping generalizations and say, “all this is ________”. There is no better example of this then idea of Sublime nature vs. Pastoral nature. In my experience neither of the two can exist alone. This is to say that in essence they should not be split up into two separate entities. It seems to me that the categorizing nature as either sublime or pastoral helps us feel as if we fully understand a frankly un-understandable force. It is so Ironic that by simply calling “sublime” nature sublime we have succeeding in labeling/understanding the un-understandable force that the “sublime is supposed to be. During the enlightenment period philosophers began to promote the “human potential”. Essentially they argued that with our logic and reason humans could conquer any endeavor, including nature. Scientists began to argue that the natural world was in fact governed by a set of laws and rules that humans could very well understand. Although the idea of the sublime, a force of nature so powerful it cannot be understood, emerged in a response to the enlightenment movement I still feel that the idea of actually labeling nature “sublime” is tremendously ironic. As humans are we simply un-able to accept the fact that there are some things, like nature, that we may never fully understand? Or do we hope that by applying labels and placing nature into categories we can somehow feel as if we do understand?


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