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Lovecraft’s use of consciousness solves for the sublime

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Lovecraft’s use of consciousness solves for the sublime

Bradley 02 (Bradley Will is an Assistant Professor of English at Kansas’s Fort Hays State University, “HP Lovecraft and the semiotic Kantian sublime”, Extrapolation , Vol. 43, No. 1, http://www.thefreelibrary.com/H.P.+Lovecraft+and+the+semiotic+Kantian+sublime.-a087128333, )

In "Lovecraft and the Burkean Sublime," Dale J. Nelson demonstrates how Lovecraft uses the images Burke describes as conducive to an apprehension of the sublime. However, Lovecraft's engagement of the sublime is even more complex, going beyond imagery and into epistemology. In a 1927 letter to Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright, Lovecraft writes: "I consider the touch of cosmic outsideness--of dim, shadowy non-terrestrial hints--to be the characteristic feature of my writing" (qtd. in Joshi 432). This cosmic outsideness takes the form of objects and entities which intrude on the mundane world delineated by human understanding, disrupting and violating the natural laws through which Lovecraft's characters and readers have come to know their world. In "Some Notes on Interplanetary Fiction," Lovecraft describes the effect such an intrusion should create: "It must be remembered that any violation of what we know as natural law is in itself a far more tremendous thing than any other event or feeling which could possibly affect a human being.... The characters should react to it as real people would react to such a thing if it were suddenly to confront them in daily life; displaying the almost soul-shattering amazement which anyone would naturally display" (118, italics in original). The emotional reaction Lovecraft writes of here is an apprehension of the sublime, the "soul-shattering" sense of awe and wonder one experiences upon encountering a phenomenon which truly exceeds the grasp of understanding. In particular, this sense of awe conforms to the Kantian model of the sublime, which is predicated on a failure of the faculty of understanding. Kant's "Analytic of the Sublime" appears in his third critique, The Critique of Judgment. However, to appreciate what Kant is arguing in his third critique, we must look at the arguments he makes in his first two critiques, The Critique of Pure Reason and The Critique of Practical Reason. Through these works Kant constructs an overarching dualism of the phenomenal and the noumenal spheres, which, as we shall see, is crucial to his distinction in the third critique between the beautiful and the sublime. He does this in order to separate the realm of science and causality (the phenomenal) from that of morals and free will (the noumenal). According to Kant, these two realms do not conflict or interfere with one another, but rather give us two radically distinct forms of knowledge.

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