The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive


numbers stations revisited / new format

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"INTERMITTING

A low, tremulous, intermitting sound, though it seems in some
respects opposite to that just mentioned, is productive of the
sublime. It is worth while to examine this a little. The fact
itself must be determined by every man's own experience, and
reflection. I have already observed, that night increases our
terror more perhaps than any thing else; it is our nature, that,
when we do not know what may happen to us, to fear the worst
that can happen us: and hence it is, that uncertainty is so
terrible, that we often seek to be rid of it, at the hazard of a
certain mischief. Now some low, confused, certain sounds, leave
us in the same fearful anxiety concerning their causes, that no
light, or a uncertain light does concerning the objects that
surround us.

[...]

But a light now appearing, and now leaving us, and so off and
on, is even more terrible than total darkness; and a sort of
uncertain sounds are, when the necessary dispositions concur,
more alarming than a total silence."

(from Edmund Burke, A philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of
our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, Part II, Section XIX,
Intermitting)

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