Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sublime is in the "Eye of the Beholder" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nE-R60QPh_g

A "sublime" experience is something that forces you to take a double take at reality. It has the ability to question your thoughts and perception. As Longinus states, "If an intelligent well-read man can hear a passage several times, and it does not either touch his spirit with a sense of grandeur or leave more food for reflection in his mind than the mere words convey, but with long and careful examination loses more and more of its effectiveness, then it cannot be an example of true sublimity -- certainly not unless it can outlive a single hearing" (120). Whenever I watch "The Twilight Zone" episode Eye of the Beholder is a sublime experience for me. It has permanence in the sense that every time you watch it provokes the question of true beauty.

Being that our modern day world is fixated on the concept of beauty and all it's accoutrements it's a sublime experience watching this episode. Between the stark imagery, dialogue, eerie music, and the repeated utterance of "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" this episode is dripping with sublimity throughout to the point that describing it in mere words will not accomplish much; it has to be watched. However, I will attempt with words to help you understand why it is sublime. The main character wants to conform so bad to what her society deems as beautiful that she seeks the aid of cosmetic surgery -- does this sound familiar. Her attempt is very desperate, but even more desperate is the fact that she states she would rather be killed, or "put away" as she phrases it, instead of going on being "terribly ugly."

The set up of the scene is great. The music plays in the background as her bandages are unwrapped and the reaction of the doctor and nurse is one of shock and awe. At this moment what the viewer sees what we would label a beautiful blond women. The very definition of American beauty in that time of American society. The camera then pans to the doctor and nurses in the room who look downright hideous with their pig-like noses and slits for mouth. However, the Twilight Zone has recreated an alternative world where what the viewer perceives as beautiful is complete ugliness that one would rather die than look like that. The viewer's perception of beauty is treated as a deformity and a separate village is set aside for the so called deformed. "Eye of the Beholder"is an excellent example of sublimity because it forces one to question the essence of beauty every time it's watched as it did 50 years ago and will do so 50 years from now. I believe Longinus would agree that this episode has a sense of grandeur and leaves more food for reflection each time it is watched.

Longinus. "On The Sublime." Classical Literary Theory. Ed. Penolope Murray. Penguin Classics: London, England, 2004. 113-166.

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