The musicality of the past: Sehnsucht, trauma, and the sublime

This paper argues that the sublime feeling can only announce itself as a paradoxical mixture of pain and pleasure in an experience of a lost or irrevocable past. Presenting the typical evanescence and inevitable deferral of the past in musical terms, this paper rewrites the sublime feeling as a musical feeling: a suspended feeling wavering in-between apparently opposite intensities of tension and respite. This suspended feeling is analyzed through a juxtaposition of the sublime with Sehnsucht, or the potentially endless longing for an irretrievable past, and trauma, or the potentially endless rehearsal of an unforgettable past.
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DOI 10.1163/187226307X208941
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