David: We we've talked to people about the difference between the beautiful and the sublime. What do you think the sublime points at? That feeling of the sublime?
BO: I think the sublime points at this sense of something greater than us that we didn't make. But it also points to something in us that is greater than what we normally feel, that we haven't shaped. So it's like an hour glass in a way: so the sublime is both that which inspires it, as that which is the feeling of that inspiration.
And that's why the idea of the sublime is so important and why it enlarges us and why it temporises us. At best we're six by two and a half, but the sublime really makes you feel like an inward cathedral. The sublime really brings to the feeling of being human something much greater than being human. That's what's extraordinary about it.
David: Have you felt it?
BO: Yes, I felt it at Niagara Falls. I felt it at the foot of mountains. I've felt it with books. I've felt it with night skies.
Ard: And do you think there's something when we respond to the sublime that sometimes makes us afraid? Is terror or fear a part of it?
BO: Yes, there's definitely terror as an aspect of the sublime. All truly great things have an age of terror to them. That's where the idea of Pan came from. You could be in the mountains and you have this Pan feeling. That's where panic comes from. You have this Pan feeling. I had it the other day. I was in the mountains up in South Wolds. I was walking up. There was nobody there. There was absolutely nobody, and I was like, ‘Ah, lovely day.’ I was climbing and then suddenly the immensity of that landscape, the emptiness of it, was terrifying; it was threatening. Why? Nothing was going to happen to me, but suddenly I bolted. I literally ran and there was nothing to run away from. Yes, there is an edge of terror and I don't know what that terror is.
David: Have you ever felt it in your own creation, where you've felt that something you're creating has touched on it or?
BO: You're asking me to wander into very indelicate area.
BO: But yeah, the sense of the sublime is something I constantly work with