I strive for the sublime and when I can’t get to it I settle for beauty. A wide angle of the high desert landscape in the right light is sublime, a close up of a flower’s delicate structure is beauty.
The sublime is that which is huge, overwhelming, obscure, and terrifying. It is characterized by “privation”, “vastness”, “infinity”. Edmond Burke claims that the origins of the sublime lay in the idea of pain, versus the pleasure evoked by beauty.
Beauty, on the other hand, is characterized by smallness, delicacy, smoothness, and gradual variation in form.