I see the initial preverbal response to an artwork’s aesthetics as a powerful and deep-rooted connection; successfully evoking a scene of sublimity is therefore directly tied to the viewer’s first engagement.
“Gaston Bachelard (1969)’ a pioneer in the investigation of the creative reception of literature, famously asserted that ‘…the image has touched the depths before it stirs the surface’. He meant that we do not need to know the context from which it originates, nor to have shared the poet’s suffering, in order for an immediate response to a poetic image to make itself felt” (Maclagan, 2004, p.44).
I regard this immediate connection as a spiritual one, not to be confused with a religious belief but a belief in the ‘other’, something that can’t be proven and is known through feeling.
“The essential claim of the sublime is that man can, in feeling and speech, transcend the human. What, if anything, lies beyond the human – God or the gods, the daemon or Nature – is matter for great disagreement” (Weiskel, 2010, p.12).