1. The survey of the meanings of sublimity I have found most sympathetic is Philip Shaw's The Sublime. He reaches more pessimistic conclusions, I think, but we agree about the theoretical range any commentary is obliged to cover.
2. Will Slocombe cleverly runs arguments about sublimity and nihilism parallel to each other and summarizes Žižek's aperçu that “Kant argues that sublimity is the failure of the mental object to present itself in language, rather than the failure of language to present the object” (45). He also pinpoints a Hegelian moment in Judith Butler's exoneration of performative contradiction: “performative contradiction is crucial to the continuing revision and elaboration of historical standards of universality” ( 89-90). Both examples show a (not necessarily literary) sublime linguistic performance performing a service for philosophy.
4. See Žižek's exposition of this in The Abyss of Freedom / Ages of the World: An essay by Slavoj Žižek with the text of Schelling's 'Die Weltalter' (second draft, 1813) in English translation by Judith Norman (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1997), 43.
7. See Paul de Man, “Autobiography as Defacement” in The Rhetoric of Romanticism. Neil Hertz, The End of the Line, 220. That this substitutive oscillation can continue almost endlessly within the same text is shown by Cynthia Chase in “The Accidents of Disfiguration: Limits to Literal and Rhetorical Reading in Book V of The Prelude.” See in particular her remark on 556: “Language ordinarily covers up the effects of effaced figuration; it erases the effacement of the figure. In this text, the cover is cancelled and the erased effacement reinscribed, in an act of disfiguration.”
8. Within this education out of an originally aesthetic moment into its extension in other discourses, still finer discriminations are to be made. Catherine Maxwell, in The Female Sublime (216-21), distinguishes between poems which seek to “enact their own death” and those which, less tragically and daringly, achieve a quieter dissolution better represented as figuring a frequently advantageous sexual surrender of male to female authority. Variations in sublime education can then characterize historical changes, in this case the transition from Romanticism to a Victorian pre-modernism represented by Swinburne.