chapter  16
The state of wonder: Peter de Bolla
Pages 3

THE STATE OF WONDER IS MORE hospitable than awe, which has the capacity to trouble or disturb us, and it is less engrossing than rapture, which seems to swallow up all sense of self. Wonder has a residue of comfort or safety, a bolt-hole for when things get too far away from the possibility of understanding. It is distinct from surprise, which may nevertheless often accompany a sense of wonder, act as a prompt or prelude to it. The big difference here is that I can remain in wonder, be in it, whereas the structural formation of surprise requires that the feeling die away almost as soon as it comes upon me. Wonder has an identifi able architecture; it comprises a variety of rooms we inhabit, moving from fascination and curiosity through admiration toward, at the lowest levels below ground, as it were, stupor or stupefaction. That is when wonder runs out, when all the energy of the spell-binding has been exhausted.