Monday, 6 June 2011

The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard

I struggled with this book to be honest. I kept wanting to disagree with some of the statements in it, such as that you can't imagine a drawer without something in it. Believe me, since the day I read it, I have been doing that very thing on a regular basis. So much of what Bachelard says seems to me so much a product of his era and social class that I wondered how relevant it can be to us here and now.

That is part of the point of phenomenology, however. We do bring who, and when, and where we are to the activity of perception, and it's silly (if not, in practice, impossible) to try to disregard it. However, when he was thinking about furniture he was moving into a reflection on light and darkness, comfort and vulnerabilty, and I couldn't get past the smell of lavender and beeswax. Maybe I should write a poetics of housework!

As I went through the book, however, I began to see something more profound. My perceptions of shells, caves, cupboards and cellars might well be different from someone else's, but imagining and daydreaming about them brings us all to profound experiences of such common themes as light and darkness, secrecy and disclosure, intimacy and isolation, transcendence and insignificance.

I am really intrigued about his differences with Freudian psychoanalysts. All this stuff, they say, is just a way of thinking about sex. But Bachelard says that sexual experience is so profound because it is a way of getting to grips with all this stuff - about who we are in the world and how we are going to get along with it all. And that seems a bit more useful than nostalgia for a comfortable (pre-war, well-to-do provincial French) home.

I have put links to some green fairs on the Lúcháir events page. They all seem to be happening in England, however. Scotland doesn't seem to have so many,(perhaps it's the weather) but keep a lookout for the Spades and Spokes extravaganza in Stirling in July. I'll post more about this when I get back from holiday.

See you all later! pax et bene!

5 comments:

Marion McCready said...

I've never really read much Bachelard though I've always meant to. I looked at this book on Amazon and I really love the sound of it.

Elizabeth Rimmer said...

If you can wait until we meet up, I'll lend you mine, if you like! Callander at the latest I should think.

swiss said...

it seems like it's one of those marmaite books. me, i love it!

Elizabeth Rimmer said...

Yes, I think that's true. Lots of people whose poetry I love admire it, but I really had to work hard!

Marion McCready said...

sounds great :)