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The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard

The Poetics of Space (1957)

by Gaston Bachelard

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  HB-Library-159 | Oct 19, 2016 |
This is supposed to be a book about perceptions, so I guess I can’t fault him on factual flippancy. He seems to be saying, though, that these perceptions are at least somewhat universal. Which is ridiculous, least of all because I can’t relate to most of them.
He brings up some interesting ideas, but only in passing, before he goes off again on pseudo-psychological babbles, passing them off as universal Truths.
I’m only half way through, hopefully it will get better?

Edit: it didn't. It did, however, make me doubt a few things I took for granted. Not because of any convincing evidence or arguments, but because he seems to take for granted the opposite. ( )
  DeFor | Nov 28, 2013 |
It's one of those great books with the rare ability to put into words everything I've always known. *

* Wittgenstein says "About what one can not speak, one must remain silent." Of course, as a philosopher, he was right. But what is unspeakable is also exactly where poets must venture forth a primitive utterance. Not to fill it up brashly with idle talk, but to consecrate it with voices which will increase the silence. This is why phenomenology as practiced by Bachelard, though a branch of philosophy, is more akin to poetry. He whispers to you everything you've always known, intimate knowledge that we all share wordlessly, yet he increases its mystery by speaking about it in a hush of clarity that does not defile the subject matter as psychologists, philosophers, or psychoanalysts do. It makes sense then

that he uses poets and writers as the basis for his study of intimate spaces. More specifically, the poet's image, which arises purely, in a realm before thought or language, springing forth without history or context or reason. The image is Bachelard's tool for studying the essence of safe places in which (and for which) daydreaming takes place, like the house, the drawer, and the shell. The phenomenologist, like the poet, is interested entirely in the essence of a thing, which often has only weak ties to the actual physical reality of a thing. Since I also live almost entirely in the imagination,

this book had the odd effect of feeling at once familiar and new. For once, someone does not miss the whole point! Bachelard does not analyze. What he does instead is set the tongues of these various images to ringing at harmonic frequencies, then invite you in to hear the resonances. It's like going to church. There is awe here, and play, and love that comes only after intense immersion. Many of my own poems are rooted in this same seeing/hearing, especially my In the Sea, There Are a Million Things in There poems and my chapbook A Reduction (yes, shameless self promotion!), both of which start with the inextricably linked worlds of large and small as a realm for daydreaming. ( )
1 vote JimmyChanga | Sep 11, 2013 |
Helpful reading for anyone building or occupying space.

Compare, in his essays on the imagination materielle [including "L'eau et les reves: Essai sur imagination de la matiere" (1942), and "reveries du repos" (1948)], Bachelard examines the formative processes of verbal symbolization, and demonstrates that nature often appears to be the target of our most aggressive impulses. Especially when we are dealing elementally with the world -- the air, water, earth and fire -- our words reflect a disposition toward nature that is destructive. I myself experienced this. As a youth, I seamlessly moved to attack. Repose was but a temporary redoubt of the hunt. My cat leaps to the flicker of movement in the pile of leaves. ( )
  keylawk | Jan 15, 2013 |
I'm guessing I would rate this more like a 3.5. Initially, I loved the book, but it grew to feel more and more like something out of the Romantic canon, and I was finally glad to be done with it. That said, there are moments of brilliance here, and it's definitely worth the read. ( )
  KatrinkaV | Dec 18, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gaston Bachelardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jolas, MariaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A philosopher who has evolved his entire thinking from the fundamental themes of the philosophy of science, and followed the main line of the active, growing rationalism of contemporary science as closely as he could, must forget his learning and break with all his habits of philosophical research, if he wants to study the problems posed by the poetic imagination.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0807064734, Paperback)

This is a deep, magical, densely captivating book about space, our homes, how we live in them, and how dwellings and space affect us; it is as much a book of philosophy as a work of serious literature. It requires careful, preferably leisurely reading, with the possibility of moments to pause and digest and re-read the words. It will change the way you look at your home and your life, providing a deeper, more insightful relationship with the spaces you occupy.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:22 -0400)

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