39 pages 1 hour read

Gaston Bachelard

The Poetics of Space

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1957

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Important Quotes

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 “However, this minor cultural crisis, this crisis on the simple level of a new image, contains the entire paradox of a phenomenology of the imagination, which is: how can an image, at times very unusual, appear to be a concentration of the entire psyche? How—with no preparation—can this singular, short-lived event constituted by the appearance of an unusual poetic image, react on other minds and in other hearts, despite all the barriers of common sense, all the disciplined schools of thought, content in their immobility?”

(Introduction, Page 3)

Bachelard asserts that attempting to understand the poetic image through the lens of psychoanalysis or psychology limits the understanding itself. It fails to take in the fullness of the occurrence of the poetic image, the way in which imagination, creativity, and resonance intersect to create something that reverberates so that others may connect to it.

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“The mind is able to relax, but in poetic revery the soul keeps watch, with no tension, calmed and active. To compose a finished, well-constructed poem, the mind is obliged to make projects that prefigure it. But for a simple poetic image, there is no project; a flicker of the soul is all that is needed.”

(Introduction, Page 6)

This quotation presents two important ideas of Bachelard’s work. First, Bachelard suggests that reverie—or daydreaming—is a mental space in which the mind can wander through consciousness, uninhibited and without limitations. Second, Bachelard emphasizes that his work examines the birth of the poetic image alone, not the poem or the output of the poetic image.

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“The resonances are dispersed on different planes of our life in the world, while the repercussions invite us to give greater depth to our own existence. In the resonance we hear the poem, in the reverberations we speak it, it is our own.”

(Introduction, Page 7)

Here, Bachelard defines resonance, and the repercussions within that resonance, as the cosmic vibration of being that an individual can tap into in search of the poetic image. Reverberations allow the individual to then translate the poetic image into words or logos, divine expression.