The Poetics of Space – Gaston Bachelard (1964)


“Although he held a prominent chair of philosophy at the prestigious Sorbonne University in Paris, the French thinker and writer Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962) never allowed himself to become molded by the traditional ways of academic thinking. He remained a free mind, unfettered by conventions. According to his contemporary, the philosopher and historian of philosophy Étienne Gilson, Bachelard was a man ‘deeply rooted in the soil of everyday life’ and lived in ‘intimate relation with the concrete realities of nature.’ He rose to the top from humble provincial origins; was both admired and envied by the intellectual elite. … In 1958, Bachelard published La Poétique de l’Espace – The Poetics of Space – a densely lyrical, almost magical book on our experience of architecture. In it, he courses through the realms we inhabit – indoor and outdoor. He registers the significance of old tower and peasant hut, the smallest casket and the shadiest corner. This passionate journey through space is also an exploration of the recesses of the psyche, the hallways of the mind. The enterprise demanded an ‘unlearning’ of the very rationalistic mode of thinking Bachelard had assumed in the capacity of a philosopher of science. The poetic imagination, unlike science, is independent of causality. Bachelard had to learn to be receptive to images of poetry at whichever moment they appeared. In 1958, Bachelard published La Poétique de l’Espace – The Poetics of Space – a densely lyrical, almost magical book on our experience of architecture. In it, he courses through the realms we inhabit – indoor and outdoor. He registers the significance of old tower and peasant hut, the smallest casket and the shadiest corner. This passionate journey through space is also an exploration of the recesses of the psyche, the hallways of the mind. The enterprise demanded an ‘unlearning’ of the very rationalistic mode of thinking Bachelard had assumed in the capacity of a philosopher of science. The poetic imagination, unlike science, is independent of causality. Bachelard had to learn to be receptive to images of poetry at whichever moment they appeared. The house is a shelter, Bachelard maintains, without which the human would be a dispersed figure. The house collects and contains past, present and future; it integrates thoughts and memories and desires – all this it does by allowing the human to ‘daydream’.  …”
On Art and Aesthetics: The Poetics of Space
W – The Poetics of Space, W – Gaston Bachelard
Gaston Bachelard on the Meditative Magic of Housework and How It Increases the Human Dignity of Everyday Objects
Intimate spaces
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[PDF] The Poetics of Space

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