Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard

Chapter 1

The house, from cellar to garret

In the writing the writer talks about spaces, specifically the house, and how the space is more than just a physical dimension. He talks about the house as an entity, inspiring poetry. Concepts of the relationship between memory and space are explored and how the house gets its own identity is explored.

  • When describing the house, primitiveness is necessary, one needs the innocence to understand it. There is intimacy even in poor humble dwellings.
  • Memory, dreams, imagination are the three things necessary to build the house.
  • In the past one notices discrepancies, physical details, but when one reminisces of the past it always seems comforting. It seems more like a blur of a visual, the emotion is remembered more than the physicality go the space.
  • Virtues of shelter are so simple, so deeply rooted in our unconscious that they may be recaptured through mere mention, rather than through minute description. Here the nuance bespeaks the color. A poet’s word, because it strikes true, moves the very depths of our being. Over-picturesqueness in a house can conceal its intimacy.”

Real houses of intimacy can’t be described. The example of the smell of raisins in the        cupboard shows the other senses playing in the space. One is familiar but can’t always describe what is familiar. The house is described almost as a hazy painting, with unclear details but the mood is experienced strongly.

  • Spaces of day dreams find themselves in day dreams, how a space transforms into a dream because of the power of the memory attached to it and how a real place transitions into a dream
  • Past, present and future affect day dreams of the house. They oppose as well as stimulate each other
  • Places identify solitude. When alone these paces invoke the mind and tap into nostalgia.
  • Space gets its own identity. Becomes a separate.
  • Thus we cover the universe with drawings we have lived.

A space which does not have direct memories with an individual can still set a chain of reactions and thoughts to go about just with a single element.

  • The association of certain spaces with our fears and inhibitions is done. It almost seems like the space has been psychoanalysed and our deepest emotions are brought forward by a space. The cellar is associated with darkness and the unknown. The attic brings comfort in the day but captures the eeriness of the cellar at night. The tower creates the aura of another century, another time.
  •  “write a room,” “read a room,” or “read a house.”

Personally I found this as the most powerful sentence of the chapter. Turning something tangible into an intangible thing through words is giving that space a power that lies in our mind. The space becomes indestructible and will always remain.  


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