Poetics of Space

The Poetics Of Space by Gaston Bachelard is a philosophical study of inhabited spaces. This book is filled with metaphors and imagery of an intimate place, such as a house. He uses the house as that is what hold the memories and experiences of living. He uses this concept, relating it to various other illustrations to explain, “All really inhabited space bears the essence of the notion of home”. Each chapter in the book is titled as per the exact subject matter.


(noun: nest; plural noun: nestsa structure or place made or chosen by a bird for laying eggs and sheltering its young.)

In the chapter Nests, Gaston Bachelard talks about shelter as a primal instinct. It says when a human find shelter, he or she feels protected, just as a bird makes his net to shelter their young ones.

He used the example of a snail crawling into his shell as a comparison to humans having homes. Just as a snail fins comfort in retracting back into his shell, humans too withdraw themselves from time to time and retract back into their shell, i.e. the corner of their houses to find serenity.

Vlaminck, a painter says “The well-being I feel, seated in front of my fire, while bad weather rages out-of-doors, is entirely animal. A rat in its hole, a rabbit in its burrow, cows in the stable, must all feel the same contentment that I feel.”

He the goes on to talk about how “marvelous” the nest really are, “The enterprise and skill with which ani­ mals make their nests is so efficient that it is not possible to do better, so entirely do they surpass all masons, carpenters and builders; for there is not a man who would be able to make a house better suited to himself and to his children than these little animals build for themselves. This is so true, in fact, that we have a proverb according to which men can do everything except build a bird’s nest.” He also says that even though the nest are invisible from above it is the best hiding palce for the “winged creatures”

Gaston Bachelard then recalls a story form the Journals of Henry David Thoreau, March 17, 1858 that talks about green woodpecker that took an entire tree for its home. He compares this taking possession with the joy of a family that returns to live in a house it had long since abandoned. The woodpecker’s confidence in the shelter of the tree in which it has hidden its nest, represents taking possession of a home.

Gaston then associates a nest to a simple house, the images of both seem to evoke the sense of simplicity.

What he strats talking about next it “bird architecture”, as Jules Michelet says that a bird is a worker without tools. Michelet says “a bird’s tool is its own body, that is, its breast, with which it presses and tightens its materials until they have become absolutely pliant, well-blended and adapted to the general plan”. He talks about there being an intimate quality of a house built for the body by the body, just like a shell.







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