Gaston Bachelard


French Philosopher

Author Quotes

The poetic image? is not an echo of the past. On the contrary: through the brilliance of any image, the distant past resounds with echoes.

Therefore, the places in which we have experienced day dreaming reconstitute themselves in a new daydream, and it is because our memories of former dwelling-places are relived as day-dreams these dwelling-places of the past remain in us for all the time.

We cannot say what reality is, only what it seems like to us.

When we are children, people show us so many things that we lose the profound sense of seeing... And just how could adults show us the world they have lost! They know; they think they know; they say they know.

Poetry gives not so much a nostalgia for youth, which would be vulgar, as a nostalgia for the expressions of youth. It offers us images as we should have imagined them during the ?original impulse? of youth. Primal images, simple engravings are but so many invitations to start imagining again. They give us back areas of being, houses in which the human being?s certainty of being is concentrated, and we have the impression that, by living in such images as these, in images that are as stabilizing as these are, we could start a new life, a life that would be our own, that would belong to us in our very depths.

The demands of our reality function require that we adapt to reality, that we constitute ourselves as a reality and that we manufacture works which are realities. But doesn't reverie, by its very essence, liberate us from the reality function? From the moment it is considered in all its simplicity, it is perfectly evident that reverie bears witness to a normal useful irreality function which keeps the human psyche on the fringe of all the brutality of a hostile and foreign non-self.

The psychology of the alchemist is that of reveries trying to constitute themselves in experiments on the exterior world. A double vocabulary must be established between reverie and experiment. The exaltation of the names of substances is the preamble to experiments on the "exalted" substances.

There's nothing worse than loving someone who does not love you, but at the same time it is the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me. To love someone who loves you and it's narcissism ..... To love someone who does not like ... It's Love

We comfort ourselves by reliving memories of protection. Something closed must retain our memories, while leaving them their original value as images. Memories of the outside world will never have the same tonality as those of home and, by recalling these memories, we add to our store of dreams; we are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost.

Whoever lives for poetry must read everything. How often has the light of a new idea sprung for me from a simple brochure! When one allows himself to be animated by new images, he discovers iridescence in the images of old books. Poetic ages unite in a living memory. The new age awakens the old. The old age comes to live again in the new. Poetry is never as unified as when it diversifies.

Poetry is one of the destinies of speech. . . . One would say that the poetic image, in its newness, opens a future to language.

The dream of the night is not ours. It is not our property. For us it is a raptor, the most disconcerting of abductors: robs us of our being. The nights have no history. Not bind each other. And when you've lived a lot, when I have lived twenty thousand nights, we never know how old, very old night, we started to sleep. The night has no future. No doubt there are fewer black nights when the days our lives even be enough to deal with their memories.

The reflected world is the conquest of calm

This word "description" may be disconcerting when used to refer to what is generally called a translation. But when one wishes to render a verbal creation (as opposed to a didactic statement) from one language to another, he is confronted with two equally unsatisfactory choices. He may, according to his talents, elaborate a similar, but never identical creation, or he may describe that creation as completely as possible in his own language.

We cover the Universe with the drawings we have lived.

Words ... are little houses, each with its cellar and garret. Common sense lives on the ground floor, always ready to engage in ?foreign commerce? on the same level as the others, as the passers-by, who are never dreamers. To go upstairs in the word house is to withdraw step by step; while to go down to the cellar is to dream, it is losing oneself in the distant corridors of an obscure etymology, looking for treasures that cannot be found in words. To mount and descend in the words themselves?this is a poet?s life. To mount too high or descend too low is allowed in the case of poets, who bring earth and sky together.

Poetry puts language in a state of emergence, in which life becomes manifest through its vivacity. These linguistic impulses, which stand out from the ordinary rank of pragmatic language, are miniatures of the vital impulse. A micro-Bergsonism that abandoned the thesis of language-as-instrument in favor of the thesis of language-as-reality would find in poetry numerous documents of the intense life of language.

The dream remains overloaded with the badly lived passions of daytime life. Solitude in the nocturnal dream is always a hostility. It is strange. It isn't really our solitude.

The repose of sleep refreshes only the body. It rarely sets the soul at rest. The repose of the night does not belong to us. It is not the possession of our being. Sleep opens within us an inn for phantoms. In the morning we must sweep out the shadows.

Through imagination, thanks to the subtleties of the irreality function, we re-enter the world of confidence, the world of the confident being, which is the proper world for reverie.

We have only to speak of an object to think that we are being objective. But, because we chose it in the first place, the object reveals more about us than we do about it. What we consider to be our fundamental ideas concerning the world are often indications of the immaturity of our minds. Sometimes we stand in wonder before a chosen object; we build up hypotheses and reveries; in this way we form convictions which have all the appearance of true knowledge. But the initial source is impure: the first impression is not a fundamental truth. In point of fact, scientific objectivity is possible only if one has broken first with the immediate object, if one has refused to yield to the seduction of the initial choice, if one has checked and contradicted the thought which arise from one?s first observation. Any objective examination, when duly verified, refutes the results of the first contact with the object. To start with, everything must be called into question: sensation, common sense, usage however constant, even etymology, for words, which are made for signing and enchanting, rarely make contact with thought.

Words are clamor-filled shells. There's many a story in the miniature of a single word!

Poetry, rather than being a phenomenology of the mind, is a phenomenology of the soul.

The great function of poetry is to give back to us the situations of our dreams.

The reverie we intend to study is poetic reverie. This is a reverie which poetry puts on the right track, the track an expanding consciousness follows. This reverie is written, or, at least, promises to be written. It is already facing the great universe of the blank page. Then images begin to compose and fall into place.

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French Philosopher