Gaston Bachelard


French Philosopher

Author Quotes

Instead of looking for the dream in reverie, people should look for reverie in the dream. There are calm beaches in the midst of nightmares.

Of course, any simplification runs the risk of mutilating reality; but it helps us establish perspectives.

A clear conscience is, for me, an occupied conscience-never empty-the conscience of a man at work until his last breath.

But each poetic world is not a pure invention, it is a possibility of nature.

For in the end, the irreality function functions as well in the face of man as in the face of the cosmos. What would we know of others if we did not imagine things?

If we did not have a feminine being within us, how would we rest ourselves?

Irony gives us, at little expense, the impression that we are experienced psychologists.

Of course, thanks to the house, a great many of our memories are housed, and if the house is a bit elaborate, if it has a cellar and a garret, nooks and corridors, our memories have refuges that are all the more clearly delineated. All our lives we come back to them in our daydreams. A psychoanalyst should, therefore, turn his attention to this simple localization of our memories. I should like to give the name of topoanalysis to this auxiliary of pyschoanalysis. Topoanalysis, then would be the systematic psychological study of the sites of our intimate lives.

A creature that hides and withdraws into its shell, is preparing a way out. This is true of the entire scale of metaphors, from the resurrection of a man in his grave, to the sudden outburst of one who has long been silent. If we remain at the heart of the image under consideration, we have the impression that, by staying in the motionlessness of its shell, the creature is preparing temporal explosions, not to say whirlwinds, of being.

But it is not sufficient to receive; one must welcome. One must, say the pedagogue and the dietician in the same voice, ?assimilate.? In order to do that, we are advised not to read too fast and to be careful not to swallow too large a bite. We are told to divide each difficulty into as many parts as possible, the better to solve them. Yes, chew well, drink a little at a time, savor poems line by line. All these precepts are well and good. But one precept orders them. One first needs a good desire to eat, drink and read. One must want to read a lot, read more, always read. Thus, in the morning, before the books piled high on my table, to the god of reading, I say my prayer of the devouring reader: ?Give us this day our daily hunger.?

Happy is the man who knows or even the man who remembers those silent vigils where silence itself was the sign of the communion of souls!

Imagination is a tree. It has the integrative virtues of a tree. It is root and boughs. It lives between earth and sky. It lives in the earth and the wind. The imagined tree imperceptibly becomes a cosmological tree, the tree which epitomizes a universe, which makes a universe.

It is a poor reverie which invites a nap. One must even wonder whether, in this "failing asleep", the subconscious itself does not undergo a decline in being.

One doesn't read poetry while thinking of other things.

A house that has been experienced is not an inert box. Inhabited space transcends geometrical space.

By following "the path of reverie"--a constantly downhill path--consciousness relaxes and wanders--and consequently becomes clouded. So it is never the right time, when one is dreaming, to "do phenomenology."

Here is Menard's own intimate forest: 'Now I am traversed by bridle paths, under the seal of sun and shade...I live in great density...Shelter lures me. I slump down into the thick foliage...In the forest, I am my entire self. Everything is possible in my heart just as it is in the hiding places in ravines. Thickly wooded distance separates me from moral codes and cities.

Imagination is itself immanent in the real. It is not a state. It is human existence itself.

It is better to live in a state of impermanence than in one of finality.

One must always maintain one?s connection to the past and yet ceaselessly pull away from it. To remain in touch with the past requires a love of memory. To remain in touch with the past requires a constant imaginative effort.

A man is a man to the extent that he is a superman. A man should be defined by the sum of those tendencies which impel him to surpass the human condition.

By listening to certain words as a child listens to the sea in a seashell, a word dreamer hears the murmur of a world of dreams.

Here the phenomenologist has nothing in common with the literary critic who, as has frequently been noted, judges a work that he could not create and, if we are to believe certain facile condemnations, would not want to create. A literary critic is a reader who is necessarily severe. By turning inside out like a glove an overworked complex that has become debased to the point of being part of the vocabulary of statesmen, we might say that the literary critic and the professor of rhetoric, who know-all and judge-all, readily go in for a simplex of superiority. As for me, being an addict of felicitous reading, I only read and re-read what I like, with a bit of reader's pride mixed in with much enthusiasm.

In contrast to a dream a reverie cannot be recounted. To be communicated, it must be written, written with emotion and taste, being relived all the more strongly because it is being written down. Here, we are touching the realm of written love. It is going out of fashion, but the benefits remain. There are still souls for whom love is the contact of two poetries, the fusion of two reveries.

It is not uncommon my animus to scold me for reading too? Read, read always, mellifluous passion of the anima. But when, after reading all give ourselves to the task, with daydreams, to make a book, the effort is up to the animus. And always a hard mister, that of writing a book. We are always tempted to limit ourselves to dream.

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French Philosopher