How to read a book? How to write a text? How many pages, how many words, and how many symbols do we need? What is authorship? An experiment in writing, a text, written by typing underlined passages of The poetics of Space, chapter 1, in chronological order.
FROM CELLAR TO GARRET
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE HUT
For our house is the corner of the world. As has often been said, it is our first universe, a real cosmos in every sense of the word. If we look at it intimately, the humblest dwelling has beauty.
In fact, they know the universe before the house, the far horizon before the resting place.
We are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost. The house shelters daydreaming, the house protects the dreamer; the house allows one to dream in peace. Being is already a value.
We can only think of it, in the line of an abstract time that is deprived of all thickness. Memories are motionless, and the more securely they are fixed in space, the sounder they are. The passionate being prepares his explosions and his exploits in this solitude. And all of the spaces of our past moments of solitude, the spaces in which we have suffered from solitude, enjoyed, desired and compromised solitude, remain indelible within us, and precisely because the human being wants them to remain so. These retreats have the value of a shell.
The normal unconscious knows how to make itself at home everywhere. Thus we cover the universe with drawings we have lived. These drawings need not to be exact. They need only to be tonalized on the mode of our inner space.
A poet’s word, because it strikes true, moves the very depths of our being. All we communicate to others is an orientation towards what is secret without ever being able to tell the secret objectively. It is an odor that is beyond description, one that it takes a lot of imagination to smell. The great function of poetry is to give us back the situations of our dreams.
When we dream there, we are in harmony with the irrationality of the depths. With this excellent motto, both the house and the bedchamber bear the mark of an unforgettable intimacy. Lastly, we always go up the attic stairs, which are steeper and more primitive. For they bear the mark of ascention to a more tranquil solitude. And the poetic daydream, which creates symbols, confers upon our intimate moments an activity that is poly-symbolic. However, any image is a good one, provided we know how to use it.
We must first look for centers of simplicity in houses with many rooms. But our house replaced the hut for me, it sheltered me from hunger and cold; and if I shivered it was merely from well-being. Comfortably seated in my chair, I basked in the sensation of your strength. Indeed, real images are engravings, for it is the imagination that engraves them on our memories. The hermit is alone before God. And there radiates about this centralized solitude a universe of meditation and prayer, a universe outside the universe. This valorization of a center of concentrated solitude is so strong, so primitive, and so unquestioned, that the image of the distant light servers as a reference for less clearly localized images.
The lamp is the symbol of prolonged waiting.
Note: During the working period at Destination Unknown, the above thoughts of Gaston Bachelard formed a way of approaching the space in which I worked. In the articles linked below you’ll find more information on Destination Unknown (written in Dutch).