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This review is from: The Poetics of Space (Paperback)
"More than 80,000 copies sold..." says the blurb; it doesn't say how many were read to the end.
Bachelard's notion here (si je comprends bien, naturellement) is that we experience art like we experience the world and that therefore the phenomenon of emergence that establishes the nature of all things applies as much to poetry as it does to an apple. This book is a composite review of how poetry (which is to say French poetry... plus Rilke, Milosz and a few Gallic, `poetic novelists') deals with the topic of space.
Starting with domestic space (ie houses - `the chief benefit of a house is that it protects the dreamer') Bachelard moves to rooms, wardrobes, nests, shells, confines and expanses. Each topic is treated didactically (...there are those, after all, who might rather regard the chief benefit of a house to be the context that it affords for visitors) but is nonetheless studiously supported by tellingly abstruse citations from literature.
Thus: `the objective study of subjective experience'.
The book is pleasantly discursive and inately wayward but - as a text which has influenced a generation of fine art students - it is also worryingly pompous and effete. From the start Bachelard points out that he is not a Psychologist (a species that is worthy of attention, but essentially inferior); he is a Phenomenologist: a creature allied to (but essentially superior to) a Philosopher who is uniquely qualified to ponder Poets.
For Bachelard, a man fossilised in academic mud, vocation is everything. Baudelaire is a `Poet' and singularly a `Poet'. As an entity his order is as different from a postman as a whale is from a flea.
This rigid categorisation of experience soon becomes unexpectedly (...given Gaston's chatty tone) depressing; just as his `insights' soon start to grate. A nest is `evidence of a cosmic situation' (...isn't any thing?); `In the realm of images, there can be no contradiction' (...would Escher agree?).
The arch-prissiness waxes towards the end of the book, until Bachelard insightfully points out that "at times" the sound of a letter defines the thought attached to a word (...as if no poetry reader had ever before contemplated euphonics) and innocently undermines the translated nature of this English text.
As you reach the conclusion (having been promised several other books on ideas that have occurred to this phenomenal Phenomenologist) you realise that Bachelard is not, actually, a Phenomenologist at all. He's a book. A kind of literary hygroscopy has occurred. All that arduous copyism, all that filtering and selective grooming of words have reified him into the kind of inflexible, dessicant, poisonous text that Plato famously feared would result from the `invention' of writing.
Which - to be human for just a moment - seems incredibly sad.
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Initial post: 27 Oct 2013 08:52:37 GMT
Just brilliant. Review of 2012?
Posted on 27 Oct 2013 08:53:04 GMT
Just brilliant. Review of the year 2012?
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