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Poetics of space

By: Bachelard, Gaston.
Contributor(s): Jolas, Maria [Translator].
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: New York Penguin Books 1958Description: xxx, 268p. | Binding - Paperback | 19.6*13 cm.ISBN: 9780143107521.Subject(s): Non Technical Books (NTB)DDC classification: 808.1 Summary: The Poetics of Space is the most concise and consummate expression of Bachelard’s philosophy of imagination. His famous turn toward poetics began in the late thirties when Bachelard decided to supplement his work on scientific epistemology (almost thirteen volumes) with an exploration of the life of art and creation. He had become increasingly dissatisfied by what he called the “growing rationalism of contemporary science” and was eager to investigate the “ecstasy of the newness of the image.”3 This meant breaking with the strict habits of scientific research—which placed new discoveries always in the context of acquired bodies of evidence—so as to expose oneself to the novelty of the poetic instant. Because “the poetic act has no past,”4 we must be fully attentive to the image at the very moment it appears, both as itself and as a vibration of the psyche. A new methodology was called for. The notion of attention was key. Bachelard was concerned as much with the “material” image that stirs us in our depths as with the “formal” image that we produce in response. Bachelard offers a poetics of both matter and form, whereas Aristotle had originally defined poetics in terms of formal properties of plot (muthos) and imitation (mimesis). Poetics comes from poiesis, meaning “to make,” and for Bachelard this is a two-way process: we are made by material images that we remake in our turn. We are inhabited by deep imaginings—visual and verbal, auditory and tactile—that we reinhabit in our own unique way. Poetics is about hearing and feeling as well as crafting and shaping. It is the double play of re-creation. And this oscillating tension flies in the face of traditional dichotomies between subject and object, mind and matter, active and passive, which inform the history of Western thought. Or to put it another way: Bachelard’s sense of poetic creation transcends the traditionally opposed roles of the image as either “imitation” or “invention.” For Plato and many medieval philosophers, imagination was construed primarily as a mimetic act of mirroring, representing, copying. This approach was often associated with deceit and illusion, with confounding original realities with secondary substitutes. By contrast, for Kant and the romantics—including German idealists and existentialists like Sartre—imagination was hailed as a productive force in its own right, the source of all true meaning and value. Bachelard resisted both extremes. For him imagination was at once receptive and creative—an acoustic of listening and an art of participation. The two functions, passive and active, were inseparable. The world itself dreams, he said, and we help give it voice.5 “The image [is] the specific phenomena of the speaking creature.”6 The highest act of imagination is the will to attune oneself to the saying of being itself. https://www.penguin.com/ajax/books/excerpt/9780143107521
List(s) this item appears in: CAS:Books - 01-15 April 2019
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Item type Current location Collection Call number Status Date due Barcode Item holds
Books Books School of Architecture
Fiction/Literature (NTB)
Circulation 808.1 BAC (Browse shelf) Available A2530
Total holds: 0

The Poetics of Space is the most concise and consummate expression of Bachelard’s philosophy of imagination. His famous turn toward poetics began in the late thirties when Bachelard decided to supplement his work on scientific epistemology (almost thirteen volumes) with an exploration of the life of art and creation. He had become increasingly dissatisfied by what he called the “growing rationalism of contemporary science” and was eager to investigate the “ecstasy of the newness of the image.”3 This meant breaking with the strict habits of scientific research—which placed new discoveries always in the context of acquired bodies of evidence—so as to expose oneself to the novelty of the poetic instant. Because “the poetic act has no past,”4 we must be fully attentive to the image at the very moment it appears, both as itself and as a vibration of the psyche. A new methodology was called for.

The notion of attention was key. Bachelard was concerned as much with the “material” image that stirs us in our depths as with the “formal” image that we produce in response. Bachelard offers a poetics of both matter and form, whereas Aristotle had originally defined poetics in terms of formal properties of plot (muthos) and imitation (mimesis). Poetics comes from poiesis, meaning “to make,” and for Bachelard this is a two-way process: we are made by material images that we remake in our turn. We are inhabited by deep imaginings—visual and verbal, auditory and tactile—that we reinhabit in our own unique way. Poetics is about hearing and feeling as well as crafting and shaping. It is the double play of re-creation. And this oscillating tension flies in the face of traditional dichotomies between subject and object, mind and matter, active and passive, which inform the history of Western thought. Or to put it another way: Bachelard’s sense of poetic creation transcends the traditionally opposed roles of the image as either “imitation” or “invention.” For Plato and many medieval philosophers, imagination was construed primarily as a mimetic act of mirroring, representing, copying. This approach was often associated with deceit and illusion, with confounding original realities with secondary substitutes. By contrast, for Kant and the romantics—including German idealists and existentialists like Sartre—imagination was hailed as a productive force in its own right, the source of all true meaning and value. Bachelard resisted both extremes. For him imagination was at once receptive and creative—an acoustic of listening and an art of participation. The two functions, passive and active, were inseparable. The world itself dreams, he said, and we help give it voice.5 “The image [is] the specific phenomena of the speaking creature.”6 The highest act of imagination is the will to attune oneself to the saying of being itself. https://www.penguin.com/ajax/books/excerpt/9780143107521

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