Sometimes, when I am tired of so many oscillations, I look for refuge in a word which I begin to love for itself. Resting in the heart of words, seeing clearly into the cell of a word, feeling that the word is the seed of a life, a growing dawn... The poet Vandercammen says all that in a line: "A word can be a dawn and even a sure shelter."
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.
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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.
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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.
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Baudelaire writes: In certain almost supernatural inner states, the depth of life is entirely revealed in the spectacle, however ordinary, that we have before our eyes, and which becomes the symbol of it." Here we have a passage that designates the phenomenological direction I myself pursue. The exterior spectacle helps intimate grandeur unfold.
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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.
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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.
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What benefits new books bring us! I would like a basket full of books telling the youth of images which fall from heaven for me every day. This desire is natural. This prodigy is easy. For, up there, in heaven, isn't paradise an immense library? 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... '' - Gaston Bachelard, 'Introduction', The Poetics of Reverie: Childhood, Language, and the Cosmos, Pages 25-26
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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.
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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.
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Sometimes the house of the future is better built, lighter and larger than all the houses of the past, so that the image of the dream house is opposed to that of the childhood home. Late in life, with indomitable courage, we continue to say that we are going to do what we have not yet done: we are going to build a house. This dream house may be merely a dream of ownership, the embodiment of everything that is considered convenient, comfortable, healthy, sound, desirable, by other people. It must therefore satisfy both pride and reason, two irreconcilable terms.
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Childhood is a human water, a water which comes out of the shadows. This childhood in the mists and glimmers, this life in the slowness of limbo gives us a certain layer of births. What a lot of beings we have begun! What a lot of lost springs which have nevertheless, flowed! Reverie toward our past then, reverie looking for childhood seems to bring back lives which which have never taken place, lives which have been imagined. Reverie is a mnemonics of the imagination. In reverie we re-enter into contact with possibilities which destitute has not been able to make use of.
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Reveries of idealization develop, not by letting oneself be taken in by memories, but by constantly dreaming the values of a being whom one would love. And that is the way a great dreamer dreams his double. His magnified double sustains him." - Gaston Bachelard, "Reveries on Reverie (Anima - Animus)", The Poetics of Reverie: Childhood, Language, and the Cosmos, Page 88
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Contemplating a flame perpetuates a primordial reverie. It separates us from the world and enlarges our world as dreamers. In itself the flame is a major presence, but being close to it makes us dream of far away, too far away. The flame is there, feeble and tiny, struggling to stay in existence, and the dreamer goes on to dream of elsewhere, losing his own being by dreaming on a grand, on a too grand scale by dreaming of the world.
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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.
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We believe we can also show that words do not have exactly the same psychic "weight" depending on whether they belong to the language of reverie or to the language of daylight life-to rested language or language under surveillance-to the language of natural poetry or to the language hammered out by authoritarian prosodies.
The image can only be studied through the image, by dreaming images as they gather in reverie. It is a non-sense to claim to study imagination objectively since one really receives the image only if he admires it. Already in comparing one image to another, one runs the risk of losing participation in its individuality.
I am a dreamer of words, of written words. I think I am reading; a word stops me. I leave the page. The syllables of the word begin to move around. Stressed accents begin to invert. The word abandons its meaning like an overload which is too heavy and prevents dreaming. Then words take on other meanings as if they had the right to be young. And the words wander away, looking in the nooks and crannies of vocabulary for new company, bad company.
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If there is any realm where distinction is especially difficult, it is the realm of childhood memories, the realm of beloved images harbored in memory since childhood. These memories which live by the image and in virtue of the image become, at certain times of our lives and particularly during the quiet age, the origin and matter of a complex reverie: the memory dreams, and reverie remembers.
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Nothing is forgotten in the processes of idealization. Reveries of idealization develop, not by letting oneself be taken in by memories, but by constantly dreaming the values of a being whom one would love. And that is the way a great dreamer dreams his double. His magnified double sustains him.
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.
In our view any awareness is an increment to consciousness, an added light, a reinforcement of psychic coherence. Its swiftness or instantaneity can hide this growth from us. But there is a growth of being in every instance of awareness. Consciousness is in itself an act, the human act.
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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Very often, I confess, the teller of dreams bores me. His dream could perhaps interest me if it were frankly worked on. But to hear a glorious tale of his insanity! I have not yet clarified, psychoanalytically, this boredom during the recital of other people's dreams. Perhaps I have retained the stiffness of a rationalist. I do not follow the tale of justified incoherence docilely. I always suspect that part of the stupidities being recounted are invented.
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In order to dream so far, is it enough to read? Isn't it necessary to write? Write as in our schoolboy past, in those days when, as Bonnoure says, the letters wrote themselves one by one, either in their gibbosity or else in their pretentious elegance? In those days, spelling was a drama, our drama of culture at work in the interior of a word.
It is quite evident that a barrier must be cleared in order to escape the psychologists and enter into a realm which is not "auto-observant", where we ourselves no longer divide ourselves into observer and observed. Then the dreamer is completely dissolved in his reverie. His reverie is his silent life. It is that silent peace which the poet wants to convey to us.
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A universe comes to contribute to our happiness when reverie comes to accentuate our repose. You must tell the man who wants to dream well to begin by being happy. Then reverie plays out its veritable destiny; it becomes poetic reverie and by it, in it, everything becomes beautiful. If the dreamer had "the gift" he would turn his reverie into a work. And this work would be grandiose since the dreamed world is automatically grandiose.
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In scientific thought, the concept functions all the better for being cut off from all background images. In its full exercise, the scientific concept is free from all the delays of its genetic evolution, an evolution which is consequently explained by simple psychology. The virility of knowledge increases with each conquest of the constructive abstraction.
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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.
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Reverie is commonly classified among the phenomena of psychic detente. It is lived out in a relaxed time which has no linking force. Since it functions with inattention, it is often without memory. It is a flight from out of the real that does not always find a consistent unreal world.
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.
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Here we are at the very core of the thesis we wish to defend in the present essay: reverie is under the sign of the anima. When the reverie is truly profound, the being who comes to dream within us is our anima. For a philosopher who takes his inspiration from phenomenology, a reverie on reverie is very exactly a phenomenology of the anima, and it is by coordinating reveries on reverie that he hopes to constitute a "Poetics of reverie". In other words, the poetics of reverie is a poetics of the anima.
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