Gaston Bachelard is an unclassifiable thinker of the twentieth century. Scientist, philosopher, poet, psychoanalyst… actually, I think he’s fitting none of those identities. It would be probably more accurate to simply define him as a very singular writer, and as a free mind. From 1929 to 1962 he authored a lot of essays, addressing his dual concerns: the philosophy of science and the analysis of the imagination of matter. The influence of his thought can be still felt in a lot of fields… art, architecture, literature, language, poetics.
Since 5 or 6 years, my work is constantly coming back to his books, and specially two of them, which became, somehow, my friendly silent godmothers…
Water and Dreams and The Poetics of space (unfortunately not so easy to find, nowadays) are investigating the poetical imaginations of the water, and of the space (specifically the spaces of the house).
Both essays are written in a kind of marvelous language; they invite the lector to consider imagination as a dynamical force. Imagination is grounded in the matter, it operates in us as a movement, that comes back to matter. Imagination is, literally, material.
Rather than thinking about water or about the house, it’s an invitation to actively dream about water, or about the spaces of intimacy.
In this delicate, enthusiastic, yet radical thinking, imagination is always considered as an embodied and spatial experience. Therefore, it’s a precious and constant source of (mysterious) inspiration for me, as a choreographer, performer and theater maker.
Let’s share some quotes with you…
“What a dynamic, handsome object is a path! How precise the familiar hill paths remain for our muscular consciousness! Oh, my roads and their cadence.”
“Thus the dream house must possess every virtue. However spacious, it must also be a cottage, a dove-cote, a nest, a chrysalis. Intimacy needs the heart of a nest. Erasmus, his biographer tells us, was long "in finding a nook in his fine house in which he could put his little body with safety. He ended by confining himself to one room, until he could breathe the parched air that was necessary to him. ”
“Actually, however, life begins less by reaching upward, than by turning upon itself. But what a marvelously insidious, subtle image of life a coiling vital principle would be! And how many dreams the leftward oriented shell, or one that did not conform to the rotation of its species, would inspire!”
“Before being a conscious spectacle, any landscape is an experience from a dream. We only look with passion at landscapes we have previously seen in dreams “.