Gaston Bachelard – The Poetics of Space - summary and review
Gaston Bachelard's "The Poetics of Space" ( La Poétique de l'Espace, 1958) is a phenomenological interrogation into the meaning of spaces which preoccupy poetry, intimate spaces such as a house, a drawer, a night dresser and spaces of wide expansion such as vistas and woods. In the opening chapter of The Poetics of Space Bachelard places special emphasis on the interior domestic space and its component: the various rooms and the different types of furniture in it. Bachelard attempts to trace the reception of the poetic image in the subjective consciousness, a reception which demands, so Bachelard holds, great openness and a focus on the present experience while eliminate transient time.
The house is, for Bachelard, the quintessential phenomenological object, meaning that this is the place in which the personal experience reaches its epitome. Bachelrad sees the house as a sort of initial universe, asserting that "all really inhabited space bears the essence of the notion of home" (The Poetics of Space, p.5). Bachelard proceeds to examine the home as the manifestation of the soul through the poetic image and literary images which are found in poetry. He examines locations in the house as places of intimacy and memory which are manifested in poetry.
Bachelard explains his focus on the poetic image for it being the property of the innocent consciousness, something which precedes conscious thought, does not require knowledge and is the direct product of the heart and soul. This direct relation of poetry to reality, for Bachelard, intensifies the reality of perceived objects ("imagination augments the values of reality", The Poetics of Space, p.3). Poetry, Bachelrad holds, is directed at one and the same time both inwards and outwards, thus establishing his future discussion of inside and outside which is so familiar to anyone dealing with the theory of space.
Bachelard determines that the house has both unity and complexity, it is made out of memories and experiences, its different parts arouse different sensations at yet it brings up a unitary, intimate experience of living. Such experiential qualities are what Bachelard finds it the poetry and prose he analyzes. Home objects for Bachelard are charged with mental experience. A cabinet opened is a world revealed , drawers are places of secrets, and with every habitual action we open endless dimensions of our existence.
In "The Poetics of Space" Bachelard introduces his concept of topoanlysis, which he defines as the systematic psychological studying of the sites of our intimate lives. The house, the most intimate of all spaces, "protects the daydreamer" and therefore understanding the house is for Bachelard a way to understand the soul.