I do absolutely love this book, and it became in many ways a kind of manifesto for me. The reason I haven't given it the full 5 stars is simply that aI do absolutely love this book, and it became in many ways a kind of manifesto for me. The reason I haven't given it the full 5 stars is simply that a good third of the writing remains essentially meaningless to me, even after a dozen rereadings. The things that work are SO wonderful, but I still can't make head or tail of phenomenology in general and plenty of this book in particular. What is marvelous about it, though, is that you don't need to understand most of it to get a great deal of pleasure out of the best of it. Forgive me if that sounds either lazy or willfully ignorant, but I don't feel the need to pretend I can wrap my head around everything he said, especially in translation, and I think that the book is strengthened, not weakened, by the fact that the most beautiful and elegant things he has to say stand on their own so completely.
What I love most is the way that he manages to get under the skin of a whole set of feelings -- the kind of evocative aura of childhood spaces, of the home of the heart, of the house snug against the storm, of nooks and crannies and shelves. What I love most is the fact that he's deeply curious about how these feelings come to be and exactly what characterizes them, but instead of laying them open with a scalpel (and thereby ruining them), he uses fragments of poetry to create what feels to me to be a kind of net in which to catch the living, breathing experience. In other words, instead of trying to pin down intimate space like a dead butterfly in a box, he very gently evokes and opens it, holding it up to the light like a soap bubble, so we can really study exactly how the wings shimmer and radiate.
I came away from the book feeling as if I had an intuitive grasp of what he meant, rather than an exact explication, and that was kind of astonishing - to have a sense of having learned from feeling something in tandem with an author. There's a strong current of oh my goodness, that's exactly how it feels that runs through the text for me, and in the end what I find most marvelous is simply that Bachelard manages to bring you so exactly into a shared world of experience. It's the gift of feeling that someone else not only understands but shares your feelings about certain spaces on a level that reaches way underneath words.
This book remains a primary text for me as an artist, more than anything to remind me of the deep, wild, beautiful ways that certain spaces make people feel, and to gently keep me from forgetting that it is possible to create a shared poetic experience without being even the slightest bit didactic. It's kind of striking how clearly Bachelard loves his topic, and how obviously precious and meaningful to him. It's rare and refreshing to see a philosopher write with grace and a sense of wonder and delight. He doesn't care if you get the jargon of phenomenology; he just wants you to feel at home. It's a lovely invitation.
Also, anyone who loves Charles Baudelaire has got to read it. His section on "intimate immensity" in Baudelaire's poems is just beautiful. ...more
This is an extraordinary, heartbreaking book of poetry. The poets I love best are those whose words make my eyes get hot every time I read a line outThis is an extraordinary, heartbreaking book of poetry. The poets I love best are those whose words make my eyes get hot every time I read a line out loud, and that's John Rybicki through and through; his poems are full of simple, elegant lines that yank the guts and gnaw the heartstrings without trying at all. Coming off the pages is a strong sensation of humility and grace, as if these were the songs of a very ordinary man just trying to understand why the world is so full of feeling - both pain and beauty, side by side, filling up the throat. Exquisite....more