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Gaston Bachelard

French writer and philosopher


  • Man is a creation of desire, not a creation of need.
    • The Psychoanalysis of Fire, ch. 2, "Fire and Reverie" (1938)

L'eau et les rêves (Water and Dreams) 1942Edit

  • To disappear into deep water or to disappear toward a far horizon, to become part of depth of infinity, such is the destiny of man that finds its image in the destiny of water.
    • Introduction
  • A man is a man to the extent that he is a superman. A man should be defined by the sum of those tendencies which impel him to surpass the human condition.
    • Introduction
  • True poetry is a function of awakening. It awakens us, but it must retain the memory of previous dreams.
    • Introduction
  • The reflected world is the conquest of calm
    • "Clear Waters, Springtime Waters"

La poétique de l'espace (The Poetics of Space) (1958)Edit

  • If I were asked to name the chief benefit of the house, I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.
    • Ch. 1
  • 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.
    • Ch. 6
  • The mollusk's motto would be: one must live to build one's house, and not build one's house to live in.

La poétique de la rêverie (The Poetics of Reverie) (1960)Edit

  • Poetry is one of the destinies of speech.... One would say that the poetic image, in its newness, opens a future to language.
    • Introduction, sect. 2
  • Ideas are refined and multiplied in the commerce of minds. In their splendor, images effect a very simple communion of souls.
    • Introduction, sect. 4
  • A word is a bud attempting to become a twig. How can one not dream while writing? It is the pen which dreams. The blank page gives the right to dream.
    • Introduction, sect. 6
  • 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.
    • Introduction, sect. 6
  • Childhood lasts all through life. It returns to animate broad sections of adult life.... Poets will help us to find this living childhood within us, this permanent, durable immobile world.
    • Introduction, sect. 6
  • The subconscious is ceaselessly murmuring, and it is by listening to these murmurs that one hears the truth.
    • Ch. 2, sect. 2
  • Reverie is not a mind vacuum. It is rather the gift of an hour which knows the plenitude of the soul.
    • Ch. 2, sect. 3
  • The repose of sleep refreshes only the body. It rarely sets the soul at rest. The repose of the night does not belong to us. It is not the possession of our being. Sleep opens within us an inn for phantoms. In the morning we must sweep out the shadows.
    • Ch. 2, sect. 3
  • Man is an imagining being.
    • Ch. 2, sect. 10
  • The words of the world want to make sentences.
    • Ch. 5, sect. 4

Fragments of a Poetics of Fire (1988)Edit

  • To live life well is to express life poorly; if one expresses life too well, one is living it no longer.
    • A Retrospective Glance at the Lifework of a Master of Books
  • There is no original truth, only original error.
    • A Retrospective Glance at the Lifework of a Master of Books
  • To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful, ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of poetry.
    • A Retrospective Glance at the Lifework of a Master of Books
  • Ideas are invented only as correctives to the past. Through repeated rectifications of this kind one may hope to disengage an idea that is valid.
    • A Retrospective Glance at the Lifework of a Master of Books
  • A special kind of beauty exists which is born in language, of language, and for language.
    • A Retrospective Glance at the Lifework of a Master of Books
  • Literary imagination is an aesthetic object offered by a writer to a lover of books.
    • A Retrospective Glance at the Lifework of a Master of Books
  • One must always maintain one’s connection to the past and yet ceaselessly pull away from it. To remain in touch with the past requires a love of memory. To remain in touch with the past requires a constant imaginative effort.
    • A Retrospective Glance at the Lifework of a Master of Books
  • Two half philosophers will probably never a whole metaphysician make.
    • A Retrospective Glance at the Lifework of a Master of Books
  • Even a minor event in the life of a child is an event of that child’s world and thus a world event.
    • The Phoenix, a Linguistic Phenomenon, ch. 1

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