Thursday, April 19

little houses

When we read the works of a great word dreamer like Michel Leiris (particularly in his Biffures), we find ourselves experiencing in words, on the inside of words, secret movements of our own. Like friendship, words sometimes swell, at the dreamer's will, in the loop of a syllable. While in other words, everything is calm, tight. Even as sober a man as Joseph Joubert recognizes the intimate repose of words when he speaks of certain ideas rather curiously as "huts." Words—I often imagine this—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.

-- Gaston Bachelard The Poetics of Space
Translated by Maria Jolas

Gaston Bachelard

Michel Leiris

Joseph Joubert