Bachelard and the Poetics of Spring



As I was walking to the bus today, I was taken back to Bachelard’s book The Poetics of Space. In all actuality, before arriving at Bachelard’s doorstep, I was transported back to sitting ont he lawn at Eastern Illinois University. It was there that I sat, on a day much like today, reading Schenker’s theory of music’s subconscious melodic motives.

In The Poetics of Space, Bachelard discusses how ever place that we come to dwell in is reminiscent of our first dwelling. In this, we can never know a home except through our first one. Every experience is one in which we are transported back to the initial dwelling- “In the attic, I find the smell of raisins, a smell which is no more present than the house which it was actually experienced. Yet, this attic transports me back to that initial one,” (Paraphrased quote… I don’t have the book with me).

Like Bachelard, it is the smell of a spring morning that takes me back. The interesting thing that I notice in my time travel is the way in which I’m not even ‘doing’ the same thing- walking to the bus transports me to sitting on the lawn. But my experience was greatly altered as I inhabited the other moment, thinking about music theory instead of spatial notions of memory. In a way, because of how ‘real’ it felt, I inhabited both time-spaces at the same time.

This makes me wonder about the sensory dimensions of space beyond the dwelling. In what ways can we ever experience a space- what does it mean to be transported back to the past indeterminately (I think of the TV series Lost, where Desmond suffers from straddling two time-spaces, radically attempting to use the past time-space to bypass his death the current time-space). What does it say about the true nature of phenomenological time, and even that of ‘being in the world’? How would Casey define this experience in terms of phenomenological place?

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