2022 • 8 Pages • 7.42 MB • English
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Summary of TO DREAM

CJ )> l/) a z ~ n I i THE RIGr(r TO DREAM Gaston Bachelard .. Contents Foreword THE ARTS Water Lilies, or Surprises of a Summer's Dawn Introduction to Chagall's Bible The Origins of Light The Painter Solicited by the Elements Simon Segal Henri de Waroquier, Sculptor: Man and His Destiny The Cosmos of Iron A Reverie of Matter Divination and the Look in the Work of Marcoussis Hand vs. Matter Introduction to the Dynamics of Landscape Albert Flacon's 'Engraver's Treatise' Castles in Spain LITERATURE Seraphtta The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym Rimbaud the Child The Dynamic Dialectic of Mallarme's Imagination Victor-Emile Michele,t Germ and Reason in the Poetry of Paul Eluard A Psychology of Literary Language: Jean Paulhan Jacques Brosse: The Order of Things vii 3 7 21 25 29 33 39 45 47 51 55 71 75 93 101 113 119 125 131 137 145 REVERIES Oneiric Space The Mask Reverie and Radio The Poetic Moment and the Metaphysical Moment Fragment of a Diary of Man Bibliographical References 153 157 167 173 179 189 Water Lilies or Surprises of a Summer's Dawn I There is neither Polyp nor Chameleon that is able to change its color so fre- quently as water. joHANN ALBERT FABRICIUS Theology of Water WATER LILIES are the flowers of summer. They mark the point beyond which summer will abide by her promise. It is when the water lily flowers appear on the lake that the wise gardener takes his orange trees out of the greenhouse. And if September finds the water lily already shedding its petals, the winter will be long and hard. Only the early riser and rapid worker can gather, as Claude Monet did, a goodly store of this aquatic beauty, and tell the brief and burning story of the flowers of the river. Picture him then, our Claude, setting out in the early morning. Does he recall, as he makes his way toward the water lily pond, that Mallarme, the great Stephane Mallarme took the nymphea, the white water lily, to symbolize some Leda pursued by love? Does he recite to himself those lines in which the poet likens the lovely flower to a "noble swan's egg ... swollen with no other force than that exquisite emptiness of self . . . ?" Caught up already in joyful anticipation of making his canvas blossom, joking with his "model" as much here in the fields as at home in the studio, he asks: What kind of egg has the lily laid this night? He smiles at the prospect of the surprise awaiting him. He quickens his pace. But The white flower sits already in its egg cup. And the whole pond smells of this fresh young flower, rejuvenated by night. When evening comes-Monet saw this hundreds of times-the 4 • THE RIGHT TO DREAM young flower disappears to spend the night beneath the water. They say it is the stem, retracting, that draws the flower down toward the dark, muddy bed. And every dawn, after the sound sleep of a summer's night, the nymphea bloom, Mimosa pudica of the water, is reborn with the light. And so she remains forever young, this spotless daughter of water and the sun. This prodigal recovery of youth, this loyal obedience to the rhythm of day and night, this punctuality in announcing the very moment of sunrise-these qualities make the nymphea the floral epitome of Im- pressionism. The nymphea is an instant of the world. It is a morning of the eyes. It is the flower of surprise in a summer's dawn. Doubtless there comes a day when the flower is too large, too blown, too conscious of its beauty to go into hiding when evening falls. It is as lovely as a breast. Its whiteness has taken on the faintest tinge of pink, the palest flush of temptation without which the white would be unaware of its whiteness. Did not another age name this flower the "distaff of Venus" (clavus veneris)? Was it not, in the life of mythology that precedes the life of all things, Heraclion the nymph who died of jealousy and her too great love of Hercules? But Monet smiles at this flower suddenly become permanent. It is the very one that was immortalized yesterday by his brush. And so the painter can continue the story of the water's youth. II Everything in a stretch of water is new when morning comes. What vitality the chameleon-river must have to respond so immediately to the kaleidoscope of newborn light! The life of the trembling water alone renews all the flowers. The slightest movement of a quiet stream provokes an array of floral beauty. "Moving water, flowers the water's heartbeats . . . "writes the poet.1 One flower more complicates the whole stream. The straighter the reed the lovelier the ripples. And a young water iris, piercing the green tangle of the water lilies, prompts the painter immediately to share with us its astonishing triumph. There it stands, every sword drawn, every leaf a finely honed blade, dangling its sulphurous tongue with stinging irony high above the water. l. Gloria Alcorta, Visages, Seghers, 13. WATER LILIES OR SURPRISES OF A SUMMER'S DAWN • 5 A philosopher musing before one of Monet's water pictures might, if he dared, develop a dialectics of the iris and the water lily, the dialectics of the straight leaf and the leaf which calmly, soberly, weightily reposes upon the surface. It is the very dialectics, surely, of the aquatic plant: the one, driven by we know not what spirit of rebellion, wishing to rise above its native element, the other remain- ing loyal to its element. The nymphea has learned from stagnant water its lesson of calm. Dreaming such a dialectic dream one might perhaps feel, in all its utter fragility, the sweet verticality evident in the life of stagnant waters. The painter, however, feels all that instinctively and knows how to find in reflections a sound principle for the composition in depth of the calm universe of water. III So it is that the trees lining the bank exist in two dimensions. The shadows of their trunks enhance the depth of the pond. It is impossible to dream beside a stretch of water without formulating a dialectics of depth and reflection. It is as if the reflection is fed by some substance rising from the water's depths. The muddy bed acts like the silvering on a mirror. It joins a material darkness to all the shadows that are offered to it. The Stream bed too, for the painter, holds some subtle surprises. Sometimes a lone bubble rises from the depths, blurting out in the silence of the surface as the plant breathes, as the pond heaves a sigh. And the dreamer with the paintbrush is provoked to pity as by some cosmic tragedy. Does some deep ill lurk beneath this Eden of flowers? Are we to recall with Jules Laforgue the curse of garlanded Ophelia And the white water lilies of the lakes where sleeps Gomorrah. For the most cheerful, flower-strewn pool on the brightest of morn- ings conceals a brooding gravity. But let us, allowing this philosophic cloud to pass, return with our painter to the dynamics of beauty. IV The world asks to be seen: before ever there were eyes to see the eye of the waters, the huge eye of still waters watched the flowers bloom. 6 • THE RIGHT TO DREAM And it was in this reflection-who will deny it!-that the world first became aware of its beauty. just as, from the time when Monet first looked at a water lily, the water lilies of the Ile-de-France have been more beautiful, more splendid. They float now upon our streams with more leaves, in greater tranquillity, sober and docile as pictures of Lotus-children. I read somewhere, I forget where, that in some East- ern gardens, to make the flowers more beautiful and make them bloom earlier and more deliberately, with unclouded confidence in their own beauty, people went to the trouble to place two lamps and a mirror lovingly before each vigorous stem that bore the promise of a young bloom. The flower could thus admire itself at night and take a ceaseless delight in its splendor. Monet would have understood this immense charity toward the beautiful, this encouragement offered by man to all that tends toward beauty, for did he not spend his whole life enhancing the beauty of everything that fell beneath his gaze? At Giverny, when he was a rich man-so late in life!-he had a team of water gardeners to wash every stain from the broad leaves of his flowering water lilies, to generate just the right currents to stimulate their roots, to bend a little lower the weeping willow branch which, caught by the wind, ruffled the mirrored surface of the water. , In fact, in everything he did and in every endeavor of his art, Monet was a servant and guide of the forces of beauty that direct the world. THE RIGHT TO DREAM Gaston Bachelard translated from the French by J. A. Underwood Gaston Bachelard is acclaimed as one of the most significant modern thinkers of France. From 1929 to 1962 he wrote twenty-three books concerned with the philosophy of science and the analysis of the imagination of matter. His teaching career included posts at the College de Bar- sur-Aube, the University ofDijon, and from 1940 to 1962 the chair of history and philosophy of science at the Sorbonne. One of the amphitheaters of the Sorbonne is called "l'amphi Gaston Bachelard," an honor Bachelard shared with Descartes and Richelieu. He received the Grand Prix National des Lettres in 1961-one of only three philosophers ever to have achieved this honor. The influence of his thought can be felt in all disciplines of the humanities-art, ar- chitecture, literature, poetics, psychology, philosophy, and language. The Bachelard Translations are the inspiration of Joanne H. Stroud, whose interests -literature and psychology-parallel those of Bachelard himself. In 1981, Dr. Stroud con- tracted with Jose Corti to publish in English the untranslated works of Bachelard on the im- agination. In 1985 a new contract was signed with Presses Universitaires de France for future publications. Dr. Stroud is a Founding Fellow of The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Robert Scott Dupree, translation editor and translator of Lautreamont, is Associate Professor of Literature at the University of Dallas and a Fellow of The Dallas Institute. Gaston Bachelard reaches that place we all recognize as understanding, response, insight, and deep feeling. He puts us in places of reverie and dreams with us. He speaks of a living world, the world as he knew it, companionable, complete, dense, and enveloping. He speaks of the gold of alchemy and soft or fat monstrosities, of swamps, of the shapes of things, of Chillida's iron and Manet's water lilies. It is probably true that one's life is forever better after a Bachelard essay. Printed in USA -Mary Vernon ISBN 0-911005-16-1 9 78091~ McKen?.ieBoob.c?m SKU# Rll04-l80::-

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