The Poetics of Space

Text

A nest, like any other image of rest and quiet, is immediately associated with the image of a simple house. When we pass from the image of a nest to the image of a house, and vice versa, it can only be in an atmosphere of simplicity. Van Gough, who painted numerous nests, as well as numerous peasant cottages, wrote to his brother: 'The cottage, with its thatched roof, made me think of a wren's nest.' For a painter, it is probably twice as interesting if, while painting a cottage, he dreams of a nest. It is as though one dreamed twice, in two registers, when one dreams of an image cluster such as this. For the simplest image is doubled; it is itself and something else than itself. Van Gogh's thatched cottages are overladen with thatch. Thick, coarsely plaited straw emphasises the will to provide shelter by extending well beyond the walls. Indeed, in this instance, among all the shelter virtues, the roof is the dominant evidence. Under the roof's covering the walls are of earth and stone. The openings are low. A thatched cottage is set on the ground like a nest in a field.

Commentary

Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962), a leading European philosopher, explored the meaning of home in his 1958 study, The Poetics of Space. Bachelard took elements of the house, 'from cellar to garret', in order to understand what might be considered to be their ontological meaning. His ideas were extremely influential on subsequent philosophers, as well as on art, architecture and design in general.

In this section Bachelard develops an analogy between the psychology and phenomenology of the nest and domestic space.

Themes

Physical / Emotional States
Boundaries and Thresholds

Dominant Representational Strategies

Idea

Dwelling

Type
Residential
Detail
Cottage
Historical Terminology
Specified Social Level
Labouring

Activities

Type
Intellectual, Cultural and Spritual
Detail
Contemplating

Rooms

Type
Other / Unknown
Historical Terminology

Inhabitants

Type
People
Detail
Unspecified

Objects

Type
Detail

Bibliography

Direct Cross-References

The Poetics of Space

Bachelard, Gaston 1958

Book, JA2010

The Poetics of Space

Bachelard, Gaston 1958

Book, JA2011

The Poetics of Space

Bachelard, Gaston 1958

Book, JA2013

The Poetics of Space

Bachelard, Gaston 1958

Book, JA2015

The Production of Space

Lefebvre, Henri 1974

Book, JA2033

The Production of Space

Lefebvre, Henri 1974

Book, JA2034

The Production of Space

Lefebvre, Henri 1974

Book, JA2035

Indirect Cross-References

Names
Bachelard, Gaston
Date(s)
1958
Country
France
Historical Region
Description
Format
Book
Type
Genre
Other Non-Fictional Prose
Publication
Bachelard, Gaston, The Poetics of Space, Maria Jolas (trans.), Beacon Press, 25 Beacon Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02108-2892, 1994, p.98.
Copyright
First published in French under the title La poetique de l’espace, copyright 1958 by presses Universitaires de France.
Translation copyright 1964 by The Orion Press, Inc.
Location
Record ID
JA2014