In the interest of full disclosure, I read Gaston Bachelard's "The Poetics of Space" solely because my boyfriend at that time was studying Surrealism in his grad school program and, together,we were absolute literature and poetry nerds, so much so that we held bi-monthly workshops of our work and assigned one another writers and novels to study. And in that uber nerdy time, I tackled "The Poetics of Space," a book written in French in 1957, translated to English seven years later, lauded by most, loathed by others, and perplexing to more than a few.
Bachelard, as a phenomenologist, believed there exists a direct relationship between the human mind and imagination and its surroundings, specifically the domestic house as intimate architecture and all of the home's hidden corners, attics, basements, secret doors and well-loved rooms. So says Bachelard: "A house that has been experienced is not an inert box. Inhabited space transcends geometrical space."
There is something magical about our homes. No matter how far we travel, how incredible our experiences may be, no matter how much we adore the open road and its unexpected offerings, there is an intimate and ineffable relationship we have with HOME. This profound connectivity we have with our homes makes it of paramount importance, in my opinion, to take a holistic, overall perspective on our domiciles and create a space where the emotion of walking through your front door, down your halls, and into your rooms is joyful, harmonious, and steeped in beauty and balance. This isn't to say surprising elements cannot coexist, as they most definitely can and do, but there is a balance within the wonderfully unforeseen, as well. As Bachelard says, "the dream house must possess every virtue."
Oh, and since the idea for this post germinated in a Jane Austen quote, I thought it might be fun to include a short + varied list of literary quotes concerning home, from Steinbeck to Faulkner and a handful in between the two.
Enjoy and happy Sunday!
Where a man feels at home, outside of where he's born, is where he's meant to go.
- Ernest Hemingway, Green Hills of Africa
“A home filled with nothing but yourself. It's heavy, that lightness. It's crushing, that emptiness.”
- Margaret Atwood, The Tent
Home is where one starts from.
- T. S. Eliot
'Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.'
- Charles Dickens
“The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
- Maya Angelou, All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes
“I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul.”
- Jean Cocteau
'How often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”
- William Faulkner
“The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
“A house without books is like a room without windows.”
- Horace Mann
'Your house shall be not an anchor but a mast
It shall not be a glistening film that covers a wound, but an eyelid that guards the eye.”
- Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
'The house was clean, scrubbed and immaculate, curtains washed, windows polished, but all as a man does it - the ironed curtains did not hang quite straight and there were streaks on the windows and a square showed on the table when a book was moved.”
- John Steinbeck, East of Eden