Sometime before I came away I purchased an Amazon Kindle because I wanted to motivate myself to start reading again. I love the Kindle. It was designed to do one thing and it does it very well. The text is clear and crisp, one can highlight passages of interest and there are a number of additional functions including being able to look up the meaning of words along with being able to send highlighted passages to a person of one’s choosing.
The first book that I purchased was Bachelard’s “The Poetics of Space”. I am about two thirds of the way through the book and struggling, as I did when I read it in my youth, to read it in the “right way”. “The Poetics of Space” is about the way in which poetic images can cause, or perhaps, stimulate resonances and reverberations in our “souls”. It is also about the day dreaming that can occur when “dwelling upon” the poetic image. Finally, there is a strain of thought around the freedom that comes with daydreaming, a freedom that might open up possibilities in one’s life as one imagines a different state of being.
Thus, am I aware of the central “tenets” of the book. I am, however, singularly failing to dwell on the examples of images that Bachelard provides to support his central “arguments”. I just can’t seem to slow my mind sufficiently to repose in the poetic images that are scattered throughout the book. There is a point in the “Poetics of Space” where Bachelard writes that the reading of a book worthy of attention must immediately be followed by the re-reading of the book. Perhaps his point was that one must read certain sorts of books at least twice in order to be able to reflect sufficiently upon their meanings.
I find myself reflecting upon the freedom that can result from dwelling upon poetic images. Such images can transport us into a reverie and from there we can “imagine” different possibilities for our lives. I take “freedom” to mean something like being able to move beyond the conditioned nature of one’s days where the primary form of conditioning is the conditioning of the self. Thus are we determined, historically, socially, culturally and personally in terms of our mental and emotional makeup. We are, so to speak, the products of these conditions that for the most part proceed us. Freedom results from becoming more than the sum total of our conditioned natures.
I have written in other works that freedom can be attained through creative transcendence. There is, so to speak, a freedom to be had in, for example, the experience of writing when it seems to be the case that the writing is emerging from an unknown source, the writer being merely a vessel for the words. At a logical level, the argument might be difficult to be maintain, but anyone who has truly created in this way knows that such a creative state is a “free state”. When the creative act comes to an end it is as though one returns from a state of complete otherness to re-join the everyday world. Another way to express this fact is to say that a state of reverie comes to an end.
One’s sense of time and space – almost non existent in the creative space – is once again a sense of time pressing and of space as limited, as bounded. It is, perhaps, also the case that the quality of the creative work speaks to, or provides some sort of evidence for, claims that are made about the transcendent creative space. Bachelard refers to the poets as bounded by the Logos – which I shall take in this instance to broadly mean “language” – and yet, at the same time, as the originators of language. Freedom comes from being the “originator of language” in the sense that the writer is not creating in terms of a language that determines what might be said. Rather, the writer has brought language into being that contributes to what might be expressed.
I have three full days of my holiday remaining. I have already decided that my next vacation will last for at least two full weeks and possibly three. The reason is that my writing has been prolific during my stay in Phuket and I have been fulfilled to a degree that I never attain at home. If I were to take a two or three week holiday then I might complete a novel that has been sitting on my various computers for over a decade. When I say “finish” I mean re-read it, round out some aspects of the story and complete a first edit of the three hundred or so pages. As with all my other works, I would then self-publish the book. This thought in mind, I find myself dwelling once again on the possibilities of life, said thoughts still being along the lines of my previous post.
I imagine the life that I might lead as a full time writer, preferably a full time writer making with an income to live the sort of life to which I have become accustomed. I would be able to spend my days as I am spending them now, getting up early, writing, visiting a café, writing again, exercising, more writing, another café visit followed by dinner at a restaurant. Each day would follow the same satisfying routine. I do not fear writer’s block. With sufficient time and space an idea will always present itself and once I have the idea I find that I can expand upon it with consummate ease. It is as if the story unfolds itself before me, almost taking on a life of its own.
Today for example, as I sit here writing this observation, I have an idea for a story in my mind. It is only 9.15 AM and I can while away the morning until the idea surfaces, ready to be expanded and explored across the remainder of my day. Although I experience a slight tension at the thought of waiting for the idea, wondering if the story will really eventuate, I remain confident as my writing process has “worked” for the 8 days that I have so far spent in Phuket. And so, my task when I return to Australia is a very simple one. I simply need to re-configure my life such that I every day is defined by being able to “wait upon” my words to emerge.
I do not know what will happen with Covid-19 but it has occurred to me that circumstances may eventuate that will be conducive to my living a “writerly sort of life.” For example, if we are all confined to our homes then I will very easily be able to control my days such that writing becomes my primary focus. Living a writerly life will be made possible by the fact that I would have complete control over the structure of my days with no requirement to attend the university campus. Sure, there would still be meetings, likely conducted using Skype or Zoom, and there would still be work to be done but I would have a much greater degree of freedom.
First Published March 7th, 2020