Gaston Bachelard – The Poetics of Space

Vincent Van Gogh’s mighty obsession with houses and nests; his letters of which he shares to his brother describing his art and his thoughts behind them may reflect his longing of a peaceful, relational space in which he creates through his actions. As someone who is often shunned, a crevice forms within his intimate space, a sense of longing lingers in his head space. The nests and thatched cottage painted may be unconscious actions that he use to materialize his needs. No matter where we are, our priority will always to create a shelter for ourselves to put us out of harms’ way. It is not merely a shelter, but also a space for us to be unarmed and feel an ease of mind. The space which allows us to be in meditative almost, of which we relive experiences that are positive in nature. I had recalled a jungle survival course which I had undergone in my national service days, in which we created temporary shelters in the form of A-frame structures deep within the jungle. Though it may be temporary shelter,  I took the liberty of creating one that was big, sturdy and ‘perched’ a large root enough to shelter me from the rain, though it took more than a day’s work. The reality of the elements motivated me to work even harder, the first night I had not managed to construct a sufficient roof to shield me from the continuous rain from dusk to dawn. In which, I have learnt that suffering is part of home-making, like how birds press their breasts against the nests to created a solid structure. I have also realized that every one of my friends had their shelters slightly different, each catering to their own needs. Although the shelter was really meant to be a test, every shelter was made good based on instincts.

Gaston repeatedly recalled his discovery of his first nests and the profound experience and memories that would accompany his find. The exuberance in his recollection highlight the importance of the discovery to him, a body that witnessed space through a singular object which some may only identify as an reference to a physical home. The environment of which a bird chooses its nest intrigues me. Must the tree present certain values for the birds to choose its resting? As a human, it would be difficult to make a decision between two trees in a forest, as they would appear identical and we can only guess that the birds chose based on gut feeling. As humans, we choose locations based on practicality rather than gut feeling most of the time, but many will think twice before separating from their ‘old homes’. It is beyond a physical space of shelter and it transcends to a space of precious memories that are grounded to the location.

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