[The words in the title of this post are the (translated) words of Henri Bosco, taken from his book, L’antiquaire (p. 121). They inspired the following passage by Gaston Bachelard, which dovetails well with certain ideas about language expressed by Johann Georg Hamann and Walter Benjamin (the latter, especially, in this essay). I hope to post more on this topic soon.]
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From The Poetics of Reverie: Childhood, Language, and the Cosmos by Gaston Bachelard (as translated from the French by Daniel Russell), p. 186 ff. (footnotes not included):
The poet’s exploit at the summit of his cosmic reverie is to constitute a cosmos from the word. What a lot of seductions the poet must link together in order to draw in an inert reader so that the reader may understand the world from the basis of the poet’s praise! What an adherence to the world to live in the world of praise! Every beloved thing becomes the being of its praise. By loving the things of the world, one learns to praise the world: he enters into the cosmos of the word.
Then what a new company of the world and its dreamer! A spoken reverie transforms the solitary dreamer’s solitude into a company open to all the beings of the world. The dreamer speaks to the world, and now the world is speaking to him. Just as the duality of the looked-at to the looking-at is magnified into a duality of the Cosmos to the Argus, the more subtle duality of the Voice and the Sound rises to the cosmic level of a duality of the breath and the wind. Where is the dominant being of the spoken reverie? When a dreamer speaks, who is speaking, he or the world?
Here we shall invoke one of the axioms of the Poetics of reverie, a veritable theorem which ought to convince us to link the Dreamer indissolubly with his World. We shall take this poetic theorem from a master in poetic reveries: “All the being of the world, if it dreams, dreams that it is speaking.”
But does the being of the world dream? Ah! long ago, before “culture,” who would have doubted it? Everyone knew that metal ripened slowly in the mine. And how can anything ripen without dreaming? How can goods, forces and odors be amassed within a beautiful object of the world without accumulating dreams? And the earth – when it did not turn – how would it have ripened its seasons without dreams? The great dreams of cosmicity are guarantees of the immobility of the earth. Even if the reason, after long work, comes to prove that the earth turns, it is no less true that such a declaration is oneirically absurd. Who could convince a cosmos dreamer that the earth spins around upon itself and that it flies in the sky? One does not dream with taught ideas.
Yes, before culture, the world dreamed a great deal. Myths came out of the earth, opened the earth so that, with the eye of its lakes, it looks at the sky. A destiny of height arose from the abysses. Thus the myths found men’s voices immediately, the voice of man dreaming the world of his dreams. Man expressed the earth, the sky, the waters. Man was the word of his macroanthropos which is the monstrous body of the earth. In primitive cosmic reveries, the world is a human body, a human look, a human breath, a human voice.
But can’t those times of the speaking world be reborn? Whoever goes to the bottom of reverie rediscovers natural reverie, a reverie of the original cosmos and the original dreamer. The world is no longer mute. Poetic reverie revives the world of original words. All the beings of the world begin to speak by the name they bear. Who has named them? The names are so well chosen that they seem to have named themselves. One word leads to another. The words of the world want to make sentences. The dreamer knows it well, that dreamer who makes an avalanche of words issue from a word that he dreams. The water which “is sleeping” all black in the pond, the fire which “is sleeping” beneath the ashes, all the air of the world which “is sleeping” in a fragrance – all these “sleeping beings” (dormants) bear witness, by sleeping so well, to an interminable dream. In the cosmic reverie, nothing is inert, neither the world nor the dreamer; everything lives with a secret life, so everything speaks sincerely. The poet listens and repeats. The voice of the poet is a voice of the world.